XXII

 

Today I collect my 22nd-year chip from AA. I had a purple chip last year, which looked great, but this year I decided that I wanted a kelly green chip. I have a friend who shares my AA birthday and I got her a purple chip for her 14 years. We pick them up tonight. I also went out and bought a “Carrot Cake” to celebrate with our “Happy Hour” AA meeting at 5:30 p.m.

Step 12 of the AA Twelve Steps is “having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” This is a solemn duty, that I have to any alcoholic who is willing to quit. I had a man come to the office a couple of months ago. His wife was in jail. Her 11-year-old daughter was with his wife’s mother, who had filed a custody petition.  His wife had gone over to her mother’s home drunk. Her mother got an Order of Protection.  A couple of months later, she went over again, drunk. She was arrested for aggravated domestic violence, not because she was violent, but because she just wouldn’t obey the “stay away” order of the Order of Protection, and kept showing up drunk. She was in jail for four months due to repeated violations of the Order of Protection.

We went to Court.  She had been out of jail for three weeks.  Still no drinking.  Cool.  We needed to check on the terms of her probation for her to have contact with her daughter, so a new hearing in three more weeks.  I checked with the probation officer.  While she couldn’t have contact with her own mother and her younger siblings, her daughter was not on the Order of Protection.  So she could have contact and not be arrested.  She still had to have the okay of the Family Court to be able to see her daughter based on the pending custody petition.

At the hearing, I said that she had had many years of drinking but now had had over five months of sobriety (four months of it while in jail).  The judge asked if she would be willing to have mediation with her own mother.  She agreed.  As the Court got the paperwork, my client asked if she could talk to her own mother in the Courtroom.  “Yes, you can if she wants to talk to you.  This is an exception to the Order of Protection because of two reasons.  First, you are in the Courthouse.  Second, I am present as your lawyer.”

“Mom, can I hug you?”  “Yes.”  They embraced, and sobbed.

I had filed a “Limited Notice of Appearance” in the case.  The judge asked if I was going to continue to represent my client.  “I have a deal with my client, she stays sober, I will continue to represent her for free.”

At every AA meeting, “How it Works” is read from Chapter 5 of the “Big Book” of Alcoholic Anonymous.  The ending of this is as follows:

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’ Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

My point is that my client has had decades of “personal adventures.”  She also has five months of sobriety.

Happy birthday to me and to all of you.

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  1. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    “How It Works” can be found at https://www.aa.org/how-it-works.

    • #1
  2. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Those of us who haven’t dealt with addiction don’t realize how hard it is to confront. It is even hard to fight off the urge to relapse. I hope things work out for her.

    • #2
  3. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Those of us who haven’t dealt with addiction don’t realize how hard it is to confront. It is even hard to fight off the urge to relapse. I hope things work out for her.

    One day at a time.  I hope and pray for her too.

    • #3
  4. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    Congratulations, Gary! Thanks for sharing this.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Gary Robbins: Today I collect my 22nd year chip from AA. 

    Good for you!

    • #5
  6. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    I had a former co-worker who was 20+ years sober. We shared an office for a while and talked about addiction. I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life. When I finished basic training I was 194 the lightest I’ve been as an adult. I have been as high as 380 and in 2004 did Weight Watchers the first time and went from 359 to 229. At that time I was working out about 30 hours a week. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually the weight returned. I’ve likely lost over twice my bodyweight in WW and other diets. 

    I noted to my co-worker that many of the same signs of addiction to alcohol or drugs are present in chronically obese people in re food. The old slogan for Lay’s potato chips “betcha can’t eat just one” affects many people who struggle with weight. As I told my co-worker, he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years and he knows that if he does have a drink he won’t stop with a sip, or a single drink. The problem I face is that I have to eat every day and that one bite is a struggle to not turn I to a binge, especially when I am upset, or happy, or sad, or angry…younger the picture. 

    I’m happy for your anniversary and a top ofnthe hat for your pro Bono work. Keep it up!

    • #6
  7. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    I had a former co-worker who was 20+ years sober. We shared an office for a while and talked about addiction. I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life. When I finished basic training I was 194 the lightest I’ve been as an adult. I have been as high as 380 and in 2004 did Weight Watchers the first time and went from 359 to 229. At that time I was working out about 30 hours a week. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually the weight returned. I’ve likely lost over twice my bodyweight in WW and other diets.

    I noted to my co-worker that many of the same signs of addiction to alcohol or drugs are present in chronically obese people in re food. The old slogan for Lay’s potato chips “betcha can’t eat just one” affects many people who struggle with weight. As I told my co-worker, he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years and he knows that if he does have a drink he won’t stop with a sip, or a single drink. The problem I face is that I have to eat every day and that one bite is a struggle to not turn I to a binge, especially when I am upset, or happy, or sad, or angry…younger the picture.

