Alcoholics Anonymous is NOT a religion. It is NOT a cult. It does NOT require a belief in GOD. Do people mention God the minute you sit in your first meeting? More likely it will happen. Stick with me…the next blog will cover “God.”
If you are just beginning to think about removing alcohol from your life and are struggling to begin, it is normal. This post is to keep things simple and straight for those just figuring out where they belong.
This post focuses on Alcoholic Anonymous as a tool and why it works for an agnostic like me. I am an agnostic. I do not believe our earth, our bodies, our souls and universe was created by a single being or entity called God. I do not believe in many Gods either. So, when you go to your first AA meeting, don’t be turned off by the word God. It will become clear later on. For the first timer, just open your eyes and be open minded. Listen. Learn.
DAY 1 So, on that first meeting. It might be your Day 1 or week 1 of sobriety. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty on Day 1. There is still a lot of fear and uncertainty on Day 1. More fear and uncertainty on Day 1. There may or may not be many Day 1s. Again, this is also normal. Until one can understand the disease, spiritual affect and physical cravings, we might have strung along a lot of day 1s, picked up a bunch of 24 hour coins/chips. Maybe you can make a nice dress out of your 24-hour chips. If you could, that would be a lot of sobriety days added together and that is a great thing.
If you think you might be alcoholic but can’t be sure. That is SO normal. I am pretty that most alcoholics have asked themselves this oh about 100 times over.
You look at AA from afar and might even know someone in AA. Your thoughts might be something like this: Losers go to AA. I don’t like the God thing. I can CONTROL this. I have the capability to hold down a job, never had a DUI (yet), always seem to turn out OK. I haven’t hit BOTTOM YET.
Or worse. Have you heard or lived these stories? I killed someone in a car accident but I drank anyway. I lost my children to DSS and yet, that didn’t stop me from continued addiction.
Everyone’s bottom comes to them at different lengths of disease, different actions lead us to our bottoms and our bottoms will eventually come up to us. They can come through self realization (sick and tired), enforced reaction (courts, family intervention, jail-time) or death, etc…
We alcoholics have a million stories. Different variations of and many common.
What to expect. The first meeting you should attend is an Open Speaker meeting. This meeting is open to everyone. You don’t introduce yourself. You walk in, sit down and listen. The format is simple and here is a sample:
- Someone will come to the podium and introduce themselves
- They will talk group stuff, introduce the incoming speaker group (another group visiting) and will open up the meeting
- The AA preamble is read. Listen to this. It is good. It goes over the basic guidelines of AA meeting.
- Then the speakers. They will come up, say there name and share their EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH and HOPE. Three key things that everyone shares.
- Meeting ends with a collection of money.
- The Lord’s Prayer or Serenity Prayer is said. (this is that tricky God part)
What you hoped to have learned is that you share something similar to something one of the speakers said. That’s it. It is all you have to do.
What if someone talks to you? It is OK. They just want to help.
What if you hated the meeting? It is OK. That is likely your current state about everything. I would recommend going a few more times. At least to speaker meetings.
What you ultimately want to find out is this, do I want something that 1 person has in those meetings? Do I want sobriety?
Then ask yourself, what other tools do I have that can compliment AA? If I don’t like AA, what else can I do? Read, movies, podcasts. Repeat?
OVERALL, don’t overanalyze it.