dragging my feet

Haven’t found my way to an AA meeting yet. Why? Because I really don’t want to go. As I’ve stated here before, I’ve never been good at making meetings. Never been good at staying sober either.

Anybody who has been around recovery long knows, beyond all doubt, that the people who stay sober over time are the one’s who get involved in a 12-step group. The Jesus thing seems to work for a very few. The rest tend to go from relapse to relapse.

How much do I dislike going to AA meetings? Am I willing to die prematurely and as a direct result of my addiction so that I don’t have to spend a few hours a week in the company of others trying to save themselves? I wish it was a rhetorical question.


17 Responses to “dragging my feet”

  1. 1 bottlecappie March 24, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve read that AA’s success rate is actually lower than the rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholism. Just sayin.

    I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of friends who drank and drugged, but just sort of grew out of it. I was one of them too, but then I got in trouble with the pain meds. In any case, I’m still trying to figure out a way to do this without a 12 step group. I guess we’ll see how it flies.

  2. 2 roomalone March 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Hi, this is a good topic. Smart Recovery is a non-religious alternative to AA: http://www.smartrecovery.org/
    They have both online and face-to-face meetings. That’s all I know about it.

    I attend Al-Anon meetings for friends and families of alcoholics. For years, I resisted going because of the God issue. Eventually my life became so unmanageable, as the first step says, that I though what the hell, I’ll go to one meeting. The people were open minded, not preachy or overly religious. Many of them, like me, don’t believe or know whether they believe in God. (This really surprised me.) Their higher power is love, mankind, a belief in a uniting level of consciousness, etc. I go to one meeting a week — that’s manageable for me. If things are really bad, I’ll throw in one or two more meetings.

    So I’d suggest going to a few different AA meetings. Something might spark your interest. Or try a Smart Recovery meeting. I wish you the best.

  3. 3 Prester John March 25, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Hi bottlecappie,

    Over the years I’ve seen a lot of people grow out of it too. I’ve even known a few who “controlled and enjoyed” their relatively hardcore substance abuse. We all have to decide for ourselves where the “problem” line is. Looking at others, when the DUIs, firings, overdoses, divorces, wrecks, bankruptcies, losing custody of kids, etc. start to pile up, I’m willing to bet somebody has a problem. I’ve never known someone personally who took it to the levels I have staying stopped for more than a very brief time – days or maybe a couple of weeks). In fact, of the legions of druggies I’ve known from the streets, I’m the only one who has ever stayed sober anywhere near a year, with or without AA. We began dying off at a pretty good clip as we hit our late 30s. The death rate accelerates as the years add up. (Both the using years and the actual age years.)

    The people I’ve met in AA that have acquired permanent sobriety were never people I knew from the streets. I don’t know what their addiction was like, but judging from their stories, it was more or less like mine; devastating. It seems to work for some people, usually people who have or were well on their way to losing everything, including their lives. That said, the vast majority of people who came through the doors shortly before or anytime after me quickly returned to active. Maybe one in 20 stuck around for more than a few meetings. Of those, maybe one in 20 actually gets it. It’s a very long shot at best. On the other hand I don’t know a single hardcore addict, nor have I heard of more than a very few who sounded credible, who claim to have anything approaching a year of clean time that wasn’t utterly miserable for them, without involvement at some level, in the program. Of course there’s no way to track such people. If they just get cured, then they’d drop off the radar so to speak.

    In my case, for some reason, it’s pretty easy for me to stay sober, one day at a time, if things are going pretty good. When the shit hits the fan, though, and it always does, I’ve always slipped. Sometimes it took a year and a half of intense solo-suffering before I’d pick back up. Sometimes just two or three months.

    What is so strange is that I don’t dislike AA. In fact I agree with the vast majority of what’s in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. What I intensely dislike is having to go to AA meetings. With the few hours a week that it would take, I’d rather be doing something I really wanted to do. Like you, I’m not a joiner. In fact, I’m something of a loner. That’s probably all the more reason I need to go. Because I have no other support system.

    So what I’m trying to get my unconscious mind to understand is that three hours a week is a small price to pay to avoid a lifetime of misery. So far it ain’t workin’.

  4. 4 Prester John March 25, 2008 at 6:58 am


    Thanks for stopping by and for the tips.

    I’m no longer arrogant enough to be sure there’s no god. I am still grandiose enough to think that whatever god there may be doesn’t like me very much.

    Like it mentioned to bottlecappie, my problem with AA is actually going to the meetings. For the most part I don’t mind what goes on there. I like drunks and druggies, so naturally I like a lot of the AAs.

    Apart from intelligence, looks, and the capacity for hard-work, nothing is nearly as important in any formula for success I’m aware of as the ability to “keep showing up”. In fact, it’s probably the most important. I’m no good at it though. Never have been, at least since I got old enough to have some say-so in the matter.

    Thanks again for coming over.

  5. 5 bottlecappie March 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Well, are you using those few hours a week to actually do something that you really want to do? Or are you frittering them away on the intertoobz? (Not like anyone else I know, heh.)

