Burning Desire to Share
I once had a cake in an Italian restaurant and felt a bit odd. Then the people I was with told me that they add a little bit of alcohol to the cake. I got scared - esp since I had just come back from a relapse and was only 4 months into recovery. I checked with my sponsor and he said it was perfectly alright, I hadn't relapsed and I don't need to change my date of sobriety and then he also said that all that don't mean I can drink alcohol in small quantities.
You didn't willingly and knowingly take a drink. You also didn't ingest an alcoholic beverage. You're fine. Word of caution, however: check aftershave lotions, cough & cold meds, deserts, etc., as a continual diet of any of these will definately change your body chemistry, mental well-being, and increase your vulnerabiluty to relapse. If any member other than your sponsor tries to instill guilt into your psyche, tell him to 'live and let live', call his own sponsor, say the serenity prayer, work the third step, or better yet, read page 449. It's ok today, you're ok today, and you're exactly where you are supposed to be, in this moment in time, doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing...now go help someone else! http://www.aagrapevine.org/
I believe the tragedy in our rooms is many members think recovery is a "One Size Fits All" experience. Just do what we say, "Read this, work that." Recovery needs to be individualized. From my experience, throughout the years, the groups that have the highest success our groups that promote diversity and open-mindedness when it comes to members discovering strategies that work for them in their recovery. Militant 12-steps groups tend to scare people away and rush others to relapse. Sobriety out of fear from group pressure is not a good strategy. The medical community has made terrific advances and have more of a compassion for the addict than many AA groups which are stuck in the last century. Are we not the experts anymore? I always remember when approaching a new person that they have an illness or brain disorder and not someone whose sins or weak morals caused their alcoholism. Their recovery needs might not be the same as Bill or Bobs. But does this mean we kick them out or mistreat them into submission until they surrender to the Big Book or 12-Steps. The hoop that Bill talked about as being big enough for everyone is shrinking to the eye of a needle. I try and remember the beauty of AA is it is a diverse fellowship of its members and not a "One Size Fits All" program of fundamentalist clones.
I don't know where you guys all live but here in the Midwest we read "How it Works" in its entirety before every meeting. You know the one that has phrases like "thoroughly followed our path" and "People who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program" "if you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths" "Half measures availed us nothing" Then it goes on to say here are the steps we took and lists all 12 steps. I will grant that Bill did speak of some latitude but the phrase you allude to is in regard to the choice of a God. I also remember a section of literature that says nothing but rigorous action will bring about the much desired results. What I will grant you is that we all need to be diplomatic about how we encourage members to continue on this path that will bring about not only the much desired result but all 12 Promises which come after the 9th step. For Bill advised us that no one likes to be lectured to nor is there any room for shaming in our meetings or fellowship. The traditions more than adequately cover whether or not we should be kicking anyone out and sincerely hope that your groups are following those traditions to the fullest.
Well said and I couldn't agree more.
Well said, but I couldn't disagree more. Reading "How it
Works" aloud at A.A. meetings is the most tragic blunder
we of Alcoholics Anonymous have ever made. You may say,
"that is just your opinion", but an opinion is based on
feelings. Bill W. tried using the "How it Works" approach
in his first six monthe of what he called "violent exertion". That approach did not work for Bill W. and
seldom works for us today. Sure, some alcoholics do get
sober and stay sober using this religious method. They
did that before A.A. was born.
But for the multitudes of suffering alcoholics in
our world today we have at our fingertips a method much
more effective. Dr. Silkworth's "cart before the horse" IDEA
explains this method. It is further explained by Bill W.
when he wrote AACA Page 70.
Bill was the designer of the Big Book. He placed HIW
in chapter five for a specific timed effect. If HIW were
to be the first thing meant for the new prospect to hear,
see or read, Bill would have presented HIW as chapter one.
I guess that is an opinion. That reading has to be returned
to chapter where Bill placed it. ANONYMOUS
I guess I'm not seeing the "One Size Fits All" approach in my AA community. There are meetings of all kinds and many different approaches to recovery. I'd say that MOST meetings in my area and approaches to recovery are very easy going. There's no cross talk or confrontation but lots of hands out ready to help.
