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Attn: AAers and NAers -Getting the lowdown

Old 02-02-2010, 01:16 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I've been to many meetings in both fellowships. I began in AA, as drinking caused me to get two dui's and it was my primary problem, though i was doing drugs as well prior to getting sober. After a year in AA i had a relapse on alcohol, then drugs. A medical condition gave me access to narcotics and my addiction was off to the races.

After being in active addiction for a couple years i went to treatment again for my primary problem of opiate addiction. I'm now a member of NA. I personally find NA to work best for me, but i am definitely an alcoholic. In NA the language is all encompassing. Alcohol is a drug. We suffer from the disease of addiction. In my opinion there's no difference between an alcoholic and an addict. We all suffer from the same disease, but many simply never suffered at the hands of drugs(legal or illegal), or vice versa. The premise is still the same.

I have the utmost respect for AA, as they are our predecessors. NA just works for me as my addiction ran the gamut of substance abuse and in the beginning it's probably easier to identify with those who you shared a common drug of choice and behaviors/experiences. In time though, it becomes very evident that the behaviors, both external and internal, are essentially the same. I've found that if you, in your mind when in meetings substitute (your d.o.c.) when someone is sharing about alcohol you'll find that the experiences are very similar, if not the same. Listen for the similarities, not the differences is something you'll hear a lot in both fellowships.

Just as some in AA prefer not to hear about drug specifics, in NA we try to not talk about specific drugs(including alcohol) either, rather we reference our disease, or if needed for context your "d.o.c", not using it's name. In NA, using the term cross addicted or alcoholic/addict is generally discouraged, for the belief is that we suffer from the disease of addiction which simply covers both types of substances and a great deal of other, more innocuous things/behaviors as well. I share these things as they are simple etiquette and guidelines, but not some harfast rule that will cause problems if you don't obey. Almost daily in meetings i hear people refer to themselves as cross addicted and such, and have never seen anyone reprimanded. That's not to say that it doesn't happen in both fellowships.

As far as the steroetypes you initially mentioned, i'm certain that they do hold true, in both fellowships in certain meetings from time to time. There's no telling what will happen when a group of people gather, no matter the situation. The key for me was to attend a lot of meetings and find the ones that i generally like and can relate to. That being said, even my homegroup can get sideways sometimes and did just last week. **** happens when relative strangers converge in such a way. Again, the key for me has been to listen for the similarities and practice compassion and patience.

As far as the comments about your specific situation relative to AA, as a non-drinker or problem drinker, i can understand that viewpoint. From an NA perspective you are indeed an alcoholic if you consider yourself an addict. Just as i'm a crackhead as much as i'm a drunk, pot smoking, heroin banging junkie. Just because i haven't smoked crack to the point of deriliction and unmanageability doesn't mean i won't if i try it, as i most certainly suffer from the disease of addiction. But this is really just semantics in my opinion. Both programs are for complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances. There are the "marijuana maintenance" folks in AA just as you'll find some "drinkers" around NA, but that's not how it works as we all know deep inside.

Anyway, my suggestion would be go to meetings and see what works for you. It sounds like NA might be the ticket, but who knows. All the best.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:49 PM
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This last post is a beautifully written and wonderful post that I agree with entirely* and to me wonderfully illustrates the necessity of attending the correct program

* Except for one thing, I am an alcoholic, and not an addict.

Why do I say that?

Because I did every drug known to man, Heroin, Pot, Meth, Coke, Pain Pills, Morphine, Ecstasy, etc etc ad nauseum, and didn't get addicted to a single one, the only thing I ever had a loss of control over or got addicted to was alcohol, so I don't "identify" in the slightest with addicts, so didn't "identify" with his story.

I could use "willpower" to stop doing drugs, that includes "kicking" heroin, and stopping a pretty severe Coke habit, I decided to quit, and did. Now as a sober member of AA, I agree with a drug is a drug is a drug, and agree with the premise that total and complete abstinence is necessary to be sober

I don't disagree with a single thing he says, as a matter of fact I agree wholeheartedly with every single thing he says, except for one small caveat, It's just not my experience and what he says isn't true for me.