    I’m happy for your anniversary and a top ofnthe hat for your pro Bono work. Keep it up!

    Hi David,

    Weight is such a tough issue.  With me, I can just not drink.  But with weight, you can’t simply say that you aren’t going to eat at all.  I hear you brother.  Thanks for everything.  I am looking forward to going to Texas someday, and taking you up on your offer to take me out to a shooting range.  (I have an irrational fear of guns.  You can help me with that.)

    Gary

    • #7
  8. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    I had a former co-worker who was 20+ years sober. We shared an office for a while and talked about addiction. I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life. When I finished basic training I was 194 the lightest I’ve been as an adult. I have been as high as 380 and in 2004 did Weight Watchers the first time and went from 359 to 229. At that time I was working out about 30 hours a week. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually the weight returned. I’ve likely lost over twice my bodyweight in WW and other diets.

    I noted to my co-worker that many of the same signs of addiction to alcohol or drugs are present in chronically obese people in re food. The old slogan for Lay’s potato chips “betcha can’t eat just one” affects many people who struggle with weight. As I told my co-worker, he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years and he knows that if he does have a drink he won’t stop with a sip, or a single drink. The problem I face is that I have to eat every day and that one bite is a struggle to not turn I to a binge, especially when I am upset, or happy, or sad, or angry…younger the picture.

    I’m happy for your anniversary and a top ofnthe hat for your pro Bono work. Keep it up!

    Hi David,

    Weight is such a tough issue. With me, I can just not drink. But with weight, you can’t simply say that you aren’t going to eat at all. I hear you brother. Thanks for everything. I am looking forward to going to Texas someday, and taking you up on your offer to take me out to a shooting range. (I have an irrational fear of guns. You can help me with that.)

    Gary

    Yes, it is. It also isn’t just how much you eat but what you eat. Southerners prefer foods that add pounds.

    • #8
  9. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    I had a former co-worker who was 20+ years sober. We shared an office for a while and talked about addiction. I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life. When I finished basic training I was 194 the lightest I’ve been as an adult. I have been as high as 380 and in 2004 did Weight Watchers the first time and went from 359 to 229. At that time I was working out about 30 hours a week. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually the weight returned. I’ve likely lost over twice my bodyweight in WW and other diets.

    I noted to my co-worker that many of the same signs of addiction to alcohol or drugs are present in chronically obese people in re food. The old slogan for Lay’s potato chips “betcha can’t eat just one” affects many people who struggle with weight. As I told my co-worker, he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years and he knows that if he does have a drink he won’t stop with a sip, or a single drink. The problem I face is that I have to eat every day and that one bite is a struggle to not turn I to a binge, especially when I am upset, or happy, or sad, or angry…younger the picture.

    I’m happy for your anniversary and a top ofnthe hat for your pro Bono work. Keep it up!

    Hi David,

    Weight is such a tough issue. With me, I can just not drink. But with weight, you can’t simply say that you aren’t going to eat at all. I hear you brother. Thanks for everything. I am looking forward to going to Texas someday, and taking you up on your offer to take me out to a shooting range. (I have an irrational fear of guns. You can help me with that.)

    Gary

    Yes, it is. It also isn’t just how much you eat but what you eat. Southerners prefer foods that add pounds.

    I have taken to stocking chopped up carrots in my fridge, and munching on them before I go to bed.  Also, I cut out all bread.  (This includes the incredible “Bread Sticks” at Olive Garden.)  I hear you brother.

    • #9
  10. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    Well done, Gary!

    • #10
  11. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Gary,

    Great post on alcoholism and addition.

    Regarding weight management and how food can impact us similar to the way drugs and alcohol impact us, a few years ago I read about obesity research and calorie density.

    Take any food and put it on a scale.  Then determine how many calories that much food has.

    You mentioned carrots.  Carrots are a low calorie density food.  A pound of carrots might weigh about 200 calories.  I’d have to look it up.  Carrots are loaded with water and fiber, a modest amount of protein, a very small amount of fat and the rest carbohydrates.

    Same for broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  Those are low calories density foods.

    Olive oil is a high calorie density food.  One pound of olive oil contains 4,000 calories.  Just one tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120-140 calories.

    Potatoes are medium calories density foods, about 350 calories per pound.  But Americans don’t eat potatoes plain, do they?  They fry them in oil, making them a higher calorie density food.  Or they load the baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese.  Pretty soon there are more calories in the oil or the butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese than in the potato itself.

