Great opinion piece by IsaacX, Why You Shouldn’t Recognize as an Addict in an AA Meeting And while I respect everyone’s opinion (well I try), i gotta disagree here. I think that more inclusive the better, and if you are worried about people leaving a meeting, i would worry more about people leaving who have drug problems and recognize as addicts instead of alcoholics.
I have been clean from opiates for nearly 6 years, and i took a 3 year break on drinking, even though i knew i never had a problem with alcohol. I cant tell you how I knew, i just did. But I needed support in my early sobriety, so i played the game, until I got “booed” enough for calling myself an addict or talking about drugs, that i decided I had 3 years under my belt, i’ll find a more inclusive group, and that group which meets at my house is not 12 step based, but it has kept clean and kept me a productive member of society for years.
To separate an alcoholic from a drug addict is like saying there is a difference between a heroin addict and an oxycontin addict.. I think it sends a message (maybe subconsciously) to the people that want to recognize as addicts but dont out of fear, that maybe they are coming from a different place.. I think it adds to the stigma of addiction, and i think its time AA looks at some of their principles and traditions to adapt to a more modern society.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are basically the same thing. In all honesty who is anyone to say whether or not a person who became an addict is allowed at an AA meeting let alone when they share they are afraid to say addict because that’s not respecting the AA tradition. However, what does it really matter because I feel that alcohol is the gateway drug. Alcohol and heroin pretty much break down the same way in the brain. People are dying from drugs and alcohol so if AA can offer a safe haven to these addicts why not embrace that idea. Allow they to call themselves whatever addict or alcoholic. The reality is there’s longer soberiety in the rooms of AA than in some of the rooms of NA and I have been in that position. I have earned my seat in any meeting because the only requirement membership is a desire to stop using.
I’ve been clean and sober for 27 years, one day at a time. I always identified as a drug addict first. Before claiming my 12-step seat, whenever I stopped using for any period of time but kept drinking, I always ended up using again. I rationalized that I was in control of the drug use because I was able to stop. When under the influence of alcohol I had no filter, it seemed. I would think about getting high and go off and do it! When the consequences of my using and drinking got bad enough, I had the desire to stop both. Since the desire to stop is the only requirement for membership in AA, I voted myself in. Yes, this is the long way around to singleness of purpose. Once when I told my story I made no mention of drugs and afterward I didn’t feel like I’d done a good job. When I tell my AA story now, I always mention drugs in a general way. I never specify which ones or how much or the like. Usually, just a few words make it abundantly clear that I’m dually addicted. Many times when people come up to talk afterward, they identify with the fact that I wasn’t sure if I was an alcoholic when I first came to the rooms. I don’t feel I’m disrespecting the tradition by talking about drug use in general when I’m telling my story. However, when I introduce myself in an AA meeting, I identify as an alcoholic to respect the tradition.
AA was founded to help alcoholics. Their program has what is called a singleness of purpose. There literature states that they are to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. It is not being disrespectful towards addicts, only sticking with what they know best, alcohol. I personally go to another fellowship that deals with addiction to any substance. Alcohol is a drug to me and my fellow addicts. I have to respect the guidelines of AA if I attend their meetings. I have been drunk twice in my life, but have shot more dope than I could ever remember. If I need a meeting and my fellowship is not available, I will go to an AA meeting. Although I am not an Alcoholic, I could be one if I pick up alcohol so I simply state “My name is Rip and I have a desire not to drink today.” I stay true to myself because I do have a desire not to drink today, but I do not lie and say that I am something that I am not. I also stay true to AA’s guidelines that say anyone who wants to be free from alcohol is welcome.
Great topic. Personally, I’ve seen a shift in the rooms as of the last few years. As drugs have become more prevalent, there are more and more drug addicts entering the rooms of AA. Of course, this depends on where you live in the country but for me I live in one of the “recovery capitals” of the world so there are a ton of “addicts” in AA and NA.
The rooms of AA or NA should be all inclusive. I feel that it makes no difference whether the people of the room relate to you shooting up dope or whether you’re drinking 750ml of Jack Daniels everyday…It makes no difference because the underlying story and struggle is the EXACT SAME THING. I was more of an “addict” per se than an “alcoholic” but I find myself relating to 70 year old men who’ve been in the rooms of AA for 30 years now. It’s about the overall problem, the common denominator. I could give two Sh*ts how you identify yourself, what you were using, how you ended up in the rooms…what I care about is that you DID END up in the rooms and now need the help.
I think people place too much emphasis on the problem and their DOC (drug of choice) and not enough emphasis on the fact that they now have their ass in the seat in the a meeting and are seeking a better way of life.
On another note, the term “alcoholic”, in my opinion, has evolved to be a more all-inclusive term. I’ve never felt people should get too caught up on how they identify themselves, whether its “addict” or “alcoholic” because essentially they mean the same thing!
Alcoholic and Alcoholism are two different things, I am primarily an Addict (my addiction and preferred drug came before alcohol, but alcohol is still a big part of my story), but I suffer from the disease of Alcoholism as described in the big book, alcohol and drugs are merely but a symptom just the same as energy drinks, relationships, shopping etc. are also but symptoms of the deeper spiritual malady I suffer from.
in my early days I would make a point of gong to AA meetings and introducing myself as an addict and sharing about drugs, I found it highly amusing and knew I was upsetting my fellow members of AA by the looks I used to get, I’d justify myself saying “them alcoholics have no idea about drugs and they need to learn some acceptance its all the same”. I had to look at what I was really doing I was trying to separate myself not just from the group but more importantly from the solution.
being a member of both CA and AA now I carry a message to both, in CA I am free to share on my drug usage in AA I stick to drink, however I only share briefly on these subjects to explain the physical allergy and the mental obsession for newcomers to identify. I then share about the spiritual malady, the steps and where I am now, these latter 3 are the same regardless of what the poison was. So why do I have a need to share drug use in a room full of alcoholics for identification?
Of course there are members in AA who also used drugs, but its not about any specific substance or how much I drank or used, it is about the underlying fatal spiritual malady which all I ever knew how to cure was by taking something in attempt to fix, it is about the fact that when I took one, I could NOT stop, it is about the strange mental blank spot and queer twist of thoughts that proceed the first whatever. so why is there a need to talk about drugs in a room of alcoholics?
when doing a main share for AA I introduce myself only as an alcoholic, I state that drugs were part of my story but that due to AA’s primary purpose I will not share about my using but if you want to talk more on that to come see me after, I also state that drugs are part of my story but not in a using tense, after all I did more than just use drugs and I needed a way to try and make money to keep me financially supported to drink (and use). by doing this I stick to the traditions I carry the message of alcoholism to alcoholics, I don’t cause someone who may need help to walk away because they’re not interested in hearing about drugs, and I also allow people with addiction to know there’s someone they can come and talk to about that.
so if you feel a need to introduce yourself as an addict in a room full of alcoholics you need to be looking at yourself and why that is, when there’s plenty of other fellowships where you can go and do that