Intolerance in the Recovery Community – By Nicola O’Hanlon


It occurred to me this past week, that the level of intolerance is rising within the recovery community at quite a disturbing level.

It seems to be stemming from the fact that people are choosing for themselves what their recovery process will be and especially because of the new thinking and concepts that are arising around recovery programs.

In some quarters, you’re always sick, you’re always selfish and your own thoughts, decisions and understanding is completely unreliable. And you are told that on a constant basis.

But thankfully, people now have access to a plethora of information and possibility to learn and understand from a vast array of teaching, philosophies and concepts. There’s no limit to what we can access when seeking to overcome our difficulties be it from addiction or any other self-harming behaviour.

I’ve been a member of the Addiction and Mental Health Recovery Community for over seven years now. At one point, as I’ve written about before, my perception of addiction and ill mental health was a limited one and my recovery options were even more limited.

So I decided to educate myself a little more because some of the stuff I’d come to define myself by was no longer true for me.

For example, I don’t see myself as diseased or having the disease of addiction. That just doesn’t sound or feel true for me so I don’t identify with it any longer.

I also don’t go to certain 12 step meetings anymore nor do I think it’s healthy to reinforce negative labels over and over again because of the type of person I am. That never worked for me and I feel a great freedom and empowerment from detachment from that no cure idea.

If these things work for you then it’s absolutely fantastic. I totally support you in that and applaud you for taking care of yourself your way.

I engaged in 12 step recovery for a few years and learned many great tools and met many great people. It was just time for me to move on to a broader concept.

I also know people who were in AA for years and now have a drink every couple of months and are living completely normal and productive lives.

I know people who were addicted to drugs who have an occasional drink without adverse effects and again, are living superb lives.

Shock. Horror. What is this blasphemy! How dare they find their own way.

I must stress, that these people, who are my friends, have done deep intensive mental, emotional and spiritual work on themselves. I am most definitely not advocating for anyone to go back to drinking or using again. Total abstinence is a must for some.

I as a person am progressive. I move forward constantly. I can’t read or learn enough and new ideas and concepts are what keep me alive and hopeful. They excite me beyond anything, and they make me want to care for and treat myself with the highest of respect.

What really disturbs me within our community of late, is the lack of tolerance for people’s growth and expansion and choice to think and do differently. It reeks of my childhood Catholic teaching that if you step outside the box, hellfire is gonna get ya. Everyone is wrong. We are right. You must repent.

Radicalised thinking at its best.

So here’s my understanding; most addiction and mental health issues are based in some form of trauma in our lives, and the results, if not dealt with effectively, manifest as addiction and for me depression and anxiety.

Trauma and the use of chemicals and obsessive behaviours change the functioning of the brain, which by the way, can be reversed and healed.

I didn’t make that up either. The healing part. That’s scientific fact.

Dr. Gabor Mate is someone who’s philosophy rings true for me and he has said that if we do not understand trauma then we cannot understand addiction. And pretty much any professional I’ve spoken to concurs with that notion.

So for me it’s been way more positive to understand that my brain has been disordered and that it can be fixed rather than telling myself that selfishness is at the root of my problems and that there’s no cure.

And I completely accept and respect people’s choices and viewpoints that are contrary. I absolutely love to engage in conversation about these topics, because that’s how I learn and discover and find out what truly works for me on a deep level.

And then you have this guy:

 “ Lol…ty for your concern Nickyo! Not that it’s a competition, but believe me, I’d stack up my service efforts, and how many suffering addicts are positively affected, against yours any day of the week. And, mine happen in the real world free from the shackles of advertising dollars, and ego attachment of being “in charge” of something.

You go on painting me as the “bad guy” if you need to :).”

This was in reply to me standing up for someone he’d torn to shreds with pissy, personal attacking  comments because she had the audacity to suggest that it was better and more productive for her to not identify with the disease model.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusion about what recovery path he engages in. Apparently love and tolerance is the basis of his much treasured programme. Oh, and don’t forget humility!

I will say also, that I know wonderful genuine people on this same path who would never treat others like this. They must have read the part in the literature where it talks about open mindedness, compassion and empathy.

And this woman, in reply to a comment I made on an artilce “Safe injection sites are a radical new approach to battling addiction”  saying I agree with the concept to save lives and there’s strong evidence in European countries that it’s effective. I mean if addiction is a recognised medical issue,  why not treat it as such and give addicts equal, sufficient, medical care like the rest of the sick people in the world….right?

