Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Step 1: Am I An Alcoholic?

Step 1: am I an alcoholic?

I think this should be asked of every new person prior to coming to the meeting... and be asked to have an open mind to your first step.

Am I an alcoholic? Well am I? How do I find out?

One good way is to go back into my own experience. Look at how I drank booze. Not so much looking at the drama or outer circumstances, but how was it with me and booze? How was it when I tried to control my drinking? Why did I feel the need to control my drinking? How was I when I was abruptly separated from booze once I had a good drunk started?

Ultimately, could I control the amount once I started, and/or, could I stay stopped for something like a year on my own power. When I read pages 30, 31, 32, 33, etc... I start to understand why I might just be an alcoholic.

It's also good to know what an alcoholic isn't. What is a hard drinker? What is a moderate drinker? A teetotaler? Can a hard drinker cross the line and become a real alky? Well, evidently yes. And once an alky, always an alky. But not just anybody can get drunk and become an alcoholic. It's complicated, but it just doesn't work that way. Alcoholism is a very selective malady and tests have been done to support this "theory" if you will. I like what a book Under the Influence says about the matter. But I don't like the doc's plan for recovery.

That's all we need, is another plan, right?

But I was given the dignity to find out for myself whether I was an alky or not. I was not forced, coerced, rushed, etc. into AA. I was given the dignity to come to my own conclusion and act accordingly. At one point, my group had to watch me fight recovery and go out and drink again. As the book say, alcohol is the Great Persuader. For it finally and once again "beat me into a state of reasonableness."

When I came back in, they said I looked whipped. They said I was quiet, scared, and didn't seem to have a plan. For me, that was the start of my first step. But I was given the gift of "being open to my first step" and follow the path of consideration.

To partake in a spiritual excercise, you have to start with a question, not an answer.

It was not necessary that I drink again because for one thing, that's dangerous for a guy like me. I could have died or killed people. But... I got in fear and refused to deal with it. Another plan is to see how well you stay sober on your own power. If neither that nor trying some controlled drinking doesn't work, you're probably an alcoholic.

Coming to the realization that you're an alcoholic should be a scary one. It was for me. For, left to my own devices, I will drink again. And for me to drink again means




So this idea of a God personal to me becomes pretty believable. That's how the 1st step shakes out for me. It's not just the 1st step as listed on the Step Scroll or on page 60. It's everything from Title Page, preface, forwards, Dr's Opinion, Bill's Story, There is a Solution, More about Alcoholism, and a paragraph on We Agnostics... other known as the Bedevilments... "We were having problems with personal relationships..."

And if you'll notice, the first 8 pages of Bill's Story is his drunkalog. You can ask yourself "How did I drink, think and feel like Bill?" Pages 9-16 was what he did to recover.

Up to page 23 or so... that's the physical "craving of booze" when it's in my body. From right after that to about page 43, that's the mental obsession or when alcohol is not in my body, but in my mind; the mental obsession. Then the bedevilments on page 52 talk to me about the spiritual malady, or my life without God, whether I'm sober or not.

Step 1, for me it didn't happen over night.


I posted this probably on my first day at SR and I like the responses that follow it.  If I was asked right now what my thoughts are on step one, they would simply center around the 2 issues of control, me with a drink in my body and me with no booze in my system, but reaching for that next first drink... and what exactly was going through my mind at the time.


  1. I don't think that most new people coming into a meeting have a clear enough grasp on their situation to be able to honestly answer the question. You may not have been forced, coerced or rushed into the program, but a lot of the newbies are.

    I think a very small percentage just come off the street wanting to stop drinking. They're coerced by their families, the courts, their employers; they just got out of detox or rehab and are there because they've been told to go.

    I doubt that many would be able to honestly explain their relationship w/ alcohol. How many just want to learn to drink like a "normal person", or to control their drinking?

    That being said, it would be great if we could get all the newbies to at least read what you've posted and start thinking about the points you bring up. They're great. This is stuff that makes for good discussion topics at meetings as it'll get the newbies attention a hell of a lot faster than talk about step 11.

