When I got sober, I was 32 years old and in pretty good health, except for the damage done by excessive drinking - and a world class case of depression. When they said "to drink is to die," I thought that was a bit of an overstatement, because I was not dying. It took me a while to realize I WAS dying. I was seriously suicidal a LOT of the time. I drove a car drunk every single day of my life. I was doing other things that could easily have gotten me killed. My life was very dangerous and I didn't even know it. A good friend told me that alcoholics of our age were probably not in much danger of dying of cirrhosis, but we were in danger of dying from cars, guns, knives, husbands, wives, etc.
Over the years, I have seen alcoholic friends die of cars, guns, knives, husbands, wives, etc. Plus some pretty obscure physical conditions that would likely not have killed a healthy person. This has given me a pretty healthy respect for the disease of alcoholism. And a sincere desire to do what I can to recover, and to help others to recover from alcoholism.
I hear the cute phrase "we don't shoot our wounded" when a person returns from drinking. That's great. I don't think we should shoot our wounded. But, more importantly, don't you think as a fellowship we should do what we can to prevent our fellows from getting wounded? It may feel good to welcome them back so lovingly... but what are we doing to help them from getting into that position in the first place? And what is the message we are carrying? Keep coming back. Great. Then what? There is NO recovery in keeping coming back. It is meaningless.
IF you are alcoholic, you will likely need to do some stuff to stay sober. It is all detailed in the first 164 pages of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. A sponsor can help you with it. It WILL keep you sober IF you do it. Not READ it, DO it!
If you are not alcoholic, you can do whatever the hell you want. You can get away with it. You do not have the sword of Damocles hanging over your head like we do. I would ask you to please not "help" real alcoholics though. You do a lot of damage with your watered down program. It does not work for real alcoholics. If someone is telling you that you can customize the program to fit your needs or your beliefs or lack of beliefs, they are lying to you.
Our entire program is summed up nicely in this paragraph on p. 164 of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.May God bless you and keep you -- until then."