Apparently, I’m completely off the wall!

“And that kind of thinking is so off the charts nuts it takes my breath away. For Gods sake, they are not all using dirty needles, in dirty drug dens. Engage a junkie? Go ahead I’d like to see you try. They have to hit rock bottom, they have to want to stop. Enabling them is a solution that works somewhere in the atmosphere. Look, I am sure your heart is in the right place, but I wish you do gooders would just shut up.”

These are just two of many this week alone.

Believe me, I’m used to this kind of personal attack. It’s part of the job for most writers and especially those who go against the cookie cutter social thinking. But recently it’s coming fast and hard.

I do know one thing. A high presence of aggressive ugliness and lack of tolerance, empathy and basic politeness comes from deep fear. Perhaps a subconscious knowing that your perception is weak, and that you are so attached to that perception you need to guard it violently regardless of the consequences for others. Pretty basic philosophy.

It cannot be denied that this low energy, aggressiveness is extremely prevalent in society at large. The world is most definitely engaged in revolt. It’s just really sad that this same revolt seems needed in a community that is supposed to support and promote the growth of others.

But it does show that change is coming!

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine,, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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  1. Nicola, When you are willing to be brave and speak your truth, when you are willing to be provocative and when you are willing to dig deep roots and hope ( eventually know) they will keep grounded in the fiercest of storms, you are truly moving into the next phase of your development. You are growing into a larger vessel willing to take on more– an abundance of all includes an abundance of criticism, BUT IT’S ONLY A TEST– because on the other side is the sturdier, more resilient, more grounded you. CONGRATULATIONS.

  2. Thanks for your article, Nicola. I’m a new reader here. I’m in AA, have worked the steps, sponsor other women, attend meetings. It works wonderfully for me. I also recognize it’s not the only way to get/stay sober. Other modalities work just as well for some people. I do other things to support my recovery too.
    When I am in the rooms of AA I keep my comments aligned with the solution as described in our Big Book, the concepts and the traditions. There are newcomers, and maybe even some long timers, who need to hear strictly AA teachings or they might die. Nobody needs me diluting the message with my two cents that might vary from what is in our book. Since I first got sober in AA I have added a lot of other lifestyle choices and activities that have enhanced my recovery. But I don’t introduce them in the rooms of AA. I manage to follow the concept and traditions as taught in the rooms and have my own “flavor” of recovery. And I respect everybody else’s right to build and enjoy theirs without commenting on whether or not I think it’s better or worse than mine.
    I try to practice love ( or at least acceptance) and tolerance in all areas of my life.

  3. As a certified MAT counselor I absolutely agree with your philosophy. I’m an advocate of ANYTHING that makes you a person that is better and that thrives. If that means you need 100% soberity by all means run with it, if it means you need assistance through medication for your disease, illness or condition I’m definitely your girl, if religion saves you I offer prayers, if it’s scientific study of behaviors I say learn all you can. I do NOT believe in tough love or the 90’s notion of “ROCK BOTTOM” I believe letting addicts know you CARE is very important as most turn to addictionsee because they feel alone. I believe that judging and pointing fingers if one slips causes full blown relapse as we are only as sick as our secrets and that EVERYONE deserves another chance. I also do not believe just because your DOC cause bad consequences that another substance say pain meds for a real health issue if your a Crack user or a glass of wine for a opiate addict means you will spiral out of control. Not everyone is a poly abuser. 12 steps work for some, MAT for others, talk therapy may be your treatment I guess my point is find WHAT WORKS FOR YOU And NEVER let someone else tell you you are wrong when your choice WORKS for YOU!

  4. Bravo – excellent article!

  5. What is intolerance? Is it passionately disagreeing with you?

    Ever consider that the reason you are having lots of opposition to your views is because your views are flawed?

    Those of us who have been sober in AA for many years have been to many funerals of people wanting to recover “thier way”.

    I’m just glad that you don’t seem to have many people following your articles.

    • Nicola O'Hanlon
      Nicola O'Hanlon

      I’ve been sober in AA for some years and I’ve personally buried more people who went to meetings than those of whom left. What you display right now is intolerance and arrogance. What I shared are my experiences, and my experiences are not flawed. Again thank you for proving the point of the essay which is intolerance regarding other peoples experience and views and choices by people like you. It’s amazing that all the people who have chosen to be derogatory and dismissive of my actual experience are from AA. It reinforces my decision to leave so I’m not around your type of nasty self-righteous behaviour. It makes me wonder what program you follow. Because the one I went to was about love, tolerance and open mindedness. Perhaps it’s different where you’re from.