    I am certainly not anyone to take advice from, as I am only hanging on by a thread at the moment.

    I wonder though, if I’ve just never gotten “bad enough” to benefit from AA/NA. For the most part, I knew I needed to quit the painkillers because they weren’t working anymore and it was costing too much money. Then I went for help with Suboxone because it seemed like it might also help with my other issues. So I never really had that low bottom.

    Can you do an online meeting?

  6. 6 Prester John March 25, 2008 at 11:30 am

    bottlecappie – I can go toe-to-toe with you at wasting time. Sometimes I get goofy shit done. Like today I’ve been working on my blogs a little bit. I’ve done my pt or at least the morning part. Now I’m studying on a nap and a stroll this afternoon. A very busy day for me.

    The time excuse is something I used much more in past lives. I used to actually do stuff like date, go to school, play the guitar every minute I could steal, work (albeit as little as possible), and hang out with musicians and/or druggies. I don’t do any of that stuff anymore. Don’t even want to.

    I just don’t want to go. I’m quite comfortable in the little rut that’s become my life, at least today. I need to go though. Somewhere. Why not AA? No man is an island and while I’m pretty fucking close, I could still stand a little interaction with someone other than my immediate family. Don’t want it. Almost certainly need it. Fuck.

    AA is just insurance. I’ve weathered some terrible times when I was at least marginally active. It just depends on how bad I want to avoid a relapse. Because when shit gets tough, chicken-shit that I am at some point I’ll cave without support. At my age and with my propensity for destruction, it’s Russian Roulette. The problem is simple. When I feel like shit, I know exactly how to rectify that situation via the magic of street pharmacology. It may kill me. If I feel bad enough, and so far that’s meant being depressed, I don’t care because it’s been worth the risk to get some relief.

    Online stuff couldn’t hurt. But I think I actually need to be there at least once or twice a week. If I don’t want to relapse at some point that is.

  7. 7 angryballerina March 25, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I would rather fuck a cactus bareback than go to an NA meeting. I use to pop a sedative prior to going…Now I sit there and doodle in my journal.

    I have started to look at it like this. The more time I keep busy, the less time I have on my hands to get into trouble. The meetings have turned into a glorified day care for me.

    Still have yet to get the whole God thing…

  8. 8 Prester John March 26, 2008 at 1:41 am

    angry – You certainly have a way with words. I don’t get the “keep showing up” part of the program, or anything else. Sort of like your post today showing “hospital” and “morgue”, if I’m going to do it I’d prefer the bullet to the brain method. Well, as soon as I wrote that I realized it was a lie. I wish it wasn’t though. I guess I’d rather die in my own bed than in my own vomit and worse in the dope house. I tend to forget that until the money and dope is gone. Pathetic really.

  9. 9 etta March 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Prester John-
    This is an interesting conversation. I, too, HATED AA and never thought I would go thru those doors. I got sober thru Rational Recovery many years ago and stayed sober for many years. I went back to drinking when my depression struck, and my spouse left, and I lost my job, and blah, blah, blah…who cares! The point is, after many years of not drinking, it only took a couple years to get to the point where I couldn’t stop on my own. I FINALLY humbled myself and went to AA after trying other non-AA programs and failing miserably. I was totally turned off by the thought of “having” to go to meetings the rest of my life, the “God” thing, and all those damn sayings! But, I kept going back. They said that was all I had to do, so I did it. Now, amazingly, I have been sober over 2 years and am sponsoring my first sponsee. Perhaps the key for me was finding one of the most amazing groups of people, and one of the most incredible, fun, healthy AA meetings on the planet! There are a lot of AA meetings that are not at all healthy, and I couldn’t drag myself to them if they were the only options in town! I never thought I’d be an AA’er! I never thought I’d believe in a “power greater than myself.” I never thought I would ENJOY going to meetings! But, AA has kept me sober one day at a time–well, actually the PEOPLE in AA have kept me sober one day at a time.
    Oh, by the way, I did not hit any kind of horrid “bottom” that so many people talk about. AA can work without having to drag oneself and one’s life into the gutter first. The key for me was realizing one day, December 28, 2005, that I could no longer STOP drinking whenever I wanted to. That’s the point I had to get to, I guess, just the realization that I could no longer stop on my own.
    I hope this helps anyone out there who is feeling like AA may not work for them. Like they say, “Just keep coming back!” As silly as that sounds, it worked for me.

  10. 10 Prester John March 27, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Hi Etta – We have even more in common than I first realized. Not the fitness thing though. I might could drive as far as you run if I was having a really good day.

    There’s really nothing to add to your comment. I could have written most of it in the late 90s. Going back is proving tough. It’s strange, because I’m nowhere nearly as torn up as when I’ve picked up a beginners chip in the past. I think the embarrassment of having thrown away years of sobriety, coupled with the overall state of disrepair my life is in, are all contributing factors. I’ve never been particularly ashamed of my addict antics. This go round though, my depression and physical challenges, along with the relapse, have left me feeling so useless. “Stop worrying about saving face and get busy saving your ass” is the AA cliche that comes to mind.

