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Alcoholic Annynomous Questions and Answers

I’ve heard people talk about “near beer” and some say it’s okay to drink it. What do you think?

Dear Near Beer:

What’s my take on drinking near beer? No. I would have the same answer for some of the “Sparkling Juices.”

It’s pretty simple to protect ourselves, all we have to do is look on the back of the container and it tells us what we need to know. If the container says “Nonalcoholic” than there is still some alcohol involved. I only drink things that say “no alcohol.”

The same is true for “speed herbs” like epherda or any of its derivatives. I don’t like them because they are just speed drugs in another form. They do the same thing as near beer or the sparkling juice, they confuse people into thinking it’s okay to use them when it’s not.

To be clean we need to stop shooting the angles because if we do that, Christian Drug Rehab all we are really doing is shooting angles and not doing Gods will.

I keep having using dreams what can I do to stop them? I have been in AA for nine months and almost every night I have dreams where I’m at the bar drinking. Some of the dreams are so real!

What can I do?

Dear using dreams:

I had a lot of using dreams when I first started in recovery. They drove me nuts. I went to a meeting and talked about it and at that meeting I got two pieces of advice. The worst advice was this.

“Using dreams are just a way to get a free trip. Don’t worry about them, they’ll stop happening sooner or later.” That was terrible advice I wanted the dreams to stop then not some time in the future.

The best advice I got was this from a great old timer. “When I go to bed at night I ask for help during the night to keep me clean. That helped stop the dreams. I still had dreams but I found myself saying no in the dreams instead of yes.”

Asking for help at night is something I do each night I remember to. I forget sometimes but I do my best. This is something I also use during the day when I have a thought come into my brain. I understand now that I’m not responsible for the first thought, but I am responsible for what I do with that thought.

Praying throughout the day for help in turning my will over has helped me learn how to get control of thoughts and my actions.

How do you know you are trudging the road of happy destiny?  I’ve been in AA for 9 months and I’m going to meetings.  I have a sponsor and we have started working on the steps together.  I go to meetings and I hear people talking about happy destiny and I want that.  I also want the promises that are read in the meetings to happen in my life how do I get all those things to happen?
I really want to know.

In recovery things happen not at our pace but at the pace of God, or your Higher Power if that makes you feel more comfortable.  You already are doing some the things that need to happen to allow God to work in your life.  Keep working the steps with your sponsor, keep going to meetings hopefully you are going to many during the week.  I’m also hoping that you have a Big Book and that you are reading it.
Last but not least this is the most important thing I can think of.  I have no idea who you are or who your sponsor is but I please do this if you truly want to get recovery and continue in recovery.  Make sure that your sponsor goes to meetings has worked the steps and that your sponsor has a sponsor who goes to meetings and has worked the steps and is still working the steps.
If you do that and it is true for your sponsor than you will have the things you desire and the chances of you recovering grow each day.  Good luck and keep checking in to let me know how you are doing.

All these grumpy old times have been telling me that I need to stop with the green hair, cut off my spikes, and to stop wearing Rammones t-shirts to meetings. Do I really need to change all this?

Dear Change:

God gave you a brain to use. Tradition 4 tells the group to be autonomous. Well autonomy can also be used in our recovering lives (as well as the 12 step group). Autonomy gives the right to be who we are. Not a cookie cut mold of the guy who’s sitting next to us. The only changes you need to make are the ones that god puts in front of you. If you’re stressed out about hearing people in meeting rooms telling you to change your look, then find a new meeting. I’ve been to meetings all over the country…I’ve been to ‘extreme right-wing’ meetings, and ‘extreme left-wing’ meetings….i’ve been to the ‘punk rock’ meetings, and i’ve been to the ‘cowboy’ meetings…i’ve been to the ‘Wall Street’ meetings….and i’ve been to the ‘Skid Row’ meetings. So just as the bars and parties carried a various number of persionalities, so do the meeting rooms of 12 step groups. Its up to us to find our home.

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I recently attended a “Young Peoples” 12 step conference. I enjoyed the speakers, and some of the discussion panels. But I became quite troubled by seeing absurd acts preformed during a game of ‘truth and dare’. Just watching these kids do the things they were doing made me not want to be a part of any 12 step fellowship ever again. But I need to remember that people like that are just ‘Sick children of God’ and that I need to pray for them. However I hear about stuff like this happening all the time. Will the younger crowd of 12 step groups ever grow up?

