Staying sober is much more than saying no to a drink. AA meetings and doing the steps will prepare an alcoholic for dealing with life on life’s terms. Prevention begins well before the opportunity for relapse occurs. A comprehensive plan includes attendance at AA meetings, a good sponsor and the willingness to change.
Staying sober is not a solo gig, it is essential that recovering alcoholics interact on a regular basis with others who understand the mindset of an alcoholic. There are times when individuals feel isolated by the disease process itself and having a figurative set of tools to handle these situations is important.
Cognitive techniques provide people with ways to reframe habitual thinking patterns and change the process. This paired with behavioural techniques include the use of lifestyle modifications to promote individuals healthy coping mechanisms, and keep sobriety as a stable way of life.
Treatment for alcoholism does not prescribe an easy cure for alcoholic dependency but gives the individual all the tools with which to build a life based on promoting sobriety day to day. Since alcoholism effects almost every area of an individual’s life, the changes which will be made, while sometimes slow at first will be all encompassing.
After possibly completing detox and rehab, the maintenance of sobriety will be intrinsically connected to the willingness, openness and honesty put into living one’s life by a new set of principles and values.
What is most important to remember is that treatment and long-term sobriety are about discovering how to accept help, and manage life’s challenges without needing a drink or to find a quick fix.
This new way of living will provide new meaning and direction and those with rich participation in recovery will achieve freedom and serenity.
The majority of time at AA meetings will be devoted to sharing. This is where members get an opportunity to speak. At most of these gatherings it is appropriate to discuss personal worries and concerns, but there can be some limitations on what the member should talk about such as:
* At Step Meetings the topic will be one of the steps. Members will be encouraged to share their experience of working that particular part of the program.
* At Big Book Meetings the theme will be a section of the text. Members will be encouraged to share on their understanding of that subject.
* At discussion groups a topic will be chosen beforehand and members will discuss this.
* During a general meeting there will be one member who talks about their life before and after AA. Once they have finished sharing the rest of the group will be allowed to share about anything related to what the speaker has said.
One of the concerns that people have about sharing at meetings is confidentiality. At these 12 Step groups the members are frequently reminded that
“what you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”
Despite this expectation of anonymity there is no guarantee that it is going to happen. If a member is still drinking, or if they have relapsed, they may have no compunction about discussing everything they have heard at the meeting.
Despite the risk of someone breaking the confidentiality of the meeting it doesn’t seem to happen very often. People can protect their anonymity by only speaking in a general way. So if they are complaining about their boss they should avoid using his name or mentioning the name of the business. This way people can talk about the things that are bothering them without having to worry that it will later cause them embarrassment.
If people avoid sharing at AA meetings it can be detrimental in a number of ways:
* This will usually mean that the individual will feel like an outsider in the group. They will not get the full benefit of being part of a fellowship.
* When people keep their own counsel it can be easy to slip into delusion and denial. If they have taken a wrong path in recovery this will often be obvious when they share at meetings. Other members will be able to advise them about how to get back on track, but this can only happen if they talk.
* One of the things that AA members tend to do before they relapse is that they stop sharing at meetings. They just sit there feeling resentful and angry and such stinking thinking leads them back to alcohol and drugs. If people are more open about their difficulties they will reduce the amount of stinking thinking they experience.
* If people do not interact at meetings it will make it harder for them to build friendships. Those who have a network of sober friends are far more likely to find success in recovery.
Please have fun.
Sharing at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings can be beneficial in a number of ways including:
* When people talk about what is going on in their life it allows them to release some of their pent up stress and tension. It is not always possible or desirable to talk to friends and family about worries and concerns. A 12 Step meeting can be the ideal venue for people to unburden themselves.
* Other members can offer a different perspective on problems. They may suggest something that the individual might have never considered on their own.
* When people share they feel more a part of the meeting because they are contributing something.
* Sharing can be a type of service in recovery. This is particularly true when members share things that are inspiring or provide advice for other members who are struggling. 12 Step meetings could not exist if members were not willing to share their experience and hope. A member can make a comment that might mean little to themselves but could be life changing for one of the listeners.
* Sometimes people are unsure about exactly what it is that is bothering them. They just have a vague sense of unease. It is only when they start talking at a meeting that things become a bit clearer to them.
* One of the nice things about opening up at meetings is that afterwards the speaker will feel less alone. There will almost always be other people in the room who have shared similar experiences.
* Things become clearer when they are spoken out loud. If people keep their problems and concerns internalized it can make things seem much worse than what they actually are.
Enjoy yourselves please
What we are looking for is not outside ourselves. When we are willing to do the work ridding ourselves of resentments, fear and dishonesty, we will open ourselves up to a spiritual more accepting life.
Taking a hard look at ourselves isn’t an easy. Some of us think we only have to do it once and we are good for a life time. What would happen if we did a spring cleaning of our home, and didn’t keep it clean and neat? What would happen over time if we never did the daily clean up and never did a annual deep cleaning? Our emotional and spiritual house within us is just like that. And just like our house cleaning we can’t do it alone.
Our house needs supplies, and our emotional side needs God or a higher power of some understanding. The work we do on the inside, prepares us for a better more accepting life.
The problem with using will power, for me, was that it lasted only until my will persuaded me I could take another drink.