    Anyway, thanks for visiting.

  11. 11 GentlePath March 27, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    The saying that comes to my mind is — sobriety is not a contest. In your comment to bottlecappie you say that you need to have more interaction with people besides your family but you don’t want it. That really does suck! Maybe you’re an introvert.

  12. 12 Prester John March 28, 2008 at 5:05 am

    GentlePath – Welcome. Your introvert designation is very accurate. I’m way over into the introvert side of the scale. I’ve had a theory that AA tends to work better for the more gregarious types. I think extroverts are generally considered to be healthier emotionally, so that’s not surprising I suppose. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  13. 13 etta March 28, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Interesting comment on the introvert status. I, too, am a closet introvert–though I can pull off a very convincing extrovert on a regular basis! The fun, humorous, gregarious, incredibly healthy AA meeting which I referred to in my earlier comment is over-flowing with introverts! Perhaps the key is allowing introverts a safe and healthy space to be themselves…I don’t know, but I sure am grateful to have found them. I even go out for coffee (gasp!!) after meetings with several of them on a routine (gasp, gasp!!) basis now! Weird…
    Keep the conversation going, Prester John, one minute at a time.

  14. 14 cori1047 March 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    The idea that introverts are somehow less emotionally “healthy” than extroverts is a fallacy promoted by the current social climate, which presumes that if you’re not out “doing” something – usually involving consuming entertainment-oriented services and thus contributing to the national economy – then you *must* of course be isolated and alone. I know many extroverts who possess no insight or perspective on who they really are because they spend all their time being what’s expected of them by someone else. The coolest, most creative, together and self-aware people I know are all introverts.

    Of course, I have to say that, being well over onto the introvert side of the spectrum myself. Most folk would never guess – for god’s sake, I’m a criminal lawyer, I spend my days talking to total strangers and trying to peruade them to see my point of view, usually with some considerable success. But I have to recharge my batteries regularly, and that usually means some time alone – even apart from spouse and child. If I can’t get that periodically, it’s bad for my health, both mentally and physically. Stress is a well known trigger for auto-immune flare-ups, and boy, do I ever have one going!

    If, in the midst of all that, I’d been following the party line of society’s take on mental health and spending my little “free time” hanging out with acquaintances and partying, I’d probably be “in the club” with you, Prester John (pain killers can sometimes be a little *too* soothing, if you catch my drift…)or in the hospital somewhere.

  15. 15 Prester John March 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    etta – Sometimes I feel like my personality, my addictions, and my depression have somehow colluded to ruin my little life. Other times I think I’m really just a maladjusted-dysfunctional goof-ball. The few times my depression has really been beaten back (in the last eight years or so) I immediately begin to doubt that I was ever sick and that I was just somehow allowing life to kick my ass. Before I can make any real progress though, it comes creeping back and becomes the thing that defines me.

    My biggest problem with any sort of group activity is that I don’t have the energy, over time, to participate on anything like a regular basis. AAs like to say “you used when you didn’t feel good, get to a meeting when you don’t feel good”. I think that’s good advice. Unfortunately it’s just not doable for me when I’m depressed. I have no energy. This is problematic because it sets me up to be something other than a garden variety drunk. And of course I’m not. I, like you, just have some other issues that affect both my addiction and my recovery.

    I guess we all have our crosses to bear. Nice to hear from you.

    cori1047 – I love the observation. See, you’re a thinker and wouldn’t have time to come up with neat stuff like this if you were on the phone or otherwise on the go every waking moment. I totally agree with everything you said. And I’ll make you an honorary member of the club. You and your circle do a lot for us. I, for one, appreciate it. Even though I’m a full=fledged member, dealing with “us” would be too heart-breaking for me to do on anything like a regular basis. Y’all just hold their feet to the fire and maybe, just maybe, something like one in 30 will be saved.

  16. 16 etta March 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Prester John- Ain’t depression GRAND?! What other illness could screw a normal, hey-I’m-feeling-better day (or moment) into another reason to worry rather than celebrate? Gotta love it. I know exactly what you are talking about. Fortunately, I have a wonderful therapist who was able to teach me, finally, after seven years of this fun, that negative thinking is actually one of the symptoms of depression! Rather than a cause, as most well-meaning friends will tell you, negative thinking is actually a part of or a result of the illness–not the other way around. That gives me some relief on those “good” days when my mind starts trying to F it up.
    I wrote a post about this last month in Thinking as a Symptom.
    Have a good weekend.

  17. 17 Prester John March 30, 2008 at 7:29 am

    etta – “negative thinking is actually one of the symptoms of depression! Rather than a cause, as most well-meaning friends will tell you, negative thinking is actually a part of or a result of the illness–not the other way around.”

    I’ve never heard that before. In fact, the joke of a therapist I had several years ago once noted how negative my thinking was. Mind you my life was disintegrating around me. Even if I hadn’t been depressed I’d have certainly been under a lot of stress.


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