      • Good Point!!- The Book tells us “To be hard on ourselves, and extremely tolerant of others-” the point on the “Original Program” was Love others as you would Love yourself – I’m glad you brought this topic to light, Recovery is a way of life “For Me”, I hope it is for many others, Light & Love my Friend

      • You are the arrogant one young lady. Not to mention dishonest! Sober in AA for years or haven’t been to a meeting in 18 months? Which is it? Is it whichever one you think makes your point?

        And I’m self-righteous because I vehemently disagree with your irresponsible sharing of “experience”? That’s so ridiculous.

        All I can see is someone with some sort of axe to grind.

        And how insecure do you have to be to argue with people who don’t share your views and have chosen to say so in the comments section?

        As someone else said. Please get back to us in another 5 to 10 years and let us know how leaving the program that saved your life is working out for you. And how your “cured” alcoholic friends and thier “social drinking” are doing.

    • You have been fortunate my friend as I have buried many through suicide/OD’s as they felt like they would never be well as the were shamed into quitting subs or methadone that worked for them or were told after a mere 1 or 2 day slip after many years of soberity that they must “confess” and start over from day 1 and in their shame and sense of defeat said screw it I might as well make this SLIP into a FULL Run and they either OD’d or went straight back to full on active addiction again when there was a good chance that with a bit of support and no judgements but welcoming encouragement they may have just got back on track by saying I’m Human I Made A Mistake and now I’m ready to be back on my “clean” road where I LEFT OFF AT not on DAY 1.
      Wheread do teetotalers draw the line… is gaining a lot of weight in recovery still using since you are now abusing food? Is taking SSRI’s for Depression using? How about Adderall for ADHD after all its an amphetamine? What about Pain Medication after a serious or painful procedure or cough medication for a chest cold? Also WHO determines the rules? These are all questions 1 MUST DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES!

  6. BRAVO!!! just keeping it real I love that about you. I too have recently thrown out my ole recovery manual I been relapsing with for 20 years, the one I was taught. So I vomited all that crap out of me and began to explore. Trauma came up and so comes a therapist and everyone I talk to from Dr. to C/D counselor to M.H. Prof. tell me the same. Trauma MUST be dealt with in order to recover. Went from meds that weren’t obviously not helping to some holistic herbs, and any support group I choose if I ever choose to go it’s really liberating right now I don’t feel bound or constricted within my program anymore. And I’m sure the hell not afraid as you aren’t either to bring it up. Be blessed, my friend. Fabulous piece Nicola!!

    • I sincerely agree with that statement, when you go to apply for a job, or disability, you get turned down if your an addict.

  7. I could not agree more, I have an ex-sponsee, who is sitting in jail right now, because she wants to “work the program her way and at her pace, which is non-existent in my opinion is “not at all” being that she stays drunk, while on furlow from jail, continues to hang with people who drink and drug. (that is her business not mine, anymore) but I feel sure she will die from this disease, I am surprised that she doesn’t have cirrhosis of the liver or pancreas with drinking heavily for the last 30 years, costing her, her daughters, family, jobs, etc.

  8. Well, this is loaded, Nicola. You’re firing bullets that make good sense to me.

    I wanted to share I’ve had a different experience lately. I can recognize what you’re describing and I’ve seen such narrow-mindedness. But, I have to say, I’ve never seen 12-step meetings more open and welcoming and accommodating than I do now. It might be a result of my own natural inclination toward these sorts of meetings.

    Just don’t lose hope with them! It is about principles, not personalities. If you come across people not practicing the principles, surround yourself with some new personalities!

