by Bree L.

My sponsor described coming through the side door of Al-anon. I knew I hadn’t come in the front door as a binge drinker, because I’d been dry and controlled for five years. I fought coming to A.A. I believed I could never be an alcoholic. My entrance must have been through a side door. That was twenty-four years ago. Which doors have others come through? A couple of members describe their entrance. 

Patty talks of coming through the generational door thanks to two alcoholic parents. She was eleven when her Dad joined the program. Her mother got sober shortly before she died. 

Patti remembers her father drinking all during her early childhood. Her family had an about face when he joined A.A. Today she says he was just doing what the program recommended, getting a sponsor and working through the steps. “I had a picture of what A.A. was like,” she said, “beginning at age eleven.” Many may see the down side of our disease but Patty saw the upside in recovery. However, that did not mean she was bent on racing into A.A. It took her awhile. 

It was nighttime but she knew someone would answer

During her early years she didn’t have the desire to drink. The one time she did get drunk, she remembers it. “It seemed like the greatest thing that could happen,” she says. “It took me twenty more years to get some traction.” As early as her late thirties, she knew she was an alcoholic and belonged in A.A. but she avoided it. “I just wasn’t ready to stop drinking,” she says. Then one night sitting on her couch she saw where she was headed. Thanks to her Dad she knew who to call. It was nighttime but she knew someone would be there to answer the phone and talk to her. 

She didn’t get sober immediately but came to meetings while continuing to drink for a couple more months. However, once she made that final decision, she had a sponsor by the end of that day. Within a week she completed the first step and within a month had a service commitment (coffeemaker).

Patty says, “Our family went from utter chaos to a different life. The pivotal point was my Dad’s recovery and I am eternally, actively grateful.” Today she is coming up on twenty-two years of sobriety.

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Kent B. says he came in through the “revolving door.” He describes it as a merry-go-round of alcohol, crystal meth and sex. His work demanded odd hours on duty with longer periods off. His pattern was to prepare for random drug testing by quitting three days prior to returning to work. Rather than do drugs, he’d drink. When he couldn’t stop drinking, he’d call in sick. There were non-stop days of using without end, and days without sleep. His handy solution was to drink: “So I could get some sleep.” When the drinking got too heavy, he’d take a bump of speed to kill the buzz. It was a nightmare.

Gratitude the revolving door never closed

He came to A.A. in 2008 and soon realized that alcohol was his core addiction. After that first meeting he says his obsession to drink left. A counselor at an early rehab facility asked, “What are you addicted to?” “Alcohol,” he answered.

“What are you addicted to?” The counselor repeated.

“Speed,” he said.

“What are you addicted to?” The counselor hammered again with the same questions.

“Sex,” he said in frustration.

“No,” the counselor said and asked again, “What are you addicted to? I was addicted to altering my state of being,” the counselor said. That hit home. “I was afraid of any discomfort and would resort to my drug of choice to avoid it.”

Today Kent says, “One drink and I break out into sex and/or crystal.” He speaks with gratitude of that ever-revolving door that never closed. He knew he was always welcome.

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