A more Casual Approach to AA

Why a more casual approach to AA can help!

Here is the latest podcast for www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovering.com . This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual approach than many to AA membership. He still takes recovery seriously but his life does not revolve around meetings which is something we both did in our early days.

I found having this discussion really interesting as Adrian has made good use of being in the fellowship, but is certainly not a Big Book thumper and takes a more common sense approach to recovery than some people.

We discuss why we feel AA helps people but also mention things that we feel are out of date. We talk about the literature and why that puts some people off going to AA and miss out on recovery. People like Adrian were the ones that actually helped me in my days in the rooms of AA rather than the Big Book thumpers and members of the cult type meetings.

It is important that people are not put off recovery by people who are over zealous about wanting to sponsor them, or by an old fashioned approach to issues such as taking antidepressants. Some meetings are great and have broad minded members, while others are really more like a religious group where there is more talk about God and Higher Powers, than actual recovery.

I think it is important in recovery to try and get some independence and not simply rely on a sponsor for every big decision in your life. I am not saying you should take chances with recovery but at the same time I think it is a good idea to try and live a normal life that does not revolve around having a fear of drinking.

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  1. Great podcast Adrian and Mike. Well done. Would be good to have more fireside chats like this. I like the casual approach. Great job. J

  2. Glad you liked it! I enjoyed it and perhaps just doing some general chats about recovery could be a good idea. I also think it is important to say that you can be part of AA without doing everything that is suggested, in fact that may be a better way.

  3. Wow. What a wonderful thing a casual approach would be. The social support without believing the party line!

    I just had a moment of clarity in an NA meeting last week. I realized I don’t believe that addiction is a DISEASE. I believe it’s a strongly held propensity, one I may never shake enough to risk messing around with chemicals again. Plus I am older now and see its boringness. I realized when a friend said that addiction was like diabetes or cancer that I had left that camp and should be aware of it for my own sake. I choose not to lie to myself about my opinions on the nature of addiction.

    I am tired of having to say that addiction is a disease in order to allow that 12 step approach (and many other approaches) can be very helpful. The 12 steps do not say addiction is a disease, in fact imply that one is accountable for one’s current predicament (powerlessness) and its extent (unmanageability), as well as for the hurt we have caused. I don’t apologize to friends if I knocked over their table when I had hypoglycemia, except maybe to be polite, but not because I harmed anyone.
    But the steps also are not the extent of what is useful for recovery… therapy! personal insight! kindness to self and others! these do not belong to AA.

    I am processing all this. Thank you for having a place to discuss a different perspective on recovery

    • Hi Tony,
      thanks for leaving a comment. I thinks the founders of AA certainly got some things right when they startted AA and I think that the support of a group of people in a similar situation has really helped people over the years. Unfortunately AA has not moved with the times and I feel many of the original ideas are out of date and are hoilding progress back. Some groups have taken on a really culty type approach which can do a lot of damage to people while others are more laid back and offer gentle support. I suppose it is up to the individual to decide what works for them. and some seem to like to continue going to AA long term even though they are not Big Book Thumpers or slogan spouters.
      I am not generally a fan of the disease model, but it does depend on how it is applied. I did read this book and found that its arguments were helpful https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/compass-pleasure/

  4. Hi from the states 25 years sober. I enjoy this casual approach . I always tell people new to the 12 steps that in my observation it is those that practice complete abstinence that do best……….I have seen lots of people make great pronouncements about working the steps but they don’t abstain and they don’t do very well

    It is important to remember that as Ernie Kurtz writes AA does not deal directly with alcoholism which is beyond it’s lay expertise but the impact upon the alcoholic.

    I also point out to people that most people don’t stop thru AA often it is threat of loss of job , family spouse etc..

    Lastly I will listen to any idea that might work. But once it or the idea becomes obviously critical of the 12 step approach I stop_ not because I think the 12 steps are the only way but because they are an obviously very useful way and as the AA tradition states as an organization they have no opinion on outside issues.

    • I think it good for newcomers to be told about a variety of meetings when they join. I initially went to some of the “cult type” meetings until I found something a bit more helpful.
      I still try to keep an open mind about all recovery methods just in case I need to use one, and also to tell people who are looking for help, what is available.

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