    • Nicola O'Hanlon
      Nicola O'Hanlon

      I haven’t answered anyone elses comment here Marc, and I’m answering yours because I respect you as a fellow writer and recovery advocate. Firstly, sharing my experience is not firing bullets. Secondly I don’t want to go to meetings, so I haven’t in over 18 months. The point of this essay was about intolerance and giving people the freedom and respect to find recovery where they will. My point has been proven regarding the intolerance by the angry personal attacks I’ve received and further proven by the very negative experiences that other’s in the recovery community have shared. I believe that the 12 step process is highly effective as a recovery method. It was for me and continues to be. However, it is dogmatic, bullying attitudes of the “fellowship”, that deters many people and I don’t think it is acceptable to consistently have to deal with these kinds of personalities when seeking wellness. Especially not for people who are new. I am tired of being hit with regurgitated slogans when I share my experience of my recovery path. I am tired of the attacks and the endless criticism of myself and others who have differing opinions and experience. I think you may have missed the point of my essay, or misinterpreted or perhaps misread it as many people have and taken only what they wanted from it……clearly it’s upset you as I did see your fb post.

      • Nicky, I would like to add an extra “2 cents”, you’re a wonderful example of how “You” found your way out”, as I have learned, we all don’t get the “Bright White Light” as Bill W. did, Recovery is very personal. I was ready and my “Teacher appeared”, that was after 18 yrs. ,70 relapses (I’m lucky to be alive), each of us has our own path, I have a lot of respect for anyone who has the willingness to admit that they are beyond human aid. Light & Love my friend

  9. Good Post, I am a “Big Book Thumper”, as the Book states “We don’t have a monopoly on Recovery”- I have enjoyed, suffered many physical as well as mental , emotional and Spiritual “Growth ” , I do wholeheartedly believe in the 12 steps, BUT -I know scores of others who overcame their addictions through other means. Recovery is not an event, it is a “Lifestyle” and there are many forms. as the 2nd appendage states “we should remain Open Minded to ALL Spiritual Concepts”- I do follow the self inventory process, I also follow the Responsibility Declaracion- “When ANYONE, ANYWHERE reaches out for Help, I want the hand of (some fellowship) to be there, for that “I” am Responsible “- I do think it comes down to “Trust God (as you understand the Creator) ,Keep MY side of the street Clean, Help Others” that is as simple as I can get, Light & Love to ALL who still are recovering, growing and giving HOPE to the still suffering – Thanks Again to all – “WE” who make our world a better place

  10. Blah blah …terminal uniqueness…blah.

    If I had a dime for every alcoholic who got sober in AA began “working in the field” instead of giving away what was freely given to them, became a recovery “expert” in thier own minds, and had an early funeral, I’d be filthy rich.

    What a joke!

  11. My name is Jeff and I’m an addict. I’ve been clean for over 22 years, recovering in NA. I’m happily married to the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known. She celebrated 9 years clean this year. Her sponsor celebrated 30 years clean this year. My sponsor will celebrate 30 in August. I currently sponsor 3 men. One just celebrated 2 years on Wed, one will celebrate thier first in a couple weeks. One will celebrate 9 years in a couple months.

    I too see recovery as a precious gift and one that I need to GIVE away to keep. That’s why I’m of service to NA in other ways as well, on both the group level and area level.

    My Higher Power and NA have given me a life truly beyond my dreams, and I am beyond grateful.

    I’m not saying this to brag. I’m just sharing my experience with a 12 step program being an extremely effective way for many addicts to find freedom from addiction.

    I’m also a human being and more often than I’d like subject to behavior I’m less than proud of. I am the author of one of the quotes the writer of this felt necessary to put in her article. It came from a post in the NA discussion board. I welcome you to check it out.

    I’ll admit it was not one of my finer moments. I apologize to both Nichole and Allison for making it personal. I was not a good example of “principles before personalities” at all.

    That said, I was angry and justifiably angry IMO. I have grown tired of the NA discussion board being overrun with trolls and non NA members constantly presenting recovery “alternatives”

    You found something that works for you other than 12 step recovery? Awesome! Maybe share about it in places that aren’t dedicated to 12 step recovery? It just seems like basic common sense to me. I don’t go to Jazz clubs and tell the patrons they should check out my Hip Hop club!

    The mentioning in this article of “cured” alcoholics who now can drink socially is VERY dangerous IMO. I have a disease that wants to tell me I don’t. And since when are alcoholics who drink trustworthy providers of information.

    It all reminds me of my friend Vance. Vance befriended me when I first got clean. He was EXTREMELY intelligent and a bit of a rebel (like many addicts). Time went by and Vance tired of NA. He had 8 years clean when he decided he didn’t want to call himself an addict anymore. He began “drinking socially” and when I would run into him he would tell me how great life was….yadda yadda. Well Vance eventually started using crystal meth “socially” and ended up in a mental institution with “drug induced psychosis”. One day he escaped, walked to an elementary school he one attended, snuck into a vacant room and hung himself.

