She had gone to the same meeting for her entire first year. There were only men at the meeting, but they kindly took her under their wings and treated her just like anyone else who came to the meeting. And she stayed. And got sober. When she was sober for a year, they went "traveling" to a different meeting in another town. (When I lived there we still did that, it was great fun to load everyone up into a couple of cars, vans, SUVs, and head out together.)
When she got to the meeting in the other town, she was terrified by what she heard. They talked about "slips," or drinking again. She had never, in her year of sobriety, heard of such a thing, and it scared her to death! She had gotten the impression that once you got sober, you just stayed sober - no one ever mentioned to her that there was another option. She was scared stiff for a week or so after this meeting, but was able to come to terms with it.
Now we have an entire industry dependent upon alcoholism, addiction, and various and sundry other problems for their daily bread. They have made the term "relapse" more common and acceptable to use when an alcoholic drinks again - I can't speak to the other problems, because I don't have them.
I read the blog of a new guy who is wondering what constitutes a "relapse," is it one drink? Or a full blown binge? Is it a month of drinking day and night? I think it is a reasonable question, but it is unfortunate that the question comes from attending AA meetings. I did a little internet search and learned that "relapse is a part of recovery." Wow. The person who said that obviously (to me) has a financial stake in relapse.
Our original preamble said "the only relief we have to offer is absolute abstinence, the second meaning of AA." Absolute, total, complete. No drinking. If that doesn't appeal to you, you are probably not ready to get sober. If it sounds like heaven on earth, step right up!
Alcoholics Anonymous is for people who want to get sober. They have to make that decision before they get here. We don't convince anyone. Booze does that better than the most eloquent spokesperson. You will note that there is no step that says we wonder if we are alcoholic or if we are really done drinking. That must be done before we start step one. It is the prerequisite.
Let me just state that although many alcoholics do drink again after they come to AA, it is not required. It is entirely possible to come to AA, if you are done drinking, and stay sober, without relapse. Dorothy did it back in 1950-something, and people still do it today. Relapse is NOT part of recovery.
If you want to get sober and stay sober, you can go to meetings where they don't speak of "relapse" as if it were a normal course of events, get a sponsor, and work the steps. Amazingly enough, that all works and people stay sober. Happily sober - because they want to be sober.
I thank God for the divine inspiration of the program. I thank God for the people, the fellowship, of Alcoholics Anonymous. I thank God that I have been set free from the prison of active alcoholism. And set upon a course of recovery. If you are an alcoholic like me, that is a really good deal.