Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) serves two million people worldwide and in Moore County is the answer to staying sober.
A.A. sponsorship is the individual networking between members. It works because they each speak the language of alcoholism.
Loneliness is an offshoot of alcoholism, and the comrade of sponsorship sheds the feelings of loneliness which is a factor for drinking. A.A. members may call on their sponsor anytime for support.
One local A.A. chapter meets at First Baptist Church in Southern Pines and has 60 members. During the COVID-19 restrictions, an average of 10 members meett at the church and 50 meet online via Zoom. They share their stories to help themselves and others who are battling alcoholism.
Megan has been sober with sponsorship for six months after hitting rock bottom at age 27 when she had sold everything and had nowhere to live.
“I never felt like I really fit in, and now A.A. is so comforting,” Megan said.
Her story of finding A.A. coincides with finding belief in a higher power when she had a “burning bush” experience.
She had attempted to escape her alcoholism-driven life in the Midwest by moving to North Carolina when a man with a 200-pound wooden cross came walking toward her, and “I stopped the car, and he said that it was no mistake – that I am here. God said to be here at four today, and he prayed over me.”
That same “coincidental” meeting occurred when she contacted him later about a book he said he wanted to give her. Megan said to meet at Nature’s Own store. He said, “I am already there.”
“It’s like no matter where you go – there you are,” Megan said. “And that is why A.A. has meetings worldwide.”
Scott had a suicidal breakdown and was drinking to blackout two to three times a week. He has been in numerous treatment centers. When one center included A.A. meetings is when he found “the therapy” he is still practicing today.
Scott has been sober for four months and uses spiritual and physical exercise in conjunction with A.A. sponsorship.
“There wasn’t this much alcoholism 150 years ago. We are in the golden era of alcoholism. People in the Western civilization are searching for connections, meanings to life,” Scott said.
Charles got a sponsor at age 15 after multiple run-ins with the law, specifically, after he had swerved across the road and hit another person.
“That kept me dry for two years,” Charles said. “Then I got another DUI, and a work supervisor found me, and I had gone through two half gallons of 151 proof. My supervisor became my sponsor. It takes the right person at the right time.”
Following the 12 steps and meeting with others who have lived “the life” of an alcoholic is also key to staying sober.
Catherine has been sober for 12 years and says that having a sponsor she is accountable to, who knows her history, is key, but part of her success was surrendering. At A.A. meetings, members share their stories where there is no judgment, and they learn to admit wrongs and forgive themselves.
“I had another wreck, was in a halfway house, and started praying for help. That’s the secret – to ask for help,” Catherine said.
“Service work is a big part of healing because being an alcoholic is selfish because you don’t care about others when drinking,” Charles said.
“We have to make real amends to stop hurting people,” Scott said. “This group is unlike any other, and the mix has a lot of respect for one another.”
The Southern Pines First Baptist Church, located at 200 E. New York Ave., hosts A.A. open meetings on Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. Meetings are held online and in person.
For a complete schedule of all Moore County A.A. meetings, go to moorecountyaa.org. Call (910) 420-0575 for assistance.
Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.
Contributed photo of A.A. Big Book.