I can still remember the first ever AA speaker I listened to. It was eight years ago, and it was my first night at an inpatient rehab facility. I was as miserable as any alcoholic would be during the first day of sobriety, believing that now I would be unable to have fun. Mind you, before I got put in rehab, I had been drinking every day and going on benders every weekend. The incident that got me put in rehab involved me waking up in the hospital after somehow surviving a BAC of .44. At that point, if I was in Moscow, the fun train was in Vladivostok.
To my disbelief, the speaker was hilarious, seemed to be genuinely (like, for real, not faking it) happy and had a backstory I could relate to. Maybe it was the humor, maybe it was because he was happy, or maybe it was because it was the first exposure to AA I ever had, but that person’s story has stuck with me in the eight years since.
When you are new in sobriety, hearing the stories of old-timers can be both inspiring and hard to believe. Today, with several years of sobriety, I still find inspiration from AA meetings and AA speakers, new and old. The simple act of hearing the story of another addict/alcoholic lets you know that you are not alone, that other people can relate to the way your mind works, and that recovery is possible.
What are some ways to find inspiration when you’re new in sobriety?
The first answer is meetings. Whether you have 3 days in sobriety, 3 years, 3 decades or other units of time that don’t have the number “3” in them, meetings are a great way to find inspiration and comradery. In any AA meeting, if you listen, you will find at least one thing someone shares about themselves that you can relate to. There are several different types of meetings, including:
Open vs. Closed Meetings
Open meetings are open to anyone, even people who are not addicts/alcoholics, meaning families and friends of alcoholics can visit and attend. In closed meetings, only addicts/alcoholics are allowed to attend.
Usually, a fellow addict or alcoholic will lead the meeting, bring up a topic, and then there will be a discussion of the topic among the group.
A member will tell the full story of their addiction and their recovery. Sometimes these meetings also involve a discussion session.
Big Book Studies
These are meetings focused on the Big Book. Generally, a passage of the Big Book will be read, with members taking turns reading paragraphs, with some time set aside for discussion of the passage that was just read.
These are meetings dedicated to one of the steps at a time. Oftentimes these meetings focus on one step per month (i.e., January is step one, February is step two, March is step 3, etc.)
These include gender-identity specific meetings, lgbt meetings, etc. These are meetings where only someone in that demographic can attend.
A meeting style that exploded in popularity after March of 2020, online meetings can essentially give you 24/7 access to meetings. Several Portland area meetings have online meetings that are either part of the group or independent offshoots of the original group. On top of that, at any time of day, you can find a meeting somewhere in the world. Early on in lockdown, I made an effort to travel the world via Zoom meetings, hitting meetings in places like England, Scotland, Australia, and Israel (an English speaking one). If you are busy, and have access to a cell phone or computer, you can simply listen in.
There are an almost infinite number of meetings, meeting styles and meeting vibes. We don’t have until the heat death of the universe, so we’ll leave it at those broad categories.
To find a meeting that fits you, here are some resources:
- Portland Area Intergroup (Alcoholics Anonymous)
- Portland NA (Narcotics Anonymous)
- Alano Club of Portland
- AA Online Intergroup
- NA Virtual Meetings
Podcasts & Speaker Tapes
If you don’t have access to meetings, there are sober podcasts and speaker tapes you can listen to. A few podcasts/resources include:
Recovery Happy Hour
Tricia Lewis quit drinking in November 2016 and has stayed sober ever since. Now, in 2022, she hosts and produces Recovery Happy Hour, a podcast that features inspiring stories of recovery from alcohol addiction. On this podcast, Tricia and various guests discuss life after drinking and what happens after we get sober.
That Sober Guy
In 2013, Shane Ramer sought treatment for his 17-year drug and alcohol addiction. In 2014 he started “That Sober Guy” Podcast to share his own recovery and allow others to share theirs. His show features interviews with famous people and everyday people who are in recovery.
This podcast is hosted by Jes Valentine and Kate Zander, two friends from New York City who quit drinking and have become outspoken advocates for the benefits of sobriety. In this podcast, they discuss several relatable aspects of recovery and sober living, featuring plenty of humor and blunt honesty.
One Day at a Time Podcast
One Day at a Time Podcast (shortened to ODAATP) is about recovery from alcoholism & drug addiction, the journey of recovery, community, and healing. A wide variety of guests tell their stories of what it was like, what happened and where they are now. The show is hosted by a woman (Arlina) who has been clean and sober since 1994.
Breaking Free: Your Recovery Your Way
The Breaking Free Podcast discusses everything it means to be in addiction recovery and thrive independently. Featuring discussions based on lived experiences, research and experts in the field, the hosts unpack the ways recovery can be limited and how to overcome those limits. Limits discussed include stigmatizing language, disordered eating, trauma, unhealthy relationships and boundary issues.
The Bubble Hour
In this podcast, Jean McCarthy invites listeners to share their recovery stories and explore topics related to recovery. Jean has been sober since 2011 and was awarded the 2017 Hope Award from SheRecovers for her achievements in recovery advocacy.
This Naked Mind
Podcast hosted by bestselling author Annie Grace, where she and hundreds of other people in recovery share the experience, strength, and hope of their recovery.
The Addicted Mind
This podcast is centered more on the scientific aspects of addiction, treatment, and recovery. It can be an interesting look into how our addict/alcoholic brains work, and ways we can combat our automatic behaviors. Like all these podcasts, it is hosted by one of us, Duane Osterlind, who has years of recovery experience.
Forum containing over 6000 recordings from a few hundred different AA speakers. Access is completely free and sorted by step, theme, and demographic. Great resource to find stories from AA speakers with years of sobriety.
OTR Can Help
Getting a strong foothold in recovery can give you more access to inspiration, be it the stories of other alcoholics/addicts, readings, meetings, or the general fellowship of the program. For that, OTR can help.