Having trouble staying sober in AA? Like it's not working?

Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober
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Having trouble staying sober in AA? Like it's not working?

Postby Dallas » Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:58 pm

Are you having trouble staying sober in AA? Like it's not working?

Are you having trouble staying sober in AA, even though: you're going to meetings, you have a sponsor, and you're reading the literature?

You're not alone. It happens, too often.

So, what's the problem -- and more importantly -- what is the solution?

An AA contacted me by email, with this situation and with the same problem. I decided to post my reply to the member here in the forum, for others that may be having the same problem.

If you'd like -- please share your own story or experience and your comments.

Naturally -- the first thing to do is to "keep coming back." But, if "keep coming back" isn't producing the results -- then, perhaps, you need to make some other changes or to change your approach.


QUESTION: I joined the Program in 2007. Was
sober for a few months, then went back out. Started attending meetings
again a month ago. Have a sponsor and am trying to again work the steps.
Am going to meetings daily, with occasional exception, stay in contact
with my sponsor, read the literature, pray and reflect.

Problem is: I seem to only stay away from alcohol for a few days at a
time. Sometimes even going to meetings or reading the literature can make me start to think about drinking.

The only reason for it I can come up with is the fear that I'm not up to
the task, which may bring on a longing to drink for escape. I know it's in
my head and not due to AA or external circumstances. Yet I still struggle.
Your thoughts?






I'd suggest that you join in on our online forum:

We may be able to help you there.

Possibly, you're waiting to long to actually take the 12 Steps.

There is a difference in "doing the 12 Steps" - "practicing the 12 Steps" - "learning the 12 Steps" and actually "taking the 12 Steps."

To get over drinking requires a transformation in thought and attitude. If you read the Dr.'s Opinion, in the Big Book, this is what Dr. Silkworth is refering to when he writes about a "psychic change."

Similar to what surgery attempts to do with a labatomy -- to cut out the part of your brain that's causing problems, or shock treatment, to do the same thing -- the "12 Steps" is designed to perform the necessary change in the alcoholic brain -- that will allow an alcoholic to recover -- even when labotomys and shock treatments will not do that. (And, I hear they are more painful, too!) ;-)

That's what I think your problem is and what I believe the solution will be.

Sometimes, you'll hear alcoholics talk about "grace". My understanding of that is often different than what they are describing.

For me, "grace" is like a "grace period"... similar to a credit card bill. You get a "grace period" of 20 days, then you have to make a payment or pay the bill in full.

Often, when we come into AA, we have a "grace period". This is like a neutral time that is granted for you to do the work that's necessary to produce the "psychic change" in the alcoholic brain.

If you wait beyond the "grace period"... you'll drink again. And, alcoholism is progressive. Each time we quit and then start again, or just quit... the alcoholism progresses. Making it more difficult to acquire one of those "grace periods" and it often results in fatal conditions. The alcoholic dies drinking, because no matter how much they desire to stay sober -- they had their final opportunity.

How long is the "grace period"? No one seems to know. For some, it might be two or three days. For some, a week. For others, it could be several months or even years. But, the fact is, for all of them, whether short or long -- they will drink and die drinking, if they do not have the necessary psychic change so that they can maintain their sobriety.

What if you think you're one of the one's that have months, years or weeks, for your "grace period"? And, then you discover you were wrong about it? You'll drink and die. (Most likely the outcome).

So, why wait? Get it done -- "taking the 12 Steps" and then, live your life sober, learning about and practicing the 12 Steps.

I hope you don't mind. I'm going to post my reply to you in our forum, so that it might help others in your situation. I'll be sure to remove your name and anything that might identify who it is that I'm communicating with.

If I can be of further help to you -- just let me know.

Also, a note about the "other literature." My suggestion to you would be to avoid the "other literature" and stick solely with the Big Book, until you've experienced the psychic change that comes about from actually "taking the 12 Steps." From what I've discovered, the "other literature" will just confuse and prolong the process and leave you at risk.

Best wishes,



YOUR COMMENTS: I encourage all, to share their own experience with this and post your comments below. Perhaps, we can help others in this same, and unfortunately too often, situation.

Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:51 pm

Postby gunner48 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:40 pm

My Expierence is To only read 2 pages of the big book each day, meeting with my sponsor to understand what it is saying to me and take the action called for even if I don't believe it will work. My sponsor helped me this way. My problem at first was I read to much to fast and didn't do any of the actions called for. I just read and agreed with what I read. By doing this with my sponsor I was able to work the steps in a little over 60 days, loose the craving to drink and now have been sober over 20 years. I still read 2 pages of the big book each day and continue to take the actions called for by an alcoholic.
I agree with Dallas about leaving the other books alone. Do the Big Book and later on you can improve your growth with the other stuff if you wish. Getting sober is hard enough without cluttering my mind with that other stuff.
I now understand that if I don't drink I want get drunk. I have always known how to stop drinking, What I had to learn was how to stay stopped.

