From an article in The Rumpus on drunkalogue memoirs:
It occurs daily – hourly in some places: people packed into church basements, listening to strangers telling their stories, mindful of a collective purpose and the rigid rules of the drunk’s narrative, outlined on page 58 of the big blue Alcoholics Anonymous book kept hidden in millions of nightstands, purses, and under passenger seats: “Our stories disclose in a general way what we were like, what happened, and what we are like now.” Each speaker rigorously fills his or her past into this outline, a recovery Mad Lib where the adjectives and pronouns may be different, but the stories are essentially and purposefully the same. It is the master narrative of recovery – the only means by which many believe they can be freed from their addiction. To an outsider, it may seem mundane, exhaustingly familiar, even pointless, the same story over and over and over again. But for those that frequent these rooms, who understand the protocol, who already have their dollar bill in hand well before the donation basket is passed, these stories are a matter of life or death. A necessity. These people are plagued by a disease that includes among its many symptoms a dangerously short memory that too easily allows the sufferer to slip back into their certain insanity of doing things over and over again, always expecting different results – an imagined future that never comes. It is a disease for which there is no immediate cure. For now, storytelling is their surest bet to a life of sobriety – a life of promise and potential, a life they never thought they’d be able to have when they were still staring down bottles that consumed them just as much as they consumed the various proofs inside. These stories – their form – serve a very specific function. In this world, narrative actually saves lives.