That is my experience, and it's not subject to debate, just as his experience, is his experience, and is not subject to debate. It happened, and there it is.

Our "problem" isn't the same, but our solution is, the twelve steps, now if I had come to a meeting of alcoholics anonymous and heard his story, it wouldn't have "jibed" with my experience, therefore I would have decided that AA wasn't for me, and quite possibly would be dead.

That is why going to the correct fellowship is so important. I can and have attended NA meetings and been the "Featured Speaker" but it's like drugs weren't my "DOC", NA isn't my recovery of choice, AA fits my needs, and NA fits his.

I believe he and I could absolutely allow each other our experience and agree harmoniously on what the solution is, but we are different, and so we chose different programs to get sober in.

Hope that makes sense.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:05 PM
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Great post ago. As you so eloquently stated, both our posts are true, but are true for us and us alone. Just as each individual must decide for themselves that they're an alcoholic or addict, they must also choose the program that fits their needs best.

I had to run out for a few minutes on business and was thinking nearly the same thing you just posted RE: our problem vs. solution. Great minds yadda yadda...

Our identification of our problems may not be the same but yes, the solution is! And i know that in both fellowships it's frequently said that we need to be in the solution. How true! My specific situation has allowed for me to identify with both fellowships, but as my life spiraled due to drugs after the same happened due to alcohol, well that made NA for me. But the steps and traditions remain. They are a path to freedom, period. Furthermore, i don't proclaim that 12 step fellowship is the only way to this freedom we seek and need. There are many paths that have and are working for others. Now i wouldn't dare try to tackle this beast without my 12 step program, but my simple wish is that all sick and suffering addicts and alcoholics find relief from their suffering and a new way of life, regardless of how they get there. Furthermore, it is my sincerest hope that all beings find freedom from their suffering, but that's another conversation altogether. Peace to you all.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:13 PM
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All you have to do to be a member of AA is to have a desire to NOT drink (or stop drinking). Try one and if they poo poo cuz you're an addict, try another one. You never know until you try.
And don't base their success rate on what would or would not work for you. Apparently, the statistics for addicts, of ALL kinds, are VERY LOW indeed.
If I let the statistics on us crackheads scare me, I'd prolly still be out there smoking crack, locked up, or dead.. Still in the vicious cycle.
Boost them statistics up by becoming another member of the recovery club.
We can do it. All we need is a desire to stop using. Try a few of the AA meetings and see if they work for you. If not, go to NA. I know some people that go to BOTH! Heck, I've never been to an AA meeting, but I got plenty of their books to read!
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:18 PM
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* Except for one thing, I am an alcoholic, and not an addict.
What is an alcoholic but a person ADDICTED to alcohol? So in essense, an alcoholic is an addict.
This seperation of alcoholic versus addict, in my not so humble opinion, just perpetuates the problem and does nothing towards the solution and towards recovery.
We're ALL in the same boat. Just some of us were already floating before we got in. LOL.
Our DOC's differ, but the solution is the same. That's why I think ALL addicts should be welcome in AA and ALL alcoholics welcome in NA.
Just that not so humble opinion of mine.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:10 PM
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This is wonderful, this is the "flip side" why we have separate fellowships:

All you have to do to be a member of AA is to have a desire to NOT drink (or stop drinking). Try one and if they poo poo cuz you're an addict, try another one.
That's not entirely correct, and is one of the myths perpetuated by non members, the third tradition in it's entirety clearly states:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
and meetings are:
5.) Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose-that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
So what happens is we get addicts who:

I've never been to an AA meeting
and give their "opinion" about who we are and what we should do without having ever been to a meeting, or being a member of alcoholics anonymous, and as members of alcoholics anonymous we aren't interested in listening to people opinions about experience they have never had, and we aren't afraid to tell them so at group level, so we get a reputation for intolerance and "getting resentful" at addicts.