    By all means be open minded. But please don’t be so open minded that you’ll fall for anything.

  12. I don’t want to sound too narrow minded here, truly, and I admire your independent thinking. Personally, I went to rehab on my 24th birthday and have never taken another drink. Why? Because those narrow minded people said at my first real world AA meeting, that if I did….I would die. And truth be told, I believed them…..and still do.

    I well recall that feeling of wanting to die; the desperate, drunken prayer that God relieve me of the bondage of self. And nothing was or is worth going back to that.

    I’ve since married and divorced twice, have two amazing, beautifully gifted sons….one who shares my disease and the other….well, he’s only 4—but, I don’t see the traits there. I’ve earned several degrees, own a beautiful home, and have an extremely successful career.

    I’ve also buried more friends and loved ones than you can imagine….including my first husband.

    July 3rd I turn 50….and it will be 26 years since I walked into that rehab. And I still believe just one drink is all it will take. And frankly, I’m far too grateful for the life I’ve been given to risk it. You see Gods grace has brought me here….nowhere does it say I get this chance again.

    And every time you suggest an easier, softer way….I’m afraid of how many might believe you. You see, when my son sticks that needle in his arm, clean or not, it’s the fentanyl and elephant tranqus I worry about. Not another dirty needle.

    So if we unenlightened old timers seem too judgmental for your fragile sensibilities….well, you’re absolutely right. We are….because for us, to drink is to die. Period.

    • 25. Over the years I’ve learned to see that not all people need to really work the program,..or at all…To stay sober (physically only); ..this amazed me and I started to take a look at this. After suspecting that these couldn’t be alcoholic,…i started to see & hear that they were not,…and rather showed to be 1 e.g. more so..Mental Defectives that grace our rooms*. **Only an unsurrendered alc or mental defective would Not Want the Program(That has saved millions, and with misc others benefiting greatly also), …and then wish to be there-yet “use” the meeting, and try to change it to serve their Non Addict-Alcoholic…take it or leave it..program #%&!(see: Selfish to the extreme… If they don’t want or need it, at least they should leave it intact..for those who do !!!

    • VERY well said.

  13. As usual you have expressed an intelligent and well thought piece based on your experience, strength and hope plus some excellent research.
    Personally, I like the disease model because it reduces the stigmatization associated with being a person in recovery of any addiction. Otherwise I don’t care because I know that my issues are a combination mind, body and spirit shortcomings that could only be dealt with by building a new mind. AA has helped me and taught me to listen without judgement, to be tolerant, more accepting and less controlling. Most of the time thankfully I am also accepting of all my imperfections.
    The following analogy was given to me early in my recovery. Our minds during addiction are broken beyond repair; much like a house that has leaks, busted pipes, short circuited wires and other issues. The house can either be patched and will probably break again or we can start from scratch with a new foundation and build up from there. That’s what I have chosen to do. It’s difficult hard work but I’m worth it.
    Thanks again, you’re worth it.

    • Now you my friend have recovered!
      Great to see people change by following the steps and traditions instead of the fellowship!

  14. This is great. To each their own I say!!! Work what works for you. Don’t mind everyone else’s business!! I personally work the 12 step program as that works for me. I’m happy to hear what works for you. I will not ctritize nor do I expect others to do so to me. I use whatever resources work for me, that’s the joy of having an open mind!! There are gonna be ppl out there no matter what program (or lack of anything) that will be critical. I think in essence it would relate better if we were to differentiate the open minded to the closed minded, rather than base on the kind of program you are working in.

  15. If you tune into negative, you will receive negative, or what you focus on becomes your reality. I am sober many years, but my alcoholic mind has not disappeared nor have I become cured. I will forever be perversely attracted to and wish to drink again, but I love my vibrant sober healthy life and find the “tools” provided by the framework of the AA program to enhance my life not make it a bummer. I also feed my mind with tons of alternative methods that inspire me (Gabor Mate) and try to remain open minded.

  16. You couldn’t have been more exact , spot-on, in describing my state of mind at this time. I do go against the grain in terms of my perspective and approach to recovery and have been attacked, openly and with more subtlety, but the message is always the same- ” You’re wrong Allison. You won’t make it. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was going to leave this community but have decided to stay. I intend to keep an open mind even if others don’t and decide to persecute me for “spreading my poison” , as someone in a discussion described me.

