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Can they be sober without AA?

Old 02-23-2012, 09:14 PM
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Can they be sober without AA?

Since my AH got his DUI he has sworn off drinking. He says he knows all about AA and how the program works(his best friend whom he lived with before we got married was very active in AA as was this guy's father). He says he'll go to AA, but that he already knows what he needs to do, which is just not drink.
I pointed out that there's a spiritual side to all of this and that maybe AA would help him find some peace with his situation. He just wasn't receptive. Basically, I think he's not ready to face his demons yet, despite having sworn off alcohol for now.
As an aside: he was dry for the first 15 years of our marriage but started drinking about 18 months ago and has started slipping down that slippery slope that led to his DUI last week. I guess I kind of know the answer to the question as it pertains to us, but I figured it was a good topic to discuss. Thanks!
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:34 PM
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Although AA is an important reason I stay sober, the first thing I do is tell myself NO very quickly when the urge comes. I know a man 30 years sober, never been to an AA meeting, another 10 years sober, never been to a meeting. Anybody stays sober because they "want" sobriety.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:47 PM
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I've never met one yet...but they say they are out there somewhere
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:04 PM
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Usually on the 2nd dui and those after people are forced to go to AA by spouses or authorities.

On the first dui most concerned for the alcoholic let the participation in AA slide, convinced we've now learned our lesson and not wanting to upset the alcoholic by issuing ultimatums about actually doing much of anything.

It really would be a waste of time to require him to attend now, as he'd likely do no more than suffer through a few meetings, which is of zero value.

Later on may make for better timing. Right now telling him you believe he can do it on his own and overlooking his dark moods and emotional swings is about all you can do in this situation. An alcoholic toughing it out can be difficult to be around. Just be glad you're not in his skin, as it's really very hard.

If it gets bad as time passes, he might consider seeing a therapist.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:40 PM
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My answer will probably shock some on this board, since many of you know I found my recovery with AA when AA was pretty much the 'only game in town.'

Can they be sober without AA?
Absolutely YES!!!!

You see a lot has changed in recovery since I got sober and a lot has stayed the same, however, there are so many other 'programs' out there today and they do work, again if the A works them to the max.

And there are folks, and yes I have known a few, that use NO program whatsoever, but do work on themselves, find their own recovery and go on to live their life sober and free from the bondage of alcohol and/or drugs.

Let me tell you about a dear friend I had until recently. We met over 20 years ago and she became like an older sister to me, a beautiful lady with a beautiful heart. She was not always that way. Many years ago, back in the late 50's she was a rip roaring alcoholic military wife. That is how she described herself. Her 'middle' son was 6 years old and very very ill. The 'military' doctors did not seem to be helping him. She arranged transport for her and all 3 children back to the states from Germany. Got him to a civilian doctor or two or three here and he did pull through.

However, to deal with all this Norma Jean had continued to drink herself into oblivion every night. Upon her son starting to get better, she sat herself down, with no booze and had a long talk with self. She stopped drinking and 'knew' that she could never drink again. She did it, she lived a very spiritual life with no church involved. It was after I had met NJ that I started to hear of and meet others. No program, not even self will, just an 'awakening' of sorts that they had to change themselves to live.

Now I will add though that through our many talks over the years, she admitted that had she known about something like AA it probably would have been 'easier' for her, but at the time, she didn't want easy, she wanted 'forever.'

So, all of the above to say YES they can be sober without AA. AA is not the only 'means' available. I still believe that the majority of alcoholics could definitely use a mentor of sorts and some type of program, but what ever one they choose, it will require their UTMOST.

Hope that helps a bit.

Love and hugs,
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:09 AM
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Hi,

My husband has been sober 10 years, for which I am very grateful. However, he has no program. I don't know how many meetings he went to in the past, but he says the only time he thinks about beer was when he went to meetings because that's all they talked about.

I am feeling sad because there is still a huge wall between us, a wall that I'd blame completely on the alcohol.

I am sad because I think I still can't get bread from a hardware store.
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:25 AM
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On of the things I have come to accept is in the course of events both my AW and I have changed, a lot. Whatever may have been there, at least from my perspective, is gone. I have no trust and no desire to work the relationship. I simply don't care any more.

In my case, recovery or not, it was simply time to move on. As they say in Buddhism, everything changes.

Your friend,
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
On of the things I have come to accept is in the course of events both my AW and I have changed, a lot. Whatever may have been there, at least from my perspective, is gone. I have no trust and no desire to work the relationship. I simply don't care any more.

