Skip to content

Choices and Sponsorship.

11 October 2012

My men’s meeting last night was very good. Punctuated as usual with profanity and childish insults, we talked about the choices we have in sobriety. The speaker asked: “Why are you here? Why do we come back? What choices do we make in sobriety, and why?” All good questions. For me, they have some simple answers. I go there because I’m an alcoholic and I want to live a normal, healthy, productive life. I come back because I enjoy the camaraderie, the friendship, the connection, the wisdom, the male bonding. Choices is a bigger concept.

As an active alcoholic, I didn’t have any meaningful choices. No matter how much I wanted to, I could not stop or moderate my drinking. My thinking was deeply flawed. I have no control over how I drink when I drink. The few times I would stop after one or two drinks, I was miserable. The sensation is a bit like pain, but deep in bone and organ: longing and screaming. An agonizing appeal for more alcohol from every nerve. And so I did what I had to do to slake that thirst.

Today, I have choices. And each day, my most important choice is to refrain from returning to that misery. Now, that’s not so difficult a choice anymore. It’s not even a conscious choice the vast, vast majority of the time. I talked, when it was my turn, about having choices today, about not being just an alcohol-fueled automaton. And I spoke directly to two young men in the room, one with 30 days, and one with 60. I told them to get sponsors. Work the 12 steps. That’s what makes the difference between life and death for so many of us. And the difference between happy, productive lives of sobriety and miserable, angry, white-knuckle abstinence.

That kind of thing is not generally smiled upon in most AA meetings. You don’t talk directly to other people in the room. But this men’s meeting is a slightly different beast. It’s very old-school. We take each other’s sobriety personally. And so, when one of those young men approached me after the meeting and asked me to sponsor him, I said yes. I told him to call me every day, before 9pm, and then he did call me, that same night, before 9pm.

And we talked about step one, and what it means, and how he feels about it. We talked about his situation, and I told him a bit about how I drank. He’s clearly an angry young man. He’s been through this before, accrued 60 to 90 days of sobriety and then begun drinking again. But reaching out to get a sponsor is a good step, and a good sign. And I found a couple of interesting citations this morning which show that having a sponsor is associated with increased sobriety[1,2], though there remain problems with how the scientific community measures sobriety and remission in addiction.

So, it looks like I’ll be working with someone new. Hopefully, he’ll get it. We can work together to get his life back on track. He seems bright. But he makes some dumb decisions. Like watching the baseball game at a bar, when he’s 60 days sober. That’s pretty stupid. But he’s coming to meetings, and he’s taking positive steps. I hope I can help him. I hope he’s willing to do the work.


1) Witbrodt et al, Addiction. 2012 Feb;107(2):301-11.

2) Kingree et al, Addict Behav. 2011 Aug;36(8):882-5


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: