AA – Real Members’ Stories

Throughout 2020, each month, the Costa Blanca People features a real life story from real people about what it is like to suffer from Alcholism, what they did to overcome their addiction with alcoholic, and how they lead their lives today on their road of recovery.

What is AA? Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

There are no dues or fees for AA membership, it is self supporting through its members’ own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution, does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

An AA Member’s Story…
I was fortunate enough to have an extremely stable and secure upbringing, but as I progressed through high school, I never felt like I fitted in. I always felt inferior to others and suffered with low self esteem.
At 15, I first tasted alcohol and it instantly gave me the confidence that I was lacking. It made me feel outgoing and confident; at last I had a solution to my feelings of insecurity. Any negative feelings I had, I would self medicate with alcohol to escape reality.
I started drinking every weekend, alcohol soon becoming a huge part of my life. One thing for certain was that once I had that first drink, I was unable to stop. I would drink into oblivion.
As I got older, a lot of my friends started to settle down and drink less but I didn’t, in fact my drinking became more and more frequent, and due to my inability to have just 1 or 2 drinks, I was eventually drinking into blackout on a daily basis.
At the age of 21, I remember writing in my diary that I had a problem with alcohol but I didn’t know how to stop drinking so I buried my head in the sand and continued my life in complete denial, pretending to others that I was just having some fun.
When I lost my driving licence due to drink driving, I thought this would be enough to make me stop drinking but I just continued to drink more and more, burying my head in the sand as usual.
All of my partners were heavy drinkers enabling me to continue to drink heavily.
As I progressed through life, my drinking also progressed until I was drinking to blackout every single day. If on the rare occasion, I did refrain from alcohol, I would be dripping with sweat unable to sleep so alcohol was the easiest solution.
When I awoke in the morning after a blackout, I could not remember what I had said or done and relied on my phone to fill in the blanks. I would have overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment, not wanting to face people from the previous day in case I had upset or offended them. My self esteem was at an all time low after constantly humiliating myself and my anxiety levels were through the roof, relying on anti anxiety tablets just to get me through the day. I had constant pins and needles in my hands and feet due to alcoholic neuropathy, along with widespread pain throughout my body due to stress and anxiety.
My life was completely unmanageable.
When I started a new relationship with a man, it didn’t take long for him to notice that I had a problem with alcohol. He would try to stop me drinking alcohol so I would hide it to enable me to drink it in secret. This is when I knew my problem was getting out of hand and I needed help.
My parents were enlightened to the severity of my problem and together we drew up a plan.
I was to see a psychiatrist who prescribed me some alcohol withdrawal pills, who advised me to attend AA meetings.
After a lot of persuasion, I attended my first AA meeting. I didn’t need to be nervous as everybody was so welcoming and instantly made me feel at ease. As I listened to people telling their stories, I could identify with them and I knew instantly that I was in the right place.
I soon started attending a meeting most days and building friendships with likeminded people all trying to achieve the same goal of sobriety. I finally felt like I belonged and a weight was lifted off my shoulders. The support was immense and before long, I had a close group of friends who I could share my feelings, doubts, fears and anxieties with who understood me because they were living with the same disease.
My self esteem started to increase as I entered sobriety, no longer waking up terrified of what I had said or done the night before. I started to feel proud of myself rather than ashamed and could walk with my head held high.
I got a sponsor and started to work the 12 step program in AA. Initially, I was put off by the word ‘God’ but once it was explained that God is not a religious god, it is a god of your understanding, I realised that the 12 step program was in fact a spiritual program rather than a religious program.
The steps have taught me a new way of life, changing the way that I deal with stressful situations without the need for alcohol. I now accept the things that I cannot change and understand that alcohol never solves a problem; it will just make the problem worse.
I am now 15 months sober and I have my life back. Now that I am pain free with no pins and needles, I am playing sports again which were impossible whilst drinking.
I no longer wake up with feelings of dread, shame and embarrassment and more importantly I have a relationship back with my family of which I am very grateful.
The people I have met in AA are true friends for life rather than ‘drinking buddies’ who, looking back didn’t care for me at all.
I now spend my time going to AA meetings, meeting friends for walks or coffee, meditation and being grateful for living.
When I was drinking, I could not imagine a life without alcohol. If I can stop drinking, so can you!

Elizabeth, Torrevieja Spain