In my case, recovery or not, it was simply time to move on. As they say in Buddhism, everything changes.

Your friend,
I'm sorry it came to that for you. I pray it doesn't end like that for us, but I have to admit that building up trust is going to take some time for me. I've been hurt by the lies, the deceptions, and his immaturity and I know that I have to work on forgiveness first and then regaining trust. Right now, I'm just working on dealing with my anger! Baby steps that hopefully lead me in the right direction.
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by langkah View Post
Usually on the 2nd dui and those after people are forced to go to AA by spouses or authorities.

On the first dui most concerned for the alcoholic let the participation in AA slide, convinced we've now learned our lesson and not wanting to upset the alcoholic by issuing ultimatums about actually doing much of anything.

It really would be a waste of time to require him to attend now, as he'd likely do no more than suffer through a few meetings, which is of zero value.

Later on may make for better timing. Right now telling him you believe he can do it on his own and overlooking his dark moods and emotional swings is about all you can do in this situation. An alcoholic toughing it out can be difficult to be around. Just be glad you're not in his skin, as it's really very hard.

If it gets bad as time passes, he might consider seeing a therapist.
I agree the langkah here. I didn't get it the first few times either.

What AA has really done for me is give me a plan for living. My relationship with my wife is better than it has been in 10 years. I've had to let go of many of my alcoholic beliefs - and that takes a lot of work. We were all affected by my drinking so we all need to be included in recovery.

Many people are afraid of AA but I believe quite a few of them aren't ready to give up their alcoholic thinking. That is, after all, what AA is really about. It's a lot of work.

Good luck.
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by StPeteGrad View Post
I agree the langkah here. I didn't get it the first few times either.

What AA has really done for me is give me a plan for living. My relationship with my wife is better than it has been in 10 years. I've had to let go of many of my alcoholic beliefs - and that takes a lot of work. We were all affected by my drinking so we all need to be included in recovery.

Many people are afraid of AA but I believe quite a few of them aren't ready to give up their alcoholic thinking. That is, after all, what AA is really about. It's a lot of work.

Good luck.
See, I know all this. You are right, he's not ready to give up his alcoholic thinking which usually consists of self-pity, depression, fear, trust issues, etc. Heaven forbid if he were to truly get free from this negative thinking, he might actually find more peace. Sigh, I guess that's why I work my own recovery program, right?
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
I'm sorry it came to that for you. I pray it doesn't end like that for us, but I have to admit that building up trust is going to take some time for me. I've been hurt by the lies, the deceptions, and his immaturity and I know that I have to work on forgiveness first and then regaining trust. Right now, I'm just working on dealing with my anger! Baby steps that hopefully lead me in the right direction.
No need to be sorry, I'm not. That is simply life. I am a Buddhist and as such I expect things to change. Things/People/Places come and go.

I wish you success in your recovery and hope things work out. Just don't be afraid to let go if they don't.

Edit: Remember it is just a relationship, that's all. Happy ever afters are not guarenteed. Although I can say I am having a happy ever after since I turned my focus on my self.



Your friend,
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:17 AM
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Can they be sober without AA?
I am.
I have rebuilt my important relationships. Regaining trust takes a long time and consistent actions.
The onus is on him.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyJ View Post
I've never met one yet...but they say they are out there somewhere
Just out of curiousity, I wonder how many non-AA sober people use this forum? I have been sober 3 years without a single meeting. That's 1. Let's speak up and be counted.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:32 AM
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As a member of AA myself, I second what Laurie says.


I have to remind myself of this often because my sober fiance has pretty much stopped going to AA for lots of reasons, some valid and some not some much (but that's just my opinion).

The fact is, his recovery is his ..... the only reason I feel I would need to make a change is if his behavior changes in a bad way or of course if he starts drinking, etc. Aside from that, I'm going to focus on my own recovery.....even if it is difficult some times.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:11 AM
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I couldn't get sober on my own and crawled into AA 20 years go. Saved my life, changed me dramatically. It's the support of other alcoholics that carried me along. Forget God, Higher Power if you don't like that stuff, this is a life or death disease.

HBO did a wonderful series called "Addiction" that covers all aspects of this disease and recovery. You can watch it free online. A number of the top doctors who specialize in addiction were interviewed. As one said in terms of recovery it's not a "one size fits all" thing. Frequently what works is a combination of methods like medication, cognitive therapy and AA.

