Losing Step One
I can speak from experience exactly what can happen when an alcoholic loses Step One and leaves Alcoholics Anonymous. I feel that my experience may be of valuable help to anyone who may be thinking that perhaps AA is not for them after all as their drinking wasn't as bad as others'. Or that they may feel okay and think that they aren't really an alcoholic after all. Or perhaps they may think that there are more important responsibilities in their lives and they simply don’t have enough time for AA anymore.
I left AA because I was convinced that I was okay as I had been a dry drunk once for a period of four years before joining AA. I also could not and would not accept that I was an alcoholic because of my spiritual pride and arrogance. Between those four years of dry drunk and joining AA, I drank morning, noon and night for several years due to the emotional hell I was in because of the devastating experiences I had suddenly been through. When I joined AA I wanted to stop drinking and I had the obsession to drink removed from me by doing the twelve step program. I thought that the past had been healed and that I wouldn't drink like that again. I just would not and could not accept that I was an alcoholic and so I left. After I left AA I would go for many weeks without a drink, then go and see a band and have three or four pints and then not drink again for a long time. There was the odd occasion when I would get drunk with friends for fun but usually couldn't remember a thing about it.
The last couple of months before coming back to AA my drinking was getting completely out of control and my drinking in the final month was the worse it had ever been and my life was starting to fall apart at the seams. The day finally came in September 2007 when the illusion that I wasn't an alcoholic was completely and thoroughly smashed. It was the blackest day of my life emotionally. I had Step One chiselled onto the front of my mind that day. I immediately phoned the AA helpline to find out where there was a meeting that night. I then got on my knees and prayed for sobriety for the rest of the day. I then wrote a list of all the things I had to be grateful for in my life and then proceeded to read the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ until it was time to go to the meeting that was a few minutes from my home. After the meeting I got a few phone numbers of other alcoholics at the meeting. I looked forward to going to the Tuesday night meeting of my old home group the next day.
I was actually in a strong position as I had already found recovery from drinking before and I knew exactly what I had to do in order to recover. I asked my old sponsor if he would be willing to give me a second chance. Thankfully he said yes and I'm so grateful that he did. I didn't have an ounce of complacency left in me. I have worked my AA program very hard since rejoining my home group and the results have been nothing short of fantastic. I have a solid foundation for my recovery. Even my sponsor has remarked at the difference in me compared to when I was a member last time, because I have fully got Step One and have put AA at the exact centre of my life. My recovery is so much stronger this time because I know exactly what will happen to me if I stop working the AA program or if I put anything in my life before AA. I also know what will happen to anyone who drank like me and leaves AA – they will drink again and their drinking will get worse – that’s a guarantee.
I think very carefully about Step One every day. I read the chapter entitled ‘More About Alcoholism’ from the Big Book every morning as part of my program; as well as another chapter later in the day as they are all equally valuable. But I read this chapter every morning because it’s all about Step One and Maintaining Step One. Without Step One we are dead men and women walking.