Am I Too Young?
You may think that you are simply too young to be an alcoholic. It doesn’t matter how long you have been drinking or how much you drank– it’s what drinking does to you that counts. You may already have the idea that your drinking is becoming a problem.
One of the most heartening trends in the growth of A.A. is the fact that more and more young men and women are being attracted to the program before their problem drinking results in complete disaster. Now that the progressive nature of alcoholism is better appreciated, these young people recognize that, if one is an alcoholic, the best time to arrest the illness is in its early stages.
In the first days of the movement, it was commonly thought that the only logical candidates for A.A. were those men and women who had lost their jobs, had hit skid row, had completely disrupted their family fives, or had otherwise isolated themselves from normal social relationships over a period of years.
Today, many of the young people turning to A.A. are in their twenties. Some are still in their teens. The majority of them still have jobs and families. Many have never been jailed or committed to institutions. But they have seen the handwriting on the wall. They recognize that they are alcoholics, and they see no point in letting alcoholism run its inevitable disastrous course with them.
Their need for recovery is just as compelling as that of the older men and women who had no opportunity to turn to A.A. in their youth. Once they are in A.A., the young people and the oldsters are rarely conscious of their age differentials. In A.A., both groups start a new life from the same milestone – their last drink.
We who are in A.A. came because we finally gave up trying to control our drinking. We still hated to admit that we could never drink safely. Then we heard from other A.A. members that we were sick. (We thought so for years!) We found out that many people suffered from the same feelings of guilt and loneliness and hopelessness that we did. We found out that we had these feelings because we had the disease of alcoholism.
If I come into A.A., won’t I miss a lot of friends and a lot of fun?
The best answer to this is the experience of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have already come into A.A. In general, their attitude is that they did not enjoy real friendships or real fun until they joined A.A. Their point of view on both has changed.
Many alcoholics discover that their best friends are delighted to see them face up to the fact that they cannot handle alcohol. No one wants to see a friend continue to hurt. Naturally, it is important to distinguish between friendships and casual barroom acquaintanceships. The alcoholic is likely to have many acquaintances whose conviviality may be missed for a while. But their place will be taken by the hundreds of A.A.s the newcomer will meet – men and women who offer understanding acceptance, and help in sustaining sobriety at all times.
Few members of A.A. would trade the fun that comes with sobriety for what seemed to be fun while they were drinking.
Twelve Questions To Help You Decide
We decided to try and face up to what alcohol had done to us. Here are some of the questions we tried to answer honestly. If we answered YES to four or more questions, we were in deep trouble with our drinking. See how you do. Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem.
1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: “Just try not to drink today.” (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)
2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking– stop telling you what to do?
In A.A. we do not tell anyone to do anything. We just talk about our own drinking, the trouble we got into, and how we stopped. We will be glad to help you, if you want us to.
3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
We tried all kinds of ways. We made our drinks weak. Or just drank beer. Or we did not drink cocktails. Or only drank on weekends. You name it, we tried it. But if we drank anything with alcohol in it, we usually got drunk eventually.
4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking? This is a pretty sure sign that you are not drinking “socially.”
5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
At one time or another, most of us have wondered why we were not like most people, who really can take it or leave it.
6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
Be honest! Doctors say that if you have a problem with alcohol and keep on drinking, it will get worse — never better. Eventually, you will die, or end up in an institution for the rest of your life. The only hope is to stop drinking.
7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
Before we came into A.A., most of us said that it was the people or problems at home that made us drink. We could not see that our drinking just made everything worse. It never solved problems anywhere or anytime.
8. Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
Most of us used to have a “few” before we started out if we thought it was going to be that kind of party. And if drinks were not served fast enough, we would go some place else to get more.
9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?
Many of us kidded ourselves into thinking that we drank because we wanted to. After we came into A.A., we found out that once we started to drink, we couldn’t stop.
10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
Many of us admit now that we “called in sick” lots of times when the truth was that we were hung-over or on a drunk.
11. Do you have “blackouts”?
A “blackout” is when we have been drinking hours or days which we cannot remember. When we came to A.A., we found out that this is a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking.
12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
Many of us started to drink because drinking made life seem better, at least for a while. By the time we got into A.A., we felt trapped. We were drinking to live and living to drink. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Copyright © by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. Reprinted with permission
Accepting help from the community of AA members is the first step in regaining control of your life if you are a young person whose drinking is causing you problems.
Whether you are a high school student, a college student or grad-student, or a young person living in our area– if you have a desire to stop drinking then you are welcome at any of our meetings. You will be relieved to find plenty of other young persons in our community who are very happy with their lives in sobriety.
Penn State Students
University Park students have an additional resource available on campus. Although Alcoholics Anonymous has no affiliation with the university, the two institutions have supported one another in the establishment of a Penn State Collegiate Recovery Community, which has a dedicated space for students to meet on campus. Programming includes 12-Step Workshops, weekend retreats, and travel to recovery conferences. You can obtain additional information in Room 105 of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.
Check Us Out!
Please come to a meeting to meet some of our members and let us talk with you about how sobriety has impacted our lives.