Thursday, February 21, 2008

thanks, Parker

Thanks, Parker, for commenting. You win a (yet to be determined) prize for being the first person to comment!

I have been mulling over your thoughts and I'm glad that we can agree, disagree and even agree to disagree - and yet still be members of the same lifesaving group. (That's AA for you kids who aren't following along!)

I don't agree with everyone in AA. I don't have to. I bet I'd love hearing Parker's lead, or to hang out with him and his pals at the "meeting after the meeting." As long as my heart and mind are open, I am going to learn something from him.

Anyway, I still feel like a stickler about the traditions and how I see them sometimes being twisted and bent. But I also know that the line between alcoholism and drug addiction is getting thinner and thinner.

I've sponsored a few women who didn't identify as alcoholics at all - one was a heroin addict and another a crack addict. Neither of them are sober today (to the best of my knowledge)
- and that's not my fault. I shared my experience, strength and hope with them, tried to guide them through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and one stayed clean for a while and the other never seemed to be able to get it.

Was that because I don't identify as an addict? That is, that my substance of choice -the one that really did me in- was alcohol? Who can say... not me.

It's unfortunate, I think, that NA (narcotics anonymous) is such a crap-heap. I've never heard anyone say anything good about it. In my earliest attempts at getting sober, I went to NA for a while, thinking that I'd be better able to relate with the leather-jacketed, hyper-tatted punk rockers that I saw there. As it turned out, they hung out in a bar and shot pool. Every time I would hang with them, I'd check out early to hit the liquor store to go drink alone. I didn't use drugs during that time, but I continued to drink just as much as usual.

NA will never have the kind of healthy members it needs to sustain new folks if those who have been clean for a while (through whatEVER program) don't go back to help. If nobody ever goes in and says, "This is not a pickup joint! This is about life and death!" maybe it just stays the same. I don't know.

Years ago, there was an OA member who came to my AA women's meeting occasionally. It was a closed AA meeting, but I guess the oldtimers felt that it was okay for her to be there. I could NEVER relate to what she shared and I don't know if she could relate to us, but there she was, talking about food cravings followed by totally unrelated shares about... yeah, you guessed it: alcoholism.

I suppose the bottom line is that the OA woman was helped. None of us were, perhaps, but she was. And for a self-centered alcoholic like me, maybe letting someone else be the only one who benefits from something is a benefit in itself.


Fireman John said...

i respect your adherence to the 12 & 12; yet it's reassuring to me that you are open-minded to other's views.
very good blog,

Cottage Touch said...

Good for you! AA has changed so much! I am sober 26 1/2 years..clean n sober and rembember when NA started.I was 26yrs old.Nowadays they hate to hear me share..because my message is the one that was passed on to me'life or death'.I cannot believe how alone I am and not any women sober as long as I am no peers...maybe they are in FLA considering moving it is so awful being shut out for continuous sobriety!

Advocate said...

I hope that you have CA or CMA in your area. They speak about addiction, but they also bring the truth of the Big Book, so there is solution at those meetings.

As to your post about dumping a bunch of cocaine on the would point out two things. One, I have known a lot of people who abused drugs, even quite a bit, but given sufficient reason, could stop or moderate. That is distinguished from the drug addict who is driven by a hundred forms of fear to use in the face of every reason to stop. And the book tells us that some of us started out as moderate or heavy drinkers but became alcoholics. Anyone can throw off their liver enzymes with enough effort, just as anyone can destroy their dopamine-limbic system.

The difference is that some of us are predisposed so as to become addicts or alcoholics from the beginning of our using or drinking. The other difference is that, for those who aren't born alcoholics or addicts, the drug abuser usually turns into a drug addict much faster than the heavy drinker into the alcoholic.

I think that singleness of purpose is important. It shows its head in the Fifth Step. Also, I think that having the same drug of choice matters in sponsoring someone in terms of seeing through the sponsee's behaviors or excuses.

Anyone who is attending AA should be advised to identify as an alcoholic. It helped me to remember that my drinking set off my craving for drugs. There is nothing wrong with talking about drugs, Dr. Bob and Bill W. both talk about using pills, and Bill W. dropped acid around the time he wrote as Bill Sees It, but Dr. Bob convinced him it violated AA principles to use any mind-altering substances, which is what step one in CA and CMA states, btw.