About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'Stage One' Information: What I TRY (!) to explain to someone in their FIRST MEETING

Or to someone who is VERY new and knows virtually nothing of the AA programme.
This is my 'Newest Newcomer' 'routine', so to speak.. I must have explained it a gazillion times! But it's VERY useful. You'd be surprised how much of a difference this simple information makes. I NEVER proceed to ANY step or sponsorship discussion UNTILL THIS INFORMATION IS ESTABLISHED AND UNDERSTOOD. First things first as they say! Got to cover the bases first!
It is POINTLESS waxing lyrical about the 'wonderful' benefits of the steps IF THEY DO NOT KNOW THIS BASIC STUFF. They do NOT need a sponsor to get this basic information. It can be covered in its entirety in 30mins, and will SIGNIFICANTLY REMOVE THE RISK OF DRINKING until they DO find themselves a sponsor. That is 'stage two!'
I will call this information 'stage one' information.
This is a STOP GAP to keep them safe from alcohol while they look around for a suitable sponsor. This is 'first meeting' material.
Ok, enough of my gasbagging, here's what I go through with them..

I look into their drinking pattern. Once a month? once a day? every hour?
Then I look into how they can avoid THEIR habitual drinking opportunities. (Such as The pub after work, the drink when you get home from work)
(I will go into more detail with this aspect in another post)

I explain that in AA, all we do, is TRY to get to bed TONIGHT, without picking up the FIRST drink. As its the FIRST drink that 'does the damage'. Not the 4th! Or 7th! That if we 'don't pick up the FIRST drink, we can't get drunk!'

I explain there are FOUR things that will make it easier for them to avoid cravings for alcohol

1. Drink plenty of fluids. More than they normally do. Obviously not alcoholic fluids! Tea. Coffee. Fruit juice with water.
Why? Because they may have a craving for alcohol if they are simply thirsty! Drinking fluids may very well remove the craving for alcohol.

2. Don't skip meals. Eat SOMETHING. Even if it's just a piece of toast. Or sips of milk if they can't keep toast down.
I tell them that low blood sugar will create cravings for alcohol, so low blood sugar IS NOT AN OPTION for the time being. I explain that when I was new I put on weight, but that it has all come off since then, so that they do not need to worry. Any weight gain will be SHORT TERM, and is just a temporary 'glitch'.

3. Carry something sweet. If you get a craving, eat something sweet as this often removes cravings.

4. Last but not least. Pick up the phone BEFORE you pick up a drink.

I explain that if it seems like a LONG time till tonight.
That 'Why don't they TRY to not pick up the FIRST drink, JUST FOR THE NEXT HOUR?
Or if that seems too long, then why not TRY not to pick up the FIRST drink, JUST for the next 30mins?
Or if that seems too long, then why not TRY not to pick up the FIRST drink, JUST for the next 10mins?

And I say that when they get to the end of the 10mins, they can simply renew it as they go along

Because, 'It’s a cinch an inch, but it’s hard by the yard'

I say that if they get restless during the 10mins, that they can do one of the four things I mentioned earlier..

1. They could make themselves a cup of tea or have something to drink. With sugar in perhaps.
2. They could Eat SOMETHING. Even if it's just a piece of toast. Or sips of milk if they can't keep toast down.
3. They could Eat something sweet.
4. And Last but not least, Pick up the phone.

I give them my number, and ask for theirs.
If they give me their number, I try to text them or call them briefly just to say hello, WITHIN 24HRS OF TAKING THEIR NUMBER. Because they more than likely will have completely forgotten who I am if I leave it longer than that. Besides, its just more practical, as everyone tends to forget numbers once they have written them down. Not just alcoholics!
When I call it will be just to say hello, and see what meeting they are going to try and get to that evening. Or which meeting they plan on going to next.

I make sure they know the local AA helpline number and what hours it is open.
I make sure they have a newcomers pack
I make sure they have a 'where to find'

I then try to establish the most INFORMED (as opposed to most WELL INTENTIONED but fairly UNinformed) local meetings that they can REASONABLY expect to attend based on their circumstances. I them show them where those meetings are listed in the 'where to find'. I will 'ask around' other 'well' aa's for meeting recommendations if I am not familiar with meetings in another part of town.

I explain 'The Six Things'. And AT A MINIMUM make SURE they understand how to ask a POWER greater than themselves' for a sober day and say thanks at night. (It can be 'the power of AA as a whole', or the power that makes the earth turn). It HAS to be a LOVING concept of a HP. (see Trad 2.) If it is even a little bit judgmental, it’s no good.
The concept of 'the power of AA as a whole', is INSTINCTVELY perceived as being a LOVING rather than a PUNISHING 'power', so it is by FAR the best concept to start with.

I suggest that they get themselves a copy of Living sober and the Big book.
I introduce them to other aa's and ask them to come for coffee after the meeting.


Trudging said...

Good job

Recovery Road London said...

A fine post. And thanks for the words of encouragement re eyes and water! Lol. Never dull, eh?


Anonymous said...

Very excellent action plan to avoid picking up that first drink. However for a person of my type I could not revert to food -- I am powerless over sugar and food . . . however these suggestions you give are a solid foundation.

I did hear one woman say "it just seems like so much work." My sponsor replied "maintaining you addiction to alcoholism is work, a 24 hour job." No excuses. :)

You are an awesome spiritual giant and I really appreciate the information you give away.