    So, what to do?

    Some nutritionists recommend a pre-load strategy for weight managment.

    Before a meal, eat about 100 to 200 calories of low calorie density food.  Perhaps a vegetable soup (where the vegetables are also low calorie density).  Salads might seem like a good pre-load food, except the the salad dressing is usually high calorie density.  So, some people use apple cider vinegar instead of standard dressings.

    In any case, the strategy is to get partially full with low calorie density foods and then eat the meal, which might consist of mostly medium calorie density foods.

    Nuts are high calorie density foods.  Sodas and fruit juices add calories but don’t really satisfy the appetite while fruit, unprocessed, tends to satisfy ones appetite a little with few calories.

    Of course, it ain’t easy to start every meal with some steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  But if you can do it, it is supposed to work.  I am trying to get back on the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots wagon myself.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Congrats!  Today marks 9,423 days for me but who’s counting, eh?

     

    • #12
  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):
    As I told my co-worker, he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years and he knows that if he does have a drink he won’t stop with a sip, or a single drink.

    To quote the Deana Carter song, You and Tequila: “One is one too many, and one more is never enough.”

    • #13
  14. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Gary,

    Great post on alcoholism and addition.

    Regarding weight management and how food can impact us similar to the way drugs and alcohol impact us, a few years ago I read about obesity research and calorie density.

    Take any food and put it on a scale. Then determine how many calories that much food has.

    You mentioned carrots. Carrots are a low calorie density food. A pound of carrots might weigh about 200 calories. I’d have to look it up. Carrots are loaded with water and fiber, a modest amount of protein, a very small amount of fat and the rest carbohydrates.

    Same for broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Those are low calories density foods.

    Olive oil is a high calorie density food. One pound of olive oil contains 4,000 calories. Just one tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120-140 calories.

    Potatoes are medium calories density foods, about 350 calories per pound. But Americans don’t eat potatoes plain, do they? They fry them in oil, making them a higher calorie density food. Or they load the baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese. Pretty soon there are more calories in the oil or the butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese than in the potato itself.

    So, what to do?

    Some nutritionists recommend a pre-load strategy for weight managment.

    Before a meal, eat about 100 to 200 calories of low calorie density food. Perhaps a vegetable soup (where the vegetables are also low calorie density). Salads might seem like a good pre-load food, except the the salad dressing is usually high calorie density. So, some people use apple cider vinegar instead of standard dressings.

    In any case, the strategy is to get partially full with low calorie density foods and then eat the meal, which might consist of mostly medium calorie density foods.

    Nuts are high calorie density foods. Sodas and fruit juices add calories but don’t really satisfy the appetite while fruit, unprocessed, tends to satisfy ones appetite a little with few calories.

    Of course, it ain’t easy to start every meal with some steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. But if you can do it, it is supposed to work. I am trying to get back on the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots wagon myself.

    When I was dedicated to WW, I became obsessed with their points, earning extra points, and eating the maximum amount of food for the point value.  One thing that I have noticed is that if I mix carbs with cheese or proteins I get full much later.  I could eat a handful of dry roasted peanuts and be satisfied, but if they are honey roasted, I can eat much more before I am satisfied.  If I eat some cheese without crakers I will eat a lot less than with crackers.

    • #14
  15. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Congratulations on your sobriety, Larry, and also congratulations for your work with struggling families. I can only imagine what a burden it must be trying to help people put their families back together.

    I doubt I could deal with listening to the things family members sometimes put each other through.

    • #15
  16. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Congratulations Gary!  I am happy for you. Many more years of life and health. 

    • #16
  17. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Do any of you who have dealt with addiction attend meetups.? If so, is it hard to do since drinking is a part of the festive atmosphere? It hasn’t been a problem for me as my husband’s designated driver, but I imagine it would be harder on someone who once had an addiction. (I’m not saying meetups are drunk parties. It is just that most have a drink or two while socializing.) Cruises are known for partying but the ships I have been on schedule get-togethers for AA folks.

    • #17
  18. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    One of the questions I’ve always had about the AA approach is that is seems to keep alcohol at the center of your life, or at least near the center, but just in a different way than it had been when you were drinking. All the yearly sober awards and anniversaries. I would think you’d want to completely stop thinking about alcohol. 

    Maybe that’s the only way that works for many people, in which case that’s what you have to do. But I’ve heard of other approaches such as AVRT which don’t work that way. 

    • #18
  19. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Congratulations, Gary!

