Saturday, September 06, 2008


Recently I listened to a young man lead a discussion on “Spirituality In My Life”. He was released from prison a little over a year ago but he has almost 4 years of living a clean and sober life. This means that he learned about sobriety while still in prison. It made me think of all the selfless members of Alcoholics Anonymous that I know who week after week carry the message to the inmates.

The recovery rate of prisoners is very low. But, then the recovery rate is low for all of us...only one in 10 will stay sober, according to some reports. As another young friend of mine says “I feel sorry for the 9 who don’t make it but I want to be the one who does.”

The AA program is extremely simple...just 12 Steps that, if practiced faithfully, will change a life. It is almost impossible to explain the program to a non-alcoholic so I never try. Everyone has to find their own path and I feel that I’ve finally found mine, and have for more than 19 years. I listened to a nun tell her story once and she had this great line. She said, “If you spot it, you’ve got it!” (If you don’t get that it’s a pretty good bet that you’re not “one of us”).

I looked around the room this morning and marveled. We were a group of perhaps 60 people from every walk of life represented by all colors, races and genders, with an ex-prisoner leading the discussion. Among our audience were 4 doctors, 3 lawyers, a priest, a dog trainer, 4 counselors, 4 or 5 from the nursing profession and a multitude of ordinary workers. It also included a fair amount of retirees (myself being one of them) and some men and women from the seedier side of life who were just starting the journey.

Some people say that AA is a cult and some say it is a religion. Both descriptions are wrong. I am not a religious person but I have found a faith in a Higher Power “of my understanding” in AA. That basically means that I believe there is some sort of power that I can’t define but I know that it is NOT ME.

There are no restrictions to becoming an AA member and the “ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”


Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--I offer two perspectives. One, I have a dear friend who is a recovering alcoholic, with the help of AA. She can tell me exactly how long she has been sober. It works for her, and was life saving.
Second, I worked for the state medical society years ago, and was staff person to the Impaired Physicians program. Many doctors were addicted, and needed something like AA to help them. Some found AA, some didn't--with tragic results.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Ginnie, this is a great post. I know how well AA works if you work the program because I've seen people change incredibly. My wife is one of them. I believe that I've heard the nun before. She is an excellent speaker.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I sure didn't realize the success rates were so low. Congratulations on being such a success!

5:44 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I am proud of your success, Ginnie. The only experience I have with it is when my ex-son-in-law went to meetings for about 3 months - and then quit.

8:27 AM  
Blogger molly said...

i really really really enjoyed this post. got chill bumps at certain points.

i'm glad you are in sober blog world - wait - no - i'm glad you are in the world - PERIOD.

thanks for sharing this. somehow it was what i needed today.

1:56 PM  
Blogger ellen said...

I watched an uncle go through years of torture. It was so heartbreaking and to me, as a small child, so terrifying. BUT he did get help eventually in AA and his was a success story. What a blessing that was for him and his family.
I, too, am glad to have you in this world, Ginnie.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am well aware of the focus and support the AA program gives individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Years ago I gsve up social drinking. On three New Years' Eve in a row at the same house of friends I drank to much and was ill. I am sure that to this day they think I have a drinking problem. After that I decided it was not worth the risk of alcoholism. I never did like the feeling of being drunk and out of control. There are many wonderful non-alcoholic drinks.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Bud said...

Beautifully done Ginny, We get to choose our own God in AA. Mine is the group and people like you who remind me daily that I am never alone. Hugs, Bud

3:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"If you spot it, you’ve got it!”
I think that is true of almost any personality trait you can name.

12:11 PM  

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