Is sobriety possible without AA or NA? Many people, including myself have stayed sober with out Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. I managed to stay clean and sober on my own for eight years. My father stayed sober for 15 years until his death. We stayed sober, but we were both angry sober people. I never knew how angry I was until just a few years ago. When my children were growing up, we took a lot of home videos and as I have watched them over the years, I noticed how bad my attitude always was. I was extremely sarcastic until a close friend told me that sarcasm meant tearing flesh in another language. I immediately had a visual on that and it has stayed with me over the years. I try really hard not to be sarcastic anymore. My father stayed sober but he was so nasty that it was hard to be around him.
Quitting drinking or using drugs is obviously the first step. However, all of the reasons we first picked up a drink or a drug are still there. Whatever emotional pain we were in is still there. It doesn’t go away until we address it. In some cases the pain is still there after we acknowledged it. I had some hard things happen to me as a child. I have worked with therapists and members of the clergy and still there are times when the pain has reduced me to a weeping child all over again. The difference now is I can experience the pain in the moment without taking it with me all day.
I have been lucky over the years in that I have had faith in God. I believe he cares about what happens to me. I have been involved with a wonderful church with people who really care about me. I have had a few good therapists. I had a fantastic sponsor in AA who was not afraid to tell it like it is. One expression she always used was “play the tape out Laurie.” This simply meant when I feel like taking a drink or a drug, imagine the scenario from start to finish. The drug or drink may look good for the moment, and then after I have done it the guilt, shame and depression will overwhelm me and I will be right back where I started. I have used that idea in other areas of my life as well. Any situation you are in, imagine the beginning and the outcome before reacting in any way.
So I guess the answer to the question, is sobriety possible without AA or NA, is yes, it is possible. However, you need to be accountable to someone. There has to be someone who will tell you the truth about your behavior. There has to be someone you can go to when the emotional pain needs to be dealt with. Whether you choose God, a mentor, AA or NA, there has to be someone other than you. You can’t do it alone and expect quality of life.