Dry for 10 years without program

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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Dog
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Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Dog » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:01 am

Hi everyone, I need some advice.

I firmly believe in the necessity of 'qualification' before trying to help someone through the steps i.e. finding out if the person is a 'real alcoholic' as described in the Big Book. The book talks about the two key factors of qualification: physical allergy and mental obsession. For me, it was vital to understand and accept that I had both parts of the condition before I was willing to try the program seriously.

A guy I am working with has described his drinking, and there is no doubt in either of our minds that he has the physical allergy. Give him a drop of booze and he cannot stop. The second part is more difficult: he hasn't actually had a drink for ten years! No program, no higher power, no meetings... he has just chosen not to drink, and hasn't had a mental obsession which took him back there.

I cannot relate to his ability to choose not to drink for so long, and he can't identify with my inability to just 'not drink'. Therefore I do not feel comfortable being his sponsor. In an ideal world I would pass him over to a sponsor with similar experience to his own - but I don't know any alcoholic who managed to not drink for a decade without working the program!

Not sure what to do, all advice / experience welcome! Thanks.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Mike O » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:52 am

Why does he need a sponsor? Has he now decided he needs to work the program?

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Dog
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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Dog » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:02 am

He has a friend who has already been in AA for a few years, and she pointed out that he is 'restless, irritable and discontent', and brought him to a few meetings. The friend is female, and therefore doesn't want to do step work with him.

I should add that I don't see any harm in helping him take the steps - even if he isn't an alcoholic the work will probably enhance his life greatly. The risk is when he gets to the 12th step and tries to carry the message to someone else who cannot keep off the source for more than a week on their own power.

I just don't know how to get over this identification problem.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by ann2 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:13 am

You know, I didn't identify full as an alcoholic until I really delved into step 1, after 16 years away from the drink.

Lots of things helped, including Dr. Harry S. Tiebout's essays. It was all part of my spiritual growth.

I would give the guy the benefit of the doubt, and wait to see what comes out of his steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 before worrying what will happen at step 12. You can always tell him not to do the passing on to the next suffering alcoholic part then :-)

Thanks for posting!

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

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Lali » Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:14 am

Dog, he also will be giving the wrong message if he were to start advising alcoholics now. Does he want to attend AA meetings regardless of whether or not he feels that he wants to do the steps? If he does go to meetings, he may hear someone share who has want he wants, thus causing him to want to do the steps and work the program. It would be his decision and he would be ready which would make the process so much more meaningful to him.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Marc L » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:20 pm

Hey Dog;
I'm Marc and I'm alcoholic.
I just looked in the Big Book and found something which might be pertinent in this case:

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics
are not going to believe they are in that class. By
every form of self-deception and experimentation, they
will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule,
therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing
inability to control his drinking can do the right-
about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are
off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough
and long enough to drink like other people!
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Blue Moon » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:12 pm

Dog wrote:The risk is when he gets to the 12th step and tries to carry the message to someone else who cannot keep off the source for more than a week on their own power.
That's hardly your problem, is it?

My first sponsor was sober 7-8 years before taking the Steps. By all accounts he was an angry SOB for much of that time.

As a newcomer, I was ready to take the Steps when I walked into AA.

My sponsor didn't ask me to wait 8 years before working them.

And, luckily for me, the individual who'd worked with him hadn't declined the opportunity on the basis that he might.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

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Dog
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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Dog » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:40 pm

Thanks everyone for your feedback so far. There have been no further developments, but I will try to keep this thread updated.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Steven F » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:46 am

Dog wrote:I cannot relate to his ability to choose not to drink for so long, and he can't identify with my inability to just 'not drink'. Therefore I do not feel comfortable being his sponsor.
I would advise you to read the appendix on page 567 (fourth edition). It is entirely possible that the person in question does not "just not drink" but had a spiritual experience through other ways than through the programme of AA. Even if I never managed to do that, it is quite possible that others did.

If you have another long talk, perhaps try to talk about "what happened". What changed for him when he stopped drinking? Perhaps you will find some ties with the programme, and perhaps together you will figure out if he was happy when he stopped and what he stopped doing after that. With luck, if that can be pin-pointed, he can go back to doing what worked for him and to enhancing this. Maybe he has just done something that brought him "in line with the universe" and has started to insert his own schemes again - just as a possibility.

Or the other way around - talk to him about the essence of your programme. Not just the techniques which have brought you out of your ego, but what that did for you. It's quite possible that he'll find some parallels there.

After all, the programme of AA is one way of living sobriety, and one we know yields very good results when approached seriously. But it is not necessarily the only way. Just the way that works for me.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Larry_H » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:42 pm

Dog wrote:Hi everyone, I need some advice.

