Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work For Long Term? Can I Recover After A Relapse With Alcoholism Or Addiction?

How one man was able to recommit to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous after a relapse and find a new recovery and life of sobriety again.

 

 

One day I was sitting on the patio and man I was really, really feeling bad. I remembered that I was just starting to feel good in my recovery before I let the outside world get the better of me and went back out. I stayed out for a few weeks and just realized I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again and I came back through the doors of AA. That was the most productive thing I ever did in my life.

It was the first day of a new life for me. It is never too late. This program really teaches you that you are somebody. This program is a we program and that is why everyone shows up at these tables, at these halls, at these churches or shacks, or wherever you can hold a meeting.

Some of us have short periods of time and some of us have long periods of time, but if we keep coming back and helping the new people it helps us with some sober time too. After we find that we are somebody, it is a feeling, a self-confidence that can carry us through from one day to another, to the next day, to the next week. Before you know it has been years and you’re still going.

I remember when I came back in. I had been coming around since before 2006 and it was good for a while, but after some time I realized there was not a connection in my recovery somewhere. I wish I could have figured myself out then and figured out what it was that was missing, but I just couldn’t. I had so much resentment I was still carrying from years before and now I was piling on new resentment everyday.

 

I am grateful today that I understand those defects of character, those faults that kept me out. I forgot how to listen. I spent all my time talking and talking and talking about something I didn’t really have. I have heard many other people say “you can’t give away what you don’t have” and they are so right on the money with that phrase. I had some sober time and it really wasn’t quality. I had quit drinking, but I had not really looked at myself in the mirror honestly and done any changing whatsoever.

All of the reasons I started drinking n the first place, the resentments, the anger, the self-pity, were still there and now they had grown into something monstrous inside me I couldn’t ignore or control anymore. I had been so quick to rush through the first few steps and really just skipped right on down to the last few without doing the work I needed to do in the middle.

I found out, after having a relapse, that the middle part was where I missed the entire point of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I had not really looked at what part I had played in all of my misery and misfortunes. I had really just blamed everyone else for my sorrows and my failures. Where was I in all of it? What part did I play? What joy and time had I stolen from my wife, my children, my family and friends?

I am so grateful I did make it back through the doors of AA. So many others I have known over the years have not. I do not take my sobriety or this program of recovery lightly in any way. I might laugh and joke from time to time about alcoholism and being a drunk and the silly, stupid, insane things I did and still do, but it is a matter of life and death for me when you get right down to it.

 

This program saved my life and I am beyond blessed to be a member of this worldwide organization where I have a friend no matter how far from Chicago I travel. I would never be this far and my sobriety date, my renewed sobriety date is coming up on June 30th, 2014. I make sure to connect with my sponsor almost every day and I come to a meeting almost every day too. I realize now that when I stopped coming to meetings often and stopped calling and talking with my sponsor, I eventually stopped worrying about not drinking and then as soon as something in my life went haywire – there I was completely drunk again.

 

I had stayed sober for 8 years and then let my own cockiness and an argument with a few other people in an AA hall about outside issues get me riled up so much that I used it as an excuse to stop coming to meetings. I was sober, I had been sober, I forgot that I really needed

the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and talking things through and hearing from other alcoholics and addicts how to stay sober.

I never lost anything that I had learned in and out of the halls and I always had my Big Book and some other materials like As Bill Sees It to read at home, but I didn’t. I was so angry with other people over something so unrelated and then I was angry at myself and too embarrassed to show my face around those people and admit that I had lost my temper.

I was a fool. I could have gone to any number of halls in the area, but I chose to sit and stew, alone, until I finally did go right back to my selfish, self-centered ways and once I picked up that first drink it was off to the races again for this old drunk.

My advice to anyone who is just starting out in recovery and alcoholism and those that have a lot of sober time is this, don’t get too confident in the years you have under your belt because that date can change in an instant if you don’t stay vigilant and remember how close we all are to falling off of the sober mountain. I slid right back down further than I had been before. It is true. It does not get better; it only gets tougher and harder to climb back up.

 

I was fortunate that I hadn’t run anyone off and when I came back into my home group, I was embarrassed and nervous, but welcomed with open arms and have been ever since.

 

 

Why All the Bling AA?

Why the AA Tokens and Coins

Marking the anonymous membership of so many people around the world is a humble coin. The AA Token, unassuming to most, is a most significant keepsake for the recipient. Beginning one’s sober journey in the fellowship of Alcoholics is anonymous with a silver colored aluminum 24 hour coin is a tremendous way to mark the first day of this one day at a time way of life. The twenty-four hour token is often carried for a lifetime, standing as a silent reminder of our AA way of life.

The chip system is thought to have begun in Indianapolis in 1942. The tradition is believed to have started with Doherty S., who originally brought AA to Indianapolis. Doherty himself, in a letter to Bill, seems to indicate the practice originated in Indianapolis in 1942.

Nell Wing wrote in 1962 about the history of the chip system: “…The chip system might have begun in Indianapolis….reference was made in a letter from Doherty to the start of giving out ‘chips’ and ‘tokens.’ This was in 1942. I imagine this would be about right, because most of the early groups started in 1940 and it would take about a couple of years to think of anniversaries and marking any time of sobriety. I asked Bill about this and his memory is that the system started in Indianapolis.”

Following the 24 Hour Token is typically a series of Anodized Aluminum Tokens marking monthly milestones in Recovery. These would typically follow this pattern:

  • 1 month, marked by a red anodized aluminum chip. This may also be a red plastic poker chip
  • 2 months, designated by a gold anodized aluminum medallion
  • 3 months, marked by an emerald green anodized coin
  • 6 months, often a dark blue aluminum token or a blue plastic poker chip
  • 9 months, marked by a purple aluminum chip this is usually the last aluminum token

Once a member of AA reaches the 1 Year mark of continuous sobriety, anniversary celebrations are often marked with Bronze Yearly AA Tokens. These medallions are often called “heavy metal” because of the weight of the token and the significance of having reached the yearly birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous. The yearly bronze tokens are often presented by a sponsor along with a cake and a few words about the recipient. Sometimes used to mark very significant sobriety anniversaries are the Brilliant Triplate Medallion.  The Triplate AA Token is the most fancy and costly medallion.

Some common characteristics of an AA Tokens are:

  • The length of time of sobriety prominently stamped in the center of the coin
  • The AA Circle and Triangle motif
  • The words, “To Thine Own Self be True”
  • The three pillars of service, Unity, Recovery, Service
  • The Serenity Prayer on the reverse side

Regardless of the length of time designated by the particular AA token, each coin carries with it the significance of that day of sobriety and for an alcoholic destined to die drunk, every day sober is a miracle worthy of praise and gratitude.

 

There are many other coins and here are a few of them out there.  What coins do you have that are beyond the traditional sobriety length recognition?  Any sponsor/sponsee tokens?  Any coins focusing on a specific favorite AA or NA phrase?