AA is All About Abstinence!

I’ve been sitting in AA meetings for decades and often become engrossed in the discussion, losing sight of AA’s point. The point, and the solution that the AA program offers, is complete and total abstinence from alcohol and non-prescription medicine. That is The Solution that alcoholics anonymous offers. It is just that simple.

So if you are abstinent today, celebrate that as you are living in the solution.

The AA Details

Steps, Sponsorship, The Big Book, Spirituality, Service, Meetings, and God can make for downright fascinating conversation. And, it is appropriate to talk about and learn from each other’s applications of them in their lives toward their sobriety. But, it is essential to remember that they are all processes to the solution, not the solution itself. Everyone is entitled to their own experience of getting and staying sober.

And that is what makes it hard for some who insist that the Big Big tells us “precisely how we have recovered!” It also says, “our book is meant to be suggestive only!” Which is it?

I have seen that different people weigh program elements in very different ways depending on their situations. Some go to a lot of meetings; some don’t. Some talk to their sponsor every day, others hardly ever. Debate on “the right way” to work the program I’ve come to learn is more about ego than helping someone out.

Abstinence is Key

What matters is abstinence. Disagree?

Take someone new who comes into AA and sobers up for 30-60 days and watch what happens. They look better, feel better, sleep better, their digestion is better, and they feel hopeful again in most cases. All this is from abstinence. If they want to dive into the steps and other facets of the AA program, no telling what else will happen.

I also see this 180-degree change happening solely from abstinence as being pretty good evidence of the presence of alcoholism in the first place. Doesn’t it make sense if all that changes just by stopping drinking that the problem was the drinking?

Again, if you are abstinent, congratulations! If you have alcoholism, you are on your way to a much better life!

As a reminder, there is currently no definitive blood marker for alcoholism. Typically one self-diagnoses themself through a series of questions to determine if they are “powerless over alcohol” (as AA calls it). Often this method leads to misdiagnosis, conflating binge drinkers with heavy drinkers (aka alcoholics).

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