Newbie

New to AA? Got questions? Here's the place to ask. Note that no one person speaks "officially" for AA. AA meetings in your local area are always the best source of information. Note that anyone may post and reply to messages in this forum.

Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:04 pm

Hi all. I'm John, an Alcoholic, from California, and have 117 days of sobriety. I've been on another online forum that is more about moderation than abstinence. I found it helpful with my own recovery to talk about what I went through and where I am today. I also found it useful to read others' stories. However, I'm not seeking moderation, but rather abstinence, so that forum wasn't exactly a good fit. So, I thought, there ought to be a AA version out there, and sure enough, I found this forum. I'm excited to join and participate.

My AA experience is somewhat limited. I'm neither for or against. My dad has 33 years and the chips to prove it. Me, on the other hand, I don't have a single chip... well, except for the one I received from my Intensive Outpatient Program. Aside from that, no chips. Not terribly important to me. I've been to just a handful of meetings and haven't met too many people. I found that people were friendly, but no one took the time to explain how AA works and what my steps were. To be fair, I didn't ask either. I have read only some of the big book.

I should go to more meetings, but honestly, I just don't have cravings. I know, I know.. "pink cloud", but you'd think after 100+ days, that pink cloud would have blown away. Sure I've wanted a drink or a glass of wine a couple of times, but it wasn't something I wrestled with. The worst of it was after a long day of working in the yard and I wanted a beer. I had cold ones sitting in the fridge, but never considered grabbing one (they are for guests). I basically laughed at myself for considering it.

I went through 12 days of withdrawals. It was horrible. And when I finally admitted I had a problem and was ready for help, I went to detox. I finally felt good again. Those 12 days... and the struggle for years and months leading up to it, shaped the mental addiction. I was very ready to be done getting drunk nightly. This is why, I believe, I don't struggle staying sober. I also don't put pressure on myself... sober isn't forever. I just focus on today, and nowadays, I don't even think about it. So much better than those 12 days of hell.

Anyways, I'd like to get more involved with AA for my benefit and the benefit of others. e-AA seems like a good place to start. And perhaps this will encourage me to make the time to go to a few more local meetings.

So... Hello all. Thanks for setting up this forum. I hope I can learn a thing or two. :-)
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Re: Newbie

Postby Spirit Flower » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:02 pm

Welcome John.
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Re: Newbie

Postby Brock » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:15 pm

Welcome to e-AA John. Yours is not the easiest of letters to reply to, usually we have those still drinking and not sure they have a problem, or more often admitting their problem and asking advise, and then those who are recovered thanks to AA and just want to share their experience. In your case you seem to be going along fine without any help, meetings or otherwise.

Normally we might say if you are an alcoholic there is no way you could beat this, without the spiritual experience our steps are designed to provide, our literature says we just can't do this alone. The big book does mention this case -
Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, "I don't miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time." As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn't happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.

But then in your case we can't say 'he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks,' because you certainly don't appear that way.

If you go to more meetings as you know you will probably hear stories from those who could never manage what you are doing, and I am afraid that if you gave your story some there might wonder if you really are an alcoholic. I don't say this to be unkind, you are an alcoholic if you say you are, AA traditions explain that.

Something everyone here probably has in common, is the fact that if we were to drink one of those beers in your fridge after the yard work, that one would lead to a whole lot more, we would have no choice. The big book actually mentions as a test to drink a few then stop, and if you can carry on for the rest of the day without feeling like crap, and struggling not to drink more, then you may be OK. There is a sign in many meeting rooms, which says one is too much and a hundred not enough, to demonstrate what happens when we try to drink just one.

At any rate please ask any questions you may have, and I hope I haven't put you off.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Newbie

Postby positrac » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:10 am

Welcome John and don't BS yourself into drinking again...... We hear you but we've been in your situation and it is like walking on hot coals and not being prepared to get burned on our soles of our feet.

