The “ISM” of Alcoholism
When I came into the rooms of AA seven years ago this month, I was desperate to quit drinking. I had reached bottom, and was willing to do whatever it took to remain sober. I was instructed to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, introduce myself as a newcomer each day (which got really old, especially around day 78 or so), call my sponsor daily. I did this gladly, because AA gave me the hope I could indeed escape the madness. I saw women just like me who no longer felt compelled to drink, who walked through life with grace and dignity. I wanted that freedom and that courage, too.
Little by little, step by step, my life began to get better. I regained my physical health. I worked through the steps and made amends to friends and family, regaining the trust and affection I had lost. Life was just better sober.
However, when alcohol was no longer an issue, I began to notice I could obsess in other ways. Whether it was ice cream or potato chips or not eating at all or too much exercise or computer games until 3 a.m. or shopping for stuff I didn’t need with money I didn’t have, I could use other substances to change the way I feel.
After all, if you take the ALCOHOL out of ALCOHOLISM, you are left with ISM. I was told in the rooms of AA that stands for: It’s still me.
So in the past few years I have come to realize I need spiritual fitness to keep my life serene and balanced in all ways. I need meetings and the energy of my sisters in AA. And I need to be always vigilant about the fact I am an addict at heart.
I recently had a nasty equestrian accident which resulted in 5 days in the hospital and lots of narcotics. Now, I never have been a drug person. But I have heard enough stories in the rooms of AA to know that cross-addiction is a real possibility for me. So I asked the doctors not to send me home with any prescriptions, preferring to treat the pain with ibuprofen. I wasn’t willing to risk another dance with the 800 lb gorilla of addiction. If I hadn’t been close to my Home Group and part of this group and firmly committed to the program of AA, the story could have had a tragic ending.