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Beyond Blue

Thanks to reader Eddie who wrote the following on the message board of my “A Dozen Addiction Zappers” post:

This all sounds good, but when you are as depressed as I am, it sounds just like a bunch people talking crap that ain’t true in my world. I’m an alcoholic and I hate AA. I have been through literally 14 AA based treatment programs, countless meetings, sponsors, a 167 page 4th step which I did with one of my sponsors. The Big Book says that many people feel a sense of relief after taking their 5th step. I felt like I did something I really shouldn’t have done. I have been there and done that. Don’t tell me I haven’t worked the program and please no idiotic AAisms. Just because it works for you don’t mean it works for everybody. I can honestly say that I gave the AA program 15 years of my life, and I’m still drinking to this day. Now I don’t even try anymore, because it’s a waste of time for me (going to meetings, calling the sponsor, etc.). Folks, I want to quit drinking bad, real bad, but AA is not the answer for me and does that mean I have to suffer in my life and die an early death because of it?

Eddie, trust me, I am not an AA knight. I even hesitate writing those two vowels given the eleventh tradition: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.”
I have had my share of issues with the program, one being the fear of God they put into people who think for themselves: “No one is too dumb for the program, but many people are too smart.” (However, in hindsight, I sort of understand where they are coming from, because my brain was a real liability the first three years of sobriety, and thinking for myself would have most definitely lead me back to too much vodka.)
At any rate, I no longer take ALL my directions from their book anymore. I believe that I have enough recovery behind me to begin experimenting with my own program, which is based on the wisdom of their steps, as well as the invaluable teachings I have learned from different kinds of mentors along the way (two important ones being my writing mentor, Mike, who has never stepped foot in an AA meeting, and my guardian angel, Ann, who has taught me the basics of how to survive depression).
So listen, I’m all for creating your own program—whatever works for you!


I thought you might be interested in the following article “Many Roads to Recovery,” written by Dan Wakefield. He mentions several alternatives to AA as ways to stopping alcohol abuse.
And please know that I don’t judge you in anyway. We’re all just doing the best we can to find our way, a chunk of peace and serenity in this world.
You’re in my prayers!
Here’s the beginning of Wakefield’s piece. For the entire article, click here.

I never went to Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), but 20 years ago I underwent a lifestyle change that involved an exercise and diet program (lowering my resting pulse rate from a rocketing 120 to a healthy 60 that I’ve maintained ever since), and a return to church and a spiritual path.
From a daily dependence on alcohol that periodically turned into binge drinking, I went for long periods of abstinence to times when I have a glass of wine with dinner or at a social function or celebration.
My friends in A.A. still refer to me as an alcoholic, since I’ve never done the 12-step program and still sometimes have that glass of wine.
One evening over dinner, I asked one of those friends if she’d mind not calling me an alcoholic, explaining that isn’t how I define myself. I quoted the definition of alcoholism from my American Heritage Dictionary: “the excessive and habitual consumption of alcohol.”
My friend wasn’t comfortable with that definition and suggested we call a doctor to get a “medical definition.” I said the dictionary definition was good enough for me, and if she saw it differently that was fine too; I simply wished she’d stop calling me an alcoholic. She suddenly said, “Screw it,” picked up her purse and books, and stormed out of the restaurant.
One of the drinking buddies of my boozing days is an Irish fellow who also stopped drinking 20 years ago and has never had a drop since though he never asked for the help of AA, therapy, religion, or any self-help or spiritual programs. His friends in AA lament that he is, nevertheless, what they call “a dry drunk.”
In my non-AA layperson’s view, a “drunk” who doesn’t drink is a contradiction in terms.

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