Thursday, October 20, 2016


If your message to another recovering addict is "You're doing it all wrong," then . . . uh, well, . . . you're doing it all wrong.

In rehab this drug addict got in touch with that aspect of his disease first. Later, after learning what is "a drug" and what is "addiction," he took another look at his history with alcohol and began identifying himself at meetings as "I'm Skippy, I'm a drug addict and alcoholic."

Where he went to rehab, the AA meetings were quite ecumenical. Addiction is addiction, a drug is a drug, and the important thing is that the recovering addict is recovering one day at a time.

So the addict went home a thousand miles away, and went to a local AA meeting. When the introductions went around, he once more identified himself as "I'm Skippy and I'm a drug addict and alcoholic."

Several of those in the meeting made it very clear that there was to be no mention of "drugs" in that meeting, and they took up the majority of the meeting talking about the only things they were allowed to talk about at that meeting. "The only thing I heard at that meeting," said Skippy to his sponsor, "is 'you're doing it all wrong and you don't belong here'."

That message has chased more than one recovering person clean out of Twelve Step recovery. When a newcomer to our meetings comes in and doesn't do things exactly the way we do them, we don't correct them in front of everyone or tell them to go and try some other kind of program. We say "Welcome." If they hang around long enough, they pick up on our customs, which is secondary. Most important is that they stick around; They keep coming back.

So take a look at the message you are sending to the newcomer. What message are others in meetings sending to you? The only way this works is if we are all in this together.   

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