AA members share stories

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The conference room was full.

The two-day Alcoholics Anonymous conference held at the Best Western Parkway Inn came to a close after stories had been told, laughs had been shared and tears had been shed.

Among the people in the conference room for the closing speakers' addresses were people who have been sober for as long as 35 years or as little as one day.

They all had stories, and not one was the same.

Of all the unique stories, one was that of Butch, who was the main guest speaker.

"I believe we all have a horror story," he said during his presentation. "I'm just going to take a few minutes to tell you what it did to me. I don't know what it did to you, but I'm going to tell you what it did to me."

He said afterwards that speaking in front of large groups, such as the audience at this conference, is not only to help those listening, but is also therapeutic to the speaker.

AA is not allied with any outside organization, group or business. The fellowship's members only speak their own minds, and no one person speaks on behalf of the entire fellowship.

"Before I came to Alcoholics Anonymous, I was never grateful," said Butch during his speech. "I never had enough. It was never enough.

"Everything I have is because of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous is my life.

"If I live to be 1,000 years old, I could never repay you enough. But you know what? I know you'd never ask me."

His speech was unprepared and unrehearsed. He simply approached the microphone and told his story.

Butch has been sober 10 years, and said he has been making presentations like this pretty well since the beginning.

"I do it out of a sense of responsibility and a sense of gratitude," he said afterwards.

"That's how we stay sober -- by helping others."

Butch is approximately 500km from home.

"But it wouldn't matter if it was 500 or 5,000," he said, if it were to speak to a group like this.

During his presentation, he spoke of a power, an essence that filled the room.

"We've all been restored from a life of hell," he said later on, "to a good, clean, healthy life.

"You feel the power, the love."

Alcoholics Anonymous began in 1935 when two men banded together in an effort to help others suffering from alcoholism, and to stay sober themselves.

It has since grown into a worldwide fellowship with approximately 89,000 groups and more than 2,000,000 members in 146 countries.