Thank You, Dr. Paul
She found direction and strength in the words of another alcoholic
I attended my very first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when I was just 19 years old. My friend, who was only 19 herself, took me to a meeting in San Juan Capistrano, California. I didn’t know when I walked into the meeting that it was led by Dr. Paul, writer of the Big Book story, “Acceptance Was the Answer,” formerly titled “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict.”
At that meeting, I was extremely nervous and did not yet believe I was an alcoholic. I thought that I just had a drug problem, which I tried to explain to the group. After the meeting, Dr. Paul came up to me, handed me a Big Book and said, “Why don’t you read, ‘Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict,’ and come back next week?” I thought, Who is this guy? I don’t even drink that much.
However, the truth was that when I wasn’t doing drugs, I drank. If I had one beer, I would drink it really fast to get the effect. When I drank, I also did drugs. I realized that alcohol always caused me to get into trouble. Therefore it was a problem, even though I liked the effect alcohol gave me, just like drugs.
So I returned the next week. I told Dr. Paul that I believed I was an alcoholic. He welcomed me to the group and told me to keep coming back. He never told me who he was. After that meeting, my friend told me who Dr. Paul was. We attended the meeting for the next few months.
By the time I was 26, I had been sober for a while. I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis and the doctor gave me a prescription for painkillers. I became addicted for several months. Once again I found myself going back to Dr. Paul’s story. In it he writes, “Today I feel I have used up my right to chemical peace of mind.” Even though I hadn’t had a drink in many years, I had abused a chemical. So I felt I needed to restart my recovery date. I am now coming up on two years sober, God willing.
I like where Dr. Paul states in his story, “I can’t say, ‘Thy will be done,’ and take a pill. I can’t say, ‘I’m powerless over alcohol, but solid alcohol is OK.’ I can’t say, ‘God could restore me to sanity, but until he does, I’ll control myself—with pills.’ Giving up alcohol alone was not enough for me; I’ve had to give up all mood- and mind-affecting chemicals in order to stay sober and comfortable.”
For myself, coming into this program at such a young age, it was hard to understand this. I was always looking for the easier, softer way. But the only way to make it in this program for a woman like me is to have a sponsor, study the Big Book, go to meetings, pray and work with other alcoholics.
Being of service is so important to me. Service always gets me out of self-pity. I also do a gratitude list each and every day. If I’m having a down day, then I pick up the phone and reach out to someone else and ask them how they are doing. I do not talk about myself; I just listen to them. This works every time. Thank you AA for my sobriety. And thank you Dr. Paul for what you taught me in so few words.
Yankton, South Dakota, USA
Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. (September, 2017). Reprinted with permission.