Friday, February 25, 2011

When secular folks ask A.A. questions, like "What is a real alcoholic?"

Here are some of the responses to a very simple question, "What is a "real" alcoholic?"

The setup is usually the same; the poster describes their past with drugs... and then some sort of description of their drinking, which pretty much fits the descpription of some potential hard drinking. 

Now here are the responses this will bring in your average recovery forum;

  1. Labels are nasty things and when I take all those out of the equation, I feel fine.  Besides that, alcohol is poison and I choose not to take poison anymore.  Be like me.
  2. Most of the folks who I know that abused drugs also abused alcohol.  It's all the same thing.  And the solution is the same so... order up a cup of Recovery Soup.
  3. What #2 said!  Oh, I agree!  Let's all get along and sing Kumbaya.
  4. Definately agree with #2.  Hugs and kissy icons.
  5. Do what's good to yourself.
  6. Find your truth, but it's wrong for an addict to drink booze and an alcoholic to do drugs.
  7. Terminology is bad.  If you think drinking is a problem... then it is and you should just quit.
  8. I'm self diagnosed with "Addictive Prone Personality".  Get rid of the bad and keep the good.  In other words, manage well.
  9. Semantics and labels suck.  If you think you have a problem with booze, you must.  Normal drinkers don't worry about their drinking.  So by that logic, "real" alcoholics must.
  10. The word "real" alcoholic is mentioned on page 21 of the A.A. book and pages 20-24 describe the difference between the hard drinker and the "real" alcoholic.  You ought to read that and find your truth in that.  Can you control the amount you drink when you start and can you stay away from the first one when you really need/want to?  If not, you might be a real alcoholic.  If not, you might not be a real alcoholic... but still have a problem, but can quit by some other method than the spiritual solution.
  11. It's getting hot in here.  Shouldn't this topic be in the 12 Step subforum anyway?

My take; find your own truth.  Either you're real alky or you're not.  Either you're a real drug addict, or you're not.  You may be a combination of things... hard drinker but potential alcoholic... hard drug user or real addict.  You could even be a real alcoholic and a real addict.

I hear that not all real alcoholics black out.  IDK.  I did black out, so I don't know what it's like to not black out.  I suppose that if I didn't black out, I'd continue to drink and would be more of an around the clock maintenance drinker.  But I didn't so I don't know.

I don't know what it's like to be a drug addict.  I did enjoy my drugs though.

I like what Rob B says about "drug of choice".  Cocaine was his drug of choice and alcohol was his drug of no choice.  I had the same experience.  Now... when I got all drugged up on cocaine, acid, shrooms, crank, etc., I got really trashed and had a hard time going home and sleeping it off... suffering the come-down and working it off.  With booze, I'd binge and go until I got stopped.

So... find your own truth and go from there.  Unless you're a real alcoholic, please do not go to A.A.  You might find some other method to deal with your booze.  It's hard enough finding "real" A.A. in an A.A. meeting anyway.  Now... you may find that you're a real addict and God help you if you are... because you might even have a harder time finding drug recovery in the rooms of N.A. 

The bottom line is, do you need a spiritual solution or not?  If not, great.  Do what you need to do to get clean and sober or clean and moderately drinking.  At least booze is legal.  Drugs are not in most places at this current time. 

If you can quit or moderate on a non-spiritual basis, do it.  If you need help with that and booze happens to be your problem, I suggest a closed A.A. meeting.  But if they don't ask you to take the path of consideration, "Maybe your're an alcoholic and maybe you're not," run like hell.


  1. I went to post a comment and there was a picture of Charley Sheen, a "real" alcoholic. "Nuff said. I don't use the term, myself. Either you're an alcoholic or not. I fall into the category of being an alcoholic. I cannot not drink.

    Those who can not drink don't fall into this same category. Some of them can be called "problem drinkers", "alcohol abusers", hard drinkers, whatever. If they can not drink, then they're not alcoholics.

    As to the blacking out, it isn't anything unique to being an alcoholic. Blacking out is a function of how quickly you consume alcohol, how fast your BAC elevates. It has nothing to do with the amount you drink. Anyone can black out if they drink alcohol quickly enough to cause a rapid rise in their BAC. And not everyone is susceptible to blacking out, either.

    A lot of people come into AA because they think they have a drinking problem but aren't sure. If they stick around long enough, they'll learn the answer. So I see some people in the rooms that can't yet call themselves alcoholics or not. Fine, stick around and listen up. If you find that you don't belong, then please leave.

    If you learn that you're indeed an alcoholic, you've come to the right place. Stick around, I want to talk to you. Oh, and if you don't think AA will work for you, that's fine too. There are a lot of other games in town. I'm sure you'll find one that works.

    Then you have the morons who just want to learn how to drink responsibly. But let's leave them for another day, shall we?

  2. The book talks about real alcoholics. So shall I.

    My blackouts worsened as I went along. I don't know if non-alkies blackout or not. The Pope would probably screw nuns if he got tight enough... but would he?

    If the Queen had balls, she could jerk off all over herself.

  3. Yeah, the BB talks about "real" alcoholics. I have no problem with the term, I just don't use as I said above.

    But it's really interesting why they (Bill et.al.)use that phrase. I think it began in an attempt to separate the moderate drinker and the hard drinker from the "real" alcoholic. Big Book talks about this at some length.

