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Relief Is Not Release

Audio Version

After 20 plus years of unsuccessfully quitting drinking forever, I was finally taken to my first AA meeting. I was coming off a three-day drinking binge, still pretty much in an incoherent daze. Although I recall very little about that meeting, I do remember becoming very emotional during The Lord's Prayer, and left with a very strong conviction that AA was really going to work for me. From then on, I became a full speed ahead meeting attendee, generally going to more than just one meeting a day for months on end.

As I began to share openly at meetings, as well as before and after, those uncomfortable feelings of anger, anxiety and depression slowly diminished. As a matter of fact, I would leave meetings feeling great! This blessed relief would last for hours, often till I got to my next AA meeting, and then the happy cycle would start all over again. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous p82 it says 'Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?' but hold the phone! Those obsessive whisky thoughts still nagged on with a persistent vengeance.

This phenomenon is often tagged as an 'AA honeymoon'. I was having a relief but not a release. Someone quipped "Survival on the AA Fellowship is untreated alcoholism." Even after six months being happily sober I had not yet gone through the Twelve Step Programme and was unknowingly living a life of untreated alcoholism. Eventually, those honeymoon periods grew shorter and shorter. My unpleasant emotions returned and the whisky obsession grew stronger and stronger.

Finally, after a Hollywood parade, my untreated alcoholism allowed me to march into a bar and almost order a drink. Thank God I didn't but I could easily see that alternating periods of relief from my emotional problems was not going to keep me sober. Within weeks a new sponsor had me living the AA Programme of Recovery via the Twelve Steps. A few months later I experienced a release and my obsession for whisky miraculously disappeared.

I have learned that although the AA Fellowship may provide pleasant periods of relief, it is the Twelve Steps of AA in action that provide the necessary release for me to remain happy, joyous and free - and sober!

Bob S
Richmond, Indiana, USA