AA Evangelists [audio]

There is sometimes tension between people who go to AA and people who don't.

Me, i'm not fussy, if you're long-term sober, it doesn't matter what you're doing, so long as it's working. Meetings or no meetings.

But I got this email from Emsyface asking for more clarification: “​Can you could talk about the tension between people who attend AA, and other approaches to being sober. There’s always this unspoken tension between a family member and me because I don’t do AA, like I’m in disagreement or something.”

In this full-length podcast audio, I talk about how to have an open mind when considering being sober, how it feels to be sitting on this side of the microphone ... and even if you think this topic has NOTHING to do with you, you'll be glad you listened.

there's something in here for you.

​This is a brand ​​new podcast (episode 279) that is going out later this week ​to podcast subscribers.

​I'm posting a link to the entire audio, and I'll leave it up for 48 hrs so that you can listen right now. 

[ link removed ]

​Sober Podcast 279. ​AA Evangelists

​Links mentioned in the audio:

  • Micro-email sent out with the title "I wish I had gotten ​arrested" > link
  • Ranty Belle podcasts > link to part 1, link to part 2
  • Dry Drunk podcast > link
  • Original Art Page > link

You can ​​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. ​Have you been to AA? What part of it was helpful for you?

​Podcast subscribers will receive a copy of this audio #279 later this week.

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I find your emails a tremendously helpful
    I also am a member of One Year No Beer (OYNB) which is a warm and interactive and supportive forum
    I have read quite a number of books like ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ all of which are helpful
    I also go to an AA meeting once a week

    It is a womens only AA group. The range of people is incredible. Our chair last week was 27 and the lady next to me was 72. You can speak or not speak. I find the stories shared inspiring, but I also go to the meetings as someone who really does not want to drink any more
    Do I believe I have a disease? No. I just think I am a bad drinker who has no control over my drinking
    Do I believe that only a higher power will help me? No. I think one has to have the courage to help oneself
    I like the face to face comradeship of AA and it has helped me to get to day 66 sober, having never done that before. I like the group celebration of success of each milestone reached. I may not want to go the whole hog of 12 steps? Early days so the jury is still out

    Each to their own. I think one can take from each forum what you want. As long as it helps to stop drinking and stay sober- it is positive

  • BelayOn!
    Yes. Attended AA for over a year. Stayed sober for over two. Relapsed for many. The accountability and commarderie were helpful but there was too much “got to do it exactly one way” or you are going to fail. Too much like religious dogma and the you will burn in Hell if you don’t do this exactly the way we have done it. The pithy sayings drove me nuts. Felt like I was being asked to switch religions: the bottle religion for the Big Book religion. No thanks. I also do not believe I am powerless and there is some other being or power to stop my drinking. It is on me with help and tangible supports I do not believe I have a character flaw either. I have a drinking problem caused from drinking too muck alcohol. If AA works for someone that is great. Go for it. It just is not for me.

  • Yes AA, it was mandatory as part of the rehab I attended (12 days I made it before I left). I hated every minute of the 7 am and pm meetings- twice a day for 12 days…. that’s 24 times. The coffee was amazing as no caffeine was allowed in rehab… heh…I left cursing the AA “cult” and now I think of the people and the stories and the triumphs and failures and HUMANITY it painted upon wolfies beastlike face. I miss it actually. dislike a lot, Miss a lot. *shrug*

  • I find your emails a tremendous help, Belle. I also visit facebook groups, and read books like ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’.
    I also go to an AA meeting once a week.
    I am on Day 29 sober; and still finding what works for me. I do find AA somewhat old-fashioned, but there is a great feeling of fellowship. I havent found any sort of judgementalism either.

    I think the most helpful thing about AA, and your blog/emails, is that its all about NOT DRINKING. Whereas some of the facebook groups talk about ‘mindful drinking’ or cutting down, which I find triggering and unhelpful. I suppose in my heart of hearts I am hoping that after say 1 year sober, I will be able to drink again! Whereas you and AA make it very clear that THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE POSSIBLE

  • So true – actually I lost a good amount of weight through hypnosis – and many people asked me about it – and I have shared that mp3 file to over 100 people – absolutely not one of my friends or siblings did it – not one . For at least a year I was singing the praises of this hypnosis and weight loss – try it – try it – try it! People could see the results – I’m telling them THIS WORKED FOR ME! – nada. What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another… and what one person is willing to try (hypnosis, AA, blog, book…) may not be right for another person. Great perspective.

  • Did it for a year. Very structured approach from my sponsor and the group. Worked through step 6. When 3 meetings got too much, my sponsor let me go and suggested seeking a group that didn’t meet as much. I haven’t gone back but I read almost daily. I miss some of it but not the guilt and judgement if I missed a meeting.

  • No AA. Not sure if we have it in your country. But I wouldn’t go if there was a AA meeting. Feels to embarrassing and the thing that you have to define yourself as a alcoholic repulses me. It’s so negative. I don’t see myself as a alcoholic. Yes, I drank too much the last years and more and more the alcohol took control. Glad I found you!