    • #19
  20. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Do any of you who have dealt with addiction attend meetups.? If so, is it hard to do since drinking is a part of the festive atmosphere? It hasn’t been a problem for me as my husband’s designated driver, but I imagine it would be harder on someone who once had an addiction. (I’m not saying meetups are drunk parties. It is just that most have a drink or two while socializing.) Cruises are known for partying but the ships I have been on schedule get-togethers for AA folks.

    I can’t help you with your questions, I’m sorry, but I was surprised to find out you’re a woman!  All this time I’ve pictured you as a man. LOL. You’re not the first I’ve made this mistake, if that makes you feel any better. 

    • #20
  21. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    congrats and keep it going

     

    • #21
  22. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Manny (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Do any of you who have dealt with addiction attend meetups.? If so, is it hard to do since drinking is a part of the festive atmosphere? It hasn’t been a problem for me as my husband’s designated driver, but I imagine it would be harder on someone who once had an addiction. (I’m not saying meetups are drunk parties. It is just that most have a drink or two while socializing.) Cruises are known for partying but the ships I have been on schedule get-togethers for AA folks.

    I can’t help you with your questions, I’m sorry, but I was surprised to find out you’re a woman! All this time I’ve pictured you as a man. LOL. You’re not the first I’ve made this mistake, if that makes you feel any better.

    Ha ha. You are not the first on ricochet to make that shocking realization. After one person’s shocking realization, I changed my picture to the wedding picture there now to help out. Ok, I know it doesn’t help but I have a great sense of humor and am amused by the confusion. I have been confused about people on ricochet, too.

    • #22
  23. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I had never understood addiction to alcohol until a good friend of mine with whom I had climbed for years went through a rough patch. Actually, it was a horrible life altering period in his life which ended up pretty disastrous. He called me up one night and asked me to meet him in a restaurant, that he would be waiting in the bar. 

    In all the years I had known him I had never seen him so much as sip a beer. I never realized that he was an alcoholic. He never mentioned it. He just never drank or discussed drink. That night I saw a very different side of him. I watched him slug down shot after shot with no interest in what he was drinking or how it tasted. 

    Whatever drinking  had done in my life, not much, when I did drink I sipped and nursed my drinks, and I only drank things I actually liked the taste of. What he was doing was something that went totally beyond my comprehension. It was drinking solely for the effect. He was so demoralized by the course his life had taken through no fault of his own that all he could do was demolish his consciousness. 

    I realize that many who are addicted to alcohol as he had once been, have to be constantly on the alert, always in control. I can only salute your discipline and your willingness to share your success with us, Gary. Those tokens are small things, but they represent a remarkable achievement. AA is a terrific organization, but they can only do so much. The individual still needs a great deal of personal integrity and courage to hold to the program. You are right to be proud. Congratulations on your accomplishment. May you collect at least as many tokens in the years to come.

    • #23
  24. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    W Bob (View Comment):

    One of the questions I’ve always had about the AA approach is that is seems to keep alcohol at the center of your life, or at least near the center, but just in a different way than it had been when you were drinking. All the yearly sober awards and anniversaries. I would think you’d want to completely stop thinking about alcohol.

    Maybe that’s the only way that works for many people, in which case that’s what you have to do. But I’ve heard of other approaches such as AVRT which don’t work that way.

    Whether I like it or not, the smell of whiskey is still a trigger for me, so in the past year I asked a friend twice to move her Jameson Irish Whiskey away from me, so I couldn’t smell it!

    I now only go to AA meetings on birthdays/Anniversaries, but it great to know that a meeting is always there.  And every morning, I am on my knees, and after The Lord’s Prayer, I say “I turn my will and my life over to the care of God,”which is the Third Step of AA.

    • #24
  25. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

    One of the questions I’ve always had about the AA approach is that is seems to keep alcohol at the center of your life, or at least near the center, but just in a different way than it had been when you were drinking. All the yearly sober awards and anniversaries. I would think you’d want to completely stop thinking about alcohol.

    Maybe that’s the only way that works for many people, in which case that’s what you have to do. But I’ve heard of other approaches such as AVRT which don’t work that way.

    Whether I like it or not, the smell of whiskey is still a trigger for me, so in the past year I asked a friend twice to move her Jameson Irish Whiskey away from me, so I couldn’t smell it!

    I now only go to AA meetings on birthdays/Anniversaries, but it great to know that a meeting is always there. And every morning, I am on my knees, and after The Lord’s Prayer, I say “I turn my will and my life over to the care of God,”which is the Third Step of AA..

     

    I would hope at meetups our fellow ricochet members would also ask us to move our drinks farther away.

    • #25
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