My First YPAA Experience

My name is Martin, and I’m an alcoholic. Alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. I loved it for what it could make me feel or not feel, depending on the day. I’m not sure which I loved the most, four drinks that felt like someone undoing the highest button on an ill fitting shirt or oblivion. Feeling nothing, feeling out of control, dangerous, in danger. My issue was that I couldn’t stop at ‘four drinks in’ and oblivion left me broken. Physically, mentally, spiritually, morally, financially and probably more.

I raised the white flag of surrender to a great height and accepted help. I accepted guidance and this boy who hated authority, from parental constraints to school regimes, to demanding bosses to law enforcing police, strived to be teachable.

If I were to have any chance in staying sober, experiencing sanity, or staying alive, I would have to learn to apply the solution to my messy, chaotic life. The solution that worked for these people who felt and drank like I did and went on to have normal lives.

The fun was long over with my drinking. The music had stopped playing. The laughter had ended. I was fully prepared in my (almost) unconditional surrender never to have fun again upon entering the halls of A.A., but I was too broken to care, too afraid to kill myself quickly, and too sick to drink and unable to stay sober on my own limited power.

I listened to enough stories in my first weeks in A.A. to know I was in the right place. My local meeting in the shadow of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin was filled with guys who looked and sounded like they had been sober longer than I alive.

I moved to Stockholm soon after and looked up a meeting. It was a Friday night Rock n’ Roll meeting. They did not have one of those in Dublin, so I went. It was a young people’s meeting. They read ‘How It Works’ and the whole room was either making clucking noises like a chicken or making fun of some part of what my geriatric friends in Dublin held sacred. I kinda liked it. I did until they called me up on a stage, handed me a microphone and asked me to speak. I think I experienced a sober blackout borne out of fear. 

Someone suggested 90 meetings in 90 days, but if all meetings in Sweden make clucking noises, I’m f*&ed! They didn’t and I eventually got involved in step work and service at the meeting. One lady who didn’t appear to be sober and miserable asked me if I was interested in going to young people’s convention in Copenhagen for New Year’s Eve. Travel had been a favourite pastime before I got sober, but it terrified me in sobriety. I had never been to Denmark and the New Year’s Eve alternative looked pretty bleak. What better detox from spending Christmas with family than a few days straight after celebrating with shiny Scandinavians. I said YES.

This convention—SCANCYPAA—was a game changer in my sobriety. It changed how I applied my program, how I lived my life, how I looked at myself. Listening to bunches of godless Scandinavians talking about how they created a God out of thin air helped me, technically a lapsed Catholic forge a relationship with a power which enabled me to celebrate four years of continuous sobriety in the last week.

I experienced great lessons in Copenhagen. I spent a chunk of time with a guy who had less sobriety time than me, and I shared my experience, strength and hope with him. I discovered that this felt like it was my medicine. It felt healing. I helped out at the convention more and more and realised this selfish individual, who wouldn’t do anything for you unless there was something greater in it for himself, was changing. The guy I had become was getting left behind and the direction looked like one I had only ever dreamed of. I joined strangers in Danceoke which involved mimicking the dance moves of a music video on the dance floor. I discovered during ‘Single Ladies’ that I sweat and Beyoncé does not when we take the same actions. I was having fun in sobriety. I was no longer miserable. Young People in AA gave me that and continues to do so.

Today, I am on the host committee for this year’s SCANCYPAA in Södertälje, Sweden, and I invite you of all ages to join us in a celebration of our sobriety and a commitment to helping others. The convention runs from December 28-30th with a New Year’s Eve party and promises to be a treat. Contact us at for more information or find us at

Thank you to those who stuck around and had this place ready for when people like me were ready to come in.

Warmest Regards,

Mairtin O D.