The recovery community has a lot of confusing lingo to a newcomer, especially in the 140 character world of Twitter.

First of all there’s the dang hashtag, which turns all things to nerdspeak: #alanon, #sanetown, #meetinginmpocket.

Then there’s the abbreviations: #xa, #aa, #BB, #HP. #xa is a way to search others in recovery. The x stands for “anything – name your particular addiction” and the a is for “anonymous” which has been urbanized to equate with recovery. So #xa means recovering from any addiction. (If you’re confused about the hashtag, take a quick moment to read this recent article explaining its evolving use:

#aa is obviously “AA” (duh), and after a few months of following recovery folks on Twitter I figured out that “BB” means “Big Book”. I might have learned that sooner if I was in AA but I am Lone Ranger-ing this sobriety thing (ill-advised, many will tell you). The Big Book is a collection of stories and lessons about alcohol addiction that is essential reading for those in AA. Many #aa-ers seem to treat the Big Book with the same reverence as the Bible. (Just this morning I read the enthusiastic tweet: “No matter where I open it to, it’s exactly what I need to hear at that moment! #xa #BB”) I do have a copy of the Big Book on my nightstand. I purchased it on eBay early in my recovery journey, however I have yet to crack it open. I am sure my house cleaners are fascinated by its presence. No one else seem to have noticed it, although to be fair it is stacked with four other books I have also yet to read.

#HP took me a while to figure out. “H” often refers to someone’s husband (“Date night for me and my H”, “H’s turn to cook tonight – ordering pizza!”). Sometimes you’ll even see DH (dear husband). So admittedly the “H” threw me since I assumed it referred to a husband and started trying to figure out the “P”: Husband’s Problem? Husband’s Pal? Husband’s Pecker?

I tried out various meanings as I read my Twitter feed: “I am having a great day thanks to my #HP!” Read: “I am having a great day thanks to my Husband’s Pecker!” Certainly true for many women on any given day and yet an unlike tweet. I knew I was off track.

Eventually I figured it out – HP = Higher Power – the respectfully non-specific term that AA’ers use to avoid alienating one another with individual belief systems. It doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as you recognize that something other than yourself is in charge. This is a really important part of the 12-step recovery process. Although I am not involved in the program myself, I appreciate and respect many aspects of it. I have learned an enormous amount from others who regularly tweet succinct lessons and insights. Fellowship is one of the most fundamental components of recovery, and I have found it through the online community.

All I had to do, was reach out and learn to speak the language.


  1. Thanks for this! I’ve been trying to connect with folks through my Twitter “sober” account, but sometimes the hashtags can be cryptic. I was using #af for “alcohol free” for a while, but then realized a lot of people use it for “air force.” Not the same thing at all— haha!


  2. I have been in the sober blog community for several months, but today started your blog from your “Day 1” and am now at the June 27, 2011 posting. I have been sitting on my front porch where my husband and I retired in the Blue Ridge mountains and when I read what you initially thought “HP” meant, I laughed so loudly that the sound echoed as it bounced off the surrounding mountains!

    Reading your blog, I have been holding my breath to see when you would mention attending AA meetings. Could it be–possibly–that you got sober without AA? After reading your post today I realized that YES, it was true.

    Like you, I have nothing at all against AA. Whatever works for people to achieve sobriety is just dandy. I attended meetings 2-3 times a week for several months, but finally stopped. It just was not for me. I never felt comfortable or “belonging” to the group(and I attended meetings at more than one group).

    I am a Christian. I certainly believe in a “HP” (both meanings, actually–not to be sacrilegious). But what does bother me is the attitude of “this is the ONLY way to get sober” that so many AAers seem to have. We are all different.

    Now let me say here, sheepishly, that I have not obtained long-term sobriety–yet. But I have cut way back on my drinking, and I know I am truly on the cusp of turning the corner and leaving wine behind for good.

    And, Jean, your blog is amazing.

    Joan B.