I sobered up in a VERY strict men's step meeting in the Midwest that gave me a solid foundation in the steps.I needed that. But, of every 10 men introduced to that group maybe 1 or 2 would stick around. And that was fine. Others would go back to groups where they felt more comfortable.
When I moved to the Western US, my old hard core sponsor was wise enough to caution me to go easy in my new groups and not try to push the hard core way of doing things. He was so right. Members of my new group were very easy going and it took me a while to learn how they were doing things.
Today, I'm a member of an easy going lunch group that is full of professionals with lots of sobriety. My old hard core buddies might think this group is too wimpy and that's ok. If I want to belong to a rigid group, I know where to go.
I guess I still don't see any method of "treatment" that works as well as AA. In my experience treatment was a great place to learn about the disease and recovery but it was not recovery itself. AA gave me actual steps I could take that give me a way to live without needing or even wanting alcohol or other mind altering chemicals. I always have to remember that AA is not for those who need it but for those who want it.
If the proven program of recovery developed by Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t appeal to newcomers and they prefer to try Hatha yoga, health food and vitamin therapy, Alcoholics Victorious, or Pilates, more power to them. I’ll be more than happy to look up their address in the phone book for them. As far as working with others in AA the instructions are contained in (of all places) the chapter “Working With Others” in the Big Book.
If you do not have anything to contribute, why take up
the space? Really, we are not in church. Rose
Sometimes I'm discouraged by the rude comments and argumentative nature of these posts. If I were a newcomer looking to AA for guidance, I'd certainly have by doubts about AA unity if these posts were any example.
Proven? Not for everyone. To me, recovery is a bit more complicated then say, the cookie-cutter approach you claim is proven. Our recovery rates are 7-10%. If I was a doctor and developed a medicine that only helped 7-10% than I would look at it as a failure. We know there are so many factors involved in addiction today. Alcoholism is a complicated illness and the majority of alcoholics have other mental challenges as well. The moralistic approach that we have today was our father's recovery plan that bullied its way into the 21st century and does not work for everyone. I personally believe AA should adapt and rethink its recovery philosophy to embrace and reflect all its members. Today, its barbaric to say, "Our way or the highway!" You mentioned, "Hatha yoga, health food and vitamin therapy, Alcoholics Victorious, or Pilates, more power to them." The happiest members of my group couple their recovery with these alternatives. I personally rock climb and became a vegan. Why are you against someone exercising or eating healthy. I'd rather sit next to a person talking about the joys of sobriety like hiking than sitting next to someone complaining about the price of cigarettes or obsessing why the donuts are stale at a meeting.
I don’t see how anyone could get the idea that healthy living and using the AA program are mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite is detailed in the 12 X 12 as I recall, “…who wants to be gluttonous to ruin their health? I'm sure complaining is also covered in the house cleaning steps. One of many reasons that I go to the literature instead of listening to a guy that thought he heard a guy say….
I have personally seen the high recovery rate for people who use the AA program. Just like in the 1930’s when Bill wrote “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path….” Perhaps you are confusing people who attend meetings with those who use the AA program. If only 7-10 percent of the doctors patients took the medicine he developed, I wouldn't expect his results to be high either.
Insights from the Big Book and 27 years of meetings:
Alcoholics don't deal well with frustration!
The Serenity Prayer works for most situations if I really mean it!
Don't react in anger until I've taken my own inventory.
Perfection is over-rated (from Alanon)
Anyone else care to weigh-in on this?
"In my opinion anyone who doesn't work the steps, pray to god and read the big book don't belong in AA.
I was taught not to tolerate all the rebels and liberals in AA.
We have to keep AA pure and free from the infidels, Don't we?"
WOOF!-yes that was an actual guy who spoke at our meeting last night. The very sad thing was many people were nodding their heads. If that guys message doesn't scare the newcomer away, I don't know what will.
