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There Is A Solution For Us

Audio Version

A few months ago a woman who was active in service suggested to me that I should write a letter to Roundabout. I am not much of a wordsmith but I have learned in AA that helping others is the foundation stone of my recovery and that it is good for me to take on the suggestions of others, so here goes.

When I came to AA in my early twenties I thought that I had a life sentence ahead of me. When people said “You need never drink again” it filled me with fear because I really wanted to drink again, just not the way I had been with the consequences that always followed. I was powerless over alcohol but didn’t know that I was, so the inevitable results were humiliation, fear, guilt, shame, remorse and confusion. Unfortunately the mental obsession had me convinced I was happier drunk than sober, so the first drink was never far away despite my experiences. It was sad, lonely, repetitive and empty. Eventually I got sick of it enough to reach out to AA for help.

In AA people were very kind to me and shared their experiences which made me realise I was no longer alone. It was clear from the start however that there was more wrong with me than my drinking and I wasn’t coping well with life without alcohol despite my new-found friends in the Fellowship and attendance at many meetings. I got a sponsor in my first few months and was taken through the Twelve Step Programme of Recovery in the way that is outlined in the Big Book. The problem for me was that I didn’t put into action the Twelve Step Programme of Recovery in my own life in the way that is outlined in the Big Book.

For many years in AA I attended meetings, had a sponsor, sponsored others and worked different aspects of the Programme as and when I fancied it, or it suited me. I would go through spells of depression and fear and up my game a little bit but as soon as I started to feel better, I would slide back into my old lazy ways and coast along a bit more. Honesty was something that I did selectively. Meditation and prayer were things I read about a lot but didn’t really do. Helping others for me was about looking good and gaining the approval of my sponsor and others. I was no less selfish and self-centred six years away from a drink than I had been the night I came through the doors, but I had learned all the words that made me sound as though I was.

I had heard people talk about hitting rock bottom in AA and mine was to come. I found myself many years away from a drink with a massive crumbling ego, isolated in my own mind, fear up to my eyeballs and suicide looking appealing. It’s such a cliché in AA to talk about the gift of desperation, but that is exactly what it was. It was only through the pain of doing things my way that I was willing to take on the suggestions of people in the Fellowship and actually start to do things the AA way. Action was, and still is, the key word.

I would say that the last couple of years have been the hardest of my life so far. Today I thank God for them because the life I live now is so much more joyous, purposeful, simple and hopeful than any before. Today I know that for an alcoholic like me there is no middle of the road solution; I have had to find a spiritual way of life. Today I ask God each day to help me and I ask my sponsor and other sober members in AA to help me too. I know that of myself I am nothing and that on my own self-destruction is inevitable.

There are a few things I am certain about today. The first is that God is real, He cares about my life and I can trust Him. The second is that my illness will use anything in my thoughts to convince me that God is not real, that He doesn’t care about my life and that I can’t trust Him so I feel restless, irritable and discontent and eventually I’ll want to pick up a drink or run away!

My life is not perfect today and I still spend far too much time listening to the thinking that wants to keep me sick. Thankfully today I know there is a solution and when I recognise that I am living in the problem I know there are actions I can take that get me back in the solution. The actions are the simple three phrases I heard right at the start and they mean more to me today than I could have realised then. They are ‘Trust God’, ‘Clean House’ and ‘Help Others’. I am so grateful to the people who carried and still carry that message to me today and the God of my understanding who gives me the strength and direction to put it into practice in my own life one day at a time.

Name withheld at author’s request