    • What do we have if we can’t laugh about it all? There are many pathways to recovery and I believe more will continue to emerge. AA certainly holds top of mind awareness for most people, even if they don’t know much more about the program. Many of my friends love their AA experiences and treasure it as their recovery program of choice. Some people out there – not many in my experience but perhaps a vocal minority – express a form of “recovery-ism” that is a type of snobbery or elitism about there being only one “right” way to recover. I believe this is based in fear – fear that if their way isn’t the only way then perhaps they are not safe. That’s just a guess but it’s my way of staying patient and understanding when someone gets obnoxious about it! Anyway, stick around and keep reaching for freedom and joy. It is attainable and we all deserve nothing less!


      • Thanks for your words…..I just read the three-part posting of your blog written about the annual convention you attended in 2011. Wonderful story!


  3. Oh I wish I had time to read more tonight! My Hope is, if you haven’t, that you find an exceptional home group! I think on-line support is great, but not enough. I also feel, for me, I need therapy, once a week! I am coming back after a relapse. I was sober for 14 years, my husband, longer & we thought we could do it together. WRONG! At first, we did AA. But, you know, it just faded away after so many sober years. So a surgery led to a HUGE relapse, lasting 6 years. Just one dumb script for Vicodin/ Percocet & BAM. Now, had I been in AA, my peers would have warned me of the dangers. I was CLUE-LESS. I hope for your sake that you have * come out* or will as it’s too freeing for words! You will meet the coolest ppl ever! & remember, we don’t HAVE to like everybody, just because they/ we are in AA. & Meeting hop! Go until you find one you love. I have a Sponsor, she’s 80! I call her Hard-Ass Helen! Ha. I was humbled beyond words this time around so maybe that’s what makes it so simple for me to say * My Name is Rachelle & I’m an Addict/ Alcoholic.* It’s like breathing to me. But, I’ve been saying it for decades too. My Sister can’t say the word & does not enjoy AA. I did stay sober all those years primarily alone. But it wasn’t quality sobriety. I wish you well! Rachelle H. Minnesota You are well on your way!! 🙂


  4. I found your blog through Adrienne’s. I’m in the support part of the recovery community. Have learned so much myself but that HP had me fooled too. I was drawn to your blog by the name. Gotta love someone with that kind of humor. I started a Facebook group page for our community and I believe it’s been good support, in particular, for those that have completed the program to keep in touch and even for those that left due to relapse. It still offers that place of refuge even if it’s virtual. I also found the blog Goodlifenoalcohol to be a great resource. Congratulations on taking the first step. Keep doing the next right thing.


  5. I want to ask a few questions, but want to make sure you know I am not being judgemental. For me, I could not have done it without AA and BB. What’s more, I wouldn’t have wanted to. I hated the feeling early in sobriety. The community became extremely important. It was the spot of “Everything you wanted to know about alcoholism but were afraid to ask.” The community became a living breathing entity that I could feel welcomed and the ‘sameness’ despite the disparity. My question is: Is the online community a real community? It has been said that we have an abundance of communication devices and a paucity of communication. The point being is that it is easier to fake it online then it is in person because you can hide the physical cues we give off. It just seems like it would be much harder to walk shoulder to shoulder over the internet.


    • I’m really glad you made this point because it is an important question. Does online support equal or replace face-to-face interaction? I agree with you that it cannot even come close.

      I am learning that recovery requires support, understanding, self- awareness, accountability, education, structure, and abstinence (and more, I’m sure, but this is where I’m at so far).

      From what I can see, AA offers all of those pillars in one place. In my particular case, I was able to piece together my recovery in other ways – the first thing in my favour is an abundance of healthy relationships around me for support, understanding and accountability.

      Education, abstinence, structure and self-awareness have been up to me and thank God (oops thank HP) for the www and the information it provides (including AA as well as other recovery programs).

      I have a select few people in my life who are my support core. However the connections online have given me incredible encouragement, insights, education, and shared experience.

      If this equation wasn’t working for me, I would have had to try something else. Likely I would have travelled to a private rehab centre, as my small town could have offered me no anonymity in any program.


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