Riding motorcycles is keeping alcoholics sober says Association of Recovering Motorcyclists (ARM) NSW Chapter spokesman Warren Cartledge.
“For me, riding helps my recovery and I also need that fellowship which is a big part of Alcoholics Anonymous,” he says.
ARM was founded in 1986 by Judy and Jack Jensen of Wisconsin and now has more than 100 chapters in the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Guam, England, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Thailand and Netherlands.
Australia has had a chapter in Western Australia since 2005 and has a new Chapter forming in NSW.
“One of the original members in WA was directed to an alcohol counsellor by police after an incident and that counsellor directed him to an AA meeting that was founded by ARM members; he is still sober today, nine years later,” says Warren who is also proud of being sober himself for over 20 years.
Warren says he was a “blackout drunk” when he was in the military in his 20s.
“I came out of blackouts in other countries. I’d start drinking in one country and wake up in another and not know how I got there and that can be extremely dangerous in the military,” he says.
“The military didn’t help me at all with my drinking problem, and at the end when I was at my rock bottom, I made a desperate phone call to AA.
“An AA member spoke with me, and then arranged for three other AA members to visit me at home, and the next day took me to a meeting and thankfully I have been sober ever since.
“But I still had this void because I loved riding and there were no other sober bikers that I knew of to form that brotherhood and bond with.”
Warren says ARM was formed because AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) told recovering alcoholics to cut their hair and sell their motorbikes and live a “normal lifestyle”.
“To a biker, riding and brotherhood is a normal lifestyle.
“We didn’t fit the norm of what AA portrayed, so ARM was born out of necessity,” says Warren, 55, who has been riding all his life.
He started riding a Honda CB350 twin, has owned numerous bikes over the years and now rides a 2000 Harley-Davidson Night Train and has a Kawasaki 650 Vulcan S.
Warren got sober in 1992 and became a full member of ARM in 2005.
ARM has more than 1000 members globally. Warren is unsure about Australian membership but says there is “always room for one more”.
“We are bikers who have chosen to remain clean and sober without forsaking the lifestyle of brotherhood in the wind,” he says.
“We are not associated with any other group, nor are we a 1% club.”
ARM owns no property or clubhouses, claims no territory and rides “free of inter-club politics”.
Australian members do not wear the international ARM back patch to ensure there is no conflict with 1% clubs.
“We have been able to grow through our respect for other MCs in the areas we live and ride and by respecting the individuality of our members,” Warren says.
“We do not require members to ride a specific brand of motorcycle nor do we ridicule the member’s personal choices.
However, motorcycles must be 500cc or more.
“We do not claim our modified lifestyle to be the only truth, nor do we suggest that any other lifestyle is inappropriate,” Warren says.
“We are bikers who have chosen abstinence from alcohol and drugs because it is what we believe in for ourselves. For some of us, it is the only way we can continue to survive.”
Warren says they have regular monthly get-togethers and rides in the fledgling NSW Chapter while the WA Chapter has weekly rides to and from AA and NA meetings and get-togethers.
The sister organisation for recovering female riders is called Recovering Women Riders. Warren says ARM and RWR membership varies from 22 years of age to over 70.
To be a member of ARM or RWR you must be active in recovery from alcohol or drug dependence.
“Our members are not affiliated with any particular 12-step program, however our members attend AA and NA meetings and respect the traditions,” Warren says.
“We are not part of the Salvos or any other particular charity although we support many other charities around the world.”
Click here if you are interested in becoming a member, click here to email Warren, or call him on 0407 447051.