A major component of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is attendance at 12 step recovery meetings where we hear others share their experience, strength and hope on how they stay sober one day at a time. However, if you are traveling, ill or otherwise unable to get to a meeting, it's important to stay connected to the alcohol recovery stories of others.
Reading the literature online or listening to podcasts is an integral way to remember what it was like and how it works when you can't get to a meeting.
Here are five alcohol recovery stories of men and women who found the easier, softer way of living life without alcohol. We hope you will identify with their stories.
1. The Pink Cloud Bursts
Melanie H. found the rooms of AA and quickly saw her life get better once she put down the drinks and drugs she had been using for years. She quickly found a sponsor and a home group. She went out to the diner for coffee once a week with a group of sober women who shared their alcohol recovery stories with each other.
"I love AA!" Melanie would announce to anyone who would listen. Her sponsor informed her that the euphoria she was feeling was commonly known as "the pink cloud" - the happiness one initially feels when one realizes there is hope in life without alcohol.
By the time Melanie's first year anniversary started to approach, however, she started to feel disillusioned with the program. One of her best friends went out and she never heard from her again. Another friend whom she considered a paragon of sobriety revealed she was having an extramarital affair.
"How can these people talk about staying sober in meetings and then go out and act like that?" Melanie cried to her sponsor. "Everyone is such a hypocrite!"
Melanie's sponsor talked to her about the physical and mental changes she herself experienced after one year of sobriety. She encouraged her to accept her coin on her one year anniversary to show others how it worked for her.
Melanie was honest about her misgivings when she celebrated, and a newcomer came up to her and said she felt the same way. Melanie started to sponsor her, and her program became reinvigorated and renewed.
She frequently shares how her pink cloud burst after one year of sobriety, but that she still keeps coming and her life is so much better.
2. Herb's Coin Reminded Him Not to Take the First Drink
When Herb celebrated three years of sobriety, his sponsor gave him the coin that his sponsor had given him on his third anniversary twenty years earlier. Herb was grateful that his sponsor would give away something that had so much personal value.
Herb put the coin in the pocket of his sports coat and went off to work. His career had taken off in the years since he had put down the drink, and he was enjoying his newfound financial security.
That night, Herb was at a professional industry gala with many of his work colleagues. The champagne was flowing and everyone was having a great time. Herb started to feel awkward standing around the bar with a sparkling water in his hand.
"Come on Herb, why don't you join us in a toast?" his supervisor yelled in front of all of their colleagues.
Herb felt embarrassed: he thought everyone was wondering why he wasn't drinking. He stuck his hand in his pocket and there he felt the coin that his sponsor had given him, handed down from his own sponsor years before.
Holding the coin in his hand, Herb smiled and raised his glass of club soda. He toasted his friends, and in his heart, he toasted his own sobriety and the chain of fellowship which gave him strength in moments like these.
3. You Are Never Alone
Dan was in the armed forces. He was five years sober, but his military service often required that he travel to far off places. AA meetings were not always easy to find, and leaving the military outposts was often prohibited.
At one posting, Dan was stationed on a tiny island in the North Sea and he found himself thinking about drinking more than he liked. He was allowed off the base, so he thought he would look into whether he might be able to find a meeting.
To his surprise, Dan discovered through Intergroup that there was a weekly meeting not far from where he was stationed. He made his way there one evening to find a solitary man sitting in an empty room with a Big Book.
The man was glad to see him. "I haven't had anyone else come by in over four years," said the man. "I still come here every week, just in case someone like you shows up and needs to speak with another alcoholic."
Dan's military days are long behind him, but he knows that no matter where he is in the world, the hand of AA will always reach out to help him if and when he needs it.
4. Getting Through One Hour at a Time
Carol C. wanted to stop drinking, but she could not seem to put any time together. No matter how many inspired she felt by the alcohol recovery stories she heard, she still felt she was different.
How could all of those old timers understand her, when she could not seem to stop drinking for even a week?
One night Carol was standing on a street corner, weighing the choice of going to one of the many bars she used to frequent or going to a meeting in a church next door.
She wanted to get drunk so badly, but she could not stop thinking of Bill W's choice in the Big Book, when he tried to decide between going to the hotel bar or seeking out another alcoholic to talk to. that other alcoholic was Doctor Bob.
For a reason she didn't really understand, Carol decided to go to the meeting. She shared about her urge to go to the bars down the street and drink.
At the end of the meeting, the leader presented Carol with a 24-hour coin. "Just hold on to this," he said. "Just get through the next 24 hours, that's all you have to do."
Carol held on to that 24-hour coin and she didn't drink that day. She began to understand what AAs were talking about when they repeated the phrase, "One day at a time."
5. She Craved the Applause
Mary was an actress, and she was ordered to go to AA when she got her second DUI.
She didn't think she had anything in common with the people in AA. She didn't understand what anyone was talking about. Then she heard people clapping for the members who had reached certain milestones, like staying sober for 90 days.
I want them to clap for me, she thought. So she hung on for 30 days, then 60, then 90.
I want to celebrate a year, she decided after reaching 90 days.
Mary is now celebrating twenty years without a drink. She laughs at the memory of herself as a newcomer, craving the applause of the rooms. "But it kept me coming back", she says.
Now she urges her sponsees to celebrate their sobriety milestones. "When you receive your coin, even if it is for the applause, you are showing others that it works if you work it," she says.
Alcohol Recovery Stories: Inspiration to Keep Coming Back
The fellowship we find in AA meetings shows every alcoholic that they are not alone in the desire to stop drinking. By hearing each others' experiences, we learn that everyone has the capacity to recover if we are willing to be honest.
By celebrating each other's triumphs over alcohol one day at a time, we see how the program works for others, and gradually come to believe that it may work for us too.
For more information on the 12 steps and to order celebratory tokens for your group, contact us.