We aren't resentful, we just aren't interested in listening to your opinion about experience you don't possess, it would be like me being jewish and going to a catholic church and lecturing them about how to run their religion.

Both Religions are just fine the way they are for the people who attend them, for one to go lecture or give opinion about the other because they read a little of their literature is ludicrous at best.

It's incredibly important that Addicts and Alcoholics each have someplace they can go and "identify" what the problem is, just as it is for Jewish people and Catholic people have their own churches, sure both the synagogue and the churches and the services within express purpose is to worship God, they just both have their own way of going about it, as is right.

Neither is right or wrong, and both deserve to exist, and the Catholics shouldn't have to change what they do for Jewish People, and vice versa.

AA is VERY clearly defined with it's Traditions, and those traditions are NOT subject to interpretation by non members.

My "addiction" to alcohol is different then addiction to other substances, in that I can stop for days, weeks or even months, but once I take even a little I don't have control over my intake, my "addiction" to cigarettes, cocaine, and heroin was a completely different animal, in that when I decided to quit for good, I could, and even use those drugs recreationally.

That is not the case with alcohol for me. I am whats known as a "garbage can" "real" alcoholic.

I am not an addict, I am not an "alcoholic/addict, I am an alcoholic and I don't relate to stories by addicts, even a little bit.

Hence I attend Alcoholics Anonymous, a program for alcoholics, by alcoholics.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:23 PM
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I go to AA and I am a recoverying addict/alcoholic. Been going since 1996. I 'limit' my sharing to alcohol...but people in the rooms know my story. You can read my blog about outside help. I am pretty sure I'd be dead if I hadn't met my recovery counselor.

I needed counseling. You are on the right path. Don't let anyone scare you out of your chair in any room. If I need a meeting. I go. I earned my place there.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:25 PM
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That is not the case with alcohol for me. I am whats known as a "garbage can" "real" alcoholic.

I am not an addict, I am not an "alcoholic/addict, I am an alcoholic and I don't relate to stories by addicts, even a little bit.

Hence I attend Alcoholics Anonymous, a program for alcoholics, by alcoholics.
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bingo....thanks.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:29 PM
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you also posted this:

The way I look at it is I didn't have a problem with alcohol before crack cocaine. I feel I can drink if I want to. And haven't done so in a year. I have no desire to. I choose not to. At first, in early recovery, I ws afraid to. I was afraid if I got a buzz off of alcohol, I'd be right back on crack. Since I took that first hit, of crack, while drunk.
I got drunk very rarely. The Irish and German in me gives me a strong tolerance. I don't feel anything from one or two tall beers (never have- and we're talking Amber Boch, not that Budweiser and yellow crap). And though I started out afraid to drink, I continue to not to so because it simply doesn't matter. But I am also not willing to commit to never drinking again. If I wanna, I can, and I know that I can do it safely. This is JUST me. Not trying to encourage anyone else to try it.
So you are clearly not an alcoholic, a share like that heard in an AA meeting for a newcomer in AA could kill someone confused about alcoholism because they wouldn't identify, alcoholics are people who have lost the power of choice, that is what defines them as alcoholics, that is clearly not your experience.

My experience is the exact opposite of yours, I could take or leave the drugs, but was helpless with alcohol from day one.

So it's best we have two fellowships, and it's best we stick to our own and don't tell the other fellowship how to run themselves.

