But people my age are supposed to drink! Alcoholics are all old people who don’t know what it’s like to have fun.

The saddest thing I ever heard an alcoholic say was that when he tried to get sober he was told he was too young, that the old man had “spilled more liquor on my tie than you’ve drank in your whole life.” That comment makes me wonder if the old man is an alcoholic at all. Because anyone who knows the level of pain which brings a person to their knees would never tell someone they haven’t hurt enough.

The 55th annual “International Conference for Young People in AA” takes place in Phoenix this summer. In 1958, the first ICYPAA took place in Niagara Falls. This is not an old man’s game and young people aren’t new to recovery. I took my last drink 12 days before my 30th birthday. When I walked into AA, there were many women much older than me who had many years of sobriety. My first sponsor had also found sobriety at 29. This is what happens when people stay sober, they get older and have more experience living sober. With God’s grace, when I’m 54, I’ll have 25 years sober just like she did. And newcomers can look at me and say, “AA is full of old people who have no idea what I’m going through.”

Alcoholics don’t just die of cirrhosis when they’re in their 60s, looking like they’re in their 80s. Alcoholics die at 24 of asphyxiation or at 18 in drunk driving accidents or at 29 of suicidal overdose. Alcoholics cannot wait until they’re older to seek help because they may not have a chance to get older. And every day, more young people make the admission, “I have a problem and I need help.” All over the world, young people’s meetings are popping up. I once met a girl who got sober at 15. If you heard her story, you would understand how much of a miracle that was.

I’m Laurie and I’m an alcoholic… and I wish I had found this thing years earlier. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you think you have a problem now, in your teens or twenties or thirties, there’s a pretty good chance it’s not going to get any better.

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