This is my own list of some of the more common terms i’ve heard in my Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous.
A bottom is the single, earth shattering, mind altering, conscious raising cataclysmic event that forces the alcoholic to see his disease for the first time. Illusions are washed away in a tsunami of reality and a sinking feeling of Titanic proportions compels the alkie to call out for help. Not all drinkers have a bottom, and some bottoms are bigger than others. My bottom was huge, whereas other have cute little tiny bottoms. Regardless, once you come out of your bottom, you’ll never be the same again.
An alcoholic who’s sober but still an asshole. Someone who put down the booze but still clings to the issues that put it there in the first place.
Gratitude = Great + Attitude. Taking a break from living to appreciate life. Gratitude for an addict means recognizing and appreciating the gifts recovery has brought–things the disease had promised but never delivered. A common suggestion for alcoholics in recovery is to keep and regularly update a Gratitude List of all the things that sobriety has given them which drinking took away.
The group you call your Home Sweet Home. Where you attend regular meetings, have a circle of close friends, and provide service. You may feel at home in every AA group, but your home group is where you make others feel they’re home.
Cheers said it best:
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Someone with less than one year of sobriety. Because those new to sobriety are often spiritually and psychologically fragile, it is often recommended that newcomers refrain from making any major life changes (for example selling the house, changing careers, getting divorced) in their first year. There is an unwritten rule that other AA members should not become romantically invloved with newcomers because the relationship wouldn’t be balanced and the sobriety of both members would be threatened.
Be nice to every newcomer, they may be your next sponsor.
Part sage, part war vetern, the term “old timer” implies the member has seen it all, including tough love recovery and has some distilled wisdom to impart. While there is no set time limit when a member officially becomes an “old timer”, 25 years sobriety would seem like a minimum.
When I tell people I’ve been sober for nearly 45 years, I see them look at me like it’s a prison sentence. Condemned to 45 years of boredom and niceness. I’m here to tell you, the weird stuff is still out there. When you get drunk it falls in your lap, but when you’re sober, you may have to look for it, but it’s out there. The weirdness is still out there. –Heard in the Rooms
Where the pink elephants used to live, and what you have left when they’ve gone. Right next to Cloud Nine, the Pink Cloud is the feeling of relief you feel when you stop pounding your head against the stone wall of inebriation, convinced you will somehow break through.
Not everyone experiences this high in the first year of sobriety, and usually those that do get it say that it lasts only a few months.
“The Promises” is something that comes straight out of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 83-84
The strange thing about the promises is that you don’t realize how great these things are until you have them and that you get tons more stuff that isn’t even included here. Like you enjoy the holidays more. What’s up with that? And appreciate your family more. Who knew?
Home Sweet Home and sometimes Home Sweat Home. Refers to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting rooms. Members of AA will often talk about things they “picked up in the rooms”, meaning while attending an AA meeting.
Doing “Service” means volunteering in AA. A common example of “service” is helping out during an AA meeting by greeting newcomers, setting up the room or taking care of the coffee. By doing things beneath you, you lift yourself up. In doing things you’re too good for, you make yourself a better person. “Service” is a pain in the ass because you’re supposed to be doing it for other people, but the more you do, the more you get back for yourself. Imagine trying to give all your money away, but whatever you donate you receive back three-fold.
“Sharing” is the action of spilling your guts when you open your heart during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Depending on the size of the meeting, the amount of time you have to share may be limited. You can only share once during a meeting, other speakers are not allowed to interrupt the speaker who is sharing, and commenting on a previous speaker’s share when you are sharing (see “cross talk”) is frowned upon. “A Share” is the egoism wisdom, anger danger, or worth-shit worship you spit up when you are at your most vulnerable in front of the dozens of other ex drunkards saving your life with the life lines of words you cast with your real voice. From Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous:
The only currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.
See also: cross talk, lead, qualification
Your Sponsor is the person you have chosen to help keep your sober. Choosing a Sponsor is even more important than choosing a spouse, and i’m only half kidding here. While love means you can forgive a husband’s or wife’s mistakes, your Sponsor needs to be above reproach. The most important attributes of a good Sponsor are trust, because you will have to do things you may not think are necessary so you need to have faith that the person telling you to do these things is right. A good Sponsor should have many years of sobriety in order to have experienced enough crap to be able to guide you through your own. A good Sponsor should be someone you look up to, because this person will be shaping your sobriety and will play a large part in the sober person you become.
Thirteenth Step (13th Step)
Considered unsavory and unethical, the Thirteenth Step is taking the 12th Step (“we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”) one step further by hooking up with a newcomer, thus showing not much principle at all in a new affair.
When you’re struggling to get a grip and holding on to sobriety so tightly your knuckles are white because your life depends on it. When letting go means Letting Go, sobriety means holding on and holding off one minute at a time. “White knuckling it” is often used to refer to someone new to recovery, or someone who is not working their program. The implication being that if the alcoholic has a good sobriety, the desperation wouldn’t be there.