Dear Questionier:

The difference between a guy/girl who is 19 years old and is sobering up and a man/woman who is 40 years old who is sobering up are the levels of hormons in their bodies. Most younger people who attend a “Young Peoples” conference for the first time will often over do it on on the energy drinks, and end up acting out on some primal hormone instinct. Most of the time its the guy who is trying real hard (in all the wrong ways) to impress the girl. I myself have been to 11 “Young Peoples” conferences, and I’ve learned to ‘lead by example’. Leading by example is often what it takes with a younger crows of addicts….that or call them out on the carpet during a meeting. So next time you’re at a young people’s conference and you see a group of kinds playing an absurd game of ‘truth or dare’…call them out on the carpet and ask them what kind of program they are really working. After all, God didn’t land us in the rooms of 12 step programs to make fools out of ourselves.

I’ve been in AA for two years and I have my first sponsee!  I’m so proud that someone asked me to sponsor them.  My question makes me feel stupid but I want to know why do we encourage people to stay out of relationships during the first year?  I know why we go to 90 meetings or more in 90 days and the rest of the stuff we tell new people but the relationship one, I don’t get.  I got into a relationship really fast and I had fun so why should I be a hypocrite and tell someone else not to do what I did?

Dear Hypocrite:

Way to go on someone asking you to sponsor them!  That’s one of the best things about recovery, having something someone else wants.  It tells me that you have a good sponsor backing you up.
I would encourage you to look at yourself first.  You can’t pass on something you don’t have and you can’t take someone where you don’t want to go.  Please spend some time and look at yourself.
Why no relationships in the first year?  Here’s why I don’t want the people I sponsor in a relationship, or if they are in one when they come in to stay in it, it has to do with switching addictions.  Crossover addiction problems are common and many of us in recovery are not just singularly addicted.  We come into recovery with baggage and I’m a fan of staying stopped from all our addictions and sorting through our baggage quickly.
When I sit in meetings and listen to someone with an obvious addiction to sex and they are spilling their guts and it’s all about sex it’s really sad. Think back over your two years in recovery and you will know if you have a problem with relationships or sex.  Do you spend time during the day obsessing over your current relationship?  Are you taking the time to learn about yourself in recovery or are you jumping from relationship to relationship to avoid looking at yourself.  Lots of people in recovery would rather do anything than spend the time needed to recover.  They would rather bring in or trade another addiction to replace the one they left just to avoid the issues that brought them to recovery in the first place.
That’s why we encourage people to stay out of relationships.  We have enough problems already and we need to learn how to love ourselves before we try to love someone else.  We need to keep our focus on God our Higher Power before we corrupt that relationship and place something new in our life that we might bend our knee to instead.

What’s your opinion on having young children in meetings?  I’m a single mom and I have two young children who I don’t have enough money to hire a babysitter for.  I go to meetings and during the meetings there are times when people start giving me the “LOOK”.  I’ve even had people with years of time tell me, “you should leave your children at home.”
What do you think?

Dear Single Mom:

Two babies, short on money and trying to get recovery all at once!  Wow, you’re an inspiration.  I wish I lived where you live so I could be in a meeting where those “Blockheads” with time told you that.  I’m sorry you got to meet the jerks in recovery so quickly.  My answer to you is simple, tell them next time, “Thanks for sharing that with me.”  And then run away from them.
Keep going to meetings and know that just like the rest of the world, in recovery we have jerks also.  If there is a chance for you to get to meetings where babysitting is offered there will be parents there for you to learn from.  Raising babies is not easy and to have to do it alone is even harder.  Hopefully you have a sponsor that can also be an inspiration to you and help you learn how to work the steps while you tackle all the problems that parents face.
Write back and let me know how you’re doing.

