Why go to AA if you’re not an alcoholic?

The people close to be believe that I don’t have an alcohol problem.  I went through counseling, and the mental health counselor with whom I met 5 times believes that I don’t have an alcohol problem.  I myself don’t believe I have an alcohol dependency or problem.  I gave up alcohol over 100 days ago and haven’t looked back, with no side effects.  All of which leads to the question that you may ask yourself: why go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings if you don’t have an alcohol dependency and have no trouble stopping?

Well, the answer is pretty simple — if you have been affected by an alcohol related incident, you can use AA in your life.  AA is more than just about giving up alcohol.  The message of AA is a message of hope.  It’s a message of how, even if you don’t have an alcohol dependency, you can live a meaningful and sober life.  And then there is the message, achieved through the Twelve Steps, about living a good life overall.

When you get beyond the first three steps, the AA program is all about living life as a decent human being.  Example: the fourth step is about making a moral inventory of your character defects, fears and resentments.  This has nothing to do with alcohol directly.  For some people, the fears, resentments and character defects lead to alcoholism.  But in my opinion there is not a single person on this planet that does not have fears, resentments or character defects.  So then, through the fourth step, you make an inventory of them and try to cure these defects using steps 5 through 10.  So seven of the 12 steps are all about continually looking at your shortcomings and defects and working on them.  They pertain to beyond just alcohol.  And what’s the result even if you don’t have an alcohol problem?  You become a better individual who is aware of his shortcomings, and who works towards fixing these shortcomings on the daily basis.

The twelfth step itself is beautiful, too.  It’s about carrying the message forward.  So you learn about your defects, you try to address them, and then you try to help others.  Is there a more meaningful way of living?  It would be hard to find.

So – despite not having an alcohol problem, I continue to go to AA meetings and working through the AA steps with my sponsor for a simple reason that I believe I can become a better, more well-rounded individual through the program.

Now you may be wondering, how in the world can you go to AA meetings if I am not an alcoholic?  Don’t they check?  No.  In fact, the AA format is pretty interesting.  There are “closed” meetings that are limited to people that suffer from the unfortunate alcohol dependency.  But vast majority of meetings are open meetings — these are open to both alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike!  In fact, even for the closed meetings, the only requirement, like the AA program, is a “desire to stop drinking.”  You don’t have to be a certified alcoholic to desire to stop drinking.

I’ve been going to AA meetings and working with my sponsor for just over 2 months now.  It’s not a long time to be in the program.  But each day I learn something new, and most often, the lesson has nothing to do with alcoholism.  It’s a life lesson that anyone can benefit from.  I’ve met people in the program who have been in it for over 4 decades.  They keep coming back not because they want to stop drinking — they did that over 40 years ago — but they keep coming back because they want to learn these life lessons, continually take inventory, address defects, and keep becoming a better person.

I believe, therefore, that AA is something anyone can use in their life, and it is a shame that it took a DUI for me to go to a meeting.  The regret for drinking and driving never goes away.  But I think with a program like AA, you can learn to become a better person, a person who never repeats his mistake again.

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