If you are a newcomer to Alcoholics Anonymous or are trying to quit drinking, you have surely wondered what life without alcohol will be like. I know I did. I imagined it would be pretty boring to live a "normal" life. Heck, maybe I was right - here I am the night before Thanksgiving, the biggest night of the year at the bars and I am at home writing an article about sobriety! In all seriousness though, the thought of living without alcohol was pretty much unimaginable. If you find yourself in that place right now, I am writing this for you - describing my first year of sobriety.

After nearly 20 years of out of control drinking, DWI's, hopping from job to job and all of the rest of the usual things that are part of an active alcoholics life, I was finally ready to try the unknown - sobriety through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Finding and showing up at the first meeting was one of the hardest things I did that year. I had heard from some one about an AA club called the Frisco Club in what used to be a bar. I decided to go to the Frisco Club for my first meeting. When I first walked into the place it still looked like an old bar, pool table and all. The meetings were held upstairs. I got a coffee and headed up to the meeting.

About the only thing I remember from this first meeting is that I should attend 90 meetings in 90 days and to get a sponsor right away. I also remember being quite scared and not saying a word. After the meeting, 2 guys approached me and asked if it was my first meeting. After talking a little bit, I asked one of them if he would be my sponsor and he agreed. I was not really sure what that meant, I just knew I needed to do it. He and I exchanged numbers and I told him I would see him the next night at a meeting.

As I kept attending meetings, I made friends with people in AA and started attending some AA functions. This kept me busy and gave me something to look forward to since I was not working when first walking into the doors of AA.

I started a new job and kept attending meetings. I was feeling pretty good about things at about 3 months sober, when I got some bad news. My sponsor had gone back out - meaning he had resumed drinking. I was terrified, in some obscure way he was my lifeline. I soon found another sponsor at a Sunday morning meeting I attended. I made sure my new sponsor had many years of sobriety. My new sponsor wanted to meet with me once a week at his house to go through the Big Book. This was something new to me, my original sponsor did not do this.

At these weekly meetings with my new sponsor, I learned what it means to take the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would read sections of the Big Book and do each step as it came up. This is the way sobriety is passed from one alcoholic to another.

As this first year went along, my life was changing in many ways. I had gotten a job back in my field, was getting along with and being a part of my family again and was getting back on my feet financially. I made amends to people I had hurt while drinking and was helping other alcoholics by giving rides to meetings. All of this culminated in me regaining some self esteem and feeling pretty good about life again. I was free for the first time in many, many years. I did not have to wake up in the morning and wonder about what stupid things I had said or done the previous night, worry about getting arrested for another DWI, the list is endless.

My sobriety date is March 13, 1999. The life I have today is not something I could have even imagined when I first walked into the doors of AA. It is truly a miracle. If you are thinking about attending meetings but scared, you should be much more scared to continue drinking. My story is not unique within AA. Miracles are the rule, not the exception in AA.

To find your first Alchoholics Anonymous meeting, you can search my addiction resources directory for an AA phone number near you. They can locate a meeting near you.