Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?
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Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by JohnElkRiver »

I have a new sponsee who has not been able to "concede to his innermost self that he is an alcoholic." He always says he's "chewing on that one" but texted me tonight to say he'd been drinking yesterday and today and that he was finding it "challenging" to stop. I replied to ask if finding it challenging was helping him to come to the conclusion that he was an alcoholic. I'm thinking if he says yes we've actually made progress. If he indeed wants to stop I'd think we then start discussing step 2.

Do you think it's possible for a person to be taking step one and drinking? Sometimes its the drinking or at least the inability to stop that helps come to the conclusion required of step 1.

If he indeed wants to stop i'd like to get him moving through the steps which hopefully would help him have a spiritual experience sufficient to recover. However until he can decide he is an alcoholic there isn't much more to be done except to keep discussing alcoholism etc.

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by PaigeB »

"We had had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholic."

Doesn't say we have to have quit to do this. At some point when I was drunk with 2 more drinks in the dark of my home I knew it. I continue to concede at different levels, but there was a time when it hit me sober that was the spiritual experience, the profound change, that allowed me to become free of the obsession and the compulsion to drink. I had some sober days at that point... I think this thing just works better all around if we take the Steps sober. Go figure huh?

Just keep driving home the hopelessness and the insanity of it. I hope he is able to get to a place where he can move forward without the drink.
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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by Tosh »

Step 1 is self knowledge and the Big Book rams home the point we can't stay sober on self knowledge. But to understand the program a clear head is required and if anyone is drinking when they start their Step 4, I think that's got disaster written all over it.

If he wants what we have he needs to start doing what we do and letting go of the obvious stuff we've let go of, like drinking.

When in similar circumstances in the past, my sponsor has suggested I take my sponsee back through Step 1, but when I've already just taken the guy through it, it seems pointless to bore him with information he already knows. I may ask him to jot some words down on "Why drinking doesn't work for me anymore!" and we discuss that, but I would ask that before we go any further that he doesn't pick up that first drink for the time being, otherwise we're all wasting our time.

And if he keeps on picking up that first one, I'll explain that our sponsorship/sponsee relationship isn't working, that we can remain friendly, and I'll suggest they continue to keep going to meetings, regardless if they're drinking or not and find another sponsor who will be of more use to them.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by avaneesh912 »

I am not sure about it. I believe there is some truth in what the book says;

Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit.

I have heard few spiritual masters drinking/doping and still being conscious but never ran into one that is drinking/doping yet conscious. Our own experience should substantiate that.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by Tommy-S »

He always says he's "chewing on that one"
That, of itself, doesn't sound as IF he's had enough.

"Half-measures availed us nothing" is what they say... and Not to waste time on someone who doesn't want sobriety.

But, hey, you're sober, so AA is working.

Thanks for the topic...Tommy
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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by becksdad »

Just my own experience here, but I knew I was an alcoholic for a long darn time before I was ready and willing to recover. But when a realization of Powerlessness hit me full force, and the level of Unnmanageability became too great to bear, only then would I or could I take the necessary steps for recovery. And by then, I was desperate. There was no question about being ready.

Thanks, Ed

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by Karl R »

Good topic.

While I was still drinking I knew that every time I drank one I finished off everything available. I also knew that my mind always brought me right back to that first drink every time.

Until I quit and came here I didn't have the schema to relate obsession and physical allergy to Powerlessness-life unmanageable. I showed up here on the day after I quit drinking. Within a couple days of reading these pages and "alcoholics anonymous" I had found that schema.

Would I have every developed that schema without quitting first? Doubtful.

Alcohol was the refinery out of which step 1 was born. But the actual birth of step 1 (schema development) required that I quit first. I spent many years "chewing over" what was going on. Thinkin and Drinkin...some of you could relate. But being insane in relation to alcohol I had to be separated from it first. Perhaps my self imposed "dryness" was the equivalent of "full measures" at that point. Get dry....take steps....get sober. The payoff was wonderful.

But that's just me......


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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by JohnElkRiver »

Thanks everyone for all the great replies. They were such good advice that I feel a bit foolish telling you the rest of the story.

Today on my way home from work I got another text from the guy saying he was feeling a bit better today. He's been reading the big book he got at his 2nd meeting. I asked if he wanted to talk and to have him call me. Turns out the guy calling was a guy who I met at our open speaker meeting the Thursday before. He shares the same name as the guy I just started sponsoring. This guy is just hitting his first meetings, starting reading and pretty much trying to figure out if he wants to be sober or not. He's frankly very perplexed that he cannot stop on his own. He came to my meeting tonight and we had a good laugh about the texting mixup. I figure at this point, just keep things open, answer his questions as best I can and hope he keeps coming back.

The good news is that my sponsee who I thought was drinking will actually have his 30 days in a couple days. Boy am I glad I didn't call him today right away and ask him about the texts. Hopefully he can figure out the way forward without having to go out and to any "research" to get off the fence.

Thanks again for all the replies.


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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by ann2 »

John I love it. Congratulations on reaching out and giving HP the freedom to work another miracle. :D

"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by kenyal »

That was a funny mixup. Very glad to hear your sponsee is hanging in there. But still, a good question came of it.

I suppose a person could have a moment of clarity/flash of insight that they are actually alcoholic and not getting along well in life while still drinking, and then going ahead and finishing off the drunk. Among us are so many experiences it's likely some of us came to it that way.

Since I wasn't thinking well or rationally while still drinking that kind of insight wasn't available to me. I was lucky to stay clothed and in town and on top of what the current month was. Working out anything marginally complex wasn't possible until my head cleared enough to do so.

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Re: Can someone be drinking and still take step 1?

Post by Lali »

I hate to be the voice of doom and gloom, but I doubt anything this guy is reading or hearing is making any impact while he is still in active alcoholism. You might just be wasting your time..... or, maybe not. If you have the time to work with this guy, then by all means, do. But if there are other guys out there (sober guys), your time would be better spent with them. I certainly wouldn't go beyond step 3 with this guy.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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