    I came across something on the internet that I;m gonna try and download here. I'll probably be in a few parts:

    "Who, therefore, needs to be wary of the hard drinkers, the “adulterers of AA?” Anyone who is a real alcoholic, for these wolves in sheep’s clothing are indeed the ones telling real alcoholics the lies, the myths, the fiction, the “middle-of-the-road-solutions” that we hear around the tables. And too often, we real alcoholics who (when sober) were withdrawn, were loners, were not comfortable speaking before crowds, find ourselves taking a back seat in AA to those more vocal, more self-assured, more authoritative hard drinkers who, though they may mean well, are really a danger to your chances at recovery and the very existence of our fellowship, too. If hard drinkers are not a part of the “common welfare”, carrying the common message--the “common solution”, then they have not met the requirements for AA membership. How long shall we sit by and forfeit ownership of our program through inaction?

    So if we need to be wary of them, how do we identify the hard drinkers? Actually, they can help us identify them, if we are observant. First, the hard drinker often presents himself as the “Model AA”. (In reality, he is, because a “model” is defined as “an imitation of the real thing”. He will say to the newcomer, “I feel your pain”, but he will not roll up his sleeves and offer the many hours of service called for to sit-one-on-one with that newcomer and take him through the Book page by page. He is the guy in his second decade of sobriety who recently scoffed at those of us who get up earlier that usual each day for prayer and meditation. He is the one who I heard say recently to a real alcoholic: “I’m sick of your relapsing, and I’m sick of hearing you say you need more help than you’re getting. I don’t even want to be around you”. He is the one who I heard say recently: “I have double-digit sobriety, I worked the steps once when I came in 17 years ago, and my sponsor had me take it slow and easy, working the steps when I was comfortable”. (The hard drinker can do that--we real alcoholics, on the other hand, will die if we wait until we get comfortable before taking action). The hard drinker is the one with advanced years in the fellowship who says he “chose not to drink this morning”. He may be telling the truth. We, on the other hand, don’t have that privilege.

  4. comment cont'd

    "Additionally, he is the one who stays sober even as he contradicts the information in the Book. He says the Book is subject to “interpretation” (what he really means is “mis-interpretation”). He may be the one who has ordained himself the group’s elder statesman. He is the one who does not take his proteges from the cover to page 164, explaining every sentence and doing everything that the Book says exactly as prescribed in the Book’s “precise, specific, clear-cut directions”. He is the one who said recently, “That is not the way I work my program”. (Interesting...since when did he create a program? Can his program guarantee fulfillment of promises to us real alcoholics as the program of AA can?) Note: if any who are making those statements above happen to be real alcoholics, they are suffering untreated alcoholism again and need to get back to working the steps so that God’s love can be seen through their service and through their comments. So if we hear those same comments from a real alcoholic, he is back to suffering from untreated alcoholism, from the spiritual malady, from allowing unmanageability to creep back into his life because he stopped working the steps in a circular fashion, as was intended originally.
    How, then, can we tell the two groups apart? Know that we need to, because if the real alcoholic is suffering from untreated alcoholism, we can help him."

    So the term "real alcoholic" has an application in a lot of discussions. I don't disagree with it's usage by any means, but looking at some of this stuff I can see where it would be necessary at times.

  5. In ordinary conversation, I don't go around saying I'm a "real" alcoholic either... just like I don't think fish are swimming around the ocean saying, "Hey, fuckers. I'm a 'real' fish."

    I would probably pull the word out, though, if I'm around people upon whom it may offend. If I know the term offends, I'll whip it out and throw it around vociferously.

    We got a guy in town called 3M ("Meeting Makers Make it) Mike. He introduces himself as a "Real Alcoholic" during introductions. It's slightly annoying, so is his Meeting Makers Make it" spiel. But he's a service hound too. He is involved at every A.A. picnic and every A.A. camping trip, he's the first guy to wake up and is at the barbeque the whole time... and he's anotherwise neat guy. He's plotted a nice life out for himself. He's also one of those guys who came in illiterate, but learned how to read by reading the Big Book.

    I don't think every "real" "recovered" alcoholic has to take every newcomer through the book page by page either. I know you... Joe... and Jim will disagree with me, but it is what it is. Read your own damned Big Book. Do your own damned steps. What I will do, however, is sit down with you and talk to you about my drinking, ask you about your drinking, listen to you, and help you determine whether you're alky or not.

    BTW, thanks for the Chris R stuff. I will download that to my Sansa and listen to it tonight.

  6. I like the term real alcoholic. The book is aimed at discovering truth via experience. We are a distinct entity from the moderate to the hard drinker. I see a lot of folks who get their rocks off by announcing themselves as "real alcoholics" in meetings. For their sake I hope they are not. They sure don't seem to be beyond human aid, with the I choose not to drink today bullshit and all the other self reliant catch phrases that are mindlessly slung around.

    As far as I am concerned and have experienced, a real alcoholic needs to have a psychic change sufficient to remove the desire for booze. The 12 steps are the way out, there may be other venues for this, but not in AA.

  7. No doubt about the need for a psychic change, Rob. That's what separates the men from the boys.

    Those who spout such crap as "I tailor the program to fit my needs" and other such shit I'll immediately ask what fuckin' program are they talking about. Not AA. Them's also the folks that you don't see after a year or so.

    Patrick, I emailed you a couple of links about blackout drinking, just for your edification. And as to the sponsor thing, we each do it in our own way. I never question how somebody sponsor's another person. You do what you think is best, the goal is to get the guy sober. Did you get a chance to listen to that speaker I sent you?

  8. Wife's on the computer now and haven't downloaded it yet.

    I did read your deal on blackouts though. So blacking out doesn't necessarily make one alky, but my fellow coworkers told me of some of my bizarre behaviors during that time. For example, the bartender would cut me off, so I would sit with people whom I didn't know, act like they were long lost friends, and drink their drinks.

    Further demonstrations that once I started, I could not be stopped.

    The drama is inconsequential of course.