"In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed."Here, Bill W., the principal author of the 'Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, makes not one, but two, important qualifications for the alcoholic addict exposing him or herself to their old stomping grounds, so to speak. First: Is there a legitimate reason for our being at that particular bar, party, reception etc.? And, second: Are we spiritually grounded before we expose ourselves to our old environs? (Remember, as it says on page 85 of the 'Big Book,' "We are never cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition.")
"So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experiences with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn't."
"You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, "Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?" If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure that you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good."
-- Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 101-102--
When reading the caution, above, I am always reminded of Bill's description of the night in Akron when, in desperation and fearing that he was about to succumb and take a drink, he reached out to make contact with the Oxford Group, and to find through them a drunk - who turned out to be Dr. Bob - with whom he could share his story.