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Interview with an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Member

Updated on May 1, 2019

When I went back to college as an adult I took a class called "Alcohol In American Society." During this class I was asked to interview a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am an ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic) and because of this I have suffered emotionally from a familial point of view as well as from my own problems with alcoholism.

The Lord brought this person into my life at a very special time when I was just starting to explore my own spirituality and recognize some of my own behavior patterns. It wasn't until I became friends with this alcoholic that had been sober for 12 years that my life began to change. He belonged to AA and helped me recognize patterns in my life and to face the reality that alcoholism had affected my family, relationships, career and self esteem.

Since he was a close personal friend, I was aware that he belonged to AA, but we had never gone into an in depth discussion of his involvement with this program. When I asked him for the interview I found out how it had impacted his life.

The Interview

Mr. R explained he chose to get involved with AA after an ex-wife planted the seed in his mind and he had time to consider it for awhile. He was going through a period in which everything in his life was going wrong due to drinking. His wife, job, and bills were bad. One day, out of desperation, he phoned to find a location of an AA meeting because he felt he was slipping into a severe depression that he may not escape.

During the first couple of meetings the only thing he was told was to quit drinking and to keep coming back. He said he felt excited about the invitation to come back because it had been a long time since anyone had invited him back anywhere. It was a new feeling to be welcome somewhere. He noticed the laughing and hugging among the members and this is what he longed for in his life.

Even though sponsors are not listed in the official AA handbook as a requirement, the members are encouraged to be backed by a sponsor right away. These sponsors instruct their members to follow the 12 step program. My friend found step 3 to be a real stumbling block because it forced him to reevaluate his religious views and accept the fact there is a Higher Power. Step 4 advises us to take an inventory of what we have done in our lives and step 5 advises us to admit to GOD and another human being what these things were. For my friend, this other human being turned out to be his sponsor.

My friend felt that many drinkers are expert con artists because they are so used to hiding their drinking. He went along with this AA concept because it seemed to be passifying his wife, it supplied him with cheap entertainment, he felt better and it gave him somewhere to go as he went through the phase of putting drinking out of his life. He needed a replacement. But he still felt this was an escape from reality that would only work for awhile.

After about three weeks, when he started feeling really good, he was tempted to drink again because he felt he could control it this time. However, he had told his sponsor so much about his life that he didn't want to disappoint someone who knew so many of his intimate secrets. Also, he was starting to have a secret thrill and hope that maybe, just maybe, he could feel worthwhile just a bit longer. After about 6 weeks, he became aware that his life was in fact really changing. His job started getting better because he could get to work on time and concentrate when he got there. His wife was responding to the fact he was coming home on time and was even getting the lawnmower out of the garage. This was when he decided he would never go back to his old lifestyle.

After awhile my friend realized AA members were just people who make mistakes but he would never forget these people for giving him the courage and strength to transform his life.

My Realization - (ACOA)

Growing up in an alcoholic family was a very painful experience for me. Due to his background, he was helpful in working with me to identify and trace frustrations in my life that related back to these childhood experiences. He recommended that I read the book, "I Am An Adult Who Grew Up In An Alcoholic Family."

Thomas W. Perrin outlines the characteristics of an ACOA in this book. He developed this list from observed patterns in his life as well as the lives of other ACOAs. Even though this was frightening for me, it helped me understand why I have problems with procrastination, judging myself without mercy, and the inability to form close personal relationships (unless I am safe in knowing the other person is broken also). I also constantly seek approval from others.

I realize now, years later, that I have worked myself through the stages of growth that Thomas Perrin identified. The isolation and denial stage was very long lasting and painful for me. In retrospect, I view that period of my life as cloudy with no direction. I next worked through the anger stage where I asked why I didn't have a nonalcoholic family. I then moved into postponement when I didn't want to deal with my own fears of alcoholism. The depression stage was also frightening because I realized how much of my life had been wasted on dysfunctional patterns and relationships. The acceptance stage was long awaited and not as relieving as I wanted. It wasn't until I reached the hope and spirituality stages that I turned this dreadful situation over to the Lord and allowed him to start mending my broken spirit. Thanks to this book, my special friend that the Lord brought into my life, and the Lord Jesus himself that I learned to forgive my father and move into being the person that The Lord created me to be.

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