Anyhow, Alonebuthopeful, I hope our discussion today helped you, and you got a front row seat in the "addict/alcoholic" debate etc ad nauseum, and what are behind the "rumors" about why alcoholics getting resentful at addicts are, we just don't like non alcoholics coming in and telling us how to run our program and what we should do, it gets tedious after 2 million times, however, please do check out an open meeting of AA and NA, and you will be welcome at both meetings.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Ago View Post

That's not entirely correct, and is one of the myths perpetuated by non members, the third tradition in it's entirety clearly states:
That may be true, but unfortunately, it was members of AA who told me the only requirement for membership at AA is the desire to stop drinking. What can I say to what other AA MEMBERS told me, ya know?? LOL
And I wouldn't ever call people resentful or anything like that, but the seperatist attitude really, and again it's my not so humble opinion, restricts some people's recovery. What if AA is the only meeting close enough for them to attend. Would you really turn someone away just because what they are addicted to differs from what you're addicted to?
Honestly, there is a place for each of the groups. I know I'd rather hear about how other people stayed off of crack cocaine, but I listen to other's stories, because they may have something I can still learn and grow from.
Either way, I am grateful for both groups. Without AA, I truly believe that NA would not exist.
But I would not compare them to Churches because AA and NA have extremely similar "preachings." 12 steps. Traditions. All that. Just one says alcoholics and the other says addicts. Hey, both start with A.
I don't want to argue that point, and I do apologize for ruffling feathers. It was just my opinion. Take it or leave it. Apparently, a couple of ya wanna leave it. LOLOL. You're alright.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Ago View Post
you also posted this:



So you are clearly not an alcoholic, a share like that heard in an AA meeting for a newcomer in AA could kill someone confused about alcoholism because they wouldn't identify, alcoholics are people who have lost the power of choice, that is what defines them as alcoholics, that is clearly not your experience.
No, hun, and that is why I've never gone to an AA meeting.
But if I did, I would be keeping my mouth shut, thank you. I have a little more sense than that.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CrackQuack View Post
No, hun, and that is why I've never gone to an AA meeting.
But if I did, I would be keeping my mouth shut, thank you. I have a little more sense than that.
yeah, no worries, I actually wasn't ruffled in the slightest, I was actually pleased you posted so I could illustrate why the so called "rift" with addicts exists, my point was:

if I did <attend an AA meeting sic>, I would be keeping my mouth shut, thank you. I have a little more sense than that.
So why would you "be keeping your mouth shut? Because you aren't an alcoholic. the previous statement can't exist with:

What is an alcoholic but a person ADDICTED to alcohol? So in essense, an alcoholic is an addict.
This seperation of alcoholic versus addict, in my not so humble opinion, just perpetuates the problem and does nothing towards the solution and towards recovery.
If our newcomers can't "identify" with the problem, they can't embrace the solution. You are an addict with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and I am an alcoholic with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and while they both fall under addiction, they aren't the same exactly, although the solution is.

Separation is necessary, but that doesn't preclude coming together for a common solution.

Hence two programs, one for alcoholics, and one for addicts, although I don't personally have any problem with "anda's", it's just I'm not one of them.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:05 PM
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I limit my sharing to alcoholism. Plain and simple. When I chair or speak I do mention that got counseling for outside issues. When I stick my hand up. I state KC, alcoholic.
Bottom line. I am in recovery. So whatever you wanna call it. 'garbage can' ...its recovery for me.

I started out in NA. And stayed in AA. Mainly because there are larger number of AA groups. I am an alkie. Because for me there was never enough. My disease branched out....but I stick with AA. I also refuse to scare newbies out of the room. No matter why they come, its the solution they are there for.

I also have drinking/drugging dreams. Not as often but they happen. I don't dream of having a few drinks. I wake up with an itchy nose too. So I label myself alkie/addict. and still state i am an alcholic at an AA meeting.

We all have different journeys into recovery.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Ago View Post
If our newcomers can't "identify" with the problem, they can't embrace the solution. You are an addict with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and I am an alcoholic with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and while they both fall under addiction, they aren't the same exactly, although the solution is.

Separation is necessary, but that doesn't preclude coming together for a common solution.

