DEAR ABBY: I read your column and I feel for the people who have problems. I have no worries. Although my life has been far from perfect and no bed of roses, here I am at 95 with no serious physical, spiritual, emotional, family or economic problems.
I grew up during the Depression, had wonderful parents, worked my way through college, and was married to a loving woman for 67 years. I have four successful children and their spouses and several industrious grandchildren. I also have met a terrific widow who shares the current daily obstacles.
Service in the Navy during WWII and Korea seemed at the time to limit my future career, but in retrospect were experiences I cherish. Science has been good to me. My knee replacement still permits tennis, three stents keep me alive, vertebra shots eliminate severe pain and I have had a couple of other minor corrections.
Yes, I know, Abby -- I am the luckiest person alive. -- FRANK IN ATLANTA
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DEAR FRANK: I agree. And I can't help but wonder if part of your luck has to do with your attitude when you were faced with problems that others would consider to be adversities. We can all learn from your example.
DEAR ABBY: I know I have an issue with alcohol. I have read about local AA groups, but they don't seem right for me because I'm an atheist. When I went to my doctor, along with my supportive husband, she had no suggestions to offer. I know I need help beyond what friends and family can provide. Do you have any ideas for me? -- TAKING THE STEP IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR TAKING THE STEP: I certainly do, because there are secular alternatives to AA.
SMART Recovery offers a four-point program aimed at motivation to abstain, coping with cravings, managing negative emotions and finding a life balance. It has face-to-face support groups worldwide, as well as daily online meetings. Like AA, lifetime abstinence is the goal, and meetings and help are free of charge. Unlike AA, lifetime abstinence need not require lifetime attendance at meetings. For more information, visit smartrecovery.org.
Another group, Women for Sobriety, may be of interest to you because it is non-theistic and aims to empower women and minorities. The website, womenforsobriety.org, does not list its meetings (for reasons of privacy), so in order to find a group, you will have to make contact within the site.
Last, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (aka Save Our Selves) is sometimes described as a 12-step program minus the religious overtones. To find a list of meetings, visit sossobriety.org.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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