National reports estimate over 25 million Americans have a substance use disorder. This includes illicit drugs, prescription medications, and alcohol. In fact, when it comes to alcohol it is estimated that one in eight American adults have an alcohol problem.
Here we are… months after the world became an unknown place, and many of our creature comforts, things we took for granted, turned into vast luxuries. I dream longingly of a haircut or sitting in a café with a dear friend over a steaming cup of bad coffee…or, hardest of all, receiving a hug at an AA meeting. I am getting accustomed to my new masked reality, the shouting at friends from a distance when I have the rare pleasure of seeing them. And, somehow, it is all ok. Really ok. And that is because I watch my mouth.
A definition of the word sponsor published at a time when the A.A. program was in its infancy states: “Sponsor - One who assumes, or one to whom is delegated, responsibility for some other person.” Webster, circa - 1936
Thanksgiving weekend 2019 brought 17 inches of heavy wet snow to northwestern Wisconsin, a special place where our family cabin sits, on the Minerva chain of lakes. As I looked out into the yard this past Sunday morning, I was startled by the sight of our many pine trees – white, blue spruce, and jack pine, all sagging towards earth with heavily burdened branches carrying the weight of nature’s winter storm. Concerned these trees might topple or at least suffer the damage of broken branches, I donned Sorel boots, jacket, hat and gloves and set out intent to remove some of the 17 inches of ice crystals these trees of ours were carrying.
I received my three-month medallion on October 22, 1978. I was fifteen, sober and I was thrilled. To add to my excitement - weeks earlier I had scored tickets to see Bob Dylan at the St. Paul Civic Center on October 31, 1978. This would be the first time that Bob Dylan would play a concert in Minnesota in 16 years. The concert had sold-out immediately and I had managed to get tickets. I was stoked. I was three-months sober and I was going to see Dylan.
There is a question that comes up repeatedly around the rooms of the program - what about these people the courts are sending here? What should we do with them?
There’s an old phrase in computer programming that goes… “Garbage In – Garbage Out”. In other words, if I program a faulty code, I’m going to get a faulty outcome.
Growing up, I wanted people to like me. I considered it a personal challenge to win people over. And I wanted to feel connected to those people. I was intrigued by spirituality, and how it might make me feel connected, so I would “meditate.” But really I was just getting high, contemplating not my place in the vast continuum, but rather how a fish might have a swordfight with a bee.