Blog

April 22, 2019

Making Time for Your AA Group

Maintaining strong human relationships is important to physical and mental health, perhaps nowhere more important than when youre fighting temptations to relapse into addiction. Peers who understand what its like are important, especially when your problem drug is alcohol, which non-addicted peers often consume regularly and cant quite grasp why you cant handle. 

The best way to connect with others in recovery is through an organized support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (your treatment center should be able to provide referrals, plus advice on alternate programs if you dont care for the AA approach). However, just as in most relationships, I dont have time to go this week can become a dangerous excuse for falling away from regular attendance. Which can easily lead to falling off the sobriety wagon due to isolation and stress.  

Here are a few ideas for those who struggle to find enough time for regular support-group attendance. 

KEEP THE BENEFITS IN MIND  

Theres a saying, If you really want to do something, youll find a way. If not, youll find an excuse. Many, many people (including diehard teetotalers) have a long list of things they know they should do regularly but dont, because their values feel more like nice ideas than genuine priorities. Contrary to popular opinion: 

  • Just because something looks interesting doesnt mean it belongs on your to-do list.  
  • You donhave to give unimportant things your best time slots because someone asked you to do them, because youve always done them or because everyone you know does them. 
  • Gaining and achieving more is not the path to happiness, especially when it traps you into putting off enjoyment of all you have now.  

If youre in alcoholism recovery and the things you have now include support peers, make the most of your opportunities to connect with them. Instead of worrying about what might happen if you dont finish every little task in life, focus on how your group encourages you to see the big picture and make your life far more effective. 

SCHEDULE YOUR REAL PRIORITIES FIRST 

Real priorities include: 

  • Taking steps toward your long-term goals. 
  • Taking care of your physical and mental health. 
  • And, yes, staying active in your sobriety support network. 

Instead of figuring youll get around to these things after clearing the chaff from your to-do list, write the most important tasks into your calendar first, and work everything else around them. It helps to schedule the most important things for your highest-energy periods, which for many people fall at the beginning of the day.  

In the case of support groups, it may not be possible to find a meeting time during your peak-energy hours. The next best thing is to schedule the rest of your day to conserve energy for the meeting: 

  • Make extra effort to keep your days to-do list small. 
  • To keep your energy levels well balanced and avoid that I just want to crash after work feeling, eat a small meal at lunch, then a light, protein-rich snack in the afternoon. Keep high-fat and high-caffeine items to a minimum. 
  • Try to avoid interruptions and rush work late in the day: theyre likely to leave you in a frustrated, nobody-cares-about-me-anyway mood. Turn off your email alerts, even your phone. If you supervise others, ask them to handle minor problems themselves rather than knocking on your door (and assure them you wont be angry if a resolution is left for the next day).

PROMISE SOMEONE IN ADVANCE THAT YOULL BE AT THE MEETING 

Even better, offer to drive a carpool there. Or to be a speaker. Not wanting to disappoint others is among the best motivators. 

GO STRAIGHT FROM WORK TO THE MEETING 

Stepping through the door of your house/apartment after a hard days work tends to activate a crash reflex and kill your desire to go back out. If you have an extra hour or two before the meeting, there are ways to make good use of it without going home (or, worse, to a bar): 

  • Take a brisk walk outdoors. 
  • Eat supper in a park or deli. 
  • Call your family (or that friend you havent talked to in ages). 
  • Stop by the library. 
  • Spend some time on a hobby such as knitting. Or sign up for an online course and work on the lessons. 

You could also volunteer to arrive early at the meeting and help set up. Helping someone else, and especially someone whos helping you in sobriety, is a great use of your time and a means of replenishing your personal energy. And when you have more energy, youre likely to find you suddenly have more time! 

close