Of course it's in the hands of your husband entirely and only him. You are powerless over what he says, does and feels.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:26 AM
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One of the first people I turned to when my husband first admitted he had a problem (but before detox) is a dear friend who has been sober 30 years without AA. He is not a dry drunk but made it clear that his path would not work for everyone. He also has an incredible friend who has been sober as long with AA. For my friend, some of the stuff that worked for him is probably not in line with AA (he says his love for his family keeps him sober, which I'm given to believe from my husband is something AA doesn't condone and if I'm wrong, I apologize) but other stuff very much is - he recognized his behavior had to change beyond just drinking. And he continues to challenge himself to be a better person physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.

As far as my husband goes, he'll tell you that personally he needs AA. He doesn't believe everything that AA teaches, but it has given him a lot of insight into what made him drink and how he was when he drank. I think his interaction with his sponsor helps him a ton as well.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
See, I know all this. You are right, he's not ready to give up his alcoholic thinking which usually consists of self-pity, depression, fear, trust issues, etc. Heaven forbid if he were to truly get free from this negative thinking, he might actually find more peace. Sigh, I guess that's why I work my own recovery program, right?
I too agree with StPeteGrad.

I know too that people absolutely can stay sober without AA. I know also that some of them do it and become very happy and productive people. I know on top of all that, that the happy ones are incredibly, incredibly rare. In all honesty, I'm not even sure I've ever really met one. Most of the people I know who've succesfully stayed away from alcohol without the help of any program are angry, miserable people, and usually suffering from some other addiction they're in complete denial about. Eating, gambling, porn, video games, internet... there are tons of em. I'm with the people that believe that drinking is only a small symptom of the disease. If the rest of the disease isn't adressed, it's going to come out, sooner or later, in one way or another. I know this from my own experience, and what I've seen in countless others.

AA doesn't rule my life. At almost 28 years sober I go to an average of 1 meeting a week. I'd be happier with 3, but tis is where I'm at. Keeping in check with my program and the steps keeps me growing, changing, staying young, and helps me so many other ways. I've accomplished far more than I ever dreamed I would, and I have to attribute that to what I've learned through the program. I often say when qualifying that I feel as though I'm bragging when I rattle off a list of what sobriety's given me. I say it though, because I am absolutely certain that none of it would have been possible without AA. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind.

If someone is not going to AA, and it's working for them, and they're happy and content that's great. If they're not, or not being honest with themselves then I really don't understand the reluctance. I guess pride is a powerful thing.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Joe Nerv
I know on top of all that, that the happy ones are incredibly, incredibly rare. In all honesty, I'm not even sure I've ever really met one. Most of the people I know who've succesfully stayed away from alcohol without the help of any program are angry, miserable people, and usually suffering from some other addiction they're in complete denial about. Eating, gambling, porn, video games, internet... there are tons of em.
LOL wow...well, then I'd like to introduce myself, Joe...Nice to meet you. Now you have met one....oh, but I do have small problem with shoes...love them! But ya know, I can stop buying them any time I want haha right after I get this one...last...pair...of...peep-toe...pumps...

Joking aside, often the reason people don't meet many self-recovered is because it is an intensley private process for some. However, it's likely you might have encountered them without even realizing it. They are often happy, well adjusted folks who don't drink. Without prior knowledge of their addiction, you would not know they are "recovered". People have recovered from addiction since the beginning of time.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:53 AM
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My unofficial Al-Anon sponsor talks about recovery programs this way:

If you due to a terminal disease was forced to amputate a leg, you could conceivably hobble around on one leg for the rest of your life and still get around on a pair of crutches and the one remaining leg.

But there are prosthetic legs available, and they are good, and some of them even allow you to run.

So why would you refuse a prosthetic leg based on the idea that "I already know how they work and I don't believe in the philosophy behind them" or "there are too many Christians involved in making prosthetic legs" or "people who need prosthetic legs are all a bunch of losers and I'm not like them."

Prosthetic legs can make your life better. And you owe it to yourself to try them. If it turns out they don't work for you, you haven't lost anything. If it turns out they do work for you, you can run through the fields again instead of hobbling on one leg and a pair of old crutches.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by soberlicious View Post
Joking aside, often the reason people don't meet many self-recovered is because it is an intensley private process for some. However, it's likely you might have encountered them without even realizing it. They are often happy, well adjusted folks who don't drink. Without prior knowledge of their addiction, you would not know they are "recovered". People have recovered from addiction since the beginning of time.
Good point. Although I do question most people who I notice don't drink. I don't deny that it can be done. Just know that it's rare.
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