So if our thoughts aren't in-line with you I suggest going to various different meetings in your area and throw out this topic of yours and see what kind of feed back you get in person.

it is way more than not having urges and or self-control.
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Re: Newbie

Postby Lali » Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:15 am

I rather like the idea of you doing the "test" thing at home first (as Brock suggested) before going into a room of alcoholics and throwing out there that you don't seem to have a problem. That could put some off. I'm certainly not telling you to go to meetings; on the contrary, it might be wise to go to some meetings and hear what others share. Look for similarities to yourself in what you are hearing; not for differences. There is also a pamphlet that is a "self test" to decide whether you are an alcoholic. You can google it - I believe it is called "Is AA For You?" and another called "Is AA For Me?" and they both contain the same questions to ask yourself. Also, feel free to stick around these forums to do some reading and also feel free to continue to share with us! Welcome!
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Re: Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:45 am

@brock and @positrac Thanks for taking the time to write all of that.

I don't think testing myself is a good idea. I've always been that guy who would have one beer, then not stop until bedtime (1 is too many/100 is not enough). I had been like that since college. I'm 47 now. (FYI, I started drinking in 4th grade.) For the last 6-7 years, I'd drink Scotch or Whiskey every night. Last 3-4 years, it was at least half a bottle of Jameson a night. I used alcohol to escape, and then I became physically addicted. I knew I had a problem. I knew the only way to get off of it was going to rehab. It took me a long time to find my bottom, and it happened to be feeling severe withdrawals. I refused to drink in the morning or during the day at work, and once that flipped switched in my body, I was literally ill from the time I woke up, until I had my first drink after work; for twelve straight days. So, I have no illusions about being an alcoholic or not. I'm grateful I have no cravings. I am not so naive to think that things couldn't change and I'll be "burning my feet on hot coals". I know there are people who drank more than I did and in comparison, I am lucky that I caught the slide early. Well, I didn't exactly have a choice... withdrawals isn't something one can simply ignore.

I actually liken my addiction to that of nicotine. I used to chew copenhagen. I had quit many times in 20 years and each time was a complete struggle. I tried everything... cold turkey, gum, patches. Yet, I'd always end up going back. Longest I went was for a year. Then one night I bummed a chew off a buddy and bamm, I was buying a new can the next morning. I wasn't done. I wasn't ready to quit. I kicked the physical, but the mental addiction was kicking my ass. Then one day it clicked... "This is stupid. Why am I chewing? What benefit to I get?..." and I was done. Simple. I used patches to wean myself off of the nicotine, and it was easy. Never had another craving. I did have a chew a year or two later as I was curious if that would trigger me to go buy my own can. It didn't. I can confidently say I was done. Alcohol was the same way. I chose to quit. No court order. No nagging wife, girlfriend, or kids. No DUI. No major job troubles. I was literally sick and tired of being sick and tired. Those twelve days kicked my butt, hard (mental and physical addiction). Rehab was fine because I wanted to be done. I felt fantastic day two, but stayed for 9 days. (that's another story... ugh.) They had a residential program at my facility and I spent much of my time going to various sessions to learn about this disease.

I had one presenter say "Normal people don't wake up each day and say 'tonight, I'm only going to drink X drinks.'" That resonated with me, as I would have that conversation daily. The last 100+ days I haven't thought about drinking when I awoke once. That's a good thing.

Again, I have no illusions about where I am. I believe that if I have a drink, the odds are that I will be right back where I was in 2 weeks. I don't want that. I never want to feel that sick again. I am blessed that I kicked both my Mental and Physical addictions. Thank God! Interestingly, my Dad was the same way. He never battled drinking when he quit. He's been sober for 33 years and he worked the program completely. I can be around alcohol. I've been to parties and bars where people are drinking. I don't miss it. I don't stand there a salivate at the thought of having a drink. I even have beer and wine in the my house for guests. No problem. I think I am lucky in that regard.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write and give me advice/your opinion. I appreciate it. I hope I can learn more, help others, and those two things will continue to aid me in my sobriety.

