Posted in Sharing

A Good Life

When I came to AA my life was certainly not good
I needed to stop drinking, but not sure that I could
I’d lost self-respect; I was completely beaten down
My daughter would not even let my grandkids come around

The wife had stood by me, but her patience wearing thin
My best friend at that moment was my bottle of gin
My partners in business said it’s time I should leave
I had lost almost everything I’d worked hard to achieve

So I went to rehab, then after, to AA
But I was not convinced they could show me a new way
A way of life that would remove my alcohol obsession
To ward off that first drink that would then lead to regression

But I’d made a commitment, to do what those folks said
For I knew if I did not, I just might end up dead
So, I went to a meeting every day as was suggested
Asked help from a sponsor, to help me get connected

Then after a while, things did begin to change
A chance for my redemption did not really seem strange
The thoughts about drinking slowly did start to cease
It had been some time since my mind felt this inner peace

But, although my life was better and had greatly improved
There was still stinking thinking, that had not yet been removed
A reminder of some things I’d done, during my drinking past
This would lead me to start thinking, this new life would not last

All my character defects had not been deleted
Envy was the one that most often got repeated
It happened once again at my brother’s newly built house
It was huge for two people, just himself and his spouse

Our families were invited to a house warming type bash
The house was a real showplace, costing him bundles of cash
The party was catered, and no expense was left undone
Yet I could not enjoy it, I was not having fun

I experienced envy and began to regret
The past I had chosen, one I’d rather soon forget
The time that I spent drinking, and the harm it had cost
The money that I wasted, the earnings that I’d lost

But as I sat there thinking and began to look around
The program kicked in, and my thoughts did settle down
My brother had almost everything that his money could buy
But the thing that was missing helped to open up my eyes

He’d not talked to his daughter for almost twenty years
His son lived in Montana, so he rarely appeared
No children or grandkids to enjoy all that he’d made
The pleasures of a family had somehow been mislaid

As I looked round the room, gratitude filled my mind
I saw all of MY family and they all lived real close by
My wife and our three children, and seven grandkids, all were there
The best years of my life with them, our family time to share

Had I not found AA, I would not have had this gift
Consumed by the drink had caused my family to drift
Today we’re all together, a family reunited
The spark that I had lost, has been once again ignited

Any time my brain begins to have thoughts like these
I think back to that night, that helps puts me at ease
Surrounded my family, kids, grandkids and wife
I know now what it means to say that I have A Good Life

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing


The “rule” of H.A.L.T. is a reminder that can help us all along the road to recovery – The Essence of AA

AS ADJUNCTS to AA’s spiritual program and meetings, there are clichés, systems, gimmicks, and a myriad of other tricks that have been used by AA members down through the years to maintain sobriety. I, for one, strongly uphold the application of the foremost of these, the “Rule of HALT,” not only for the new member, but for the old-timer as well. Further, I sincerely feel this simple rule to be too often ignored or passed over lightly.

In the beginning, new members, as we all know, are usually confused and completely without direction. Some are sincere to the very bottom of their souls, while others arc only lukewarm in their desire to “put the plug in the jug.” Both sorts look to us for answers explaining how, and all too often they are disappointed. (This is understandable, for how many of us know how AA works?)

We have precious little to give our “babies” save encouragement, fellowship, and living proof that the program works–at least for us. Why not, then, pass on whatever practical information and instruction we can to each newcomer, to make his beginning more palatable and to enhance his chances of success should he choose to follow these instructions?

We are certain that most members of AA are aware of the “Rule of HALT,” but to what degree we cannot be certain. To scrutinize the rule briefly may be helpful to the reader and will certainly be so to the writer, who has proved in reality that violation of it in part or in toto can, and often does, lead to relapse. Here, then, is the meat of the rule:


Don’t get too Hungry. For a reason we cannot explain, there seems to be in the alcoholic, a peculiar psychophysiological relationship between hunger and the urge to drink.

On some occasions, we would eat a big dinner and then find that it had literally destroyed our desire to drink afterwards. Conversely, and eventually more often, we avoided eating because we knew it would interfere with our drinking.
Years ago, my sponsor told me that if I had a physical urge to take a drink, I should go out of my way to drink a milk shake. If this didn’t work, he said. I should drink another. And another. I can testify that if you can drink liquor on top of two or three milk shakes, you aren’t an alcoholic. You’re nuts!

And so, when you are hungry, eat. Simple and important. (This writer eats little at one time, but may eat something as many as five times daily.)


Don’t get too Angry. Wow! Of all things to tell an alcoholic! But we don’t have to be on the program very long to realize that anger, righteous or not, is better left to those who can handle it.

Borrowing from Father John Doe: “Let the other guy get mad! If somebody calls me an SOB, either I am or I ain’t. If I am, so what? And if I ain’t, why should I make myself one by getting mad about it?”

We can’t afford to get angry–especially at people. Kick the wall or the TV if you will, but “Let the other guy get mad!” We know too well where anger leads: to resentment. And brother, do we know what resentment brings!

Rule of thumb? Well, as the young folks say in this age, “Cool it, baby. Cool it.”


Don’t get too Lonely. Nonalcoholic members of the psychiatric profession tend to equate loneliness with boredom, and we are inclined to agree. If there is any one thing that must be included in the alcoholic’s life before he can once again become a whole man, it is worthwhile activity. This may be Twelfth Step work, his vocation, his avocation, or anything else. But we feel such activity must be present in order to fulfill his existence and eliminate loneliness.

We must also consider the loneliness brought about because the newcomer lives alone. But this is easily rectified. It takes only a phone call or a visit to an AA-oriented social club. Or, for the AA Loner, far from other members, the Big Book or a letter to an AA pen pal may suffice.

Under any conditions, loneliness is the mother of self-pity, and the ultimate end is resentment and drinking.

The rule of thumb? Do something!


Don’t get too Tired. In its effect, the last ingredient or direction in our rule is not too different from the first. Physical fatigue will affect both our bodies and our minds adversely and will thereby lower our defenses against the urge to drink if there is any possibility at all of such a desire being present, consciously or subconsciously.

And here the rule of thumb is: “When you get tired, put the body down!” (How many times have we read and said Easy Does It?)

So there it is: HALT–Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. This rule, when coupled with meetings and living our day-by-day lives according to AA principles, will make things much easier, not only for the newcomer, but for the old-timer as well. Once we recognize that these four conditions are dangerous if succumbed to, we should avoid them as carefully as we would that first drink, for any one of them could be the first step to a drunk.

Dr. John
San Diego, California