Can You OD on AA? - Page 2

By Kristen McGuiness 08/20/12

Going to meetings every day and sponsoring a bunch of newcomers is fantastic—until you realize you’ve overdone it.

Sometimes it can be a little much Photo via

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Melody adds, “The spiritual piece of service is also about knowing that there are only 24 hours in each day. It’s not about how many sponsees you can get or how many H&I meetings you can attend. If we can’t help everyone with what they need (and that includes us), we are cheating ourselves and other people.”

Bill agrees, having seen way too many people “drink the Kool-Aid” without asking if it’s good for them. He says, “I believe it’s about thinking in terms of a different paradigm. Life is about finding balance between ego and self-esteem. We hear [in AA] about conquering ego but the way I understand it, it’s not about squashing ego but rather finding balance between that and having some respect for who you are, for the person underneath the suit. You have the ability and the duty to yourself to think and to find the paradigm that works for you.” He continues, “Though we all might have the same disease, this dogma of humility sometimes gets overdone in the rooms. All that stuff about the evils of ‘terminal uniqueness’ and such. There is, in fact, a measure of validity to this process, but there is nothing wrong with deciding what circle of friends meet our needs and we, theirs.”  

Dr. Jaffe adds that the 12 steps are not the only way to do that: “Just going to the meetings will give you some benefit and engaging in the program itself gives you additional benefits but that doesn’t mean any one program is necessarily for you,” he says. “Different programs give you different things. And there are different kinds of addicts. Though finding the same solution for all of them would be great, I don’t think were going to get there anytime soon.” 

And maybe it’s best that way.

Kristen McGuiness is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Fix who wrote previously about old timers in AA and sober travel, among other topics. She is the author of 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life

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Kristen McGuiness is the author of the bestselling memoir, 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life. In addition, she has co-written numerous books in the genres of self-help, business, psychology, and dating, and has written for Marie ClaireAOLHuffington Post, and Salon. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and dog Peter, and recently finished her second book, The Beautiful Lives of Sad Children. Kristen can be found on Linkedin. You can also follow her on Twitter.