I believe as human beings we all have a need to belong and I'd found a place where I could belongBob, an Alcoholics Anonymous member
Sober for nearly 30 years, Bob* still won't tell people he'll never drink again.
"I control my alcoholism on a daily basis by not picking up one drink," he told The Border Mail this week.
Avoiding that first sip and admitting former lives had become unmanageable are strategies well known to members of Alcoholics Anonymous, which marked its 85th year this month.
Since its US beginnings in 1935 and arrival in Australia 10 years later, the worldwide fellowship has proven an informal but effective way to help people stop drinking and rebuild their lives, supported by others who have done the same.
Regular meetings where members share their experiences as they feel able remain key to AA's structure.
Some Border and North East groups are resuming face to face meetings after the COVID-19 restrictions led to temporary closures or Zoom alternatives.
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Bob said every time he went to a meeting in the early days, he heard something that felt like his own life.
"I would sit there and think thank God I'm not the only person that happened to," he said.
"I believe as human beings we all have a need to belong and I'd found a place where I could belong."
Molly*, in her former self-destructive days, didn't care much when told picking up her next drink might kill her, but then another AA member said it could instead be worse than dying.
"You might not die (he told me), you might not be able to put the booze down again and you might be in misery for another 30 years," she said. "That really got my attention."
As did the member who pointed out AA's 12 steps didn't have to be followed.
"Then again you can jump out of an aeroplane and you don't have to pull the cord of the parachute if you don't want to either - it depends on how hard you want to hit the ground," Molly said. "He's not wrong at all."
George* describes AA as a lifestyle.
"You hear people's truth there," he said. "Blatantly honest, even at your own expense."
Meeting like-minded people who understand exactly what he's talking about brings more than support.
"I think it really is an incredible way of living and it's fun," George said.
*Names have been changed
- For more information and details of Border and North East AA meetings, go to aa.org.au.