Mental Health,  Sobriety

8 Reasons Why I Got Sober WITHOUT AA

One of the first things that come to mind when you hear the word “alcoholic” is “Alcoholics Anonymous” (AA). And for good reason.

Many of its long-time members swear by it and its effectiveness, fully crediting the support group for their success.

But you know what? AA – as popular as it may be – is not the only way to tackle alcohol addiction.

Keep in mind I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with AA.

It’s an amazing resource for those who choose to use it, and I highly encourage anybody who wants to quit drinking to try it out first.

However, for those who don’t really vibe with it, it’s important to know that’s okay too.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sobriety, and that needs to be said.

Today I want to shed some light on my brief experience with the network and share 8 reasons why I chose to get sober WITHOUT AA.

*This post contains affiliate links

 

 

8 Reasons For Sobriety Without Meetings

how to make sense of excessive drinking

For full disclosure, it’s not like I tried super-hard to get sober WITH meetings. I went to a grand total of one meeting after a string of miserable hangovers in October of 2012, formed my opinion and that was that.

I’ve grown quite a bit as a person over the past several years. If I were just starting out I’d certainly give sobriety with AA meetings another shot.

I’m actually more  open to trying again if I absolutely have to. Just wanted to clarify with a bit of background.

Now that’s out of the way, here’s why I chose to get sober without meetings.

 

1. The Commute Added To My Stress

get sober without aa

Perhaps one of the biggest issues that contributed to my stress was commuting in Los Angeles.

The soul-crushing rat race of corporate life was already sucking the life out of me. But even though my job was only 15 miles away from home, I’d spend 3 hours driving in traffic each day commuting to and from work. Not fun.

Frankly I was always exhausted and never felt like I had enough time at home. As a home-body, this was a huge problem.

Now that I’ve quit my job, this would be less of an issue. But at the time adding yet another place to drive to after work just wasn’t in the cards for me.

 

2. The Demographic Was Alienating

sobriety recovery counseling

Keeping it real, I was the only person in the room enough like me, and that made me feel weird.

I was relatively young at the time – still in my 20’s, female and black. This group was full of much older white men and I felt horribly, horribly out of place.

During my first 100 days alcohol-free I reached out to other sober women online. Many of them say they LOVE their meetings and have met some of their best girl friends there.

Based on their experiences and glowing reviews, I now believe that I was just at the wrong meeting and had I kept going I’d have found something where I fit in a bit better.

Hindsight is 20/20 though.

 

3. It Was Depressing

sobriety sucks

I’ve said time and time again that for the most part I consider myself to be a happy enough girl. While I have my share of bad days and difficult times, I dislike dwelling on the negative.

I prefer an uplifting, upbeat approach to sobriety, and what I got was anything but.

The meeting I went to was depressing as all hell!

It consisted of people ruminating on some of the horrors of the past and reflecting on where they’d been, some of the mistakes they’d made and how awful things were.

Granted, I do understand to some degree, but still. I strongly prefer uplifting support and if I had my way, would want to talk more about strategy than how bad things can or could get.

Again, I think this may just be a function of being at the wrong meeting, but I didn’t know that at the time. I just know that I left feeling worse than when I’d arrived. No dice.

 

4. I Didn’t Identify As An Alcoholic At The Time

This one is a little tricky.

I felt SO WEIRD doing the “My name is Allie and I’m an alcoholic” thing. I didn’t really believe I was an alcoholic and never would have chosen that label – up until recently. Like, maybe a month or two ago, max.

There’s a bit of controversy in the sobersphere about donning the label of an “alcoholic”. Some say you need to own it. Some say it doesn’t matter. Either way, you need to be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at on your path and at that time I just wasn’t there.

I think being in that environment when I wasn’t even sure of myself or even willing to admit that I had a real problem was an automatic negative.

Maybe you don’t have to identify as an alcoholic to get sober with AA, but I don’t know… I also think you can’t be uncomfortable with the idea, either.

 

5. I’m SUPER Introverted

living sober sucks

This is the one thing that makes me feel I’d never really enjoy group meetings. I don’t really enjoy any groups all that much.

Honestly I don’t believe much needs to be said here.

To remedy this, I’ve found so much support online and have a bunch of online girlfriends who “get it” and know a few sober people on-on-one in real life, too. I think having any support system is good enough. It doesn’t have to be a support group or AA.

