I have been getting a lot of questions about AA and NA. Yes, I have been to both. There is really nothing I haven’t tried to get off of drugs. Well besides going to South America to have a Shaman lead me through a cleanse. I did go to Florida for rehab in 2012/2013 but there was no cleanse. I did try AA and NA though, and I actually did 90 meetings in 90 days, and then did it again. Yep, you read that right, 180 meetings in 180 days and sometimes I would go to two meetings in a day if my buddy from the halfway house would go to one after I already went. Florida was the recovery capital of the world so some of the meetings we would go to would be over 100 people. I did get some good things out of the meetings and I really did enjoy a good speaker meeting. Go figure.
That initial time period where I really tried to do the NA program, I had 5 different sponsors and I had only about four months clean so I thought two years was long enough for my sponsor to be clean, well I had 4 relapse and the fifth went back to prison for relapsing. Needless to say it kind of tarnished my initial view of the meetings, and I eventually did relapse also because I wasn’t working any type of program. Can you believe even after all those meetings and all those sponsors, I kept trying, I was called a failure recently because of all the times I went to rehab, I call it resilient. I came back to Wisconsin at the end of 2013 and I had to turn myself into jail again. So I tried AA again in jail and I never minded the actual group part, but even in a jail AA meeting I would meet someone that I would eventually use drugs with.
Besides meeting people in the meetings that I would use with, I would go to meetings high, I didn’t like the 12 steps, and the way they told me it would be the only way I would ever get clean. I just felt that the meetings could be worthwhile if I was able to get some healthy tools from it and just leave what I didn’t think I could use in my own recovery. Meeting people at the meetings that I would use with, that was my fault. I really should never have been at meetings if i’m high and we are all so vulnerable that it just was a perfect storm to relapse. I started out 74 days in the rehab clean and then I remember getting 120 days and celebrating with my sober house roommate. Most of the 180 meetings I went to I was high, but I was still going and still trying and still wanted a better life. I was just so sick. I knew going into the meetings that people got clean from drugs and alcohol in ways other than the meetings so when they said it was the only way, I just didn’t believe it. I think the steps are great, and the sponsor is great, and going to as many meetings as you can is great; if it works for you. Do what works for you. I just had to try so many things, so many times, and pretty much use some of what I learned every step of the way to finally get it.
Most of the issues people have with the AA/NA meetings is the use of the word god, or higher power. Some people are not religious at all and it makes it very hard for them to use that to help them in their recovery. I didn’t grow up religious and I have since become more Buddhist then anything even though I don’t practice and I don’t believe everything, but I never was able to ask god to get me clean. I knew god had nothing to do with me using, and he wouldn’t have anything to do with me getting clean. I think it is great when people have a strong faith and they can use god as strength and ask him for advice. It’s like always having someone there, I think that would be awesome. I had no one there, and I never had god either so I was super along. Imagine that. I think it is so great if the using your higher power to pull you out of your addiction works and you are able to stay clean for yourself, and your family. I don’t want to have people turned away because we have different religious beliefs. Everyone has different beliefs, and this is just how I was raised.
In the meetings I would notice people who really would be over the top, or at least I thought, it seemed like they were addicted to their recovery, it was all they did and all they talked about. That is really good at first, but a person needs more interests than just their recovery. It is important to have a balance of other things you enjoy doing and people outside of recovery that you are able to connect with, as long as they don’t jeopardize your sobriety. I do know there are a lot of people that if they work a full program they end up getting it, and staying sober. The camaraderie that is at the meetings is really powerful and people are able to stay clean.
People hear that first part of the story and think we’ll you didn’t try the program fully, I actually did have 2 sponsors after Florida, the first sponsor got me through all the steps but I had started using right away anyway and then my sponsor started to use with me. The second guy I got to step four and he relapsed and ended up in prison. Luckily, after all of that, I still didn’t give up. There are really so many ways a person can get clean, from cold turkey, to locking themselves in a room for a year. I recommend some kind of therapy, and reconnecting with yourself, people you love, and the things that you love that are healthy.
But really, please just do what works for you. Keep trying and if you keep having trouble, try something new, or try it again. I honestly went to rehab or some version of, about 40 times. I never stopped trying, and I never gave up on my own life. Everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you, or it might, or you may have a variation of a bunch of different programs in yours. No matter what you do, just keep pushing forward, never give up, and stay alive.