I witnessed a conversation the other day at a treatment center in which a client was basically stating why AA would not work for her. She was dead set against going to an AA meeting at the suggestion of her therapist, and her response was that “I have been to AA in the past and it doesn’t work for me. It makes me want to drink.”
Now I can understand exactly where this newcomer was at with her anger, frustration, and fear regarding AA because I have been there myself. She is effectively saying that she is not willing to give the 12 step program a chance and she is making excuses, but the thing that is holding her back from this is FEAR, plain and simple. I can see that from a mile away because I had the exact same level of fear. I was terrified of meetings.
Now the thing that is important here is not so much that she needs to get to AA meetings, but that she gets out of this fear-driven mode she is in that is holding her back from exploring solutions. Truly, the meetings are not the issue. I can look back and see that now in my own recovery, and I can look at her situation and see that the same thing is true. The issue is that she is shutting down, plain and simple. It is like a child who puts their hands over their ears and starts yelling “la-la-la-la-la” when they don’t want to hear something. This person is shutting themselves off to any possible solution simply out of fear.
It is not about AA meetings. There are other recovery strategies out there but if you try to sober up then in a lot of cases you will be exposed to the 12 step program. There are other ways to get sober but the fear that holds you back is going to block you from those solutions as well at some point. What I mean is that you are going to have to face your fear in recovery, if that is social anxiety or something else, it doesn’t matter. If you are going to make it and stay sober over the long haul then you’ve got to face these fears anyway. So you might as well get started with facing them right from the start.
I just mentioned the solution and that is to face your fears. Much as I hate to admit it, that is the quickest and most direct route to healing in recovery. This becomes especially true if your fears are holding you back from exploring a solution for recovery.
I was at a point once when I refused to face this fear. I had an opportunity to do so and I was temporarily sober. But I shut down and made the snap decision that I was not ready yet. Not ready to quit drinking. Not ready to face life sober. Not ready to give this recovery solution a chance.
It’s not about going to meetings or not. It’s about becoming open to a solution that might work for you. You will notice if you try to get sober that everyone is offering the same solution: 12 step meetings. That is fine and if you are offered help of any kind you need to become open to it and go with the flow. In early recovery, you are not in a position to dictate your own recovery strategy. You have already proven that you cannot figure out how to stop drinking on your own. Accept whatever help they offer you, even if you do not particularly like whatever program or methods they are pushing on you.
This is the level of acceptance that is necessary to become teachable in recovery. You have to break down to this point anyway in order to surrender and have a chance at getting sober. You have to get to the point where you are so beaten up by the disease that you are willing to face your fears instead of going back to drinking.
Let me say that again: in order to recover, you have to be so sick and tired of drinking that you become willing to face your fear of being sober. Getting to this point is the whole key.