Episode 231: Keeping it Simple with PJ

PJ takes a minimalist approach to staying sober based on three fundamental actions: not taking the first drink, participating in AA meetings, and getting involved in service. After learning about secular AA meetings during a visit to the US, he and a friend started their own secular meeting in Brookvale, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. The meeting has been growing and is doing well despite the disruption caused by COVID. The group has been meeting online and PJ has noticed that the online meetings have facilitated networking with other secular AA groups in Australia. It was really nice to catch up with PJ, and I think you will enjoy listening to this episode.

What we talked about

  • PJ’s three actions of sobriety.
  • Importance of stories.
  • Difficulty with the religious nature of the Big Book.
  • Discovering secular AA meetings on a visit to the US.
  • Starting a secular meeting in Brookvale.
  • Success rates of secular AA meetings seem the same as traditional.
  • How groups change over time.
  • Importance of connecting with others.
  • How PJ’s group has coped with COVID.
  • Improved networking because of the Zoom meetings.
  • Potential problems with overemphasizing the 12 Steps, even secular steps.

    Memorable quotes

It’s the first drink that does the damage, and if I don’t pick u; the first drink, I can’t get drunk. I come to meetings of AA and participate in the ones that suit me. I try to help others to get sober and to stay sober.

I didn’t do the first step with a sponsor and I didn’t do it with God; I did it with King Alcohol.

I have a minimalist sobriety. I removed all of the theistic elements, but I retained what I want, which is the fellowship and going to meetings.