I found you through the internet and I have a few questions.  My husband is drinking and using drugs and we are about to lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build.  I’ve been to meetings and I’ve begged for people to help me.  Some people have tried and nothing is working.   We don’t have any children yet and his parents are just like him.  Whenever we go over to see them it just turns in a night of drinking.   He has a brother and sister and neither of them live around here.  They both drink and every holiday when they come to town the fights that happen are just frightening.
I’m sick of living like this.
What can I do?  I’ve thought of leaving him but we’ve been together a long time and I’m not ready yet to leave yet.

Dear Battleground:

You do have lots going on but I only really see one question, you want to know how to get your husband to stop.  There are literally millions of couples in the world with the same question.  That question has been asked for thousands of years and there are many ways to answer it.
The simple answer is this one I’m sorry but there is nothing you can do to make someone else do something they don’t want to do.
I’ve tried that with my wife, my parents, my siblings, my co-workers, almost everyone I’ve ever come in contact with over the years.  I’ve never found a way to control someone when they don’t want to be controlled.  Free will was God’s gift to us.  He gave us that gift to show us how much he loves us.  We get to make the choices we make and we get to suffer the consequences of our choices.
The best thing you can do for your husband is to stop helping him and back away from him.  I would never encourage or discourage someone to leave anyone as long as there is no violence.  You didn’t mention that so I’m guessing there is none.  What I would do is encourage you to figure out how to raise the bottom he needs to hit.
Everyone in recovery has the common thread and that is their bottom.  Everyone has to find that bottom, find a way to reach out to God their Higher Power and walk away from their addiction whatever form it takes.  Don’t be fooled by “stopping” only accept “staying stopped.”  Addiction is arrested and recovery happens only when the person stays stopped.
Find an Alanon meeting in your area, where there are women who have recovery.  Get the support you need in your life to start recovery for yourself.  When you do that you will be amazed at how your life will change.

I want to know what you think about people in recovery talking a great program while they are parked in a chair in the meeting.  Then they leave the meeting get behind the wheel and drive like they are insane. There is an “old timer” in our meeting who does that.  They are totally insane with road rage and then they come into the meeting and tell everyone how to live.  I don’t get it?  What do you think?

Dear Confused:

Road Rage is so common and it’s frightening.  I’ve been mad behind the wheel of my car.  I’ve been frustrated and I’ve even lipped swear words at other drivers which makes me embarrassed to admit here.  But I can honestly say I’ve not crossed the line and tipped over into road rage.  I’ve seen that ugly beast up close and it’s not pretty.
That said I agree with you one-hundred percent!  I don’t get it either.  People like that “Old Timer” are not really in recovery.  They might be dry as a hundred year old piece of wood but recovered, nope not true.  You tell them to find me and I’ll gladly tell them to their face.
In the AA Big Book it tells us that we have a psyic change and then we are rocketed into a fourth dimension.  To have those two things happen to us, the twelve steps have to be worked.  If we work the twelve steps honestly we are promised things one of which is a spiritual awakening.
Here’s my test that I use on myself so I know that I’m still in recovery and not slacking.  Do I have a sponsor that has sponsor and does everyone still go to meetings?  Am I really working the steps or am I coasting on my time in recovery?  Can I tell the truth from a lie when I hear it in the meetings?
Those are just a few questions and I hope you can add your own.  Don’t be fooled by the trickery of those that are not recovering.  Stick with those that are truly working towards recovery and become a viable of society.[top]

Why do I need to put a buck in the basket when it’s passed?

Dear Basket:

Glad you asked.  I have a pet peeve and it’s this one.  Why not put two bucks in the basket?  Why not put five?  How about ten?

Just kidding.  But not much.  I do my best to put more than a dollar in the basket when it comes around because I know how hard it is to keep the meetings going.  I’m a fan of clubs and for most of the time I’ve been in recovery I’ve belonged to clubs.  Clubs take a lot of upkeep and they need money to do that.  I pay my dues, I give of my time and I give as generously as I can when the basket comes around.
I also remember how hard it was at times for me to cough up money when the basket came around to me.  But with time and learning how to keep myself employed I try to put more money in the basket.  I also know this, inflation works and that dollar is worth less today than when I came into recovery.  I need to put more in to make up for inflation and I need to put more to cover the ever rising cost of the goods that get handed out while the meeting is going on.
All of the groups have their tradition of “self supporting” and we as members need to support the groups with money.  Lastly is this question.  If you had to act out on your addiction and you needed money what would stop you?  The answer is always the same no matter what, “nothing.”
Put the money in, more if you can and be glad for the warm, dry, love filled enviroment that you find yourself in.