I firmly believe in the necessity of 'qualification' before trying to help someone through the steps i.e. finding out if the person is a 'real alcoholic' as described in the Big Book. The book talks about the two key factors of qualification: physical allergy and mental obsession. For me, it was vital to understand and accept that I had both parts of the condition before I was willing to try the program seriously.

A guy I am working with has described his drinking, and there is no doubt in either of our minds that he has the physical allergy. Give him a drop of booze and he cannot stop. The second part is more difficult: he hasn't actually had a drink for ten years! No program, no higher power, no meetings... he has just chosen not to drink, and hasn't had a mental obsession which took him back there.

I cannot relate to his ability to choose not to drink for so long, and he can't identify with my inability to just 'not drink'. Therefore I do not feel comfortable being his sponsor. In an ideal world I would pass him over to a sponsor with similar experience to his own - but I don't know any alcoholic who managed to not drink for a decade without working the program!

Not sure what to do, all advice / experience welcome! Thanks.

Dog,

The Big Book on pages 32 and 33 in the chapter More about alcoholism describes a similar man:

We have heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite signs of alcoholism, were able to stop for a long period because of an overpowering desire to do so. Here is one.
A man of thirty was doing a great deal of spree drinking. He was very nervous in the morning after these bouts and quieted himself with more liquor. He was ambitious to succeed in business, but saw that he would get nowhere if he drank at all. Once he started, he had no control whatever. He made up his mind that until he had been successful in business and had retired, he would not touch another drop. An exceptional man, he remained bone dry for twenty-five years and retired at the age of fifty-five, after a successful and happy business career. Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has-that his long period of sobriety and self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men. Out came his carpet slippers and a bottle. In two months he was in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated. He tried to regulate his drinking for a little while, making several trips to the hospital meantime. Then, gathering all his forces, he attempted to stop altogether and found he could not. Every means of solving his problem which money could buy was at his disposal. Every attempt failed. Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly and was dead within four years.


Larry,
------------
I have had spiritual experiences and seen miracles, but I dont see a burning bush. When people come in this program and the fog clears and their eyes light up, and I can see the pain start to go away, that is my burning bush. Everyone in this room is a burning bush.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Sober25 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:41 am

Dog wrote: A guy I am working with has described his drinking, and there is no doubt in either of our minds that he has the physical allergy. Give him a drop of booze and he cannot stop. The second part is more difficult: he hasn't actually had a drink for ten years! No program, no higher power, no meetings... he has just chosen not to drink, and hasn't had a mental obsession which took him back there.
I know a guy like that. He does come to meetings, though. He has been in AA for over 25 years, still sober, and all he has to say about it is "I don't drink and I come to meetings." I don't recall him ever mentioning the steps. That's also the advice he gives to newcomers, "don't drink and come to meetings." I'm not sure how he has stayed sober for so long without the steps. I'm just grateful that I was convinced of the necessity of the steps early on. I suppose I could go through life without ice cream and pizza if I wanted to - but why whould I ever want to?
AA has one program of recovery - the 12 steps. It's tried, tested, proven and gauranteed.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Blue Moon » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:43 am

Sober25 wrote:I suppose I could go through life without ice cream and pizza if I wanted to - but why whould I ever want to?
The ice cream and pizza won't hold you responsible for your behavior, past and present; they won't remove the blame for all of your life's problems from everyone else and place it squarely where you know it belongs; won't have you look at yourself and admit, at gut level, that what you see is in need of drastic action for change.

This is why people do not follow the program. If it was all fun and easy, everyone would be doing it. Some alcoholics, though dry, will never do the recovery bit.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Sober25 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:50 am

Blue Moon wrote:
Sober25 wrote:I suppose I could go through life without ice cream and pizza if I wanted to - but why whould I ever want to?
The ice cream and pizza won't hold you responsible for your behavior, past and present; they won't remove the blame for all of your life's problems from everyone else and place it squarely where you know it belongs; won't have you look at yourself and admit, at gut level, that what you see is in need of drastic action for change.

This is why people do not follow the program. If it was all fun and easy, everyone would be doing it. Some alcoholics, though dry, will never do the recovery bit.
That last part about pizza and ice cream was meant as a joke, Ian.
AA has one program of recovery - the 12 steps. It's tried, tested, proven and gauranteed.

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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by Blue Moon » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:35 pm

Sober25 wrote:That last part about pizza and ice cream was meant as a joke, Ian.
I know ;)
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Re: Dry for 10 years without program

Post by MyNameisVictor » Mon May 02, 2011 10:10 pm

Sobriety, to me, is a total life experience without the drink. If I simply sat on my couch, dug my fingernails in to the arm rests and repeated over and over, "I'm not going to drink I'm not going to drink I'm not going to drink..." then hell, I'd rather go drink because that life would be more miserable. But that's just me.
"They said a miracle would happen on my 90th day of sobriety, and it did happen...I was sober."
-Anonymous from the Trinity Group of AA in NYC

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