I went up to tell the him to lighten up but my words just slipped off his ears. He looked right through me. Then I went over and greeted the newcomers and offered my number.
I'm really glad this site is open-minded and people share all kinds of ideas. People with time understand that lead was against everything we encourage but, the newcomers who heard it, I pray they return.
Occasionally, a crackpot will speak in our group. Natural born entertainers who place themselves and their Big Book on steroid flavored AA above the principals and traditions. A few weeks ago, a woman who purposely sat way in the back was called up to the podium. She screamed "Hallelujah! And ran down the aisle waving the big book high in the air screaming 'everything you need to know is in this book if it ain't in here it ain't AA!'" As she continued talking little did she know half the room left. Most of the people remaining where her followers and groupies. After the meeting ended, I felt sick and ran up to the podium and grabbed the old mic and calmly announced, "The opinions of this person does not reflect AA as a whole or the average member" A few of the group members told me to stop it and at the following group meeting I was put on probation. I left the group permanently and joined a mens group crosstown. When I shared it at the meeting the men gave me an applause followed by guffaws.
Thank goodness the majority of people aren't crackpots in AA.
I'm glad you found a group that follows the 12 traditions instead of one in which a member runs down the aisle with a big book or you can be put "on probation." That's definitely not from our traditions!
I've been in recovery since 2005. Four years ago I returned to the Catholic Church after being away since college. I adhere to the doctrine of transubstantiation. Which is in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and the wine used in the sacrament is changed into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus. So after I receive the host I sip the wine. I hadn't mentioned this to my sponsor until recently. He said I was in relapse. I totally disagree. My faith in God is to strong to allow me to live in relapse. The amount that touches my lips is not enough to start the cravings. Anyway, said he couldn't sponsor me anymore. He's been hostile toward my return to the Catholic Church from the start. AA helps me with alcholism but church helps me with my faith and through this faith I have become a respectable person again. I have a goal of becoming a deacon. When I shared this with him he went ballistic. Sometimes, we must follow our true paths even if the ones closest to us disagree. Are there any other people in recovery that have returned to faith and felt hostility? I'd like to know. Thanks Vincent
You don't have to take the wine at Communion. For many years, wine was not even offered. Since the host itself becomes the body of Christ, the blood of Christ is included in the body. Thus, you receive both the body and blood of Christ in the host and do not have to include the wine separately. I stopped taking the wine even before my recovery after noticing the strong smell of saliva in the cup one Sunday...
Many years ago at the beginning of an AA meeting that I attended the chairperson asked the participants for a topic. One of the new guys said he had a problem with extreme cravings for wanting to drink again and didn't know what to do about it. We encouraged him to talk openly and honestly about what he was doing in his day to day life that might be triggering him. And he was very honest and forthcoming about everything he was doing to work his program. The other members when they took their turns at speaking thanked him for his honesty and offered him words of encouragement.
About 10 minutes before the meeting ended the newcomer suddenly blurted out: " I have just started going back to church and I have been sipping the wine when we have communion but our priest has assured me that it is alright and will not harm me in any way, because it's part of the service"
We all sat there in stunned silence. I'm not sure what was said after that....
I asked an Old Timer once what the term: "To thine own self be true" meant that was on the back of my medallion. He looked at me, smiled and said: It means don't Bulls#&t yourself! "Alcoholics are experts not only at Bulls#&ting
others, but themselves as well" I smiled too!
I have a friend who is an alcoholic in recovery, who is a priest. He uses non alcoholic wine at mass, with the full support of his Bishop.
If you make your condition known, the church can provide a non alcoholic alternative consecrated alongside the alcoholic wine, if you so choose. We also provide gluten free hosts these days too! We are allergy inclusive:-)
That said your ex sponsor's apparent underlying hostility to the Catholic faith is not healthy. My own sponsor is not Catholic though he respects the God of my understanding, find yourself someone who does from the outset.