  • I went to one AA meeting and hated it – too many people, too much anxiety.

    I also never thought I was an alcoholic, but I know I love to drink and I don’t quit until I’m buzzing. I dream of drinking. I am keeping my sober car on the road.

  • No AA. I don’t attend AA. Yes, I have attended about 25 meetings. I could never accept the label “alcoholic”. Everything about the program made me feel ashamed, depressed and worthless. Listening to the daily stories of bad drunken behaviour and sad relapses made me feel hopeless and destined to spend the rest of my life unhappy, regretful, guilty humiliated and fearful. When I refused to introduce myself as an alcoholic, some of the members responded that I needed to “get real” and stop pretending that I’m normal and not diseased…..AA made me feel isolated and different, as though I didn’t fit in with my family and friends anymore. There was no anonymity and the fact that members feel the need for so it only drives home the point that we should be embarrassed about our “character flaws”… we’re not normal people anymore. I felt like I was trapped in a sort of jail where I could never move on to a happy life and that thinking about drinking would never end. Going to AA was a very negative experience for me. I believe I felt like drinking more than ever after an AA meeting. AA felt like a life sentence during which I would never be free of my addiction. Thanks to you, Belle, I am long-term sober. I rely on you, Annie Grace, Holly Whitaker and many others who tend to suggest that the term alcoholic itself implies that it’s normal to consume an addictive substance and abnormal if one cannot manage it. I have learned so much from you and from other forward thinking people who have done so much work to help change attitudes regarding those who become dependent on alcohol. I didn’t mean for this to be an essay….sorry!
    Thanks, Belle.

    • Thank you Belle for presenting this topic! Such a touchy one in my opinion. Thank you so much Una, for expressing point by point, my exact feelings about AA. Your experience and your thoughts and responses to the AA culture could have been written by me! Yes, yes, yes to EVERYTHING you said!! It did feel like a jail, where we were all bad, and we had to beat ourselves up over and over for our “character flaws!” Yes, after leaving a meeting and hearing about drinking, and peoples’ horrible tales, I would always want to drink even more, and ultimately finally did. I managed to stay sober in AA for 2 1/2 years, while “working a rigorous program” (yes, sponsors, steps, constant meetings, ALL of it!) but the craving and desire and need to drink never left me, and I felt like I was doing time. Guilt, guilt, guilt and shame, shame, shame. Like you, Una, I am so grateful to have discovered other ways and other approaches, including Belle, Annie Grace, Holly Whitaker and Veronica Valli. I’ve been on this new recovery path for 4 months now, and it feels like a huge shift in me and a huge weight of guilt off my shoulders. I am finding my own way. Shedding old beliefs and finding more self love and self respect. Progress, not perfection. Yes, some of those old AA slogans do fit! 🙂

  • Oh my, I didn’t think I knew how to post online, but I figured it out!
    Being really old, this is all Greek to me.
    Never been to AA or even considered it…the concept and forum are so unacceptable to me.
    However, I did find this site that I found while reading The Unexpected Joys of Being Sober. I’ve been passionate about sobriety since reading the book and following this blog, website and the daily emails. Now 21 days sober and Belle’s right. I look and feel like a new person. My blood pressure and heart rate are normal now, I’ve lost 10 lbs with NO effort and sleep 100% better. Anxiety and depression are under control and mood swings have all but disappeared….this works for me & fits my personality and my self awareness.

  • I enjoyed listening to u and agree we should use all tools available. I was sober 5 weeks have been drinking last 2 weeks can’t get my head in right mood to stop ,can’t get the determination back but I really want to stop . I have downloaded a book on stopping I listen and read your emails and I’m going back to AA tomorrow night. Thankyou for doing Wat u do xx aaam

  • I have been to AA and gave it a solid try. It doesn’t work for me. I am generally averse to anything that says I have THE solution, the only solution, for drinking. We don’t have a scientific cure for alcoholism, that is the truth at the end of the day, we do the best we can. We find tools, work-arounds, anything that works and for different people different things will work. I know people in my family who had neither AA nor online support nor treats, they just quit. So, I know they want to do good, but really, they can’t know they have the only solution.
    A few things bothered me, very specifically: it was recommended to me by doctors, like a cure,again with no scientific base (while they refused to put me on medication like Antabuse, etc, because it would give me a false sense of security, I should rely only on AA); they are against any medication and don’t really recognise mental health issues (again, doctors refusing to believe I suffer from depression or prescribe anything, though I have been diagnosed since teenage years); they take it extremely literally, to the point of unhelpful (having someone to talk to, who understands, AA or not, can be very helpful, but all I used to get when I struggled was -read a paragraph from the book…that really was no help). This is my experience, maybe other people had different ones. But it made me have a very negative opinion, so there it is.

  • Yes aa

    Tried it. Three different meetings. An all women, and two mixed. All were clubby, long time members,
    Also, when anyone spoke, it had to be prefaced with ‘I am an alcoholic ‘. Distracting. I’ll be a year sober on December 27 thanks to you.
    If I get the bundle, please donate to someone new and in need