Like many before me, I used to be a regular 12-Stepper. But instead of attending AA meetings out in the “free world,” my experience was a little different: I went to mine while in prison.
AA on the Inside
For 18 months, I attended a meeting every evening, trying to learn as much as I could from this program before my release. And while there were some positive things I picked up from my time in AA, there were some things that I didn’t care too much for.
Here’s a look at a few things that really ruffled my feathers:
- The Over-Generalizations
True, I was in prison, and the audience members weren’t your typical crowd. After all, we were – to put it plainly – convicted felons, and some of our outside speakers treated us as such. One particular evening, an outside guest made the comment that he believed us to have all shot up heroin and cocaine in the past, using alcohol as a “gateway drug” to get there. I’m not sure if he thought this because we were prisoners or because he was trying to justify his own use, but either way I was offended.
- The Bad Advice
I heard plenty of this in my time at AA. Whether it related to relationships, finances or spirituality, there was always someone in the crowd giving out advice that was either unsolicited or just dead wrong. It was always annoying to sit through, but it taught me the importance of the saying “consider the source.” Often times, these advice-givers didn’t know the person they were directing their comments to and weren’t practicing what they were preaching themselves.
- The Negativity
Often our meetings turned into a couple of people venting or complaining – in reality, they were just looking to unload their feelings of negativity onto the entire room. After an hour of this, I left feeling worse about myself and about my outlook on life. I became resentful that I had wasted an hour when I could’ve been doing something productive, such as reading or running.
Often our meetings turned into a couple of people venting or complaining – they were just looking to unload their feelings of negativity onto the entire room.
The Big Picture
Just because AA didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. We’re all different and so are our paths to sobriety.
Speaking for myself, I just happened to find something that was a bit more useful in maintaining my sobriety. And at the end of the day, that’s what recovery is all about: Finding and embracing what works for you and sticking with it.
Additional Reading: Wolves in the AA Circle: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?
Image Source: iStock