  17. Avatar
    Kathryn Davis-Finch

    My my. It’s taking courage just to reply to this discussion. In the first 2 years of my sobriety, the ugliest conflict and anger provoking topic was smoking in the rooms. It resulted in non- smoking meetings. As a new comer with high anxiety and childhood history of a raging father I felt confused given “acceptance, open mindedness, love and tolerance, live and let live.” Axioms. I had no problem listening here to “her story.” Her story doesn’t equate to my story. Life changes, cultural norms change, people’s thinking change. Change is change. Even today the rooms of AA (as I observe) is highly composed of dual addiction persons in recovery. AA (me included) were insistent one not mention their drug addiction in AA meetings. Trying to stop this change was like using will power over diarrhea. Today, my recovery teaches me still to take my own inventory. For others: live and let live. I didn’t read here an advertisement, a referral, or AA criticisms. I hear someone’s experience, strength and hope. I don’t have to act disagreeable to disagree. Nicky, thanks for sharing. I’m sure when I share, not everyone likes, approves, or accepts me. But I do believe I’ll always be an alcoholic, go to meetings and practice this program of AA TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY. NOTE:years ago many raged against mental health medications and many suffered or returned to drinking or died of suicide because they couldn’t meet someone else’s expectations of them. Dr. Silkworth and the doctors opinion acknowledged a spiritual solution was needed. What has increased over time is that medication is appropriate for some recovering men and women.

  18. What moon phase was your personality in when you wrote this dribble? You are more likely to get an addict or alcoholic killed than to help them with this crap. I would love to see how long these people praising you have been sober. My guess is that the majority of them are those who barely attempted the 12 steps, failed to stay sober and blamed the program like they’ve been blaming things thier whole lives.

    Congrats on being thier champion!

    • I agree with every word, and have been in abstinence based recovery for over seventeen years. I’ve been through the steps, traditions, and concepts with the help of a sponsor, and believe what she says to be true.

      Those of us who have stayed sober long enough to realize that we did so to live – not necessarily in a church basement – have experienced the promises and are not shackled by the guilt or shame you’re selling. We understand that we are not God, and do not have any more power to “get an alcoholic or addict killed” than you do of keeping one sober or alive.

      I hope you find some peace someday, Jake, and maybe work through some of that misdirected anger. Comments like yours are a HUGE disservice regarding tradition 11 and true 12 step programming. To be completely honest, it also makes you appear really unstable.

      Maybe call your sponsor.

  19. Hahaha yes interesting. So there was his holy man in Samadhi, very deep trance, sitting motionless in the shade under a tree. Three drunks came along, saw this holy man appearing unconscious, and they sat next to him believing he too was drunk. Eventually the drunks crashed out and feel asleep. Meanwhile a bunch of drug addicts passed by. They saw the drunks sleeping, saw the holy man in trance, and they too decided to sit in the shade of this tree believing the others under it, that they too must be drug addicts, and that had all flaked out. So it became dark now, and the holy man remained in trance, the drunks and drug addicts had all fallen asleep under this tree. There were their bags, coats, and litter and a general mess all around them. So anyway next a thief walked by. He saw the mess, the coats the bags, and saw everyone had crashed out, and thought that they too must be thieves sleeping under this tree at night.
    So when I read ‘It occurred to me this past week, that the level of intolerance is rising within the recovery community at quite a disturbing level.’ Hahaha really?
    What is big and everyone seems interested in is LOA. The problem here is they are all putting the cart before the horse. So working in a psychic manner, may well produce manifestation, but that is where it ends. Wake up! Recovery works when you have a ‘Higher Power’. Yet to go really deeply into it, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. So connecting to the Soul and to the Kingdom of God, there is ultimate bliss beyond the senses, and then there is this ‘Higher Power’ unseen by most, that meets all your needs. The supply comes from within, and ‘IT’S’ abundance is infinite. (or so I have heard)

  20. Nicola – I love this piece. Great work my friend! X

  21. If you are an alcoholic -and the test I like best in my 27 years of recovery is from a judge in town who is not: “if you have ever found yourself in attendance at an AA meeting, there is a high probability that you are truly an alcoholic. ..”- then your sobriety is a gift from the universe or whatever you may choose to believe in. It wasn’t something you were able to come up with on your own. You participated, but other things were at work also.How you choose to use that gift is up to you, but keep in mind, just as it was given to you, it can also be taken away. I’d like to see a follow up article 5 or even 10 years from now. I know of alcoholics who felt cured, went back to “moderate” drinking, they even got drunk once in awhile, who we’re high functioning, productive members of society right up to the minute they decided to blow their brains out with a gun….sobriety is a gift, be careful how you use it. That’s not too judgey or intolerant is it?

