I went to AA after two years of sobriety because I was finding it difficult and I'd just got divorced and I went for 5 or 6 years. I found that it was easier than people claimed to work the steps because I was quite self-aware and wanted to feel differently. After my diagnosis of bipolar other people in AA changed towards me. Not because I had a mental health problem but because, in their eyes, I was taking mood altering substances. I found it impossible to convince them that I was taking a mood stabiliser and that it was completely different. I also got ticked off about the god element - I'm an atheist and a very happy one at that but I got fed up of people telling me if I didn't come to believe in god then I'd drink and that I was arrogant to consider myself the most powerful thing in the universe. I don't think I'm the most powerful thing in the universe, I just don't believe in god.
AA and the 12 step programme gave me a good foundation and I made some friends that I still keep in touch with and, nearly 17 years down the line, I'm still not drinking and very happy with my sobriety!
Shame about the 'god' 3rd step thing, its a narrow interpretation of a power higher than yourself. I actually believe in God so it didn't pose a problem, but as an atheist it obviously would. I was told that it could just be fellowship. As to taking your meds being off the programme, plainly ridiculous!!!!
Glad to hear it had a positive outcome!!!! I ended up having a sponsor that was a step Nazi, and while I think the steps work, I ended up not going so much, in fact not been for ages. Did 90 meets in 90 days and then some, and have to say it helped changed my way of life...
I think AA does work and it does help if you have a really positive sponsor. I had a sponsor who started every conversation off with "And what step are you working today" when somedays I didn't even know what day it was. I always recommend AA to people getting newly sober, I think it can give you the biggest boost of your life as long as you remember that, like everything else, you have the choice. I still pop in the odd meeting to say hi to folks but so many AA people live near me I plug into the fellowship regularly.
I think everyone gets different opinions of things and in the end all that matters is what you feel comort with and what works for you.
The AA did not work for my late husband but he was not prepared to put any effort in. Maybe the sponsor he had was not very good but i tend to believe it was more that he didnt want to stop
I am a christian, although not a banner waving one. My faith was sorely tested tho after my grandson died, but yet my daughter and son in law got great comfort from the church. I have now accepted from them that it was for the best, as he was suffering greatly and is now at peace.
I only go to church 2 or 3 times a year (apart from weddings etc) but i like to think i live a good life
Alcoholism is really self-diagnosed. Anyone can say whether they think you have a drink problem or not but only the person themselves can say whether they're alcoholic or not. If you have to drink as opposed to just having one then chances are you're a problem drinker. It's not dependent on how much you drink or when but how you drink. At AA they say that if drinking costs you more than money then chances are you're an alcoholic. Cost me a lot more than money.
Neurobiologically, if you brain has down-regulated (i.e. doesn't naturally produce sufficient) for GABA as a result of alcohol as an agonist (i.e. imitates the neurotransmitter), then you become dependent on alchohol. Its really quite serious as GABA also controls some motor function as well as alleviating anxiety, and stopping cold can be very dangerous. That would be my definition of an alcoholic.
well i think i'm a social drinker and don't drink at all hours, gotta stop though coz I should have increased my meds but decided to leave it untll after christmas so i'm starting tonight. Meds already down the hatch!!!!
I've had some truly awful experiences with sponsors. It has been also hard with peoples general attitude to MH problems & medication. But there are some good people around the 12 step fellowships. The God thing never really bothered me - it is God as I understand him - it is open to whatever you conceive God to be - my ideas on this are not orthodox. I sought help from the fellowships when I'd arrived at the gates of insanity & death - it has helped me get & stay clean, I'm thankful to it. I do follow my own "spirituality", but the fellowship is there in the background & I do have some good friends from my involvement.
I think the line they use in the preamble at Al-Anon meetings is applicable to AA too - take what you like and leave the rest - only in the beginning it's best to do everything as an experiment. Ultimately you have to find out the best way for yourself. I haven't been to a meeting in years but I'm always bumping into people and it is nearly 17 years since I drank. I think medication isn't just a problem in some AA heads though, my mum is always saying I should try to cut down as though I'm taking mood altering as opposed to mood stabilising drugs.
I did NA for a few years. It was good at first to show me that there are other folks out there with similar experiences. It was the only group in the small town of Kingman, Arizona. Listening to the same people go on about how they were big 'ol peices of turd before NA and now they are so much better than that got old, bless thier hearts. I went untill I felt I was'nt getting anymore. I remain friends with a few of them Some choose to be 'lifers', more power to them.
I'm for anything that will help you live a better and happy life, and to some 12 steppin helps them. If thats where any given person is in thier life I would certainly recommend AA or similar programs.
I think the thing that I found most wearing after a while was the attitude of that AA was the only thing that would get you through life and that if you didn't keep on going then you would DRINK AND DIE!!! There was an overwhelming feeling that 6 meetings a week was a bare minimum - I'm sorry but I always had a life to lead and still do. This is quite a big city for English standards but I always seemed to get stuck in the same meeting with people whose stories I'd heard a million times. I think once you get stuck on the "sharing" circuit it's hard to vary what was a very small life. I'm glad for the leg up it gave me though, it helped me change myself into a really positive person and I wouldn't have the opportunity to do the high level community work that I do now if I hadn't went there.
"I think the thing that I found most wearing after a while was the attitude of that AA was the only thing that would get you through life and that if you didn't keep on going then you would DRINK AND DIE!!!"
