Returning to AA
"I love him. I want to help. I don't know what to do."
It was six o'clock on Friday night. I received this call while in the car on the way to dinner. It was a busy week, and I was looking to wind down with Kathy over a "home-cooked" meal at the OK Cafe.
My friend Matt (all names changed) called to ask for advice. He said, “I got a call from my friend and he said, 'I know I have a problem with alcohol. I am drinking pretty much all day long and have been for the last two weeks. I need help. I can't seem to stop. I don't know what to do.' I told him I would come and get him and bring him to my house. I assured him there is no alcohol at my house. He said he would think about it. When I didn't hear from him, I called again and he was too drunk to even talk."
Matt asked again, "What do I do to help him?"
Matt caught me flat-footed.
I asked a few questions to get a bit of context.
Is he drinking right now?
Can you sober him up by going to his house and sitting with him?
Does he have a wife and kids?
Where does he live?
I asked these questions because I only knew of one thing to do to help this man. He needed to get to an AA meeting. There are men there who would drop everything in their life to help him. Those are the people I remember being at these AA meetings. Those men helped save my life.
"It sounds to me like he is ready for an AA meeting. The fact that he called you and admitted he can't control his drinking is important. He knows he has a problem," I explained.
I tried to find an AA meeting convenient to this man but couldn't navigate well on my phone. I told Matt, "I'm at the restaurant. Kathy went inside to get us a table. How about I call you in an hour and we come to a game plan?"
I gave Matt a call as soon as I got home.
"What's happening to your friend now?" I asked.
Matt said, "I just talked to him and he sounded sober but really hung over. He told me that he would think about going to an AA meeting with you and me. He said he would talk to his wife and see what she thought. I'll call you back when I hear from him."
I was sitting watching TV and realized it was 9 pm and I had not heard from Matt. So I called him.
"I just talked to my friend, and he said he will give me an answer in the morning," Matt said.
"There is a 9 am meeting in Atlanta that is excellent. It is always well attended with great leadership. We need to get him to that meeting," I said.
Matt agreed and told me he would head out first thing in the morning to be in his friend's area of town. Matt's plan was to call his friend at 8 am and find out if he would go to the AA meeting.
We ended our conversation. I agreed to hang loose until 8 am to see if we were going.
After hanging up, I called a young man, William, I am working with who is in active recovery from alcohol. He is attending AA meetings daily and, at this writing, will pick up his thirty day chip today. I told him what was going on and asked how he thought we might help Matt's friend.
"You have to get him to a meeting, but he needs to be sober." he said. "Hopefully, tomorrow morning he'll be sober and still admit his drinking is a problem. We'll see," William said skeptically.
I gave Kathy an update on all that had happened. She said, "You need to commit to going to the AA meeting regardless. Bring Matt and William whether Matt's friend goes or not.”
She was right. I called Matt and William and confirmed, "We will meet at the Atlanta meeting location at 8:45 am." They agreed.
We waited for Matt's friend's answer
I got a call at 8 am Saturday.
Matt said, "He is not coming. He told me his wife wanted to sleep in, and he needed to take care of their child. And he also said he thinks that today he can control his drinking."
Sadly, this is the answer I expected from Matt's friend. As soon as we alcoholics get a bit of control back, we wave off any help. We think, I've got this. The fact is, we can't imagine living a life without alcohol.
I told Matt, "We need to be praying for your friend and his family. Alcoholism is an addiction and a spiritual battle. In the end, your friend must be willing to do anything to save his life. He has to get to the point where he is sick and tired of being sick and tired."
I went to the AA meeting. And Kathy was right. I needed to be there. I don't know if the other two guys I met needed to be there at the time, but I surely did.
The leader that day was a man my age. He said, "Let's open with a prayer."
I was surprised. This never happened at any AA meeting I ever attended.
And here was his prayer:
Breathe God in
Breathe me out
Breathe God in
Breathe me out
Breathe God in
Breathe me out
This is AA Step #3: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
Matt's friend decided that day to maintain control. To deny he reached out to Matt for help. To pass on the love being offered to him. The love of a friend and the love of God.
I am sorry he made this decision. I know he'll be at an AA meeting in the future. I trust God. He never gives up on us. Look at all God put in motion with that one call from Matt. He changed the plans of three people.
After the AA meeting, the three of us met for breakfast. We prayed for Matt's friend, and then William and I shared our addiction stories with Matt. To my surprise, Matt admitted that he too was a recovering addict. His drug of choice was marijuana, not alcohol.
Thanks to Matt's friend's addiction, thanks to Matt's former addiction, thanks to my addiction, thanks to William's addiction, thanks to our honesty about our addictions, thanks to Matt's love for his friend, God changed our priorities for that Saturday morning.
That Saturday morning, we were reminded again to breathe in God and breathe me out. Yes. I needed to be there.