 

6. The “Powerless” Aspect Bugs Me

100 days sober challenge

One of the principles of AA (I think it’s even the first one) is to admit that you’re powerless over your addiction. This bugged me to no end, and still does.

Something I live by hardcore is that we DO have personal power and even saying “I’m powerless” over anything is so against who I am that I’m automatically repelled.

I was far more stubborn back then than I am now and would probably give a few different meetings a go if it was my last option or if I was faced with the possibility of relapse. But it would still be a struggle for me to get past that one.

 

7. I Secretly Hoped I Could Still Drink Again

advice to stop drinking

Okay, so keeping it real, I was totally white-knuckling it and hoped I could learn to moderate.

I just wasn’t ready to quit.

No support group aimed at quitting alcohol forever will work for you if you don’t really want to quit. Here, I was destined to fail.

Today I know full well that moderation is impossible for me.

Looking back, I’d have done better to seek out other resources aimed at people who want to reduce their alcohol intake. It would at least have been a bit more realistic.

 

8. I Was Comparing Myself To Others

iwndwyt meaning

What I’ve come to discover is a HUGE no-no now, I was majorly guilty of back then, and that’s comparing myself to others.

Everybody else in the room had faced severe consequences as a result of their alcohol abuse. From where I sat, I was nothing like them, meaning I was okay and didn’t really need help. Oh, how foolish of me.

I’d never say that or think that way today.

[bctt tweet=”Just because you haven’t hit rock-bottom doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem.” username=”soberalley”]

But for someone like me who felt all the things I’ve mentioned earlier on in this post, that put the icing on the cake, I think.

Here I was this younger, disillusioned, out-of-place girl with a pretty good mostly happy life and very little outward evidence of a problem, in a room with a bunch of really depressed older white men who had obviously been straight to hell and back. It was just too easy for me to go “welp… I’m nothing like them” and conclude that I didn’t need the help.

Sigh… yeah, I know.

 

Where I Stand Today — Still Sober Without AA

time to stop drinking

So, I’ve grown a ton over the years and see things differently.

My alcoholism got a lot worse before it got any better. Looking back, I do see all the signs and can finally admit that I am and will always be an alcoholic. But, I feel really proud that I was able to recover in a way that makes me happy and that truly resonates with me! I’m glad that I was able to get sober without AA.

I’ve said before in other posts that at this point I don’t think about sobriety or “not drinking” that much anymore. True, sometimes I do. Sometimes I wish I could “be normal” like everybody else. I’ll even admit that if I could drink moderately, I’d still be an occasional drinker. It is what it is.

So, I don’t know if going to a weekly meeting or multiple weekly meetings would be something I still want to do.

If I wasn’t a sobriety blogger, I don’t know that alcohol would really be on my mind that much. I like to believe I’d just be… living. But there’s no way of knowing.

That said, one of my strongest sobriety mottos is that you have to be willing to throw everything you have at quitting if you really want to quit.

 

That means if I hit a really rough patch, I have a few “break glass in case of emergency” options:

  • I have and will always maintain good health insurance that includes mental health care. I have a list of therapists in my area that I can choose from if I really need additional help.
  • I’ve located a weekly non-12-step meeting not far from home, SMART Recovery. I think the fact that it’s not AA makes me less cringey.
  • I’m STILL willing to give AA another go as a last resort.

My sobriety is so important to me that I’m willing to do just about anything to retain it. That’s how I know it’s real!

 

How Will YOU Quit Drinking?

Want to stop drinking but don't want to go to support groups or AA? I quit drinking on my own and here are 8 reasons why I chose to get sober without AA!

You know, I’m a huge advocate for being honest with yourself. You have to do what works for you – screw what anybody else says.

If you’ve come to a point where you know you have a problem with alcohol and want to quit, absolutely give AA a try!

I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s probably the most widespread group around, meaning if you look you’ll probably find a meeting wherever you live or work.

If you haven’t tried it yet you really don’t know if it’s for you or not. You should at least give it an initial try to see how you feel.

Beyond that, there are so many different ways to tackle it. You just have to take your personality and situation into consideration and do something that makes sense for you but DO SOMETHING. Take action.

Taking a month or 100 days sober is a good place to start.

It’s clean, simple, and gives you time to figure yourself out and make a longer-term plan. If you haven’t been to a meeting, going to one during this time will give you valuable insight as to whether it’s for you or not, and you can adjust accordingly.