Breaking up with a sponsor is similar to divorce--there are 3 sides; his side, her side and the truth. Is your sponsor
really upset because you are Catholic or because you drink the wine. I can only speak for me but alcoholics of my type
shouldn't drink the wine. I do not knowingly ingest alcohol in any form. That includes: extract, cooking, near bear, medicines, on and on and on. ANYTHING containing alcohol is dangerous to me. For me things that taste like alcohol are
dangerous to me because of the association. Some churches offer grape juice. If your God is all powerful, loving and forgiving He will understand if you don't drink the wine.
All my best, Me and sober.
It sounds a bit counter productive that your sponsor be against that being it's part of your faith, your higher power. It almost seems that this sponsor has no faith in your recovery.... to be in AA or participate in AA, in my belief and understanding, does not mean self weakness or weakness in general. You stood up and want change in your life and participating in your faiths' rituals does not mean that you are relapsing nor will relapse. Of course this is my opinion and I'm no doc or AA thumper it's just my opinion.
I don't agree with bashing the sponsor, personally that kind of behavior is not healthy. Now, as for the religious/spiritual aspect of your question, it seems to me if you are questioning it then you are on the right path. Some members believe that abstinence is the ONLY way, and for some that may very well be true, however, we are not to be sponsoring people to push our beliefs and ideas onto them nor judge/ridicule them for going against their grain but to help guide us with their experiences/lessons and never to give advice or tell us what to do. Because a sponsor in my opinion should be a friend/adviser not your boss or adjudicator. Also, keeping in mind that we are not perfect, we are all human. If I was in your situation I would have to decline the wine but for you it sounds fine. oh wow, didn't do that on purpose. lol
You need to remove a defective character, your so called sponsor. I've been through a couple of accidents, tasting alcohol. Mouthwash. On a cruise once, waiter brought a samples of some purple sherbet to our table. I took a pretty good spoonful and my taste buds screamed Mad Dog. (Mogan David if you weren't a connoisseur) I've been at this for a while and was given that million dollar pause to think before acting. I swallowed it. Nothing happened. The waiter didn't do anything wrong. He didn't stick a funnel in my mouth. I'm the oddity. Most people can drink alcohol normally. I can't. I really didn't think that spitting on the tablecloth or carpet would be in anybody's best interest, so I didn't. Didn't like the idea but swallowed it anyway. I don't avoid alcohol because of moral objections or some contest (your sponsor's) requires it. I don't drink it because drinking a small amount (how small?) starts a craving etc. I guess this is the first time I've ever shared this story. If someone in a room started the topic, I'd share to be helpful. Otherwise I've learned that AA is full of knuckleheads like your sponsor that don't need to hear my fifth step. The birthday, medallion, marking time business has gotten so out of proportion that I no longer participate. I've been sober since my second meeting a number of years ago. That's how long. On anniversaries, I sincerely thank people for joining us. God has done all the heavy lifting.
Glad you have seen that you have outgrown the jerk and are ready to move on. Glad you joined us.
very true...I thank you for your insight,Jim
Thanks for a sincere mature adult message. I was beginning
to think that all the sensible early timers had died. I have stayed sober since my third A.A. meeting, many years
ago. I love A.A. and also believe that God has done all the
heavy lifting. I just need to obedient and observant. I
usually recommend that a fifth step be done with someone
outside of A.A. unless you can find an A.A. priest. There
are some, but they are really busy.
The celebrations, medallions, marking time is time
filling and time consuming. These activities negate our
"policy" of equality. ANONYMOUS
I live on the tribal lands and take peyote for religious purposes once a year. I've been sober since the middle eighties. This use only becomes controversial when I visit the Anglo-meetings. I'm right with the great spirit, my family, ancestors and the tribal community. As far as I'm concerned alcoholics who abuse sugar, processed foods, nicotine, gambling, sex and pharmaceutical-drugs while in recovery are creating more harm to themselves than my use of peyote for religious purposes once a year.
If you are right with the higher spirit you are right with me.