This is what gets me. The 12 steps is spiritual solution to a spiritual dilemma, the spiritual principles of the 12 steps are Universal, they are "borrowed" from other places. NA, AA, & CA (& the others) do not not have a spiritual monopoly on this, although some members think that they do. The meetings were great in getting me clean & sober initially, I have found that I am growing, learning & living without the need for such close contact with these groups & without doing everything they say I need to do. I do live my life according to a framework of certain principles - sharing honestly with others about how I think/feel, practising open mindedness, listening, willingness etc.
I sometimes argue a little with people who say - but your not working the steps! Shock Horror! So what, the sponsors I did have were not a great help, & I'm doing fine overall without the formal "program". All well & good for people who do religiously follow 12 step recovery, but I personally see that there are other perfectly viable & effective ways of recovering. One thing I found about the fellowships is the social support was one of the biggest helps - people to meet & chat to.
Where I live there are 7 treatment centres & a very large revolving door with people going in & out of recovery. There are the same small group of faces who you find at the meetings, but there is also a very large amount of transient wanderers, some of whom settle in one of the local towns which is frankly, for a number of reasons, an open air nut house & drug den.
I'm also being told that I need to go back to AA because "it's a bridge to normal living" - I've crossed the bridge and I'm in normal living so why go back over the bridge? I suppose I should be selfless and spread my recovery but then would my recovery be any use if it was compromised by what I could and couldn't say because the disapproval of what I have to do to say sane lies heavy in the rooms? I'm much more valuable living in my life and doing the things I do. I get terrific support from some close friends, one in particular who (shock! horror!) treats me like I'm normal and I have a good mind of my own! There are lots of treatment centres round here too and sometimes you know they're just doing the treatment just to avoid prison and I don't think I need to be around that. AA did me a lot of good but I knew when it was time to let go. Oh yea, the spiritual thing - being a good atheist didn't go down too well especially with one guy who constantly told me that I must believe in god deep down because I was a spiritual person...
I opened this thread just to see the response, not expecting to see so many people pick up on it. Never mind a double whiskey, seems we all had our share of dual diagnoses
There seems to be a real theme of 'it's great, apart from the step nazis'. I find people who seem to have swapped their addiction for the steps and pursue it with equal vigour hard work, in much the way I find 'evangelicals' of any description hard work. There has to be many ways to share 'recovery', perhaps using the lessons in our interaction with as many people as we can during 'normal' living?
It does seem that people, myself including, really benefitted from the change of peer group, social networking and support as well as the loose moral lessons that the steps allude to...
I've really enjoyed reading some of the input herein...
I am not an Atheist, but I find Atheism very interesting & in many ways a highly responsible moral attitude to life, far more so than many who follow theism or monotheism. I admire the Atheist standpoint.
I have the "God Delusion" by Dawkins in my pile of books to read & I look forward to reading it, I have read parts & found it good reading. I did have a copy of the blind watchmaker but I was ill when I tried to read it & didn't get far. I am a fan of Douglas Adams as well, if my "signature" didn't give that away! He described himself as a "Radical Atheist"
I have read enough AA & NA associated literature from Atheists to know that it is no problem to follow the 12 steps with no belief in God.
My own "Beliefs" concepts or ideas on all this are wide & varied. In the simplest & most effective of terms my "Higher power" is other people to a large degree. Nature also figures strongly.
In terms of my "belief" in God I could be described as following panentheism, in the sense that I hold to the idea that "God" or a being which created the Universe is within the entire Universe & "became" the Universe when "it" created it. I also could be described as having animistic beliefs in that I see all things as containing an aspect of God or a "soul". I do have an idea that we all have God like higher selves - of which we are largely unaware & I agree with the idea of simultaneous incarnation. (The higher self is engaging in multiple 1500+ incarnations at the same time on earth). I am fascinated with ideas around a Demiurge, especially in the Gnostic sense of a "blind God" - This idea of a Demiurge is a potential answer to the problem of evil. In fact my ideas on all of this stuff can become quite complicated.
I do like Buddhism about the best of all the religions, especially of the Tibetan & Zen variety. It can realistically be considered an Atheistic religion. From 17-21 I obsessivly read & re-read the bible, I was convinced I would find a solution there. I didn't & I reached some definite personal conclusions.
Fundamentalism, especially of the Christian variety really gets my goat. I find it somewhat amusing that Christians often harp on about their Religion being monotheistic - when in reality it far more in line with a polytheistic religion, with the trinity, & especially in the case of Roman Catholicism; the veneration of the saints/Mother Mary, etc.
I have found allot of help from Reiki which isn't really a Religion, & also with the Egyptian belief systems, especially the Heliopolitian religion, which surprisingly could be called monotheistic; upon which allot of Egyptian belief was based. I do find the different faiths interesting, paganism I think as well an appealing system of ritual & belief.
All of my "beliefs" aside we realise & I think that many do - that we can live productive, fulfilling & spiritual lives in service to others - normal living on the other side of the bridge - without a dependence on the structures of AA/NA. With or without a belief in God. Many have done & do so.
I can't help thinking that Bill wouldn't agree with allot that goes on in the name of AA (NA/CA etc) - 12 step, today.
Out of inane interest the word Belief breaks down into be-lie-f.
I was going to join the local AA here about 3 years ago because I needed support. The people who were running it came to my house to interview me and tell me everything about the program and of course to find out about me.
I never went to one single meeting because those folks put me off as they were super religious and I couldn't take it. It still makes me sad that I missed out on it because of that.