@Spirit Flower Thanks for the 'welcome'. :-)

@Lali Thanks for the reply. I've taken those tests in the past and I had all the warnings. Just because I'm not struggling doesn't mean I'm not an alcoholic. Or maybe it does. I don't know. I do know me though. I don't have cravings and my plan is to stay that way. My goal, just as it was yesterday, is to not drink today. I have the same goal for tomorrow. I have had drinking dreams. Know what I'm mostly pissed about when I wake up? That I have to reset my sober days to Zero. Yes, I'm sorta competitive. :-) 118 days! Woohoo! I honestly never ever thought I could go without drinking. Thank God I was wrong.
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Re: Newbie

Postby Brock » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:20 pm

John, your second letter gives more detail of where you stand, I would like to make a couple of things clear, or clearer. Firstly congratulations on 100+ days of sobriety, and you have made it clear that the 'experiment' would be useless, you can't have one and stop.

Like you, I and many other alcoholics stopped smoking as well, I will admit that it took throat cancer to make me stop, and I still have a slight craving after about eight years of my stopping date. But I firmly believe and am sure that others here will agree, smoking and drinking are horses of a different color.

The fact that you can be around alcohol and keep it in your house, live a normal life etc. is great, and this is the sort of message I like to hear in the rooms from recovered alcoholics. Because this is what the literature promises as the result of doing the steps and having a spiritual awaking, and living by the simple principles covered in steps 10 through 12. In fact we often speak of a life far better than 'normal,' as our founder says - “We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.”

But all of this is after we do the work and live in the solution, if you went to a meeting and said what you say here, apart from recovered alcoholics knowing you are either not an alcoholic, or alternatively are an alcoholic fooling yourself, someone might ask you to stop sharing. This sounds rude, but we try to protect the alcoholic who simply can not stop drinking and lead a happy life without using the AA program. I respect you saying you would like to help others, but this sort of thing will have the opposite effect.

You see, our literature repeats many times the need for a spiritual awaking, gives examples in stories of those who have tried to stop without it, in short goes to great lengths to pound home the fact that an alcoholic can not do what you have done. I honestly wish you good luck with your approach, but if the book is right and I am certain it is, this disease which it describes as “cunning, baffling and powerful,” will creep up and bite you on the behind, then you will accept what we say as the truth. I also wonder what your Dad, who has done the work feels about your 'miracle' cure. Please read the chapters like 'The Doctors Opinion' and 'More About Alcoholism,' before deciding that you don't need what AA offers, all the best to you.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:41 pm

@brock Again, thank you for taking the time to write a thought out response.

I never said I didn't need AA, but rather just stated where I am today. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I never ever want to feel that ill again.

As per whether I'm an alcoholic or not is not up for debate. I don't need a label for self-worth, and I certainly don't need validation. I just know that I liked drinking for too long. Now it's time to grow up and move on. Some people can drink socially and others cannot. I'm now the later. I'm very pragmatic about it. You may interpret this as me saying "I'm better than you", but believe me that is not my intention. I apologize if that's the impression I gave.

In no way would I ever suggest someone not attend AA. I realize there are a lot of aa-naysayers out there. And perhaps this is where I sense defensive-ness coming from. I've had friends come to me since becoming sober and ask how I did it. I always tell them there's room at the meetings for them as well. I'll happily take someone to an AA meeting, or even just listen to them talk about their drinking (which I have done on more than one occasion.)

Thank you for the congrats on 100+ days.
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Re: Newbie

Postby Roberth » Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:00 pm

Hello CaliJohn, welcome to E-AA and AA. My name is Robert and I am a Los Angeles area alcoholic. If you want to stop you are in the right place. I wasn’t sure AA would work for me either. The day came when I knew this AA thing would work for me…..I knew in not only in head but in my heart as well. hope you stick around and find what I found. I may regret some of the things I have done sober but I haven't regretted binging sober for one minute of it.
Robert
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Re: Newbie

Postby Spirit Flower » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:07 pm

I don't need a label for self-worth, and I certainly don't need validation. I just know that I liked drinking for too long. Now it's time to grow up and move on. Some people can drink socially and others cannot. I'm now the later. I'm very pragmatic about it. You may interpret this as me saying "I'm better than you", but believe me that is not my intention. I apologize if that's the impression I gave.


