Sober without Alcoholics Anonymous

Submitted by on Thursday, March 30, 20068 Comments

Alcoholics Anonymous Symbol - Cirlce and Triangle - Unity, Service, and Recovery

Some people in A.A. would say that if you can get sober without A.A. then you must not be a real alcoholic. These same people would say that unless you join A.A., and you are a real alcoholic, then you will not get or stay sober. Others would say that if you don’t go to A.A. meetings x times a week, you’re bound to relapse, thus proving that one cannot stay sober without Alcoholics Anonymous. No matter how it’s sliced, these different opinions all point to A.A. being the final authority, the alpha and the omega on sobriety. This article is going to prove how the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, itself, refutes that idea.

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” [Copyright by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.; my emphasis]

This statement differentiates between the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Typically when we hear “I belong to A.A.” this would mean we go to meetings and consider ourselves part of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous is considered to be the explained and discussed text within the first 164 pages of the “Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous” where one would find, also, the 12 Steps.

Personally, after getting sober using the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, had I not taken a well needed break from the meetings of fellowship I was attending, I may have gotten drunk.

This break helped me to differentiate many things about Alcoholics Anonymous, primarily that the program of A.A. is very clear on the matter that A.A. has no monopoly on God or sobriety.

Page 45 in the Big Book when asked how do we find a Power greater than ourselves which will solve our problem answers, “Well that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.”

Now, if you can find a Power greater than yourself to enable you to stop drinking, the program of A.A. would seem to applaud that as it also says regarding this being the only way to get sober:

Referring to someone with a drinking problem who is being approached by an A.A. member, “If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us.” [Pg. 95, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous]

So getting back to why I feel with all of myself that I would have started back drinking again had I not had a break from the fellowship aspect of A.A.

“This is not to say that all alcoholics are honest and upright when not drinking. Of course this isn’t so […].” [Pg. 141, Big Book]

I could offer numerous to countless areas in the text of Alcoholics Anonymous where it is simply not so that the people in the fellowship have been endorsed by A.A. World Services to tell you you cannot get sober without A.A. You are the only one who can say you may have a drinking problem and you are the one ultimately responsible for it.

The program of A.A. has given me the opportunity to be reintroduced to my self. My self has reintroduced me to my life. As a result, I have an intuitive voice, today, that I can listen to or not. And when it tells me to back out of particularly sick meetings or it tells me to call someone, or it tells me to carry the message of recovery to all people regardless of their afflictions or spiritual ideals, I try to listen.

God, of my understanding, got me to A.A. and I got sober that way. This does not mean all paths are created equally; it just means that that was what worked for me. Here’s to sobriety and recovery in all flavors and an embracing of all paths leading to the same serenity. Namaste.



  • Harry A. said:

    I was happy to see another person blogging about the seperate entities of “the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. “. I’ve got my own journey of 16 in sobriety that I write about in my blog and that theme, or the lack of that knowledge as a theme, keeps popping up in my comments and emails etc.

    Anyway, I like your blog.
    Harry A.

  • trisha said:

    Terrific post! Thank you!

    I have been sober for eight years w/o AA. My father attended AA meetings religiously, and he literally drank himself to death. He was only 53.

  • Danny Schwarzhoff said:

    Chapter 4, which begins Step Two, is started with a revealing, and to some a disturbing statement.

    The statement tells me that by this point in my reading, the co-authors had hoped that I know the

    “distinction between the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic”?. (44:0)

    They have just spent THREE CHAPTERS trying to get me to understand alcoholism so that I can make this distinction.

    If I do not know the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic, and cannot make that distinction – then they have failed â – and I cannot honestly admit that I AM ONE – or that I AM NOT ONE. (Because I do not know what it is)

    “Probably alcoholic” and “may be suffering from an illness?” never qualified me as definitely alcoholic (fully conceded) and I had better not skimp on knowing what definitely makes me alcoholic because my life may well depend upon it. It took the preceding three chapters and full identification with the obsession and the allergy to do this.

    So am I going to make life-changing decisions on a full concession? Or am I going to make them based upon something I probably am – or because I may be suffering?

    I must think about that. I DO think about this, when working with others.

    It is just as important for me as a real alcoholic to discover that I do belong as it is for a non alcoholic to discover that he does NOT – for my own sake as well as his and the sake of the Fellowship itself.

    No matter how hard I tried to go on with this Program, no matter how well studied I thought I was, until I had fully adopted the co-authors definition (not my own) of a real alcoholic, I had not taken step one and could not take step two.

