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​Desire to Stop Drinking Is Only 
Requirement to Join AA
Nov 02, 2018

DEAR ABBY: "Addicted in Kansas City" (Aug. 24) asked you for secular alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous. There are parts of your response that I feel need clarification.

First of all, AA doesn't require lifetime attendance at meetings. AA doesn't "require" anything. (The third tradition states the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.) Regular attendance at meetings is encouraged but certainly not a requirement. Many people continue to go to meetings one or more times a week, while others stop or go only occasionally after a period of time.

The other point is tougher -- and perhaps more subtle. AA encourages individuals trying to get sober to find a "God of their own understanding," a Higher Power, something bigger than themselves. Many agnostics and atheists get and stay sober in AA.

AA is a spiritual program, not a religious one. This can be a difficult concept for people who are just coming in (and a great reason not to stay). That's one of the reasons AA encourages anyone new to attend different meetings, if possible, and check out other groups. In many cities there are meetings expressly for atheists and other nonbelievers. -- SOBER AND HAPPY IN ATLANTA

DEAR SOBER: Thank you for writing to clarify this. However, there are different programs (different strokes for different folks), which is why I also encourage anyone trying to achieve sobriety to research and explore the alternatives.
12 STEPS MAY BE NECESSARY TO
MOVE RELATIONSHIP TO NEXT LEVEL
1/26/2014

DEAR ABBY: "Bill" and I have gone together for three years. He's a wonderful, sweet man who has never raised his voice to me. We have talked about taking our relationship to the next level. I'm hesitant because I suspect he's a high-functioning alcoholic.
Bill doesn't seem to crave a drink when he's with me, but he does crave being in bars in the company of men who sit for hours over drinks and then get out on the Interstate. I don't want to be his mother or his hall monitor, but I have begun to suspect I shadow his denial. I'm afraid I have become his enabler.
We are in our early retirement years and the thought that his drinking will get worse has made me afraid. I love Bill. I can't seem to move forward, yet I resist walking away.
We have discussed my feelings many times, and he says he has cut down the amount he drinks and there's nothing to worry about. Yet, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. -- SICK FEELING IN TEXAS

DEAR SICK FEELING: Listen to your intuition. I don't know how often Bill "craves" the company of men who sit for hours in bars becoming increasingly inebriated, but if it is more than "occasionally," then I agree you may have cause for concern.
Because of the language in your letter, it appears you are already familiar with alcoholism and how it affects relationships. It would be a good idea for you to attend some Al-Anon meetings before your relationship with Bill goes further because he may be in denial about the importance of alcohol in his life. The meetings are easy to find; Al-Anon is listed in your phone directory and can be found at al-anon.org.

FIANCE'S DRUNKEN BOUTS
MAY BE MORE FREQUENT
10/26/2012

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating the greatest man I've ever met in my life for three years. "Jared" has wonderful kids and a successful career. He's handsome and is kind to me, my kids and my family. We enjoy each other immensely, and we are now engaged.

We are social drinkers, but about once a year Jared gets incredibly intoxicated and changes into the most horrible person I have ever seen. It's all verbal yelling -- nothing physical -- but it's still inexcusable. After an "episode" he is guilt-ridden and apologetic for weeks. I believe he's sincere, but it has made me rethink our engagement. He had an episode a week ago -- the third during the time we've been together.

Our kids are close and care about each other. I love Jared, but if I have to endure another instance of this I don't think I can go through with the marriage. I'm still angry about the last bout, and he's still guilt-ridden. How do I approach this? -- CONFLICTED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONFLICTED: The first thing to do is make it your business to attend some Al-Anon meetings. When you do, you'll soon realize that the behavior Jared is exhibiting can escalate.

While Jared may be able to handle his liquor 364 days a year (now), what happens on that 365th is a deal-breaker. Unless you want to spend your life worrying every time Jared picks up a glass who he will be when he puts the glass down, draw the line now. Tell him the person he becomes during these "episodes" is a stranger you have no desire to have anything to do with -- ever -- and if he can't guarantee that you will never see that person again, the marriage is off. Of course, this will mean the end of his social drinking and probably yours. If what you have together is as special as you say, it is only a small sacrifice.