This is not what Brock was saying.

Just that if you are able to quit on your own and be happy and never drink again; more power to you. But alcoholics "of our type" (quote from the Big Book) absolutely cannot stop drinking without spiritual help, or a total psychic change. And working the steps produces the psychic change.

What happens to most people that I meet who have your story is that after a period of time, they try drinking again. And, maybe after a period of time, find themselves absolutely unable to stop. They forget all about that terrible detox and try to drink like normal folks; only to find they can't quit.

Do you think you're different? We will not interfere with you. But we have the solution if you ever need it.
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Re: Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:11 pm

@Spirit Flower

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it. I have no desire to drink again, but I completely see your point. Another reason for me to attend a meeting from time to time.

To your point, maybe I need to fall off the wagon so then I'll need to work the program. But I already realize I'm not one of the "regular folks". It's too bad too. I was a 'fun drunk'. lol That said, I am so thankful to not have to stop at the store each day and buy another bottle.

I never realized that by telling people I'm not struggling (craving) would be so off-putting to people.

Thanks for the the welcome and input. Have a great day!
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Re: Newbie

Postby Brock » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:01 pm

I never realized that by telling people I'm not struggling (craving) would be so off-putting to people.

Personally I don't find it off-putting at all, what is troubling me however is you are saying you help others and will take them to a meeting. Of course people will listen to 'your method' for stopping, it's what our book calls the 'easier softer way,' and for the real alcoholic it will not work, and it could lead to his demise.

You really should be courteous enough to read at least some of the big book, so you have an idea of what AA is about, I will quote a bit again showing different levels of drinkers, people that might also say they are alcoholic -

Now these are commonplace observations on drinkers which we hear all the time. Back of them is a world of ignorance and misunderstanding. We see that these expressions refer to people whose reactions are very different from ours. Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.

Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.

Then it goes on to say “but what about the real alcoholic,” and explains what that is, those are the ones who need AA, perhaps you don't, but as others have said if you do we are here to help. But in the meantime try not to 'help' others, our book also says you cannot pass on a solution you haven't got.
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Re: Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:37 pm

@Brock

I HAVE BEEN TO MEETINGS. I HAVE READ SOME OF THE BIG BOOK. Everything I read resonated with me.
ARE YOU NOT READING MY POSTS?!

NOT HELP OTHERS?! What?!? The torture I went through for years is not relate-able enough for me to help someone take the first step??... Whether that's AA, Detox, IOP, CR, or some other source. You may have years of sobriety Brock, and are obviously far AA superior to me, but to tell me to NOT help someone who may need it? That's BS! Frankly, you're making assumptions about me and it's very uncool and disrespectful.

My "solution"? I can't pass it on? It's rather simple: Alcohol isn't the answer. Whether someone needs meetings, rehabilitation, or whatever. If alcohol is negatively impacting one's life and they are ready for help, I will gladly try to do so. I don't think everyone can do what I did. Too many people "have to" quit drinking, versus "want to" in their core being. I realize my situation is unique and my current state may end up being just the Part 1 of my story, but I'm grateful for where I'm at, and I'll be damned if I'm going to hide it, be ashamed of it, or not believe it.

This is why people are turned off by AA. This is the example I've heard so much about. This holier-than-now attitude. That's very off-putting. Thank God those I've met in my home group are nothing like this.

I came here with the best intentions. OBVIOUSLY I am seeking answers, otherwise I would not have wasted my time by joining this forum.

Good day.
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Re: Newbie

Postby PuppyEars » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:01 pm

This is why people are turned off by AA. This is the example I've heard so much about. This holier-than-now attitude. That's very off-putting.

Please do not group all of us in with one bad example. The person you are going back and forth with in this thread is not a spokesman for AA or anything of the sort. It's only his opinion and you know what we say about them, right?

Welcome to e-AA.
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Re: Newbie

Postby CaliJohn » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:11 pm

Thanks PuppyEars. :)
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