Thanks Vincent, interesting comments, it is my experience that we in AA seem tolerate of most any kind of religious faith with the exception of Christianty. I am not a Christian and sometimes find myself being a bit sacrilegious but have always encourgaged those with whom I help to return to their faith if it enhances ones sobriety. Not quite sure about "sipping" the wine; think that is very dangerous for folks like us. Are you allowed to substiture any non-alcoholic grape juice for example? Best to you God Bless, Fred
I personally would be afraid to sip the wine, because eventually I would chug the whole thing down on a bad day, but I support any alcoholic who does choose to sip in regards to their faith. I mean really sip, and the way you describe it I think there is nothing to fear. Non-alcoholic beer used by many in the rooms has more alcohol in it then your sip. As the tribal fellow mentioned I've seen worse in AA. Between gambling, sex, food, nicotine and pain medications, some AA'ers can turn to these alternatives in a far greater fashion and pretend to be sober. Honesty is important and who am I to judge another alcoholic?...I'll leave it to the gurus who like to fuss over these things. It keeps them from focusing on their own recovery. Thanks for your thought provoking situation. I really appreciate it sincerely.
I currently live in Poland, where we have a strong Catholic background. Many of my AA friends are Catholic, and their faith forms a strong complement to the spirituality in AA. I think AA tells us that we need God, religion "fills in the outline" by telling us what God is saying and has said through the centuries. The early AAs were all very positive on religion: Bill W almost became a Catholic and his spiritual mentor, Father Ed Dowling, was a Jesuit. All that said, I think your ex-sponsor is somehow right in saying that taking the wine in communion is relapse. It is not the amount of the wine, it is the principle of it. In our church there is always the option of taking non-alcoholic grapejuice, or simply "honoring the sacrament" through crossing arms over the chest and giving a slight bow but not imbibing.
Sponsors are to help you through the steps,Alcohol in any form or amount are dangerous for us. The fact that you took the wine at all and do not seem to be bothered by it May be relapse or at least you might be setting yourself up for one. I put my finger in a cocktail and tasted it because I never tried one like it before.After talking to my sponsor, He said it is my sobriety and My conscience. I picked up a 24 hour chip and began a new chapter in my sobriety.If I cant drink safely, Then why would I put my sobriety at risk and in fact My Life at risk for the taste of something I know has destroyed my life every other time in entered my body.
I am Catholic and when it is time for the sacriments, I choose to pass on REAL wine and My church has Non-alcoholic wine for the Kids, I choose to be a kid. LOL
I said a prayer for you.
I think everyone should follow their own conscience, but personally I wouldn't have taken a new 24 hour chip because I stuck my finger in a cocktail and tried it. Nor would I consider a tiny sip of Communion wine a relapse. If you don't imbibe enough to feel anything at all then I wouldn't consider it a relapse myself. Where do you draw the line? There is Vanilla extract in most baked goods, but I wouldn't consider a cookie a relapse...
From Vincent: "I adhere to the doctrine of transubstantiation. Which is in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and the wine used in the sacrament is changed into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus."
From Anonymous:"I put my finger in a cocktail and tasted it because I never tried one like it before."
You don't see the difference between these two posts, do you? Vincent sips the wine (the blood of his Savior) in the practice of his religion. You tasted the cocktail to see what it tasted like.
I personally know more than a half dozen AAs with long term sobriety who take communion AFTER THE WIND HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED. I also know habitual slippers who 'just wanted to know what it tasted like'.
Sadly there are many in AA who are like your sponsor, so narrow minded that can peek through a keyhole with both eyes.
In the early seventies Dick Cavvett had a two part show on alcoholism and recovery. As guests he had recovered alcoholics and a non-alcoholic representative from AA. One of the guests was a priest who was asked how he could take the wine and still say he couldn't drink alcohol in any form. His answer was the same as yours, that it wasn't wine any more.
Over the years I've known many Catholics who take communion. And I have sponsored, among others, a Catholic priest.
A lot of alcoholics believe it's okay to hang on to their resentment against religion of any sort. At least your sponsor admitted he could no longer sponsor you, even if his reasons are wrong.
Wanted to title “He Corey” but I resisted. Sure you’ll find this quick enough.
Crumbs. I’m starting to thing that a lot of people are living on crumbs. It’s starting to look like the AA program is so powerful that people are staying sober on the crumbs that fall off actual member’s programs. No steps, no Higher Power, no sponsor, no commitment. The novelty of a solid bowel movement kept me sober for a little while but it soon gave out and I had to start reading the writing on the wall, but not these guys (according to them anyway).
Of course that leaves the future a little shaky. When newcomers try to live off the crumbs that fall off crumbs…..
That's a very different way to look at it. Like when I share and drop the message of recovery the new comers can feed off the crumbs. Were I'm from in Houston we will tell the new comers that the program of a a is not sexual transmitted. And it will not rub off on you. We ask them to work the steps or die. Or don't work the steps and end up living like a Roach.
What are you talking about? So anyone that has experiences in recovery different than yours falls into the crumb category? We should worry about our own recoveries and stop trying to control the flow of AA as it goes down the river. Its interesting to me certain people in the rooms are trying to defend something that never existed in the first place.
I agree with you 100% about the crumbs, however the fact that I agree with you dosn't mean much to anyone but me ;)
That is a wonderful statement: Alcoholics are staying sober
on the crumbs. The bottom was raised after A.A. became of
Age. If we do not try to cram the whole cake down their
throats, choking them to death, maybe they will stick around for more.
If alcoholics are staying sober without a Higher Power,
without a sponsor, and without committments, God bless
them. I see members who claim to have a Higher Power,
have half a dozen sponsors and volunteer for all kinds
of committments (MOSTLY TO CHAIR) and still continue to relapse.
I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous, in its true
intended form, is so powerful that Alcoholics can stay
sober on very little. Imagine how powerful it could be
when the alcoholic gets hungry for more. ANONYMOUS
the following is a blog about an alcoholic...
I have had my running with the law and always tried to stay sober to keep people seeing me as a good person. But when things would get good I would be back to drinking and breaking the law. I used AA to stay sober for only a few months and then I would drink again. I didn't like not talking to the women so it frustrated me in thinking I'll never find a sober girl if I do not meet women in recovery. I kept coming and little by little the city came alive in Oakland. I started seeing people from AA. They would shake my hand and smile. Noone liked me they treated me like a leaper from another planet until AA and church. I gave drinking finally because something bad happened to me physically and I knew one less drink one less poison. Coming back to those meetings keeps me sober to stay away from people who want my money and possessions. These give me something hope and talk about knowledge of what a Higher power does for us. Thank you AA central branch Oakland.
I live a half a continent away but I'm still happy with your success. Hang in there.
My new husband's father is an Alcoholic and drug abuser. My husband does not get drunk regularly but he is not able to say no when offered alcohol. Additionally about 50% of the time when he is drunk he can not hear when another person says 'no' about anything. Every time he gets drunk (not when he has one or two beers) he blacks out and can not remember the night before. All of this freaks me out. He told me that he would stop drinking if I asked him to and it came to a point where I had to ask him to and he had a beer the next day telling me he didn't think he didn't do anything wrong. Am I wrong for asking him not to drink? Might he be an alcoholic?
The black outs are telltale. Well that's my experience, the blackouts were mine. He or you might or might not find a case just like yours to say See! That's just like you. You are an alcoholic. Quit. OK? Good luck.
Of course you are not wrong to ask him not to drink. Are you then also right to say quit or I am outta' here.
He might be an alcoholic. There are just about as many kinds of alcoholics as there are people.
You can always tell an alcoholic - You just can't tell them very much.
Please go to at least 6 Alanon meetings. By then you will see if that fellowship is for you. Good Luck Alice
My dad was an alcoholic Check AA website out it has questions to see if he is alcoholic..but he is. My sister & daughter took me to AA. I am very new but so far I don't want to miss.
I agree that a visit to Alanon sounds like a good idea. In AA we deal with our powerlessness over alcohol. Alanon focuses more on powerlessness over the alcoholic. You will most likely find a treasure trove of experience and information there. Good luck.