I’m mad and I hate anything to do with AA.  My husband started going to those meetings and now he’s gone all the time.  He’s never home when I need him, he’s off to a meeting.  He spends time at those meetings when I need him home to help me get things done.  Why?
I wanted him to stop drinking and I wanted him to stop using drugs but why all those meetings?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Why does he need to be gone when I need him to be with me?

Dear Mad:

It is frustrating.  I’ve watched more wives and also husbands get mad because finally their spouse stops using and then “poof” they’re gone.  Putting in time with meetings is honestly the best thing for the whole family.
This I can promise to you if you are willing to overcome being mad at your husband.  Let him go to the meetings, work with his sponsor and accomplish the steps and that husband you knew before, will no longer exist.
What I would also encourage is for you to find your own meetings and start attending them.  You, and your family walked the path of addiction with your husband and you also need to recover from addiction.  There are meetings that you can find I’m sure.
Another thing that is wonderful is when you both can attend open meetings together.  There are great speaker meetings where couples go to often.  There are conventions that couples attend and learn how family’s can stay together and recover from the throes of addiction.
Overcoming the disease of addiction can and does happen in this world.  Overcoming the negativity of addiction does happen.  Family’s can grow stronger and often do when the whole family walks the road of recovery.  On that road God is waiting to help when he is sought.

I’m nineteen and I have a really big problem.  I’ve got two years now and I really proud of that.  I like the meetings I go to and I’m active in the young people meetings where I’m at.  I have some good friends and we hang out a lot together.

My problem is this, there’s this old man who keeps bugging me.  He’s always around and he’s always saying things that make feel creepy.  I’ve tried some things to get him to stop but he just laughs and keeps on doing it.

I’m stuck.

Dear Stuck:

Some are sicker than others. And the truly sick ones are preditors. The best piece of advice I could give to you would have some of the guys whom you have sobered up with and who have a few years under their belt get together and let him know that its not cool what he’s doing to you. I know if one of the girls from my young people’s group were being stalked by some old guy I would be all about confronting him about it.

It’s too bad that we can’t give out tickets/fines to people who setp outside the bounderies of what’s allright to do around meeting rooms. However Joe has a piece of his story that i’m going to share with you that acts sort of like a ‘fine’ to the preditors:

“I was in Oklahoma City Oklahoma and there was a friend of mine who was in her early twenties and having a similar problem with a guy who was being a real jerk. We, her friends all went to his “Home” meeting along with her and when it came time for a topic her hand was the first one up.  The topic she brought up in that meeting, where there were maybe fifty people was, “What to do when someone in the program stalks you?”  She did a great job of sharing how it made her feel powerless and really unmanageable.  How it was affecting her sanity and she was losing faith in the program because of how someone who was supposed to be there for people was only really “letching” on new young sober women.  That meeting was great and the members of that group looking back, I’m sure knew just who were talking about.  The group shared and they wanted to help her in so many ways and that night was the last night we ever saw that guy anywhere around us again.”

My expirence with young people’s meetings is that the service work that we do together creates an unbreakable bond between us. And most of us are willing to go to any lenght to help each other out in a God loving fashion.

I’m fifteen years into recovery and my wife of ten years has gone back out.  She had twelve years of sobriety before she started drinking.  She has been drinking for two weeks now and I’m not sure what to do.  I never thought I’d be in this position.  I’m not usually indecisive.  I’ve seen other couples in my years face something like this but I never talked with them about it.  I never thought it’d happen to me!  I thought I was bulletproof.
I’m ashamed to go to meetings and tell them what’s going on. I know they know because her sponsor called and I told her all about it.  When my wife heard I’d told her sponsor we had a really big fight.
When we got married we made a pact that if ever one of us went back out the other would leave until the person was back in the program again.  That sounded great then but now I don’t believe that anymore.  I love my wife so much and it hurts really bad to see her drinking.  It started slow but to see how fast it built up amazed me.
Everything that I learned in AA about what happens to people who start drinking again is true.  What should I do?

