Why People In AA Relapse Constantly…

     …besides the fact that many people in AA aren’t really alcoholics.

     First of all, our most common error as addicts and alcoholics is to focus on drugs and alcohol. That’s not really our problem. It’s not about drugs and alcohol. It’s not about AA or the even Steps, though AA is nothing without the Steps. The Steps are simply a way to get to God. They are simply tools to be used, spiritual actions to be taken to establish a relationship with God and improve our conscious contact with Him. And if our problem is a spiritual one, then so must be our solution.

     But back to the question – why do people in AA (meeting-makers) relapse so much? For one, meeting-makers only make meetings, and of course, meetings contain about .01% of the power needed to actually fix a broken, shattered, warped, lunatic alcoholic.

     More to the point, meeting makers relapse because the alcoholic who is only sober on a physical basis is subject to suddenly and randomly experience the mental obsession, and once this occurs, nothing can stop him from drinking or using. He has no will. He has no power of choice. He will relapse at any point in time for no reason at all. He is insane. Meetings can’t make an insane person sane. Only God can do that.

     The so-called alcoholic who only goes to meetings and can stay sober is not an alcoholic – he has not lost the power of choice, he is not powerless. And finally, the so-called alcoholic who doesn’t need to rely on the Power of God is either not a real alcoholic or perhaps he continues to suffer from anger and misery, as he is still operating on, or trying to navigate life based on self-will alone, and that is a lonely place to be.

     Finally, people in AA, as well as every other conventional, secular treatment method relapse constantly because they’re not repairing themselves morally and spiritually, so when they walk out of their meeting and someone cuts them off, they become unhinged and fly into an uncontrolled rage, are then left spiritually destitute, and as guilt and shame gnaw and eat away, a switch goes off and they relapse. If we wrong somebody and do not make it right, we will inevitably relapse at some point, probably soon after, if we are real alcoholics or addicts.

     The hoards of meeting-making club members are giving AA a terrible reputation in terms of being able to secure long-term sobriety, not to mention sanity, freedom and peace of mind. If we went to AA to actually work on ourselves spiritually and take Steps instead of going for group therapy or because we are socially inept and have no friends, we’d all recover.

(Also see, Recovery Not A Function Of Time & AA Has Lost Its Way on how AA has become watered down etc.)

God, teach me to embrace and live by Your principles of faith, trust, humility, honesty, courage, strength, patience, tolerance, love, and personal responsibility…

Caution! AA Sponsor Approaching

My job as a sponsor: Hook you up with God and then get out of the way.

Action to Take: The Twelve Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Not my job as a sponsor: Call you, Drag you to meetings, Take you out bowling on Saturday night, Talk to you for hours on end about your problems and feelings.

Am I your friend? No.

Will we become friends? Perhaps, if and when you recover.

Will I ever tell you to do something that I haven’t done myself? No.

Will I make decisions for you? No.

Will I tell you what colored socks to wear? No.

Should people who haven’t taken Steps and recovered become sponsors? Absolutely not.

Do they? All the time, unfortunately.

Why shouldn’t they become sponsors? Because their advice might actually kill you.

God, please take my will and make it Your own. Teach me how to be useful to others…

Any Lengths?

