View Full Version : Troubles with the Law

03-19-03, 04:16 PM
I've gotten in trouble with the law, because of ADD. Well, it didn't just happen -- it happened in October of last year, but I'll be dealing with it for the next five years.

I never really knew what it was -- I certainly didn't have the ADD label to attach to it -- but I always knew I was different. I have a hard time staying focused on the here and now. I have a hard time staying "present" when talking to people, and this has made my interpersonal relationships really difficult. A result of this is that for most of my life, I've been pretty isolated and very, very lonely. The frustrating thing is that I'm not antisocial -- I really, really do like people. But my poor self-esteem (arguably because of the ADD) and my difficulties staying focused on a relationship (friendship, lover, whatever) make it very very difficult for me to maintain intimate relationships of any sort. People just seem to sort of drift in and out of my life.

Well, I discovered alcohol. When I drank -- whoopee! Everything seemed so SIMPLE to me. I had all this energy, and I could concentrate and focus it into having fun and being social. It worked GREAT!

Except that it was ruining my health, getting me more and more addicted, and eventually got me into trouble with the law. In October of last year, I got a DUI. It's a GOOD thing that I got it, because it was the wakeup call that I needed -- I would have killed someone or myself if I hadn't been arrested, so it's good. I've been sober ever since that night.

However, now I'm on the radar of the legal system because of it. I have to go to alcohol treatment several times a week, and I have to attend AA meetings twice a week for two years. The treatment is ok -- I love people and it's basically group therapy. But the AA is killing me.

I don't like AA. I'm sorry, and I don't mean to offend anyone who disagrees, but I think that 12-step programs are a legally sanctioned cult of sobriety through religious fervor. I'm not religious (again, no intent to offend, but it's important to understand that in order to understand why I dislike 12-step programs so much) and despite all the waffling about AA not being religious -- it is. The "big book" (the AA Bible) has a chapter called "We Agnostics" which is basically all about how the silly agnostics came to believe in God so they could stay sober. I find this chapter horribly patronizing and condescending. The folks who wrote the book just don't seem to comprehend that anyone could honestly not believe in God and yet still want to be sober. I don't believe in God, AND I want to stay sober -- so AA isn't for me.

But I have to attend! It's court-ordered. I know, I can just go, sit through it, be bored, and leave. But -- I'm ADD. I am starting to realize how typical this is, but procrastination is a real issue for me, and I procrastinate, especially doing things that I don't like or are boring. To me, AA is both.

So I'm slowly getting in hotter water. I've attended a few AA meetings, but it's supposed to be regular as clockwork. Even worse, I have to get a sheet signed that says I went -- well I keep forgetting to get the sheet signed, losing the sheet, forgetting to turn it in regularly. So even when I am a good boy and DO go to the meetings, there's frequently no proof!

I'm trying to do two things at once -- first, I'm trying to cut myself some slack. I'm really sure I'm ADD (going to get my first eval today, wish me luck...) so it's not 100% my fault that I'm having these problems. I'm reminding myself of that.

But the fact is that I DO have to deal with this so I don't go to jail. I need to find a way to make going to the stupid meetings, getting the stupid form filled out, and turning in the stupid form a routine. Something that I can do without concentrating over long periods of time (we all know how hard that is!) I don't want to get in trouble just because I forgot to dot an I or cross a T.

Anyone have any insights? Anyone in a similar condition?

I'm really angry at my ADD right now. I feel like because I've had this thing with no clue and no treatment, most of my 20's were wasted away in a haze, I'm in trouble with the law, my job is shakey, I've been addicted to alcohol (fortunately never really tried anything harder, although I experimented...), my relationships are usually a shambles, and I've felt lonely, isolated, lazy, stupid, and just "different" my whole life. Really frustrated and angry!

-- Tom

06-17-03, 08:41 PM
Since you're in Seattle, I'm assuming you're in "treatment" and atending AA under a deferred prosecution agreement. I did this a few years ago. I, too, found the AA meetings distasteful, and the slip-signing problematic. Here are some things that helped for me:

Keep extra meeting log slips in your car, you briefcase, coat pocket, whatever you'll have with you when you go. I started doing this after going to an AA meeting,
waiting until the end to get my slip signed, then realizing I didn't have it. Many of the slips I turned in had just one or two meetings listed, no one seemed to care as long as it amounted to two a week.

My treatment group held AA meetings before or after our treatment meetings. We picked a group name, chatted for ten minutes or so, and then one of us signed everyone's slips. This worked really well during the initial periods when you're going to group counseling all the time. (Our treatment couselor suggested this, but our provider was somewhat lax in their approach, I don't know if this would fly everywhere.)

The law doesn't require that the self-help group be AA ( RCW 10.5.150 ( ). Some members of my treatment group formed their own "alcoholism self-help recovery support group" with friends and family. This was fine with our treatment provider, but YMMV.

Check out SOS (Secular Organization for Sobriety) to see if they have anything locally. I ended up going to several of these in the bay area while on business, and found them interesting, as opposed to the 12-step groups.

