There were many who entered the program with the goal of controlling their drinking, drugging or binge eating. They had no intention of practicing any type of abstinence. After a while, they realized that “controlled” using was antithetical to the program. Accepting this fact, they embarked on their journey towards sobriety. Shortly thereafter, another question was raised in their minds. They queried, “if the only reason you entered the program was to stop your drinking and drugging, why do you continue to attend meetings year after year”? As they gained a little more sobriety they soon were able to answer their own question. Listening carefully at meetings, they realized that the majority of shares had nothing to do with alcohol, drugs or food. Rather, people spoke about many other areas. There was a lot of discussion about personal defects of character and what people were doing to correct them. People also shared about life situations where they needed advice as to how to proceed. Sometimes members just reviewed their gratitudes or accomplishments from the day. It emerged that meetings provided a daily dose of guidance on how to navigate life. They also found that after sharing, they inevitably felt better.
Personal Reflection: What have I gained from the program beyond abstinence?
What is the price on an admission ticket to any AA, OA or NA meeting. Of course there is no monetary charge for attending a meeting. Although people throw a dollar or two into the collection basket as it is passed, we say in all sincerity, “we need you more than we need your money.” Rather the price of admission is desire. That is, do you have a desire to stop drinking, using drugs or eating compulsively? When you are able to answer yes to that question, you have gained entrance into the program
However, we are a demanding lot. Having a desire to stop using will only get you to the threshold of the program. The only way you can really become a member of the fellowship is to take that desire to the next level. Doing anything to the contrary will only result in relapse. It is only through total,abstinence that our desire is extinguished. To some of us this might appear counter-intuitive. We might think that going cold turkey so to speak is extreme and would only increase desire. We reason that just taking a “little bit or weaning ourselves off our substance would work better. As many an old timer has said, “how’s that working for you?” Then we drag ourselves back into the rooms and begin to work the program the right way.
Personal Reflection: How can I apply abstinence to other areas of my life?