I know this sounds silly but it did work for me. 2 pages a day, no more than 30 minutes working AA, calling my sponsor each time I had a question, going to meetings so I could get to know others like me and hanging out with them every chance I got.
Peace and Love

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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:16 am

Grace period

Postby Madmax » Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:37 am

For me each time I busted and returned to AA the grace period got shorter and shorter. and the compulsion got stronger and stronger, I wasted my chances and now all I have is a desire to stop but not the strenght

Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:04 pm

Postby DiggerinVA » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:32 am

You have to find the power outside of yourself.

I found the power in the fact that it worked for Bill W. and my Grandmother. Then generated my own prayer, to whoever they prayed too. That was a little over 2 and a half years ago.

You can do it. Then work the steps as the Big Book suggests.

Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:16 am

thats true

Postby Madmax » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:19 pm

I do have to find the power outside myself and for me I have to learn to trust that power and not try to control it on my terms, also I must stop being my own higher power and get off the throne. its about time I let go and let God 100%. Easier said than done though after spend all my life trying to be in control.

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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm

Postby sunlight » Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:15 pm

Hi Terry! :D Welcome.

Are you in the work? Are you taking the steps with a sponsor just as they are laid out in the big book?

For me, and many other alcoholics, there is no other way out of the insanity except to do just as the book says and continue to practice the principles in all that we do.

Then we can help another alcoholic and sobriety becomes reality. :D

Happy you are here. Please stay in AA. So much wonder and joy are waiting for you!

Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:51 pm

Postby gunner48 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:16 pm

Why not try working the steps and trust the process. You may be amazed at what you find. I was told I could be to smart to recover but I could never be to dumb. All I had to do to get started in recovery was to want to be sober just a little more than I wanted to drink. Best wishes

Peace and Love

Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:16 am


Postby Madmax » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:56 pm

Ever tried being a poor, 40+ male and getting a sposnser in this town? sponsers here are a rare comodity.

Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:04 pm

Re: sponser

Postby DiggerinVA » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:01 am

4128 wrote:Ever tried being a poor, 40+ male and getting a sposnser in this town? sponsers here are a rare comodity.

I understand. It is not easy here either. But you can do it. Let Go and let God.

Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:10 am

Postby Ranman99 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:32 am

I tried the program my way in and out for 18 years. This last time I was pretty beat up and had to go one day at a time on complete faith. I had lost my job and my family was on the verge so every day was AA and sponsor. It wasn't until a few weeks in that my sponsor tore me down a bit and basically showed me that I was still fighting it I was still not willing to go to any length to make it work and at that point I gave up fighting.

I have two drawers in my filing cabinet in my mind.

First one is marked "Has not happened to me yet but could"

The second one is marked "I don't believe or agree with this yet but I might"

In those early months this last time I became willing every day to put everything that I could not digest into one of those cabinets and then just do it.

By month six I had worked through the steps an made about 90% of the amends on my 9th and realised that some days I was just as sober mentally, physically and spiritually as any guy. Some days I was not.

I started to visit some of the guys that were pulled out of hotel rooms in the hospital cause that was my story drinking to oblivion on business trips. I shared my experience strength and hope and left. SHAKEN. and said to myself that I need to make myself very familiar with those places and hear guys that can't lift a water jug still talking the same crap we all know so well.

I read and listen to program whenever I have a moment and this site is a GOD send just to be able to tap in and think program for a few mintues most days. And to bounce off ideas about recovery.

Today my problem is not about the drink it is about I selfish me and trying to get out and think of others before myself.

Well two weeks ago I started to sponsor my first sponsee and I'm redoubling my efforts to review where I have been lest I forget one drop.

When I came in I was heading to one of three places: an institution, a casket or AA. Today I still have one of those choices so I take the easier softer way which of course is .... :wink:

The other day I told my sponsee to quit his job if he thinks it is going to trigger him so bad and you should have heard the excuses. Today I would walk right out and quit if I thought I was going to loose my sobriety. Nothing in the world is more important than that for me now.

The craving has been lifted for quite some time and I can't explain it and I don't need to. It's all good! :P

Today some days I'm even able to help my sponsor when he's outta sorts so that's progress in 10 months.

Almost forgot to add. I'm terminally unique also :lol:

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