A more casual approach to AA meetings!

A more casual approach to AA meetings!

This weeks podcast on a casual approach to AA

Here is this weeks new podcast for www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovering.com . The alcoholism recovery podcasts have been doing well and I have had over 10 000 listens so far which is pretty good as I only started this site towards the end of last year.

This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual approach than many to AA membership. He still takes recovery seriously but his life does not revolve around meetings which is something we both did in our early days.

I found having this discussion really interesting as Adrian has made good use of being in the fellowship, but is certainly not a Big Book thumper and takes a more common sense approach to recovery than some people.

We discuss why we feel AA helps people but also mention things that we feel are out of date. We talk about the literature and why that puts some people off going to AA and miss out on recovery. People like Adrian were the ones that actually helped me in my days in the rooms of AA rather than the Big Book thumpers and members of the cult type meetings.

It is important that people are not put off recovery by people who are over zealous about wanting to sponsor them, or by an old fashioned approach to issues such as taking antidepressants. Some meetings are great and have broad minded members, while others are really more like a religious group where there is more talk about God and Higher Powers, than actual recovery.

I think it is important in recovery to try and get some independence and not simply rely on a sponsor for every big decision in your life. I am not saying you should take chances with recovery but at the same time I think it is a good idea to try and live a normal life that does not revolve around having a fear of drinking.

14 Comments
  • Ken
    Posted at 01:43h, 12 March Reply

    I am soon to have accomplished one year of total sobriety. I am 63 years old and have not had 1 continuous year of sobriety since I was 17. I attend AA meetings and certainly am sure that the fellowship of AA has helped me to stay sober. However, there is a lot of things regarding the AA program and the meetings that I do not buy into. As I was trying to work the steps I found myself falling into a confused and depressed state of mind. I had a sponsor that I felt did not listen to me, a home group that was very much focused on spirituality and a higher power and although I did receive a lot of good advice, the program and meetings on their own were not working for me. I wound up getting professional counseling and that has very much helped me to recognize issues and feelings that have a huge effect on the way I think and react. I still attend and will continue to attend AA meetings but I take them for the help that they are and I accept that they are not the total answer for me.

    • Michael D
      Posted at 16:06h, 12 March Reply

      Hello Ken, thanks for your comment. I am grateful for the support in my early days of AA and feel that it was being in a fellowship of people with a common purpose that really helped me rather than the religious side. Counselling was what really helped me and i made a lot of progress after that. AA suits some people but is not a complete answer for others and I moved on. AA will be there if I need it but at the moment everything seems to be going well. Best wishes for the future.

  • Jo
    Posted at 20:18h, 23 April Reply

    Hi Michael
    I just wanted to say thank you for this website, blog and podcasts. I started out a year ago with AA because I really don’t know any alternative. It did help, but I no longer go for many reasons. I have relapsed and will be trying the Sinclair Method purely because of hearing about it through your podcasts. Just wanted to thank you for bringing the different options out in the open. I remember well my sponsor telling me I absolutely had to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days, and the tbh the thought of day after day after day of meetings is as bad as drinking day in day out. But I see new hope. now – thank you 🙂

    • Michael D
      Posted at 15:45h, 24 April Reply

      Thanks Jo, I’m glad you found the podcasts and site helpful. We will be doing some more soon. My other site http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com has some good links to resourses and some book reviews which may help. I have also been involved with http://www.the-sinclair-method.com which has information by Dr roy Eskapa about using the Sinclair Method and has some good links, including sites that are linked to Claudia Christian and her film and Dr Eskapa’s book “the cure for Alcoholism”.
      Good luck in the future

