Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Stigma

Stigma Deters

The American Journal of Epidemiology released a study recently that showed that two thirds of problem drinkers do not seek professional help because of the fear of stigma. I can personally attest to this.  When I got sober I clung to something a friend had said; that she never went to AA because she didn't want "the stigma."  I was sure she was right, although I also just wanted to hide from my situation.  It makes me angry now that I think about it, at her and at myself. I needed help and didn't get it because I was afraid, and had no one to guide me. I told no one about my new sobriety except Tom. I should have gone to rehab, and I should have gone to meetings, but I cowered in fear in my house.  I didn't drink, but I didn't change either.  The only difference was that I no longer had my crutch to use in coping with life.

I'm incredibly blessed that three years later a dear friend, who was also sober, invited me to attend an AA meeting with her. God had been working in my heart about this, and I was opening up to the idea of getting help.  I felt safe with her, and agreed to go. It was right near my third anniversary, and they gave me a three year coin.  I treasure that coin, because it signifies the true beginning of my new life in sobriety.  I began doing the steps, got a sponsor and started to heal. I examined my own heart, and made a list of the people I had harmed.  I prayed, I cried, I changed.  I made amends where I could, and made a fresh start into a new world.  I began to feel free. FREE.

I get very frustrated when I hear people talk about the 'success rate of AA'. To me it's like talking about the 'success rate of diet & exercise'.  If people do 100% of what they should do in either of these paths, they will succeed.  The failure isn't in the program but in the person.  Whatever people on the 'outside' may have to say about AA, the truth is that you don't know it if you haven't lived it.  If you have never walked this road with us, then please keep your negative opinions about AA to yourself. You can't begin to imagine how AA saved my life.  God used it to show me again and again how I needed to change, how I needed to let Him lead me. God used the people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous to save my life.


Beacon2Light said...

I love the men and women of the AA group that meets in our church. When we relocate, they are relocation with me. One woman came back into the building just this past Tuesday. She forgot her coat and I was checking on everything. She admitted that she was sad and that Christmas was difficult. I didn't know what to say so I said something like, "I hope you feel better." And "Merry Christmas." I thought I could've done better. I'm lousy off the cuff like that. May God give her a sense of how I longed to see her enjoy this Christmas and the real reason for the season/celebration. So many in AA have broken relationships that can't be mended by the holidays. It's sad to think of especially when they are on the road to recovery.

Shay said...

The nice thing is that she can go to the 12 Keys on Christmas, there are meetings there all day, and food and fellowship too. She probably is aware of that, but that gives you something to say if you're in that situation again. It's on 413 and they always do marathon meetings for the holidays. :)

KateO said...

So glad that you finally decided to go and get help. I remember yo telling me about the stigma thing...I'm sure it effects lots of people the same way.

Beacon2Light said...

Thanks. Merry Christmas to you and yours.