Hence two programs, one for alcoholics, and one for addicts, although I don't personally have any problem with "anda's", it's just I'm not one of them.
I have one more question and then I'll leave this debate to those who know what they are talking about (I had no idea this could be a touchy subject, so I do apologize for that). When I go to NA and someone is talking about cocaine addiction, would I not be able to identify with them becuause I was able to put cocaine down? There are a number of drugs I have done and put down. Just like alcohol. It's pain pills that have their claws in me. By the rationalization that alcoholics are so different, shouldn't we have sub groups for all the different drugs? Or. do we?
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by AlonebutHopeful View Post
I have one more question and then I'll leave this debate to those who know what they are talking about (I had no idea this could be a touchy subject, so I do apologize for that). When I go to NA and someone is talking about cocaine addiction, would I not be able to identify with them becuause I was able to put cocaine down? I don't know, would you? Just kidding, but that's something only you can decide. In my experience i tend to ignore the specific substance and listen to the experience. I can almost always relate. This is why we don't mention specific drugs(or try to) in NA meeting. Listen for similarities not differences. There are a number of drugs I have done and put down. Just like alcohol. It's pain pills that have their claws in me. By the rationalization that alcoholics are so different, shouldn't we have sub groups for all the different drugs? Or. do we?
Well there is CocaineAnonymous and i'm sure they're others out there that i'm unaware of. It is my personal belief, and that of NA, that we suffer from the disease of addiction which is all encompasing. This works for me with my experiences with different substances but more importantly the phenomenon of craving, obsession, and compulsion that occurs relative to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, even non substances to include people. My disease manifests in numerous ways. It says in the big book that alcohol was but a symptom. The same is stated in the NA basic text. I cannot overemphasize how much i think that this line of questioning/thinking boils down to semantics though.

As stated, the solution is the same and it also cannot be overstated the importance of identification with your fellows in recovery. This simple principle is what spawned NA, as there were people in the fellowship of AA who better identified with eachother in terms of their drug experiences and addiction in the broad sense, so they branched out and started NA with the help of people in AA.

I am of the opinion that this a wonderful thing. I find any perceived issues between the fellowships to be pointless endeavors and wates of mental space as they all exist, and in my simple view, this is for a reason. May anyone looking for a solution in the 12 step process find whichever fellowship they best fit into.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:01 PM
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What do people do when there's no NA where they live (for example, small towns)?
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by spryte View Post
What do people do when there's no NA where they live (for example, small towns)?
I've never had that specific experience, but if i was in that position i would attend AA, listen for the similarities and focus on my powerlessness and unmanagibility in terms of sharing while not talking about specific drugs. Simply honor the etiquette of the rooms of AA but approach it in the same way i would in NA. And of course get a sponsor, do a 90 in 90, get a home group, and work the steps!
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:10 PM
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We try to practice Love and tolerance. Try.

The battle of who belongs in AA and who does not is a touchy subject. I don't believe it has much to do with Addicts, Gamblers, OA's , dual diagnosis, etc.

I read a book a while ago about AA in the early days. I can't remember which book. It talked about "Group Conscious" and gave examples. One group conscious back in the 40's voted on having a "colored section" for those that were other then white to attend and sit through a meeting. Another group voted on not allowing colored folks to attend AA. They say god speaks through group conscious...I think it's safe to say that god is not prejudice.
...on the other hand I was at a mens step meeting years ago and the group allowed a woman alcoholic to come in and listen because she needed a meeting. I thought it was a nice gesture.

I believe in keeping my own side of the street clean. I'm an alcoholic, I had problems other then alcohol, but in the end alcohol was the final convincer.
It saddens me to see a meeting stop, because one finds the message from the podium is questionable just because an AAer is talking about drugs. Why would one heckle to stop a meeting?