  • jo
    Posted at 22:19h, 16 June Reply

    Hi
    Thanks for a great podcast. It great to hear other people that have reservations about AA. For years in AA i thought i was really ‘sick’ for questioning the programme. I have been sober for 12 years, most of that time i have attended AA. After five years in AA, i started to feel disillusioned but i was too terrified to leave. I was not so scared of drinking again but more scared of losing my mind. As well as the scare tactic of the usual if you don’t attend meetings you’ll pick up there is also a lot of fear generated by the notion of becoming a ‘dry drunk’ and going insane. This fear kept me in AA far longer than it should have been there. Over the past year, i dropped down on my meetings to about 1 a week. Over the past 5 months, I don’t go very often, perhaps 1 every fortnight or three weeks, it depends. However, i can’t stand the meetings and i cannot for the life of me sit through a whole meeting. Sometimes i hear something that i can relate to or see someone i know and that is nice. On the whole though I find them alienating and if i am honest they seem really strange now and extremely dated. I think it is the cult aspect of AA that i just cannot reconcile with, the rhetoric, the bog standard sharing/praise of AA – like a mutual appreciation society – it seems fake somehow and i really fail to see the benefit of it for me.
    I have been working on an art project in a female prison. A large majority of the prisoners have had alcohol and drug problems. They don’t get adequate support when they leave prison, no follow on treatment or help with their substance abuse. The only thing on offer is a weekly AA meeting at the prison. This does not appeal to the majority of women there but some go for the free biscuits. I realised that AA does not reach far enough and this is due to it’s out-datedness, the language, the God thing, it really puts people off. Even the steps and traditions are displayed on old fashioned scrolls, which is just off putting for most people, especially young people. AA is out of touch. As was quite rightly pointed out in the podcast, it has not changed since the 1930s. It does not work for huge sections of society. It can work for some people, and i always recommend it as a way of getting and staying sober. However, it misses out huge sections of society. I would like to see more investment and recognition for alternative treatment methods such as SMART etc but nothing is on offer apart from AA. The irony is that If AA does not work for you, then you are told it’s you that is the problem, not the out-dated irrelevant programme! I no longer find the dogma of AA tolerable. It helped me massively but i was lucky. I didn’t end up in prison, i didn’t end up on the streets, members of my family had been to AA and NA and i saw how they got sober so going to meetings and being part of a fellowship was not completely alien to me. For most people this is not the case and being in AA and working a programme will be both alienating and unappealing.
    Another thing i have noticed, myself included, is that a lot of people who have been in AA a long time eventually become quite neurotic. It is as if they are trapped in a cycle of neurosis, going to meetings – believing this will make them better, feeling bit better, then full on neurosis again, round and round. It is like they become addicted to AA, trapped in a vicious cycle. I wonder what would happen if they just stopped going to AA and learned to stand on their own two feet, build a good life, with supportive friends etc, They would probably see that they are not that neurotic after all and the addiction to meetings and the belief system they have constructed about themselves keeps them stuck in a neurotic loop. That has been the case for me anyway.

    • Michael D
      Posted at 11:21h, 17 June Reply

      Thanks for your comment Jo, I agree with many of the things you have said. I still bump into peple from the fellowship from time to time and do find many of them neurotic. Some people love attending and i certainly don’t have an issue with that, but it is certainly not for all. If you fancy doing a podcast with me about the points you are making, let me know, I can record them over Skype. Thanks again.

      • jo
        Posted at 20:20h, 18 June Reply

        Hi Michael.
        Thanks for your reply. Yes it would be great to do a podcast, thanks for asking. Next week is full on for me but the week after that would work. When were you thinking?
        Jo

        • Michael D
          Posted at 08:49h, 19 June Reply

          I sent you an email so I hope you got it, but the week after next is fine for me as I am mainly working from home. Let me know some times that are good for you. Thanks in advance.

  • jo
    Posted at 22:24h, 16 June Reply

    p.s this is a from the different Jo, from the Jo who posted the comment above mine!

    • Michael D
      Posted at 11:22h, 17 June Reply

      Good to be popular with the Jo’s!

  • Joe radcliff
    Posted at 03:36h, 23 August Reply

    Going to aa became to dangerous. Some guys just got out of prison & one threatened to beat me up, because he didn’t like me. My car kept getting broken into, as well.. Be careful when attending aa.

    • Michael D
      Posted at 09:33h, 23 August Reply

      AA is going to have the type of people that go to bars where heavy drinking takes place. There are going to be some unsavoury people in both places so you have to use common sense on how you deal with people.

  • Terry wall
    Posted at 11:15h, 31 October Reply

    I have fallen into conflict with my programme. I am not prepared to condemn it outright as it has undoubtley done me a lot of good. The thing I cannot ignore right now is this culture of people lableing them selfs and each other as mad. after being told I am mad more than once I started questioning my sanity so I think its time for me to take an objective look at what I have signed up for. When I talked to one of my recovery friends objecting being labled as mad by someone who was also labelling them selfs as mad he advised that my pride is the problem. what the problem really is for me is that I am recovering from PTSD being labled mad is not good for my already fragile sense of self. I think many people in the meeting who are lableing them selfs as mad are actually suffering from unresolved anxiety and trauma issues. I think this is damaging

    • Michael D
      Posted at 10:09h, 04 November Reply

      I agree people labelling themselves mad is an issue. Part of it is sometimes trying to fit in with the general ideas of the group. People who share crazy stuff are often credited with the best recovery in AA circles. AA has some good things such as group support, but other sides are best avoided in my opinion.

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