Find an AA group that you like. There used to be an Atheist/Agnostic group that met upstairs at the old Rendesvous restaurant on 2nd avenue downtown. Those people were hilarious--"Hi, I'm Bob and I hate Jesus"--plus you could order food from the restaurant and eat during the meeting. I know the Rendezvous has changed hands/names, so I don't know if they still have the AAAA meetings there.

As I recall, there are some websites that offer online AA meetings. I recall talking to my counselor about whether these would "count" toward the program, but never really persued it.

And finally, there's the, um, group of one approach. I knew a guy who did the DP thing a few years before me, and did not go to a single AA meeting. He faked every slip for the two year period. Different pens and different signatures were his friend. While this is a little drastic, do remember that it's Alcoholics *Anonymous*, and no attendance is taken. Personally,
I would go to at least some meetings, so you know where they are if asked.

Additional recommendations:

- If you're into reading about alcoholism and adiction (I kind of hyperfocused on this for quite a while), check out the work of Stanton Peele (

Make sure your treatment agency files its reports with your probation officer or the court in a timely manner. Mine once missed two months, and the first I learned of it was when I got the notice about a bench warrant.

- If you "relapse", or just choose to drink again, and you disclose this to your treatment provider, they are obligated by law to reveal this to the court. My DUI was in a small jurisdiction without probation officers, so I had to go before the judge periodically for review of my case. Usually I sat through several review hearings before mine. Almost every time, there would be some poor schmuck who had told his treatment counselor about some incident in which they had "relapsed". Generally, the judge would order between 1-7 days of jail time as a reminder.

06-17-03, 10:19 PM
I have 19 years sober. AA began originally off the Oxford Group, a religious group. The choice of words of AA being religious is way off base. Spiritual yes, the words God as we under stand Him leave that open, If one chooses not to beleive in God thats their choice. My sponser beleives in a Goddess. I have athiest friends who are staying sober. That is, unfortunately , what alot of people tell themselves as why the program s"doesnt work for me" AA is not the only way to get sober, though I dont know of any other successful ways thats didnt involve simply switching one addiction for another. Having a major personality change is how many of us drunks became sober, a major shift, a spiritual awakening, whether thats noticing the strength of nature and its power over us, one woman used to think about science, and the forces and laws of nature as being irrefutable and her drinking and behaviours were unnatural etc. Hanging yourself up on a word can sometimes make you lose some really cool things in this life. My suggestion is one I use for lots of stuff. tale what ya can and leave the rest. My example" I love my job, I like who i work for, I like my co workers...I do NOT agree with every thing about my work , I do not ALWAYS like my boss, and sometimes my co workers are schmucks......but I still go to work to gain the benefits I adore from it ( like money, food, houseing, self pride etc)"

Im not saying you need AA and IM not saying you dont. I dont know you well enough and even if I did, it isnt my place to diagnose you. Good luck Tom

06-18-03, 10:19 PM
19 years??? God Lord, congrats to you....when is your anniversary sobriety date? I'm grateful for your "tell it like it is" brutal honesty, Crissy....they call it "tough love"...:)

I guess what I want to say here is that I have sat at many AA meetings in my life as member of alanon...and one thing I have noticed about these that they stay sober...those who actually work a total AA program do stay sober...and isn't that the bottom line reason for being there? Not the religious aspect or any other aspect....Also, I have read the big book..and from what I have read and heard, one does not need to believe in "God" at just have to develop a concept of a higher power -- which can be anything or anyone -- and use that higher power as a power greater than yourself -- in order to stay sober....Big difference between that and religion and God....AA says that as humans go we couldn't stay sober and so a power greater than ourselves is essential...for sobriety and a total life change....I like AA because it doesn't just stop at the point of getting's a total program of recovery...the 12 steps are simply a way to change all the things (character defects) that got them being drunk in the first place.....But people do stay sober for years and years and years....and some have totally changed lives...I think a sober alcoholic is one of the most courageous things going brother is in AA and he has 12 years of sobriety..:)

06-19-03, 01:48 AM
Yep, its about admitting I am not the be all and end all of life. That I am not all powerful. It isnt about God any more the word came from the groups origin. Its about losing the self centered idea that i am the biggest thing in my world.

My DOS is 10/31/83 Talk about having a freaky first day sober.

06-19-03, 11:52 AM
Oh my goodness: on Halloween:) Hey I think the ADD conference this year is Halloween weekend. We should all "meet" there and celebrate your anniversary....:)

Big concept: losing the idea that I am the most important thing in my world....and not the be all and end all...:) A tough one to grasp but if that's what it takes.......:)

06-21-03, 06:05 PM
Wow Crissy, I did not realize it had been 19 years. That is half my life. Well, almost half my life....

Zoltar those were some great ideas and suggestions you came up with.

Also, it may benefit you to get on the buddy system with someone that attends the meetings on a regular basis and find someone that you can relate with. That person could at least help you make sure you go through the proper procedures etc.

I hope the best for you