     “Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.58

     Sad that this paragraph from the Big Book has become a common preamble in AA meetings. Why? Because its rote recitation further diminishes its meaning and interpretation… and therefore its implementation.
     We “disclose our stories in a general way…” Really? Because the laundry list of war stories and sob stories I hear spewed out so often doesn’t sound too general – “I did this, and I did that, and can you believe I did this, and could you believe I did that! Man, I used to drink a 30-pack a night!” I never heard general anything when I used to go to meetings, unless by general we refer to a lack of sophistication and understanding of one’s problem and what to do about it (i.e. a really dull, general story that is generally incoherent and has zero usefulness). I never heard a summary of the alcoholic mind and body… what it means to think, feel and drink/use the way we do.
     I also never heard the “what happened” part because nothing did happen. There was no summation of recovery or the process underwent to achieve it. And “what we are like now” was for the most part frightening. “If you have decided you want what we have…” Question: Have you ever gone to an AA meeting and seen something that you wanted? I guess I should ask what we want? Mere physical sobriety? I’m all set. I want to be strong, centered, grounded, balanced, confident, calm, content and free. I want to be giving and useful and loving. I want to be sane again.
     “… are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.” When we hear this in meetings, unless we have been taken through the Big Book by a recovered expert, then we undoubtedly won’t have a clue what this really means. Ready to take certain steps does not mean that you make some meeting your home group, become the treasurer, make coffee, set up chairs and just keep comin’.
     Taking certain steps means that we embark on a rigorous Twelve Step process – we get up, leave the meeting, and actually take the actions involved in the Steps to expel a lifetime of poison within. We change who and what we are. We restore ourselves to sanity via a spiritual experience in order to equip ourselves with the tools and the condition necessary to go help others. The point of the Twelve Steps is solely to get to that Twelfth step – to go out and help another alcoholic/addict recover by taking him through the same, mystical process we just went through.
     So “willing to go to any length” means that there is nothing we won’t do in order to become recovered. There is nothing we won’t write about in our inventory. There is nothing we won’t unearth or admit because of the shame or embarrassment we have. There is nobody we won’t make an amends to. There is no part of us – our stubbornness, our pride, our ego – which will prevent us from having faith in GOD and from believing that we cannot do it without His help.
     Willing to go to any length means that there is no feeling or thought, no matter how horrible or dark or powerful, which will prevent us from doing the right thing. Going to any length means that even if you have recently gotten sober and you are still a miserable prick, you don’t let your self-pity and your selfishness stop you from growing and taking actions that need to be taken in order to achieve and maintain spiritual health.
     It would be great if one of the chairmen/women of the local meetings around here would stop when he or she reads that line and look everyone in the room straight in the eye and ask if they are really willing to go to any length to get better. Because really, we have no excuse not to. We owe it to ourselves, our families, our spouses, and to the entire world. We owe it to God. The program is about humility, not stories and stature and “how much clean time you got, kid”. Put your sobriety chip away until you’ve done some work on yourself. And even then, the only chip we really need is a 24-hour.
God, teach us to love and accept ourselves so that we may love and accept each other and do Your work well…

AA Sponsorship

     What is sponsorship?

     Is it approaching some newbie at an AA meeting and telling them that they need a sponsor and that you’re the man to do it? Is it then dragging your sponsee to AA meetings day after day after day? Is it calling your sponsee on Saturday night to make sure he isn’t drinking? Or is it fielding frantic and desperate phone calls from your sponsee as he teeters on the edge outside of a bar? Is it providing a social structure for your sponsee by taking him out for dinner, a movie, or some bowling? Is it telling your sponsee where to work, who to be with, or what friends they should have? Is it getting all militant and beating the shit out of him? Better yet, is it telling your sponsee what kind of clothes to wear? Is sponsorship determining what colored socks to wear on Monday? Sure that may sound ridiculous, but it’s just as ridiculous as all the other useless actions I just mentioned.

     Sponsorship is NONE of the above. Watered down, modern AA has spawned all sorts of new ideas and norms about what sponsorship is. Hollywood has well-defined the slew of AA cliches – the meeting room, the sob stories, the group prayer, and the sponsor who calls you when you’re in trouble. Sorry to say that none of these things have much to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, which was originally nothing more than a series of spiritual actions designed to restore the addict to sanity by accessing the power of God, or Spiritual Power, if you like. It is a way to God – nothing more, or rather less.

     The 12 Steps was the sole program of AA – a rigorous and life-changing set of actions to heal ourselves from deep within. An enormous amount of work is necessary to extract the life-detsroying character defects that sabotage all good things in life. The work continues as we make amends to all who we have harmed. We take Steps to prepare us for our new life of purpose, the purpose of helping others who still suffer. If all we did was to sit there in meetings, make some coffee, be the treasurer and pass out sobriety coins, we remain untreated, insane, and a threat to every newcomer who walks through the door. Why suffer? Why struggle through each day when there is a solution?

     Sponsorship is very simple. It is one person who has taken Steps and recovered taking another addict through the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book. That person must be willing to change and grow along spiritual lines. Our job as sponsors is to hook the sponsee up to God and then get out of the way. Nothing more. I take them through the first 7 Steps, guide them with their first few amends and then they should be on their way.

     It is not my job to be their friend or to listen to them blab on all night about their feelings or struggles, allowing them to validate themselves as some sort of victim. It is definitely not my job to call them. If you want to get better, then it is you who have to call me and I’ll tell you what I did. Nothing more. And by the way, your feelings don’t matter. I don’t really care how you feel. Sound harsh? Well, it’s really not so harsh when you think that our pathological focus on ourselves and our feelings, our constant engagement with self-pity is the exact thing preventing us from getting better.

     Holding on by a thread is not AA. AA is a set of spiritual tools that we can use to build a foundation of strength, peace and freedom. We can be forever rid of the mental obsession, the insanity before a relapse. There are no such things as cravings. There are no such things as triggers. We are either okay or not okay, recovered or recovering, sane or insane. There is no in between. Same with sponsorship.

God, Make me a better man today…