Written By: Fiona Stockard

Articles are the sole work of the individual author and do not express the opinion of Sobriety for Women.

Grateful Alcoholics Don’t Drink?


If you’re in recovery, you go to meetings. If you go to meetings, you hear corny sayings. If you hear corny sayings, you’ve heard “grateful alcoholics don’t drink.” So, by the transitive property, if you’re in recovery, you’ve heard that grateful alcoholics don’t drink.

I hate that saying, okay? It’s clichéd, shallow, corny, and worst of all, misleading! Now, before you write me off as a ranting and raving lunatic, let me explain.

Why I Hate That Saying

“Grateful alcoholics don’t drink” isn’t inherently bad. I mean, if you know the true meaning of gratitude, you probably won’t drink (or get high). Okay, sounds reasonable. Besides, gratitude is an important part of sobriety.

Here’s the thing though, the saying is used as a sort of band-aid AA. It’s right up there with “don’t drink and go to meetings,” “meeting makers make it,” “put the plug in the jug,” and “easy does it.” Hey, someone should write articles about those too!

Let me explain something very clearly. Alcoholics drink. Grateful alcoholics drink. Sober alcoholics drink. Drunk alcoholics drink. Alcoholics in any form drink. We drink because we’re alcoholic and we’re alcoholic because we drink. We drink because we don’t have a choice and we don’t have a choice because we drink.

However, once you do the work, you have a choice about whether to drink or not. Do what work?, you ask. I thought I only had to go to meetings?, you ask. Here’s the reason why “grateful alcoholics don’t drink,” and all those other sayings, suck.

Do Some Work

I didn’t get sober until I got off my butt and did some work. I sat in meetings immediately after shooting up. I relapsed over and over and over again, until the day I decided to try something different.

When I say I did some work, or that I tried something different, I’m talking about working the twelve-steps. You’d be surprised how many people go to meetings and don’t work the steps. Well, maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you’ve sat in meetings and seen the girl nodding off.

See, AA wasn’t designed around meetings. In fact, meetings came about as an offshoot of doing step-work. Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the other original AA’s met weekly to talk about issues in their lives. They met to encourage each other and provide a safe haven for new members. They met in each other’s houses and had meetings downstairs. Upstairs, sponsor and sponsee would be working the steps together. Guess what? Everyone wanted to be upstairs. They knew that was where you started to get better.

When we first get sober (or dry, if we’re using the correct term), we sit in meetings and are literally insane. We don’t know what it is to be sane. Yeah, we’re not drinking or drugging, but we’re not better! We’re still delusional, selfish, and manipulative. Simply put, we’re still sick.

So, how do we get better? We get a sponsor and start to get in touch with a god of our own understanding. We have honest talks with our sponsor. We write down the people we don’t like. We write down our fears, our character defects, and our sexual escapades. We write down the people we’ve hurt, then we go out and make things right with those people. Simply put, we work the steps!

After Doing Some Work You Probably Won’t Drink

See, gratitude is a verb. You can’t sit in meetings and be grateful for being there. You can’t be in south Florida and be grateful for the palm trees. You can’t white-knuckle being dry and be grateful for “being sober.” No, in order to be grateful for anything you need to put the work in.

Know what I’m grateful for today? I’m grateful my parents answer the phone when I call. I’m grateful I can show up for work. I’m grateful I have friends. Know how I got those things? Well, I made amends to my parents and then stopped screwing them over. I got a job and showed up everyday, whether I wanted to or not. I talked to people and showed them, through my actions, that I was worthy of friendship.

In each of those cases, work was involved. After doing the work, and feeling the peace that came from it, I’m able to be grateful. After doing the work, I’m able to appreciate things.

So, you want to be a grateful alcoholic who doesn’t drink? Get a sponsor, work the twelve-steps, start getting in touch with god as you understand god, make things right, and show up for life. Otherwise, you’re going to get drunk.

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