Be prepared, because he will probably deny he has a problem. Unless you want to become a miserable nervous wreck, you must not relent. The explosion, the guilt, the "honeymoon" period afterward are similar to the cycle of domestic violence, so be aware of that.

DRINKING BECOMES A PROBLEM FOR WIFE PRESSURED TO IMBIBE
​8/14/2014

​DEAR ABBY: I'm not much of a drinker. I have nothing against drinking or those who do. I just do not like the taste of alcohol. Worse, I have a very low tolerance for it. After only half a glass of wine, I become so sleepy I can barely keep my eyes open. It makes me feel physically awful.
My husband takes offense to the fact that I don't want to drink. When we're out with friends, he'll have three or four beers and pressure me to the point of embarrassment in front of them until I finally give in and order a glass of wine. Of course, I then spend the rest of the evening feeling terrible. When we get home, he'll want to be intimate, but I just want to go to sleep, which aggravates him further.
I have tried for several years to discuss this with him, but he can't explain why he does this. What can I do? -- JUST WATER, PLEASE

DEAR JUST WATER: Your husband is a drinker. He may be self-conscious about the amount he imbibes and feels less so if he has a drinking buddy (that's you), willing or not. To say the least, his behavior is inconsiderate -- and I mean all of it.

When someone is involved with a problem drinker, and from your description of his behavior your husband is one, the place to start looking for answers is Al-Anon. To find a meeting close to you, go online to al-anon.org. Please don't wait.
MOM WITH SECRET ADDICTION IS PLAYING DANGEROUS GAME
4/29/2015

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and I caught my mom sniffing nail polish remover. She obviously doesn't want me to know because she tries to hide it. I don't know what to do. I don't know why she would want to do this. It's something people MY age would do. I know better than to do that. Should I talk to her about it? She'll probably make up some excuse like she likes the smell. She sometimes tells me I need to grow up because I can act silly. But honestly, SHE is the one who needs to grow up. I want to help her because I know what she's doing is not good for her. But how?  -KNOWS HER SECRET IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR KNOWS: Your mother may have an acetone addiction. Because you can't convince her to take your concerns seriously, tell another adult ASAP what's going on - a relative, your father if he's in the picture, a teacher or counselor at school. This kind of inhalant addiction is serious because in high concentrations, acetone is a nervous system depressant. This means it can slow a person's heartbeat, respiration and metabolism, causing a person to become dizzy, confused and pass out. It can also damage the vital organs - the heart, liver, kidneys and the bone marrow - and cause cardiac arrest and death. A support group for the children off addicts, such as Alateen, could give you emotional support. To find one, visit al-anon.org.
Parents Blame Teen's Friends for Underage Drinking Episode
Mar 12, 2018

DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter, "Jenny," went to a sleepover with her two best friends from school last Friday, "Penny" and "Ginger." Penny's parents went out and left the girls alone. They drank some beer. Jenny and Ginger were sober, but Penny also drank some hard liquor and got very drunk. I found out about it the following Monday after Penny texted my daughter and Ginger to tell them how upset and disappointed her parents were and that they were demanding letters of apology from all three girls.

I thought it was over the top, but realized Jenny was in the wrong. That same day Jenny wrote them an email with a heartfelt apology for disrespecting everyone by drinking in their house, for drinking their beer without permission and for allowing their daughter to get drunk (not being a true friend and trying harder to stop her).

Now, the fifth day after the email was confirmed received, my daughter is disappointed that it was never acknowledged. Penny's parents have been known to be dramatic in past dealings with other students and parents. Will you advise me on what I should do? I feel I should let it go and let Jenny figure out how she should choose her friends. She has ditched a friend who wasn't a good influence on her without us forcing her to. -- JENNY'S MOM IN CANADA

DEAR MOM: There is plenty of blame to go around. Penny's parents shouldn't have left three teenagers alone with liquor available. While I can't blame them for being upset after coming home and finding their daughter smashed and the other two "tiddly," they were wrong to expect Jenny and Ginger to have prevented their daughter from misbehaving.

I do not agree that asking for a written apology was over the top. And under the circumstances, I don't think your daughter's letter needed acknowledgment. Let it go, with a firm lecture to your daughter about underage drinking and the consequences that will follow if you find out it happens again.