As usual, The Walking Man made a thought provoking comment on my last post. Here is some of what he said:
I tried the AA way and what I found in every single meeting I ever went to was a clique that if you hadn't been a part of it for a few years at least, you were ignored, no one came up to me and told me about the "how this thing of ours works." Maybe I wasn't wearing the right clothes or didn't know the secret handshake. So I personally have no respect for AA but I do not condemn it either because for some it is their religion. their way to salvation.
I can't address the cliques in AA, but would like to write about whether recovery programs like AA and Al-Anon are the only way. For some, like me, Al-Anon is a salvation. I tried therapy, and it didn't bring home the message to me like Al-Anon has. Yet, I do recognize that there are other ways to deal with alcoholism.
Sometimes there is confusion expressed in meetings about not drinking versus recovery. These are two separate issues for me. Being sober is but a step in managing the disease. It stops the physical deterioration that alcoholism brings. Sobriety in and of itself is a huge step, but the disease is in the thinking and actions of the alcoholic and those of us who are around them. There are those that I know who go to meetings and have 20 + years sober, yet the diseased thinking and "isms" are still there.
What is equally important is learning a new way of living and thinking. That is what I believe the 12 step recovery programs provide. Al-Anon is working for me because I wanted to change my behavior: the anger, the fear, the judging, the nagging. I did not feel happy but desperately wanted to change. Until a person is ready for that, I don't think that change will happen.
I believe that AA and the Big Book state that if you can find another way, then that's fine. But for those who are "beyond human aid", then going "cold turkey", toughing it out, and having a will of steel to make it so may not be enough. The spiritual solution is what many have found to be the solution for them.
Even though I am not in AA, I have been to enough open meetings to hear that many have tried all kinds of ways to stop the disease: religion, family, relationships, sex, drugs, etc. But what I hear in meetings is that it wasn't until they reached that utter surrender to a deathly bottom did they finally give in and give up to the God of their understanding. At that time, they were willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety, serenity and sanity.
It is a cunning, baffling and powerful thing. And maybe for those who are spiritually sick, 12 step recovery programs such as AA and Al-Anon are a starting point to address the low self-esteem, behavioral and coping problems that alcoholism brings. No matter what, I believe that the individual has to give in to the process whether it is Al-Anon, AA or "Sober Valley Lodge". If something works to bring about the peace and serenity in your life, then stick with it.
I think that a great part of 12 step recovery is helping others. By doing so, I help myself. What is of most importance is that if works for the one person choosing to work it for one day at a time with one reason in mind, then that is incredible.
For me, Al-Anon has helped me to find friends, have a bigger "family", get acceptance, understand humility, lose fear, and share experience, strength and hope. I have not received this from any other entity that I have been involved in before or since coming into recovery myself.
For sure, there are other programs that work. There are other ways that work. When I think about how many people are affected by alcoholism, it is staggering. I have heard that for every one alcoholic, there are 10 who are affected by the disease. Where are these people? Maybe they are toughing it out like I did for decades. Maybe they have found a solution in couches and pills some of which will point a hurting person into the doors of AA and Al-Anon and some that will just give the pain another appointment and another bill. Maybe they write, paint, exercise, cook or have some other passion that is fulfilling. It is our choice to investigate and discern what is right for each of us.