This post is intended for all substance addicts, be it alcohol or narcotics, in recovery, and working the 12 steps with a sponsor.
Although I myself have another addiction besides Sleeping Addiction, it is a process addiction meaning that the addiction is towards a behavior like eating, gambling, or debting. However, the information written here applies to recovered folks in AA and NA.
Many of the latter may think, and there is some truth to it, “Well, as long as I don’t use, I should be fine.” But this, unfortunately, is not the case. Being sober or clean can both cause sleep addiction, as well as, be affected by it. In this blog, I intend to discuss both.
Many sober and clean alcoholics and drug users started using in order to treat their insomnia, and until they got to recovery were quite successful. But now that the substance was doing more to them than it was doing for them and they had to quit their ‘sleeping aid’, the insomnia is in full swing. I personally know of such a case, and am told that there are many others. They feel that now that they worked the steps, it should straighten out their too, and are confused and disappointed when they don’t.
They fail to see what many in recovery learn the hard way which is the concept of switching addictions. AA and NA don’t help the recovered from becoming, or revealing that they were in the first place, other kinds of addicts as well. For instance, half of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and of Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) came to these process fellowships, after, by going through the school of hard knocks, they realized that the twelve steps that they worked had no effect on these issues at all. To AA’s great gift to OA and SAA, other than the 12 steps, is that AA’s in OA and SAA are some of the most serious (sober) members because they realize the deadliness of addiction.
But for some reasons Sleep addiction is clouded with mystery. Although I suffered from it all my life, until I started Sleepers Anonymous in May 25th, 2,008, most websites deny that sleeping can be an addiction and instead offer all sorts of common-sensical advice which could totally work for the person who just has problems with sleep, help somewhat the person who is a real sleep addict, but never over the long run, unless they go through the Big Book of AA substituting Sleep for alcohol and being sponsored by either a sleeper or at least an AA that has some sleep issues himself and can relate. It seems that Sleep is the new kid on the block, bullying the other kids, and wreaking havoc in their lives. The worst part is that the other kids don’t recognize him as a bully but just as a misunderstood boy. Confused, annoying but harmless.
To be facetious, our program is the SLEEPER program, and a big wake-up call is in order.
To those out there who still have doubts how Sleep can be an addiction, please consider this. Until 65 years ago, nobody thought Food was an addiction. Thanks to Rozanne S. OB”M, who had a good understanding of the disease, suffered from it, and decided to do something about it, today, world-wide, there are over 50,000 recovered Compulsive Overeaters. Interestingly, just like in OA there are overeaters, anorexics, bulimics, and those who have all of it, in SleepA there are oversleepers and anorexics or insomniacs. The same can be said of Sex addiction, which to this day is misunderstood and stigmatized, leading to 99% of SAA meetings to be closed to non sex addicts because the rest of the world does not understand.
Isn’t it time we gave the same attention, concern, and concerted effort to put our Sleeping addictions in remission by working the 12 steps of Sleepers Anonymous?!
For various reasons, we have only 6 members in recovery or who are recovered, but AA started with but 2, Bill W. and Dr. Bob. We have a long way to go but if we don’t start spreading the word now, nothing will ever be done.
What good is sobriety and being clean when the person doesn’t sleep at night, rises at 1-3pm, or naps compulsively. This person endangers his sobriety for several reasons. He has less time to work his program i.e. less time for step work, making calls, working with his sponsor and sponsees. Such a person may miss a meeting due to a nap, sleep through a meeting and get nothing out of it, or worst yet, fall asleep at the wheel on the way back home after an AA meeting and kill someone, kind of a DUS or DULOS, Driving Under Sleep or Driving Under Lack Of Sleep, respectively. These kinds of accidents happen all the time, and the cops don’t, and shouldn’t, care that it wasn’t alcohol. An involuntary manslaughter is just that, let’s not mention the guilt that haunts this person.
An AA or NA with a Sleeping addiction will perform poorly on the job, be chronically late and ineffective, grouchy, and eventually may be fired or at least never promoted. Bear in mind too that NA’s and many AA’s do not use sleeping aids even if they would help for obvious reasons, although I must comment here that it’s an outside issue and should be settled between the addict, his sponsor, a doctor, and his Higher Power. AA’s who chronically sleep in get less sunlight and interact with people much less which leads to depression. All this goes for the napper as well.
I truly hope that I was both able to put forth how an AA or NA IN RECOVERY can easily become a sleep addict, as well as, the deleterious effects that the Sleep addiction can and will have on his sobriety and quality of life in general.
You may be, and I hope you are, wondering, what you can do if you suspect that you are a Sleep addict or a Sleeper. Well, there are a few steps you can take.
By now, I assume that you read the article deftly written by Gary Enos, who is the first writer of a professional magazine who took us seriously, as well as this post. Unfortunately, we do not have any meetings starting yet but we will let you know when they do. Much more important than official meetings, is what we have been doing for the last 8.5 years, namely working one-on-one with a sponsor who is either a Sleeper himself, or an AA sponsor who’s willing to take you on. If they have sleep issues, better yet, but as long as they are using the Big Book of AA, even that is not necessary. Incidentally, we have found that many times, those AA sponsors that take us through the steps happen to be Sleepers themselves. Pretty funny isn’t it:)?
Our fellowship’s official email for all inquiries and networking is firstname.lastname@example.org
We have no intention to spam you or use your information for commercial reasons, and definitely all will be held with utmost anonymity. All these are covered by the Twelve Traditions which we swear by. Our official blog is http://sleepersanonymous.org and you are welcome to leave comments, concerns, or questions. I will visit it, time permitting, and help out in any way I can.
If you’re tired of being tired, if you’re sleeping like there’s no tomorrow, and if you’ve exhausted all other means, please join us. We just want to help, and you’ll be helping us.
Andy S. Co-founder of SleepA and Sleeper number one