May I not be well enough in AA, to tell others what is appropriate to say in AA, who can come too AA and what the message is supposed to be like. The AA literature in pamphlet form is free for the taking, out of those literature bins. If one wants to ignore the suggestions or traditions and do what they want, that is none of my business.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by augustwest View Post
I've never had that specific experience, but if i was in that position i would attend AA, listen for the similarities and focus on my powerlessness and unmanagibility in terms of sharing while not talking about specific drugs. Simply honor the etiquette of the rooms of AA but approach it in the same way i would in NA. And of course get a sponsor, do a 90 in 90, get a home group, and work the steps!
I have been in that situation, where NA members attended AA meetings because there were no NA meetings, except one on Friday they all carpooled to, no one had a problem with their presence in that situation, hell AA was so small they needed the bodies.

He's right

(truthfully I don't care if an alcoholic has drugs in their story, I do, as did Bill and Dr Bob who both mention drugs in their story iirc, as long as they are an alcoholic I don't care what they share as long as it's in a general way in discussing drugs and farm animals, ya know, there's some details we don't need to know)
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:37 AM
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[QUOTE=Ago;2504425]

So why would you "be keeping your mouth shut? Because you aren't an alcoholic.



If our newcomers can't "identify" with the problem, they can't embrace the solution. You are an addict with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and I am an alcoholic with certain recognizable signs and symptoms, and while they both fall under addiction, they aren't the same exactly, although the solution is.

Separation is necessary, but that doesn't preclude coming together for a common solution.

[QUOTE]

Yes, I know I am not an alcoholic. And yes, because I picture the senerio where I -could- be in a spot without an NA meeting, but an AA meeting was available. I am not going to go, and then raise my hand and say that I will not commit to not drinking, because that, my friend, would be LYING. That is what I meant by keeping my mouth shut. If I really needed a meeting and AA was all that were available, I would like to know I could go so I have somewhere to be safe. I don't have to share and I don't want to be expected to think or act a certain way in a crisis situation where I wanted to use. So keeping my mouth shut means I would not say "Hey I know this is an AA meeting, but I am an addict and I'll drink if I want to!" or cop an attitude about drinking because it may affect someone who has a problem with drinking and that's not cool either. At the same time, I expect enough respect that, if I HAD TO GO, I am welcome. I wouldn't want to share, I would just want to listen and learn, and of course, NOT FLIPPING USE! LOL. Heck I might even really learn something! Who knows?
But, this is why I don't go to AA. It kind of makes me feel like they want to be secluded, seperatists, and overprotective. Like just because my poison is crack cocaine, they are better than I am. That if I go in there, I won't like it simply because of that. NOT because I am not an alcoholic, but because it makes me feel like they think they are better and the whole seperatist thing.
And NA is open to all, which is something I like. Dunno about gambling and sex addictions, but ALL mind altering substance addictions. Hense why I am more often caught calling alcoholics addicts rather than allowing the seperatist attitude to take ahold of me and give them a seperate "name" or "category".
I will never believe separation is necessary. If it were, then we'd need a seperate 12 step program for every addiction. I know there is a CA (which I don't see as necessary either), but we'd need a HA, a MA, OA, WA, and so on and so forth.
And I could NOT identify with the slammers, tooters, and pill poppers, whatsoever in those NA meetings, when I first started going. Never used a needle (ACK! scared of those things!). Wasn't addicted to snorting junk nor popping pills. And yes, we've got alcoholics too, and I cannot identify with that either. But I kept going back because NA taught me not to be looking for the differencesbut to look for the similarites.
Newcomers need to be taught, as I was, in much the same manner. No one is more or less special because they are addicted to something different. I would no more turn away an alcoholic looking for help than I would a drug addict or someone addicted to things like sex or gambling. If someone needs a place to go, let them go.
But I will agree that it is AA's perogative to believe in seperation and being secluded. It's their group. Not mine, and it's not for me. I don't have to go and I don't have to believe in that seperatist, alcoholics are different from addicts, way. I am extremely happy for and proud of those for whom it does work. As long as someone is clean/sober/hooha happy, and it works for them, go for it.
And in the end, that is all that really matters (that's what I really believe anyway).
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