Between the two entities, I have probably clocked in more hours in both than the average alcoholic. I don't know why, it's just that way. If we go by the premise that every thing happens for a reason which I firmly believe, then the things I have learned from these experiences should be of some use to some one.
Jail first. I work in one. Yes I know I am not usually the most popular one at any given meeting until people get to know me. When I share that I actually booked myself into the facility I worked at, did my own prints, sleep ed on the floor of a classroom for 24 hours, and continued to drink, people warm up. I am no different than any other alcoholic, I just have a different job. This has given me 20 years of experience in watching people come and go. I've seen this disease take the lives of literally hundreds of men and women. I've seen them sober up in jail, get healthy, and leave with a conviction that this time things would be different but they come back time and time again. The program is offered in the jails. Men and Women alike work like mad to bring the message to these people. Some times it takes and others it does not. I have often pondered why. I think that when inside the system, it is easy to stay clean and sober. Meetings are interesting and a distraction from the boredom. I do believe that many of them do get the message and want it, but when they get outside and are left to their own devices, it becomes foggy again as they slip into old habits. Its seems that the self will kicks into play with a vengeance that is harder to controll than before. I have met many that do succeed, and never return. These men and women are usually the ones that are brave enough to change the things that they did in the past. For many they have to give up old friends for a time, even family in some cases. They stick close to the program, carrying that meeting book with them like their lives blood. Willing to go to any lengths to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Hospitals are another place I have spent many hours. Sitting with one family member or another while they go through whatever they came in for. Recently I have had both my father and my grandson in separate hospital at the same time. Both being family I was tugged emotionally in both directions. Luckily because of my many other experiences I realise that I can only do so much. The program has taught me that you give only what you have to give, nothing more nothing less. It sounds selfish and self centered to some (even me at times) but you have o take care of yourself as well. If you don't there is nothing to give to any one. When the loved one is young or very ill, these are hard lessons to learn, but ever so important, especially in the journey to stay sober. Attend meetings, pray often, and share as often as you can. It helps so much as I was myself just recently reminded. If any of this is of help to any one, I am grateful.