alcoholics anonymous

Are there groups like NA and AA for younger people?

We don’t know of any fellowships specifically for young people, although some may exist.  However, both AA and NA have groups that consist primarily of younger members. Generally their ages range from the mid-teens to mid-20’s, but it’s not unusual to find a few older members as well, and that’s a good thing.  People with substantial time in recovery provide the continuity that a group needs.

A check with the Intergroup office in your area will get you the information you need on when and where to find young people’s groups.  There are young people’s meetings, conventions, and a variety of other activities aimed at both newcomers and younger folks with some time under their belts, and they are a wonderful way to become engaged in activities within the fellowship.

We’ve always recommended that people go to a variety of meetings: open, closed, discussion, beginner’s, book meetings, young people’s, and so forth.  There’s no question that it is easier to relate to those who are closer to our age and at about the same point in recovery.  However, we need to remember that while we may feel more like they are our kind of people, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in a position to provide everything we need to work a program.

If we are uncomfortable with old-timers because we believe they’re judging our recovery, perhaps we need to get to know a few of them and get their actual opinions, instead of assuming that we can read their minds.  We may be surprised.  And they may have a lot to offer us, once we decide to talk to them.  After all, they’re the ones with the track record and experience.

It’s a good idea to mix up our program friends, concentrating not on their ages but instead on the quality of their recovery — but don’t skip the young people’s activities.  They’re the fastest track to healthy fun in recovery, and if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.

It’s also worth mentioning that both AA and NA have “sister” organizations for young people with recovering parents, other family members, or friends.  Check out Nar-Anon Family Groups or Al-Anon Family Groups for more information.

Another Letter From A Suffering Alcoholic

“Sunrise” just wrote:

I am 2 1/2 months sober from alcohol. I found this article after sitting here at the computer, feeling horrible for my over reactions . I was sitting down crying feeling like a drink and scared I was actually going to go and get some wine. I was so shocked at my over reaction towards my husband being late taking my daughter to soccer practice , that I stood in stunned silence when they left the house. I prayed, and started to search the web and found this article about PAWS. I am a 44 year old women who is also dealing with early menopause, so I am not sure what is happening to me. my brain seams to be all jumbled and I cannot remember things. I get stressed over really anything extra in my life. So thank you for this article….I will continue to reread it and most importantly reach out to people and not isolate myself. I do not want to drink!
I guess this must be my “peak” time between the 3-6 month period?

I replied: [Read more…]

Martin Sheen to address addiction in one-night play reading at Geffen Playhouse

In June, Martin Sheen will star in a one-night reading of the play “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” — a drama about the founding of AA — at the Geffen Playhouse. The reading is scheduled to take place June 27 and will be a joint fundraiser for the Geffen and Hazelden, a nonprofit addiction treatment center. Tickets to the reading range from $75 to $250 and include a post-show Q&A and more.

Martin Sheen to address addiction in one-night play reading at Geffen Playhouse

Anonymity — or not?

Those of us who work in or write about recovery (or both) tread a fairly narrow path when it comes to the issue of anonymity.

On the one hand, most of us want to adhere to the traditions of any fellowships to which we may belong, and anonymity is a basic tenet of most of those.  On the other hand, it is sometimes difficult to remain anonymous “at the level of press, radio and film” while doing a conscientious job of telling people what recovery is all about.  How, for example, is one to discuss questions, provide insight and so forth into the 12-Step programs without admitting — at least tacitly — that they are or have been members?  How is one to discuss the benefits of the steps, or sponsorship, or how those programs help the recovery process if they have to pretend that all they know about them is simply hearsay?

The same is true, in a somewhat broader sense, of recovering addicts in general.  When the fire of recovery is burning in your gut, how do you carry the message without admitting — even eulogizing — membership in the very program that is helping you to recover your life?

Then there is the issue of anonymity itself: am I violating the tradition by simply saying I attend a recovery program, or only if I name the specific program?  (Answer “b” is the correct one.)  Do I violate your anonymity by saying I saw you at a meeting, or must I specify what kind of meeting?  There are myriad variations on those themes.

Eventually all recovering people reach their own accommodation with these issues.  My own is to not mention specific programs.  I simply don't believe I can do my job or support other alcoholics and addicts properly without skating that close to the edge.  I've tried, and I was unsuccessful.

Currently, many people in recovery are questioning the wisdom of anonymity in general.  Their positions vary, but many knowledgeable, thoughtful people believe it is no longer really necessary, since addiction (and I include alcoholism whenever I use the word “addiction”) no longer holds the stigma that it did 75 years ago when the first 12-step fellowship was founded.  Others believe that, realistically, very few of us actually have anonymity anyway.  Still others think that AA, NA and the 150-plus other “anonymous” fellowships are shirking their duty to people who have not yet found recovery by not allowing their affiliation and their success to serve as good examples and inspiration.

I have my own opinions on these matters, but I prefer to keep them to myself on this blog.  It is not my intention to attempt to foist my ideas on others — at least not here.  I do, however, recommend this excellent article in the New York Times, which discusses the issues and presents the opinions of prominent recovering people.

If you would like to chime in with comments, please feel free.  And however you feel about this issue…

Keep on keepin' on.


What About AA? Is Charlie Sheen Right?

Charlie's been making a lot of derogatory remarks about AA lately.  Frankly, I think his disdain for the program is likely to increase its cred, rather than the other way around.  In case you were wondering, however, it turns out that AA's success rate is even better than I thought it was.  Apparently it works really well for those who “completely give themselves to this simple program,” and not so well for those who give it lip service.

Imagine that!

You can read the whole story here, if you like.

Spirituality May Boost Success for Alcoholics Anonymous

A new study suggests that attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings appears to increase participants' spirituality, which may help reduce their alcohol use.

Read more…