 

***CLICK HERE FOR ONE YEAR SOBER UPDATE***

 

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6 Comments

  • Mary Dancer

    Allie, Thank you for sharing your experience. I also believe there are many paths to recovery BUT my HP led me to AA. I can’t ever say I ever tried or even wanted to get sober before a judge ordered me to attend meetings as part of probation. My first experience was similar to yours in some aspects. I was the only woman there in a meeting of old white men and I am a woman of color. It was a closed meeting and I had no idea what that meant. When they asked me if I knew what a closed meeting was I started trembling (I didn’t know if I wasn’t welcome because I was black, a woman or what) and replied, “No”. They said the meeting was for alcoholics only and in order to stay, I had to state that I had the desire not to drink that day. Well, I had already used my gas to get to the meeting and had that piece of paper that needed to be signed and I was willing to ‘say’ I had a desire not to drink…so I stayed. I’m so grateful that I did. There were 3 of those old men that had almost a hundred years of sobriety between them. By me being a newcomer they each took time and briefly told their stories. When I walked into that meeting, I would have bet my life that I had nothing in common with these people. I believe that that day my HP gave me listening ears and I didn’t focus on the differences but the similarities. The situations weren’t the same but how they drank, how they thought and how they felt, I could relate to. For a fleeting moment the thought went through my mind, “Maybe I can stop drinking.” Before that day, that thought had NEVER occured, I call it my first glimpse of HOPE. That’s been almost 11 years ago and I haven’t had a drink or any other mood-altering substance since. It hasn’t been easy and for the first 3 years, although I loved the fellowship of AA, I wasn’t sold on the program. So I was sober BUT still miserable. I finally decided to give the process a chance and I’m grateful to have found the freedom, peace and joy I had searched for all my life. Just my experience. I don’t advocate AA for everyone but I do encourage others to find some sort of support system, it’s so much easier to know that you are not alone. Love and light to you, my friend.

  • Allie

    Mary,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your story is so inspirational and I’m glad you’ve chosen to write this comment. I guess feeling out of place doesn’t always mean you really are out of place. I know I had a lot of growing to do back then. Still do!

    If I ever find myself in another similar situation I’d choose to be more open-minded. Key word is “choose”. We always have choices. We live, we learn.

    Love and light to you too!

  • Amber

    Coming across this totally made my day!!! Many years ago, just going to a meeting and remaining abstinent did work for many. But not me. I am an addict in recovery for the last 5 years and I was very against meetings. Sure I went to them, had a great home group but what turned me off was if you didn’t live by it then you couldnt be apart of it. Then I was actually forced to say I was also an alcoholic. When alcohol was never ever an issue for me. I think the meetings are a wonderful addition to someone’s parking in recovery…. But it shouldnt be the only thing in today’s world. Thank you for sharing the experience you had and know that you are not alone in how you feel personally towards it.

  • Allie

    Wow Amber thanks so much for sharing your story! Yeah it’s weird because even in the most supportive communities the first thing people say is “go to a meeting” like that’s *all* there is. It was a little scary coming out and saying I don’t like meetings because it’s pushed so *strong*, but it’s just… really not for everybody and that needs to be OK. I like hearing that you went a bit longer than I did, and still found it to not be your thing. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t like it just because I didn’t give it enough of a try. But either way — if you don’t like something it probably won’t work for you and I believe, for all of us, there IS something we CAN vibe with and it’s our job to go find that thing.

    Thanks again so much for your comment — much love to you! <3

  • Amy

    Congrats on your sobriety!! I’m just passing the 4 month clean mark and I have to say I agree with you on going to meetings!! I work full time, have two kids, and barely have time to think some days. When I got out of inpatient detox, they stressed going to 90 meetings in 90 days, and almost made me feel like I was going to fail if I didn’t. Even in my treatment facility I felt incredibly awkward. Everyone was facing jail time, convictions, had prior DUIs, etc, and I didn’t have any of that!! Walking in to a meeting was incredibly awkward. I built a strong support system, attend a weekly group meeting and see a counselor once, sometimes twice a month. It works for me!! I think it’s up to each individual to find what works best for them.
    Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • Allie

    That’s amazing, Amy! Good to hear you found something that works for you! Yeah 90 meetings in 90 days with career, traffic, kids, spouse and other requirements just sounds crazy to me — but to each his or her own. How did you build your support system, if you don’t mind me asking?

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