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Monday, August 31, 2009

My Name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic

I would like to share with you my thoughts about a Blog post that Roger Ebert did a few days ago that I found to be quite intriguing and informative. It's not every day that people in the spotlight decide to discuss their struggles with Alcoholism and their journey towards recovery outside of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Roger Ebert has not had a drink in 30 years and thought that perhaps sharing a little bit of his experience without going into a full on "Drunkalog" might help some body work towards starting their own journey towards recovery. As Ebert says: "You may be wondering, in fact, why I'm violating the A.A. policy of anonymity and outing myself. A.A. is anonymous not because of shame but because of prudence; people who go public with their newly-found sobriety have an alarming tendency to relapse". Ebert conservatively opens the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous to the outside world and gives people a glimpse of what it is about and how it might be able to help. I believe that he very carefully goes about his post in order to not break the principles set forth by A.A.

Let's face it, there is a lot of social stigmas regarding A.A. and many people refer to it as a religion or a cult. Roger Ebert attempts to clear up some of those ideas regarding the program, "A "cult?" How can that be, when it's free, nobody profits and nobody is in charge? A.A. is an oral tradition reaching back to that first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob in the lobby of an Akron hotel. They'd tried psychiatry, the church, the Cure. Maybe, they thought, drunks can help each other, and pass it along. A.A. has spread to every continent and into countless languages, and remains essentially invisible. I was dumbfounded to discover there was a meeting all along right down the hall from my desk".

A.A. helps those people who want to be helped, it is not a program of idea pushers and there is no one way to work a program; if it works for you, than it works and nobody is going to tell you that you are working the program the wrong way. It is a collective of similar minds with similar problems, all working towards one common goal - Don't drink no matter what!

Roger Ebert in my opinion rather beautifully discusses his experience upon arriving at the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and talks a little bit about the serenity that he found once he became a member. Without breaking peoples' anonymity he talks about some of the people he met and who helped him see things a little more clearly along the way. Alcoholism is not something you manage on your own and if that were the case there would be no need for such a program; people find strength to not pick up their next drink inside the rooms of recovery and it may seem simple and that is because it is a simple program based on 12 steps that one can live their life by.

"'Everybody's story is the same,' Humble Howard liked to say. 'We drank too much, we came here, we stopped, and here we are to tell the tale.' Before I went to my first meeting, I imagined the drunks would sit around telling drinking stories. Or perhaps they would all be depressing and solemn and holier-than-thou. I found out you rarely get to be an alcoholic by being depressing and solemn and holier-than-thou. These were the same people I drank with, although now they were making more sense", relates Ebert.

I encourage everyone to read Roger Ebert's post: My Name is Roger, and I'm an Alcoholic because it is a very enlightening piece from one man's lips about millions of people's experiences. I would love to hear your thoughts...

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