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Posts Tagged ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’


Half measures availed us nothing—AA Slogan

Alcoholics Anonymous is by nature quite secretive. Ensuring each attendee’s privacy is something people in the program take very seriously, as they should. Consequently, there have been no clinical studies allowed to demonstrate the long-term success rate of the program. Nevertheless, some things are apparent, and the news isn’t good.

The effectiveness of AA for helping people sustain prolonged sobriety is appalling. For those who love an alcoholic, often that person’s hope is that the alcoholic will start attending meetings, get sober, and remain sober. The assumption is that AA will work and their loved one will become responsible once again, but such an outcome is rare.

The truth is only 5 percent of those who pick up a white chip make it to ninety days of continuous sobriety. Even worse, only 5 percent of those who make it to ninety days make it to two years. This means that only a few who begin the journey to sobriety actually achieve it.

Obviously, if you have a drinking problem, or think you may have a drinking problem, you want to be among the few who actually become sober. The key to success is making the commitment to change. Most come into AA, hoping it will work, but they lack the determination to make it work. Being tentative, their chances for success are virtually non-existent. In a 1990 survey—one of the few sanctioned by AA—only 5 percent of those who picked up a white chip continued to attend AA meetings one year later.

When I first went to AA, it was because my girlfriend insisted that I go. Like most, my commitment was marginal. Although we broke up soon thereafter, I continued to attend the meetings. Honestly, it was refreshing to no longer have hangovers, but my commitment was marginal at best.

About six months into sobriety, I was in the Virgin Islands with a different young lady—not my proudest moment. We had been out in the ocean all morning in a boat I rented to explore the islands. Being hot, we moored at a dock to get something to drink, but we were not allowed to leave the boat unattended. So, she went to get us some water, while I waited on the boat.

When she returned, she had two cans of Budweiser in her hands but no water—not a drop. Because we had already exceeded our allotted time to moor, I had to head back out to sea, and I was very thirsty.

So, she held out the can of beer and said, “Go ahead, drink it. I won’t tell anybody.”

This was my moment to truth. For me, it might as well have been Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, and I knew it. Although I was bone dry, I didn’t drink the beer. This was the exact moment that achieving sober assumed the importance it needed to have in my life. I resisted temptation, when everything inside of me was saying, “Go ahead, nobody will ever know.”

If I hadn’t been strong, I doubt I would still be alive to relate the story, knowing how lethal alcoholism can be.

When we arrived back to the States, I parted ways with the girl but not with AA. It became more important to me than ever.

The key for me, as it is with every other problem drinker, was my determination to turn my mind and my will over to God, allowing Him to change me from the inside out. That was my defining moment, but this can be yours.

Jack Watts

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On Facebook, I saw the photo of a handsome young man, sporting a cheerful smile on his face. Underneath the photo, his obituary was posted. Wondering if he died in a car accident or overseas fighting our enemies, I opened the obituary and read it. When I did, I was deeply grieved. He died of a drug overdose while drinking—just like so many other young people in America.

This is something that happens far too often in our society. We’ve all known someone who has died from an alcohol or drug related death. Perhaps you’ve known someone like this. I’ve known quite a few. In my twenty-three years of recovery, it seems like I have heard of situations like this on an average of once a month. Because these deaths happen sporadically, it’s always shocking, but it shouldn’t be. Instead, they are predictable, and we need to recognize this for what it is.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we say alcohol kills. We believe it, but few take this aphorism seriously—not as seriously as they should, not until it’s too late. There’s a reason for this.

Alcoholics and drug addicts engage in magical thinking. Regardless of how far down the ladder they have gone, they believe they will beat the odds, learn to drink or drug successfully, and live to a ripe old age. They all believe this, but it’s almost never true. Pointing to one person who has made the news by living to 105, while drinking bourbon everyday, alcoholics believe they will be that person, but it’s far more likely that they will die decades before their time by choosing to pursue a path of self-destruction. If you think my admonition is hyperbole, think again.

