Sunday, December 10, 2006


For years I’ve heard the comparisons. We are told to think of going to AA as a necessary life-saving practice, as our treatment and we are offered comparisons to other serious illnesses. We talk about needing AA the way that a diabetic needs insulin or the way that someone with cancer needs chemotherapy. Now, as I see more people with serious illnesses in my day job, I’m learning that the need for AA may best be compared to Dialysis.

Dialysis is the regular—three to five day a week --treatment that is used to clean the blood and remove toxins from the body when a person has experienced kidney failure. There are many causes of kidney failure, high blood pressure being one and it can also occur in conjunction with other illness or disability. Before dialysis was invented people died. Now they go to a Dialysis Center and have their blood cleaned. It takes a couple of hours and it has to be repeated in a day or two to keep the body functioning and to keep the patient alive.

Well, this Saturday I had errands—Ok I was having my brows done and it’s hard to get an appointment with Ruth—so I chose to miss my regular home group meeting. It meant no Saturday meeting or—what a thought—it meant that I could go to a different meeting, a less familiar one. I decided that I needed a meeting more than familiarity so I went. Sitting there I had this thought: I need to be here to clean up my thinking and to change-up my attitude and to have a bit of soul cleansing as well. Takes an hour—an hour and a half with the commute-- And I need to repeat this at least twice a week.

Now I have gone longer without a meeting and I’m still alive. And after 20 years I don’t start craving a drink when I miss a meeting, but something in me does get unhealthy, something in me is less clear, and I know that I don’t function quite as well as when I attend two meetings a week.

So it hit me: Going to AA a couple of times a week—the prescription may require more or less for each of us—is spiritual dialysis. And like dialysis treatment, some of the places are nicer than others, some have grumpy staff and some have newer magazines and nicer snacks, but that’s not the most important factor. What matters is that I get there as much as my recovery requires so I can stay clean and sober.

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