Dear Married Man:

The disease of Alcoholism is honestly insidious!  So many times we hear that word read in meetings but so many of us truly don’t understand just what insidious means until it comes to our door, knocks, and when we answer the door slaps us silly.
I’m sure you’ve read the “Lost” chapters in the “Big Book” to the wives, to the family and to the employer.  They are not in our book by mistake.  They are for us to read just as much as they there for our friends, wives and employers to read.  To the wives if it were written today would be titled “to the spouse” I’m sure.
I too, made my wife agree to that dumb idea about “If I ever use again, RUN.”  It sounded so noble when I said it, but now it only sounds totally shallow.  No one who truly loves someone can just leave them in the alleyways of life.  To see someone we love choose to become “sick” again is so painful.  To see someone move backwards and go against every belief we hold dear is alarming.
What should you do?
I wish I knew.  I wish I had “the definitive” answer for you.  I’m sure your praying.  I’m positive you look at your wife and only see the wife you love stolen by alcohol.  If I was in the quandary you find yourself in I pray that I’d have the strength be honest and unashamed.  I pray that I’d seek counseling, go to Alanon and spend time with my friends in recovery.
I’d pray that my wife would again come to believe that God our Lord has no step children and we, each and everyone of us is truly a Child of God and we can inherit the Kingdom.
My encouragement is be honest with yourself, read your liteture, pray and keep moving forward.  Hopefully your wife will join you.  If not the answer will come to you when you start doing the things that got you to fifteen years in recovery.  God Bless and let me know what happens.

I’m thinking about getting a tattoo of my recovery date. Any thoughts about that?

Dear Tattoo:

Yes, infact I have a few thoughts. Pause to ask yourself these questions. Am I cocky with my recovery? Am I humble about the clean and sober time God has given to me?

Trust me, I love tattoos. I’m all for them. But would I ever get my “date” etched onto my body in ink forever? NO. Would I ever get a 12 Step slogan or “logo” tattoo? NO. Why? Because there are much better ways to express my gratitude towards what the program has done for me than to get a tattoo of it. And they’re all much more benificial to the group and the program. If you’re truly grateful about the life you live today, then instead of getting it etched on your body in ink, give it away! We can only keep what we have by giving it away.

I love snowboarding. It’s something I’ve done all my life. I’ve even had the honor of competing in competitions all over the country. But the thing is I can’t ride with out wanting to get high.

Will I ever beable to get back to the sport I love?

Dear Sport:

Yes you will. But the thing that sucks is that it’ll be on Gods time and not yours. http://www.ourmasterscamp.org/ One of the biggest challenges that we face in recovery is learning how to do the things we use to do in the past…but only do them clean and sober. I would recommend going out boarding with people in the program. Its what I had to do. I needed the fellowship to help me to learn how to do everything clean and sober. So today weather its skateboarding or playing video games, the thought of getting high doesn’t come to mind. But give it time, and don’t expect it to happen overnight.

I’ve played music in a heavy metal band for the last 8 years. Youtube We’ve played in bars and clubs all over the world. I gotta tell ya man, I was in it for the drugs, the booze, and the women. But I’m sober now and am going on 18 months. I really have the desire to stop playing music with the band because it’s just not fun anymore. I still love the louder heavier music, and do have the desire to keep playing that style. But being that I’m clean now, doesn’t that mean that I have to settle down?

Dear Heavy Metal:

Glad you asked. I play bass for a metal/punk band. We auctually pratice in the attic of the local Alano Club. Two of us are in the program, and two of us aren’t. I still listen to the heavier louder music all the time. In fact, some of the older people have refered to the music I listen to as ‘infant slaying vampire music.’ But that’s just their perspective. Sure mellowing out is a good thing. Just because you mellow out after you sober up doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing the music you love to play. I thought that when people told me that it was time to “settle down” when I showed up to the program, that I would have to wear a suit and tie everywere and all that garbage. What they ment is that I needed to learn how not to cause chaos and destruction in my life and in the lives of the people around me. Learning to “settle down” didn’t mean stop wearing the clothes I was wearing or to stop listning to the music I listen to. It ment taking a different approach to my day. It ment treating other people in a different fashon, with respect. It ment learning how to not live each minute telling lies and stealing.