Because we live in an era where foolish political leaders—those who are anxious to be popular among millennials—champion personal indulgence—the problem is getting worse rather than better. Like the lemming rushing over a cliff, believing the ocean is just another lake, we are headed in the wrong direction at breakneck speed, producing a wake of destabilization, destruction, and death. In this legislative and administrative game, where fools legalize folly, your children and grandchildren are being put at risk. Oblivious to the heartache and suffering at the other end, the welfare of our youth is not the number one priority.

Because our nation glorifies alcohol, especially in music and on TV, minimizing its potential destructiveness, kids by the millions start drinking before have a clue about life. Now, marijuana is getting the same type of glorification. Meanwhile, obituaries like the one I mentioned continue to pop up across the nation—day after day, year after year.

You can listen to all of the music you want or watch TV shows that minimize the destructive effects of alcohol and drugs, but none of it is true. Just ask the families of those who have lost a son or daughter to alcohol or drugs. They will tell you, “Alcohol kills”—just like we have learned at AA.

 

Jack Watts

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In Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as other programs for addiction, people mark their progress by the amount of time they have been alcohol and drug free. Longevity is celebrated, and it should be. Because I have nearly twenty-three years of continuous sobriety, this means that what I have to say carries more weight than someone who has far less time. Again, this is how it should be. This isn’t rocket science.

Those new to sobriety are taught to pay closer attention to “Winners” in the program than others, and the wise newcomers learn to do so. In the South, we use a chip system to acknowledge our time in sobriety. For those just coming in, they pick up a white poker chip, signifying a desire to not drink for that day. After thirty days of continuous sobriety, another chip is given, followed by a chip for ninety days, six months, nine months, one year, and for multiple years. A blue chip is given for each year of sobriety, and I have twenty-two. When I pick up my twenty-third-year chip, people will clap and congratulate me, acknowledging that my tenure means I have done a great deal of work successfully.

This is the focus of AA. The emphasis is on longevity. There is no recognition given for the quality of a person’s sobriety. By working the program, most do become better people—sometimes much better people—but this isn’t measured. It is just assumed that the longer you are sober, the better person you will become. While this is more often true than not, it isn’t always the case.

If you have trouble with alcoholism, or you are concerned that you might be a problem drinker, what I am recommending is that you take an alternative approach—at least in your mind. From the time that withdrawal from alcohol ceases to be a problem, you need to focus on your character and measure the quality of your sobriety side by side with your longevity.

By doing this, you will enrich your life appreciably. By focusing on character development, rather than just staying clean, you can become the person you want to be. Instead of just assuming your character will transform, which may or may not happen, make character change your emphasis. If you do, the longevity will inevitably follow. You can count on this, and you should.

http://www.mcgeeandme.net/books/
http://sonomachristianhome.com/2015/04/altering-alcoholic-behavior/

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One of the really great recovery slogans in Alcoholics Anonymous is this: It really isn’t yours until you give it away. What this means is that—to solidify all that you have accomplished in sobriety—to own it as the essence of who you are, you must help someone in the same way you have been helped. This makes helping others become an essential part of your recovery.

In AA, or any program, helping others by becoming a sponsor is one of the key components. They say, “The time to call your sponsor is before you pick up a drink—not after.”

In recovery from religious abuse, helping others along the path to spiritual freedom is also an integral part of recovery, but it’s a little different than in a substance abuse program. To be the greatest help to someone who has been spiritually abused, you must learn to identify God’s interest in them rather than your own.

This requires you to really get to know the person, pray for them regularly, and listen for God’s leading in their lives. In AA, the most important thing a sponsor can do is to teach those they are sponsoring how to live life on life’s terms, without medicating with alcohol. It’s noble and worthy, but it’s also simple when compared to helping someone develop his or her relationship with God—once it has been damaged by religious abuse.

If you can learn how to serve another in this way, you will have done a service that will have eternal consequences. There’s nothing like it in importance. If you want to invest your life in a worthy way, help someone who has been the victim of religious abuse to reconnect with God in a meaningful way. It’s hard work but, if you have success with it, nothing in life will be more rewarding.

If you are willing to put yourself “out there” to help others, say this prayer with me:

Father,

Having been used, abused, and discarded,

By those who insisted they spoke in Your name,

But most certainly did not,

My self-worth has suffered significantly.

Having internalized this shaming charge,

Which my abusers have levied against me,

I have acted in ways contrary to my beliefs.

These truths have set forth in Your Word,

And they reside deep within the core of my being.

Having tried to run from You for so long,

I now see how flawed my judgment has been.

Returning has required me to renew my mind

And to begin looking at life as You do.

Thank You for enlightening me with wisdom,

For revealing to me that You have good things

Planned for me and not for the calamity I have feared.

At times, I still have trouble believing You, Lord,

Believing that the validation You have

Planted in my heart is real and long lasting.

The stinging indictment of my abusers

Has found fertile ground in my soul,

And continues to resonate, telling me that

I am a person without value—without worth.

When I begin to internalize this message,

Flood me with Your love, Your truth, and Your Word.

Let my heart believe You when You affirm,

You are my child—loved and valued.

And I most assuredly have a purpose for your life.

Whenever you have doubts, come to Me,

And I will remind you that you have value.

Thank You for loving me unconditionally, Father,

Amen.

Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

 

Jack Watts

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Learning to Serve Others

 

Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

 

 

There is a time to let things happen, and a time to make things happen.

—Unknown

 

One of the really great recovery slogans in Alcoholics Anonymous is this: It really isn’t yours until you give it away. What this means is that—to solidify all that you have accomplished in sobriety—to own it as the essence of who you are, you must help someone in the same way that you have been helped. This makes helping others become an essential part of your recovery.

In AA, or any other substance abuse program, helping others by becoming a sponsor is one of the key components of the program. They say, “The time to call your sponsor is before you pick up a drink—not after.”

In recovery from religious abuse, helping others along the path to spiritual freedom is also an integral part of recovery, but it’s a little different than in a substance abuse program. To be the greatest help to someone who has been spiritually abused, you must learn to identify God’s interest in them rather than your own.

This requires you to really get to know the person, pray for them regularly, and listen for God’s leading in their lives. In AA, the most important thing a sponsor can do is to teach those they are sponsoring how to live life on life’s terms, without medicating with alcohol. It’s noble and worthy, but it’s also simple when compared to helping someone develop his or her relationship with God—once it has been damaged by religious abuse.

If you can learn how to serve another in this way, you will have done a service that will have eternal consequences. There’s nothing like it in importance. If you want to invest your life in a worthy way, help someone who has been the victim of religious abuse reconnect with God in a meaningful way. It’s hard work but, if you have success with it, nothing in life will be more rewarding.

 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Jack Watts

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One Trusted Friend

 

 

Refer to Step 8: I will share my experience and my own wrongdoing with a trusted friend, confessing the exact state of my heart.

 

 

Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.

—Recovery Slogan

 

When you read the steps for Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step group, you’ll notice that they are plural and not singular. In step 1, it says, “We came to believe” and not “I came to believe.” In recovery from substance abuse, the shared experience of the group is often the most powerful component for achieving sobriety.

In recovery from religious abuse, however, it’s a little different. Although the wounding comes from a religious leader, God is nearly always blamed for the abuse as well. This means the person’s relationship with God becomes the primary problem and the relationship that needs to be mended first. Without getting straight with God, nothing else will work well—that’s for certain.

This is why the 11-step approach is singular and not plural—I and not we. There is no way for a group to heal your relationship with God. You have to do it that yourself, in the quietness of your own heart. Although each person’s experience may be different, the road back to God isn’t. It’s the same for everybody.

At the same time, you will need at least one trusted friend to act as your confidant along the way. Learning to trust God again is essential—so is learning to trust another human being. Both, working together synergistically, will make your journey much less burdensome—and with fewer detours.

Until you’ve accomplished both, nothing else will work very well. When you bring your situation before God, you can be assured He will always be available and accepting. Bringing it before another human is not as easy, but if the person is in tune with God’s will, the end result will definitely be empowering.

 

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12:13)

Jack Watts

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