    If I think that I am an alcoholic because “Its Friday night and I showed up in a church basement” or “I drink too much” or “I have six DWIs” or (Here is a real gem)

    “No one gets here by accident”

    If I think that any of these qualify me for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous, then not only will I not be able to recover from a disease I may not even have, but I will not ever be able to help another real alcoholic recover because I will not have anything to offer by way of my own recovering.


    Danny S

  • samsara (author) said:


    If I think that any of these qualify me for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous, then not only will I not be able to recover from a disease I may not even have, but I will not ever be able to help another real alcoholic recover because I will not have anything to offer by way of my own recovering.

    I appreciate that phrasing. Yes the “No one gets here by accident” is a real knee-jerk for me too. I don’t believe in accidents in matters of spiritual fulfillment but even as Trisha said regarding her father’s passing after being a staunch AA member…and herself, sober 8 years w/o AA.

    I had no DWI’s so that disqualifies me right off from AA if that’s the criteria.

    Here’s why I am an alcoholic, in my own words and going to try hard to not sound like the Big Book or other members:

    I am an acloholic because I could not stop drinking and I tried. I am an alcoholic because although I have had no alcohol in my system for a few years, if I drank alcohol today I would start to NEED it again [setting up the craving] and I would be just as worse off as when before my last drink.

    Everyday I woke up ashamed and every day I would do it again anyway. I would use alcohol [or even sometimes just the thought of it] to make it through my life. The only thing that kept me functioning [as dysfunctional as it was to me now] was alcohol.

    I am allergic to alcohol. How do I know? Because one is too many and a thousand is never enough and I did do as the Big Book suggested. I did step over to the nearest bar and try some controlled drinking. It went so well the first two nights – that I was able to stop at three that I got right back to beer before noon and vodka tonics before 5:00pm. After succeffully not falling off the bar stools those first couple of nights I started back where I left off, but so much worse, and stayed drunk for about 32 days before going back to AA. After utilizing that last suggestion by the Big Book I haven’t questioned my being an alcoholic.

    Thanks for your good comments Danny.

  • Danny said:

    Cool. Your descripton come quite close to the AA description (The one in the Big Book – not whatever floats around) You mention that, “Some people in A.A. would say that if you can get sober without A.A. then you must not be a real alcoholic.”

    While it is true that some people say this, it is not true that this idea comes from the AA Big Book. What DOES come out of the Big Book is that if you can sober WITHOUT GOD. then you must not be a real alcoholic – “Our type”. You may a problem with alcohol and in need SOME kind of help – but unless you are “beyond human aid” you don’t need us!



    Danny S

  • Bob said:

    Some wonderful thoughts everyone. I am an alcoholic that has suffered many losses due to the mass consumption of alcohol. I attend many AA meetings. Some good, some not so good. AA is filled with alcoholics that have put their lives back together since they stopped drinking. I go to listen and learn how I can put mine back together. The part about helping others keeps me going. The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. The reward for stopping is learning how to help others and once and for all casting off my pursuit of self which has caused nothing good for me or anyone else. Thanks!

  • Timmy said:

    Now with you I don’t mind associating! A voice calm speaks out from beyond the superlative world of AA. I’ve gotten some good out of it for sure but now I feel like I am being sucked into a worm hole of piety. You said: “…particulary sick meetings…”-there are too many really bent people there.

  • samsara (author) said:

    Thanks Timmy! :)

    Great comment Danny and Bob too. You’re right Danny! The sick stuff floating around A.A. is NOT from the book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I think a lot of these cult-speak memes came from the evolution of “group therapy” so that when folks got out of rehab they shared the message from rehab in an A.A. meeting.

    No kidding. A couple of weeks ago a guy who had almost a year of A.A. and consequent sobriety said, “It says in the Big Book we’re not supposed to get involved with people our first year sober.”

    I said, “No it doesn’t.” He knew to defer to my wisdom so he got a puzzled look and said, “Really?” We spoke after the meeting and I expressed my theory on that one too. ‘More rehab and detox suggestions that have infiltrated ‘alleged’ A.A. suggestions.”

    Any of you guys seen 28 Days with Sandra Bullock…and the whole “Have a plant and keep it alive before you engage a relationship?” Yeah. Well. Again. She wasn’t in A.A. She was in rehab. :)

    Great thoughts from everybody.

    JUST remember, too… All it takes is one person in a meeting who knows the Traditions; One person in a meeting who knows the Big Book; Just ONE person can change the flavor of a meeting.

    Yeah it gets tiring when you actually go there for help and sickness abounds…so if you could find HEALTHY meetings to take from the bucket of and then go to these sick meetings and try to help them…

    Ot hell. Start a blog and bitch about everything wrong with the damn sick meetings. LOLOLOL…You’ll always find Google searches of people coming to your blog looking for remedies.


    Keep coming back!

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