Hello Recovering People!
I have been traveling; so have not checked in for a while. Of all of the possible topics to discuss now, it seems that maintaining recovery while traveling could be useful. Spring break is coming up for those on a school schedule and others may be planning summer trips already.
In the past, my vacations were a product of my addiction, just like everything else. Did anyone else go to a beach for spring break during high school or college? The entire culture on the east, west and gulf coasts caters to drinking students away from home for a week or partying. The trend continues for most of us as we become aging alcoholics and druggies, well into our twenties and thirties, perhaps choosing more sophisticated venues. While the surface appearance changes somewhat, the basics remain the same: time away from work and home means more time and opportunity to drink, drug and pursue any other addiction we might have.
Maintaining recovery requires us to change, stay changed and continue to change; sometimes to change everything about our lives. Remember that saying, “change your playmates and your playpens”? Or how about, “all you have to do is not use drugs and change everything about your life.”
Keeping this in mind, and having traveled to many places in the world since beginning my recovery, I check out meeting availability before embarking on trips. (In my book, Mission Possible, A Missionary Doctor’s Journey of Healing, on Amazon, I discuss attending meetings in several other countries.)
Several months ago, after I had booked my recent flight into Amman, Jordan and back from Tel Aviv, Israel, I began looking for meetings. As usual, I went to www.aa.org, clicked on “find meetings”, and then international services and found a long list of countries with meetings. Jordan was not on it. Hmmm. In checking further, neither was Syria, Saudi Arabia or several other Arabian countries. I guess the theory is that Muslims don’t drink, so there can’t be a problem with alcoholism. Right. Same result checking na.org, of course, because there can’t be illegal drug use in these countries. Hmmm.
Okay, I can stay sober without a meeting for the week or two I am in Jordan. Once in Israel for the second half of my trip, there are several meetings a day, at least one a day in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
I refused to believe that there was no AA in Jordan. Did I mention that several of my addict qualities are persistence, manipulation and stubbornness? After several attempts at finding websites in Jordan comparable to those for 12 step groups in other countries, I googled Jordan AA. No luck, but googling Jordan Alcoholics Anonymous gave me a website and a contact email!! Yay! An immediate response came to my inquiry and I was told that there is one AA meeting a week in the entire country of Jordan. The meeting welcomes addicts seeking recovery as well as alcoholics, as there is no Narcotics Anonymous. The meeting is held in English on Monday nights. Many members are bilingual and the night I was there, someone interpreted into Arabic for the one attendee who needed it.
Traveling with my husband, who is also in recovery, we made the decision to postpone leaving the city of Amman to see the sights in the rest of the country, until the day after the meeting. Knowing that visitors often energize meetings, especially where both are few, we felt a pull to stay and attend the meeting. Wanting our own “spiritual radiation treatment”, we also wanted to see if we could contribute something.
We did. We were greatly appreciated. The group accepted a copy of my book, From the Edge of the Cliff, and thanked me profusely. In the weeks since, one member has finished reading it and found it helpful; she has passed it on to another member she believes can benefit and I am in regular email contact with them. As usual, I got so much more than I gave. That’s just how it always works for me. What a privilege to attend an AA meeting in Amman, Jordan.
The faithful recovering men and women in this country have one meeting a week!! A number maintain long term recovery and are there for newcomers. They carry the message in their remote corner of the world.
Would I have recovered with only one meeting a week, only a core of about ten regular members? I don’t know. I know that it would have been more difficult than I can imagine. Those of us who have daily meetings available are blessed!
Find meetings in places you plan to visit. You will give a boost to the meeting and revitalize your own recovery!
Next time: meetings in Israel