I brace myself, as I type, for some negative feedback as I don’t expect this to be a universally popular post.
Here’s the thing, and it shouldn’t be controversial, but it turns out that different people have different routes to sobriety, and what suits one person might not necessarily suit the next guy.
Reading back over that, it seems pretty obvious, but speak up in an AA meeting to tell them that while you meet the qualifying criteria of having ‘a desire to stop drinking’ you are doing it by continuing to drink while following The Sinclair Method, or post in a TSM forum about what you’ve learned in a meeting while you’re moving toward extinction using TSM, and you discover that this can be pretty inflammatory talk.
As I posted before, after two years of tapering off using TSM while my life was fairly stable, toward the end of last year things went quite dramatically wrong for me, leading to brief but spectacular relapse.
I decided at that point that while TSM was definitely curing my drinking, as long as my mental health was in a precarious state, and my personal life was in turmoil, it would be the wisest thing for me to go for total abstinence for a while.
I’ve not had a drink since November, and, thanks to TSM I haven’t had any cravings. I think I was far enough along that journey to not miss it - possibly at extinction without even realising. But the move from moderate, social TSM-drinking, to not drinking at all, while not a physical issue, did bring some psychological and emotional changes.
So, with some trepidation, and not inconsiderable wariness I took myself to my first AA meeting. I still don’t think AA would have got me off alcohol - I am too resistant to too much of it’s message and modus operandi - but for this phase it has had some benefits.
I’m not going to bash AA. There is no shortage of that elsewhere if you want to read it, and while I am mindful of it’s many dangers, and wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it to anyone I felt was at all vulnerable, it has helped me.
I don’t like the concept of powerlessness, I reject the idea of ‘defects of character’, I loathe the pride people take in the fact that they no longer think for themselves, and I recoil at almost every reading from the Big Book. But some of the people are alright. We have found different solutions, but they started out with the same problem, and they understand it.
One of the great benefits of The Sinclair Method is that you take the pill and sort yourself out. There is no need for meetings, and confessional outpourings, and picking over the detritus of your problem with alcohol. You just take the pill, drink, repeat, and get better.
But that independence can bring a special kind of loneliness, and if you can find the right couple of people in those rooms they can be a great support.
There are a few other things I’ve learned that have helped. Things I was experiencing along the TSM journey, but either didn’t recognise or understand:
- An AA truism: The best thing about stopping drinking as that you get your emotions back, but the worst thing about stopping drinking as that you get your emotions back. I wish someone had warned me about this to me two years earlier!
- When you stop drinking after over 20 years of daily drinking you don’t know who the sober you is any more. Boy is this true! I genuinely can’t remember what I like, what my aspirations were. Sometimes I feel like half a person.
- The only thing to do, in any situation, is the next right thing to do. Don’t take on everything, don’t be intimidated by the scale of anything, just put one foot in front of the other and deal with the next thing to do.
- If you stay on the fringes, and guard what you tell people, you can get the support and take what you need from AA, without necessarily sigining up to stepwork and sponsorship, or joining the cult.
- As with any other group, if you can get past the evangelicals, and exercise some resonsable judgement and caution, there are some good and caring people there.
- A community of people trying to achieve the same thing really can make it easier for every individual involved.
So my advice? If you’re using TSM for your physical issues, but need some more human support, try a meeting. If you go to meetings, and value any aspect of it, but you’re still struggling with white-knuckling and cravings, keep taking what you need, but try TSM for the physical aspects.
Mix and match… take your pick… and remember, Options Save Lives.