  22. My father made it thru several years of sobriety, including the death of his mother and my mother, his wife. Then he got a cold and took Nyquil. He never had another sober breath, and died of cirrhosis of the liver.
    Maybe some people can get away with an occasional drink, but others can’t. So some things in this uninformed post horrifty me.
    But, hey, whatever works for you

    • I did not find the article uninformed. I thought it was a thoughtful piece with one woman’s opinion about granting people the freedom to find their own recovery paths.

  23. Yes! So spot on here! I find the same thinking in my 12 Step meetings. “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”. I don’t think so. In fact, I just spoke with a guy last night that said he’s been drinking 4 or 5 beers a night, no problem, yet he still believes he’s an alcoholic. Opened my eyes and made me start asking myself what I believe. Today, I don’t think of myself as an alcoholic anymore. I don’t believe my Higher Power took away the obsession to drink, nor is that HP keeping me from drinking today. I’ve worked on my trauma, and continue to do so daily. I will continue with 12 step meetings because I find connection there, but any more than that, I’m out. Kudos to anyone following their own path. What works for you doesn’t work for everyone. Thank you so much for putting this out there.
    Blessings, Mindy

  24. I always get a kick when people have a need to justify getting recovery from a method other than the 12 steps. AA is a voluntary fellowship “the only requirement is a desire to not drink” if that is true, and what you want you are always welcome.

    It is not the only game in town.

  25. I enjoyed this. I like to let people find their own way. Support was vital for me, and AA helped me a lot then I became disabled. I appear to be miraculous because I don’t drink and I don’t attend meetings. I can’t attend meetings and I don’t drink because I genuinely do not want too. It had me so gripped I never thought I would escape. Thanks to professional help and AA support and a truly amazing sponsor who is a friend I got the support I needed in the early days. I have to keep on top of my mental health and my choice in spiritual path helps me immensly. I also after some time saw the negative side of Aa where confidentiality was breached where people were abusive to vulnerable members and I realised dangers of being that open with unproffesionals. It absolutely has its place in recovery and I am grateful for it, but using other means and reading latest research and doing what is right for you as an individual is the most important.

  26. Nicky, this was an absolute wonderful article to read! You are such an inspiration and I have always felt very similar. I have also found that some in 12steps are very judgemental. Thank you! Xoxo Erin

  27. Having just passed my one-year anniversary, I’m new to a life of recovery and attended 12-step programs for the first 6 months. I found myself surrounded by angry, depressed, frustrated people and I had to find better ways to manage my sobriety. It was so refreshing and enlightening to read your post Nicola! For the most part, I’m a happy, positive person, so going to meetings was a downer for me. At the risk of sounding ridiculously positive, I was afraid to speak! One person even told me (rolling her eyes) that I was “on my pink cloud, so just wait…you’ll have lots of gray periods.” Oh, thanks a bunch for your support. There are so many other avenues to help me stay on the right track. I’m learning something new every day. And, who am I to EVER judge anyone in recovery if they have found their own way to stay sober! Thank you, again, for helping me today.

  28. Evolution is a fact of life, so why is it any different for Addiction and Recovery? There are so many different ways of becoming well, and for me personally I support “all paths” to recovery. This intolerance for different and newer ways is the opposite of what make sobriety attractive. As a writer for In the Rooms, I too will be writing about this dogma more! Who cares how we get well, as long as we do? Thank you Nicky for having the courage to speak your truth.

  29. I enjoyed you post, it is true,but this attitude did not just come about. We are all sick and have large EGO’s. A good number of us want to control others and always be right. My sobriety goes back to October 23 1973, For many years I ignored the disease concept. After ten years or so my sponsor ask me about my feeling on the subject. I told his I believed in Will Power that I had been taught that as a child. He said that was OK but the next time you have a case of diarrhea feel free to use Will Power.I begin to see that it was something I could not control. …..Thanks…John Hadskey Jr.

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