    Nice job, Patrick. And they threw you off SR what? About three weeks later? Fucking ingrates.

  2. Nevermind how you came to be in a typical A.A. meeting.

    I'm just talking about whether you're alky or not.

  3. We get a shot at these guys before they come to A.A. once in a while.

    That big Denver group that had as many as 80 people at one time grew at the rate of only 2 people per year... with upwards of 60+ pitching drunks

  4. A question that I was asked this last time I came in:

    "Why do you think you're alcoholic?"

    John smashed all my ideas about why I thought I was alcoholic.

    Joe Hawk talked about how Big Frank asked him that question at York Street when Joe was in early sobriety. Joe was John's first sponsor. I suspect that Joe had asked John that question.

    I ask that question. I find it to be far more effective than asking someone if they are alcoholic. They all say yes to that question, when in reality not that many of them really are alcoholic.

  5. Why do you think you're alcoholic? That's sort of what I was getting at. I like that.

    I would say I had this exercise put on me by one of the Monday Nighters, and in a way that was profound.

    I was working with Dr Death, aka Dave B. I went to his house, for the second time, to do my 5th Step. The first time, he sent me home to clean it up... straighten columns up wiht a ruler, get that 2nd Column crap out of my 3rd Column... you know the drill.

    So this time, he said, "Tell me about yourself. Tell me about your drinking." It became an exercise like you say. Everything I'd laid out he shot down with, "That doesn't make you alkie." Until I finally laid out from early memory what I drank like and how about every third time, I damn near drank myself to alcohol poisoning, and did this again and again. Then there was that period of controlled continuous drinking, which eventually lead to no control both after the first drink and prior to it.

    I was uncomfortable to say the least. He took me out of that state with, "Do you now believe... there is a God... who can take you past here... in all areas of your life?" We were then doing a 3rd Step and on we went.

    It turned out to be a powerful 5th Step experience. I always do some kind of recap of 1, 2, and 3 before hearing someone's 5th Step.

    There is absolutely nobody in my whole town who will bring your feet to the fire over this, whether you're alky or not. Most people don't want to put someone to this test. It's almost like the candidate would rather just admit they're alky than anything else because of fear that maybe they are NOT alky. If not alky, then what? Where do they go for help if not A.A.?

    There is a macho-punk at a meeting I go to who qualifies himself as alky because he's a "tough-guy" who goes to rough bars and gets his ass kicked out in the back alley a lot and if you don't endure what he did, you're just a sissy nancy-boy. I'd like to have seen him line up with me on my last few drunks. I don't set out to be a tough guy or nothing, but there's quite a few times I should have wound up in the back alley with my ass kicked. Drunk or sober, not too many folks fucked with me. I'm not bragging. But I was rowdy and confrontational and mischevous enough... I'll agree that I got lucky with regards to this many a night. I don't think most folks really like to fight someone who is really not afraid to fight.

    The fact that I spent most of these times blacked-out speaks to me and how I drank alcohol.

    Jim, I'd like for you to talk about what Don said about folks who are not alcoholic in an A.A. meeting. What do we do/not do with them? Do you agree with what he believed? Is there something else that's more effective?

  6. Here's what I remember Don saying. I think we were talking about the hard-drinkers and them the others who maybe had a little too much drinky-poo one night and got caught for bad driving. Do these people have a right to be in A.A.? Don said of course they do, but to them all we are is a support group or a social outlet. The real deal that is beyond human aid certainly needs that "protective wall of human community," but we need much more than just a support group.

    All I would add, is that you hard drinkers and social drinkers please don't sponsor a real alcoholic.

  7. Right. That and the thought that It's possible that the next drink a hard drinker takes might be the one that throws him/her into full-blown alcoholism. Who's to say?

  8. please switch your background.... WHITE on BLACK is REALLY BAD FOR EYES. I would love to read this but it kills my eyes.