It’s a Simple Program—You Just Need to Work It

My sponsor kept repeating “It’s a simple Program, you just need to work on it,” when I complained to him that I could not stay sober. I came to my first SA meeting on my birthday in 2009. Since November 14, 2011, I have remained sober thanks to my Higher Power and SA.

My sobriety began in that year with the first Russian-speaking SA Convention in Russia. I came to SA with a completely broken life: my wife did not want to live with me anymore, I lost everything I could, lust broke my whole life.

Yet, in June 2021 we celebrated 22 years of living together. We have two children and my second daughter was born after I got sober. I did not think that this was possible! But it helped me to believe in sobriety and happiness.

When I look back on these years, I wonder how anyone managed to stay sober at all, but SA in Russia has come a long way since. I started attending meetings where we only had the strength to tell how hard it was for us to stay sober. I did not hear the message of the joy of a sober life, it seemed to me that sobriety was hard and a constant struggle with lust.

When I come to SA meetings in Moscow today, I am surprised at how we have changed during this time. There are sponsors at the meetings to whom we can turn for help. There are sober brothers and sisters who share their experience of recovery, and we hold conventions and workshops every year.

When I started, everything was much more complicated. There were only two SA groups in Moscow and it was very difficult to find a sponsor who could speak Russian. At the Convention I heard that sobriety is a joy and recovery should bring joy. I was so tired of fighting with my lust that I desperately wanted a real life in sobriety, positive and joyful. I started looking for a sponsor who would help me follow the Steps and at first I found him in another country. For me, Step work and subsequent sobriety is impossible without the experience and support of a sponsor. I began to work Step by Step and later I became a sponsor for other guys.

I remember once complaining to my sponsor about how hard it was for me at a meeting, how hard it was for me to recover, what toxic shares from others I had heard and how indignant I was. “And you?” my sponsor asked me. “What about me?” I asked. My sponsor said “What did you share at the meeting? What good news have you brought to your suffering brothers and sisters?” “What could I give them if I feel bad myself?” I answered. “Are you sober?” my sponsor asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Isn’t that enough?” he said. “Share this with others, start with your sobriety and only then move on to what bothers you. I assure you, you will see how the meeting will begin to change.” And he was right! Our meetings are what we are at them, the message of the meetings depends on what we bring to them.

Gradually, messages of sobriety began to sound at SA groups in Russia, we began to share our experience, strength and hope. One reason I strive to attend SA meetings today is because I feel love and support there and I can share this with others. Does the SA Program work? Yes, indeed! Our meetings are proof of this!

From the very beginning in SA, I was worried about my hypersensitivity. I am very sensitive to stress. Resentments and fears would plunge me into such despair that it was almost impossible to stay sober. At one of the conventions, I heard someone speak on Step 10. For me, this is a unique tool of the Program. I had a quarrel with my brother. How angry I was with him! How stubborn and drunk he is! He’s just a sick man! I sat down and began practicing what the Step suggests. To my surprise, I realized that by the middle of the work, I was no longer angry with my friend, and after finishing the work, I felt love for him. It always works! Step 10 has never let me down.

After all, it’s a simple program—you just need to work on it. It’s about doing, about taking the action.

Igor P., Moscow, Russia

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