Another fact that is easily missed by people outside AA is what I and some other alcoholics JOKINGLY call “AA’s dirty little secret.”
People outside AA (either because they are not alcoholics or because they are alcoholics and don’t realize it) often fall into the error of assuming that the organization is entirely about helping people not to put ethyl hydrate (drinking alcohol) into their bodies. Sort of like “I used to eat apples, but now I have eliminated them from my diet.”
The “dirty little secret” that you find out after being in AA a fair amount of time is that what you say, do, think about, read about or discuss in your journey of recovery has surprisingly little to do with alcoholic beverages. This is why people like me keep going to one or two meetings per week even after 18 years of sobriety.
If, like me, you are afflicted with alcoholism, then getting sober and staying sober are absolute first steps before the rest of the healing can begin. You cannot start recovering before you stop drinking any more than you can build the second storey on a house until you have built the first.
But once you ARE sober, 95% of your recovery, of your new life, of your new happiness is the result of the individual working ***on themslves ***to bring about a deep personal change in their own personality. Some call it a “spiritual” change. Atheist AAs like me call it a psychological or philosophical change. Whatever floats your boat.
You do this by thinking about who you are, what you are like, and identifying the character defects and weaknesses that made you so unhappy that you had to keep getting drunk just to survive.
You don’t have to “confess” to the group but a lot of people choose to when they discuss with others.
If you drop in at an AA meeting where they are holding discussion groups, you may be surprised to note that there is little or no mention of booze. What people are discussing are things like letting go of anxiety, how to deal with anger and resentment, the insights they gained into their personalities, etc.
My spouse, who is NOT an alcoholic (he needs a year to go through a bottle of scotch!!!) regularly says: “Have you not been to an AA meeting lately? Because you’re starting to think and act like an asshole again.”
That is when I know it is time for me to go to a couple of extra meetings to deal with whatever is bothering me.
So there you have it. AA’s dirty little secret: It has very little to do with alcohol!