The idea for the “Dictionary of Alcoholics Anonymous Experience” came to me when reading John Koenig’s “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” where he wrote, “It’s a calming thing, to learn there’s a word for something you’ve felt all your life but didn’t know was shared by anyone else. It’s even oddly empowering – to be reminded that you are not alone”. This quote described how I felt about the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Until I joined AA I thought that nobody could relate to my desire for alcohol, the longing for numbness, and the need to escape reality; I wasn’t able to make sense of it myself. However, in the rooms of AA I saw people nodding their heads in recognition as I relayed my sad story. It brought me great peace to discover I was not alone.

If you aren’t a member of AA, then you just won’t get it. The depth of personal struggles, the intricate interplay of emotions, and the profound transformations that occur within AA’s supportive environment are experiences that can only truly resonate with those who have directly faced addiction themselves. The English language has no words to capture the unique feelings and emotions experienced by Alcoholics Anonymous members, so I thought it could be amusing, if not rewarding, to define these experiences and invent terms, with Latin roots, to accompany them.

Communitasrenascor: (noun) The communal spirit and collective rebirth experienced within the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous; the shared transformation, renewal, and resurgence of hope and purpose that arise from mutual support and working the twelve steps together; from Latin “communitas” (community) and “renascor” (to be reborn).

Relatiosalus: (noun) The establishment and cultivation of healthy, supportive relationships in recovery; the healing of familial, social, and romantic bonds damaged by addiction; the creation of a supportive network that fosters accountability, understanding, and trust; from Latin “relatio” (relationship) and “salus” (health).

There are existing words, like “Gratitude” and “Sobriety” which have a special meaning among the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship. These words deserve to be reworked and redefined from an AA perspective.

Gratiadeptio: (noun) The profound and conscious act of attaining or achieving gratitude in recovery; the recognition and appreciation of the blessings, personal growth, and positive changes experienced as a result of sobriety; a deliberate shift in mindset towards gratitude and the cultivation of a grateful heart; from Latin “gratia” (gratitude) and “adeptio” (attainment).

Sobritotus: (noun) The state of sobriety and abstinence from alcohol, characterized not only by the absence of intoxication, but by a total life-change; clarity of mind, emotional stability, improved overall well-being, and the cultivation of healthy coping mechanisms and life skills gained via the AA program; from Latin “sobrius” (sober) and “totus” (whole, entire).

The power of words cannot be overstated. When we use language and terms specific to the AA experience, we create a unique and inclusive space where we feel united and understood. This shared vocabulary fosters a sense of connection among us, eradicating the feeling of isolation and loneliness that often accompanied our struggles with alcohol addiction.

As we speak the language of AA, we realize that we are not alone in our journey. Hearing others use the same terms and phrases that we use to describe our experiences validates our feelings and makes us feel seen and heard. It reassures us that our struggles are shared by many, and that we are part of a supportive community that genuinely understands what we are going through.

Recognition of common thoughts and feelings helps us break down barriers and facilitates open communication. We can discuss our experiences, challenges, and triumphs without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. We can be honest about our struggles, knowing that others in the fellowship can relate and offer genuine empathy and support.

Discovering a common language of hope and resilience reminds us that we are not defined by our past mistakes or struggles with alcohol, but by our commitment to recovery and personal growth. As we share our stories and experiences, we gain insights from others and develop a deeper sense of empathy for our fellow members.

Ultimately, the shared understanding of AA fosters a sense of unity, reminding us that we are part of something much greater than ourselves. It instills a feeling of belonging, of being part of a larger family where we can lean on one another during both the highs and lows of our journey. This sense of connection and support empowers us to move forward with courage and determination, knowing that we are never alone on the path to a sober and fulfilling life.

While no two journeys to recovery are identical, the terms and definitions here encapsulate the universal themes, struggles, and victories that members of AA can identify with. I’m confident that AA members will find common ground in these shared experiences that unite us on the path to lasting sobriety.

The dictionary is meant to be read from beginning to end. Begin your journey with Active Addiction.

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