It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives had become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?
For anyone who doesn’t follow my details, I was 16, almost 17, when I went to my first AA meeting. I called AA on my own, because I knew I was in trouble. I achieved lasting sobriety when I was 21, almost 22. For years, I was almost always the youngest person in the room at meetings. At times, it was hard to relate, for sure. I hadn’t yet acquired a family, a car, or a job to lose. But I was more than a potential alcoholic. I was quickly, after I first started drinking, the real, full-blown thing. That doesn’t happen to everyone. It happens to hardly anyone. But it happened to me, and I’m grateful.
Back then, I knew on some level that I was an alcoholic. I had a very shallow understanding of alcoholism, but my father had died very young from it, so I knew there was that. I knew that I quickly broke the rules I had set up to, for example, never drive drunk. I didn’t know then that the very setting of rules proves the alcoholism. Normal drinkers don’t do that. And I wouldn’t have lasted another ten or fifteen years, not at the rate I was going.
That’s just my experience. It doesn’t match the experience of most people in the rooms, but it does match some. One of the wonderful things about AA. My life became quickly unmanageable, and when I say I’m grateful, it’s because I’ve gotten to spend so very many years sober in AA.