There is No Situation So Bad That A Few Drinks Can’t Totally Screw It Up

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 1, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by John MacDougall

At the beginning of April 2020, I’m writing this blog at home. I am on a leave of absence from The Retreat due to the Covid-19 virus. I’m not sick, but I’m in the ‘high risk group”.  I’m 71 years old and have long term asthma that is easily activated. My wife, Priscilla, who almost never gets sick, may have had an incredibly short case of this disease. She ran a fever for less than a day, she was confused, had aches and pains, and slept. In one day, it was gone. She’s 81 years old.

When I venture out to the grocery store and packages at the UPS store, I have one little luxury, the Starbuck drive through. I place my order with a talking box, and a laser gun takes the payment from an iPhone app. Then a young person hands my latte and coffee cake out the window and I drive away. I’m out of the house twice a week.

I haven’t had any desire to drink or take drugs. First of all, our situation isn’t bad. I remember when it was bad. In May of 2017, I got very ill with a virus. It developed into pneumonia, and I ended up in Regions Hospital. I managed to squeeze out enough air to say, “I can’t breathe”. They checked me for heart trouble, which I did not have. They found that, like today’s Covid-19 victims, my lungs were full of water.

The emergency room doctor said she was going to give me a ventilator. She said it hurt and it was a lot like being blown up like a balloon and filled with hot steam. The steam was filled with steroids, but if it worked, I might be able to just spend the night and go home. It worked just as she said. She blew my lungs open, and I coughed the contents out all over myself. After a long night in the ER, I went home and recovered.

When I got home, I thought about drinking. Then I thought “There is no situation so bad that a few drinks can’t totally screw it up.” The drinking thought quickly passed.

It is likely that I will be at home for a month or more. I’m reading the stories in my first edition Big Book. I’m reading a fascinating history of early AA called “Writing The Big Book”. My home group, Summit Hill AA in Saint Paul is continuing as a Zoom meeting, and I’m speaking “there” on Step Nine this evening.

I’m on the phone with my sponsor and with sponsees, as well as AA friends, and texting as well. Just as I started staying home, my copy of the AA Grapevine arrived in the mail. The AA Grapevine is call “a meeting in print.” This issue is about the importance of a home group. Some small groups are still meeting, with “social distancing”. Some larger, well organized meetings continue with zoom or skype as electronic meetings. If you don’t have the Grapevine, you can get it online at and it comes in the email.

Normally, I would never recommend an online meeting when an in-person meeting was available. These are not normal times. Stay connected to our Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery. Stay connected to God through prayer, meditation, and all Twelve Steps. Stay connected to the people we are in daily contact with. We may be in isolation with them. We may be working with them. We may be in service with them. We may be in line with them at a store.

We will encounter unknown problems in the weeks ahead. There is no situation so bad that a few drinks can’t totally screw it up. Abstinence from alcohol and drugs is just the beginning of our program. Now is the time to show how our program really works…as we demonstrate that love and tolerance of others is our code.


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Topics: AA Big Book, Recovery Program, Alcohol & Health, COVID-19

John MacDougall

Written by John MacDougall

John MacDougall is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at The Retreat.
His book, “Being Sober and Becoming Happy” is available from

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