Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Today was 2 years since my last drink. I went to the AA I used to go to get my 2 year coin.(last time I was there was for my 1 year coin).
I couldn't believe it. There were only 5 of us there. 3 were court ordered and needed their papers signed and the guy chairing the meeting was moving in a couple weeks. When the meeting was over he left like a scalded cat. I guess someone will come by and lock the door,but that's just a guess.
AA got the monkey off of my back,and I wouldn't have made it without the people that used to go there a year ago. There used to be 15 or 20 people there every night. I don't know what happened. If I would have walked in to see this 2 years ago I would have left before the meeting was over. I was in total disbelief.
The point I am trying to make is if you are new to AA and aren't sure if it's for you or not. If you have more than one in your neighborhood check them all out.
I wouldn't have made it with the current AA group.
I plan on calling someone tomorrow to see whats going on.
Then upon further inspection... I see we have a troll on our hands; Jim, is this the "faker" you warned us about?
Well the reason I quit going is I am far from a poster child for the AA model.
I did try to work the steps, but I never have gotten past 4. The last was my 3rd stretch to AA, and 3rd stretch of any length sobriety.
I think the main thing I got out of it was a lot of other people also trying to be sober. But in reality,looking back I didn't try very hard at the steps.
With 2 years sober it is likely someone could ask me to be their sponsor. If that were to happen I would have to say no because I have never had a sponsor myself,and didn't really do it with the steps. Not setting a very good example. But that is what was so kool about the group. Nobody pushed anybody into anything unless they asked for it.
I did talk to a guy that used to go there today. He said he hadn't been there in quite a while either, but 2 of the 4 main "mentors" moved away and membership had fallen way off. Iduno there was a flier on the wall for a cookout 2 weekends away. I plan on going to see who is there. I didn't really plan on not going for a whole year,but that's what happened.
I feel one thing for sure, my sobriety was more secure than anyone else at the meeting last night. But I also feel a couple of the court ordered attendees went straight to the liquor store after the meeting.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Beware: Hard Drinkers & Fakers Inside!
We in AA have signs posted everywhere, each with slogans, such as: "Think" (as if my thinking didn't get me here and still can't kill me, even to this day); or "One Day At A Time" (like I can make it without total
commitment allowing for some future "reservation"); and "Easy Does It," (which is advice offered in the Book to wife/husband whose spouse is beginning recovery, not to the alcoholic). None of those pieces of advice are in the original program of recovery. Yet we do not post the signs we should, such as ("The eye of the adulterer...disguises his face"); or (Beware: Hard Drinkers Inside"). Indeed, if you are a real alcoholic, the hard drinker may be a greater danger to you than alcohol itself.
I base that thesis on two comments from Bill Wilson himself. First, Bill said, in response to the rising rate of recovery failures that he began to see as a result of the message in the Book being warped through poor oral communication: "We cannot well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomer. Perhaps a great many did not receive the kind and amount of
sponsorship that they so sorely needed. We did not communicate when we might have done so. So we AA's failed them." He also said that we must be ever vigilant to maintain the purity of our message, noting that "if AA is ever destroyed, it will be from within." Bill also warned us that the Washingtonian recovery program, which was quite successful long before AA ever existed, was ultimately destroyed from within
because they had neither rules (Traditions) nor a basic text ("The Big Book") that could prevent the message from being twisted through oral communication.
So what problem can the hard drinkers cause us real alcoholics? Why can the killing things that are happening in AA be traced either to them or to alcoholics suffering from untreated alcoholism? First, early AA's, like Earl T. and Paul M., report that the 75% success rate reported in the Big Book continues throughout their early years as well. So why do fewer than 6% of real alcoholics stay around long enough to get a 10 year chip nowadays? Research shows that 20% of the American population suffers from serious
drinking problems, but only about half of those problem drinkers are real alcoholics. That means that we in America have as many hard drinkers as we have real alcoholics, and since it is easier for them to "stop or moderate", we may well have more of them surviving in the fellowship than we have real alcoholics in recovery (program). And they offer opinions (instead of Book-based facts) and their opinions will kill us if we listen to them and follow their advice instead of the Book's. They do not have to adhere to the "rules" (as we must) in order to live a contented life. Their strain of the disease is not necessarily fatal--as is ours--if we do not follow the rules precisely. With our fellows dying at such high rates and with the fellowship suffering such a low rate of success, isn't it time we pay attention to our Traditions and the teachings of our program so that hard drinkers and alcoholics suffering the spiritual malady do not dominate our meetings
with their lies?
Some drinkers can stay sober by choice (pages 20-21 for the "moderate drinker" and the "hard drinker"). Furthermore, the Book says that a moderate or hard drinker "can quit upon a non-spiritual basis", depending upon "the extent to which he has lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not". So I ask: if they can do it on their own; and if they are not here to work the steps; and if they are not helping guide others to a spiritual experience, what the heck are they doing hanging around us? I don't have cancer, so I don't hang out on a cancer ward. If I did, I might be sicker, in fact, than the people there with cancer who don't have a choice.
Why would I want to associate with sick people in a cancer recovery program if I don't have a fatal form of cancer? Several possibilities exist to explain why I'm on that ward if I'm not dying of cancer. Maybe I overcame a mild form of cancer and now I want to tell them how they should treat their severe, fatal form --maybe I like the "expert" role that I think that allows me. Maybe my social skills have been so poorly developed that I am not welcome among the well people in our society--I need a captive audience of sick people who won't walk out on me, no matter how obnoxious I might be. Maybe I sincerely think I can do them some good, though my mild form of the disease gives me no real understanding of their illness and what they really need to get well. Maybe I'm hanging out on the cancer ward because I just can't handle life's daily issues and I need someone to talk to. Maybe they even have free therapy sessions that I like to sit in on
rather than pay a therapist myself. Maybe I'm even looking for someone to get into a relationship with, and it seems like a good place to look (now that is really a strange belief system, isn't it? I'm going to go where people are dying to find me a life-long relationship! Man--I'm sicker than I thought, if I'm doing that.)
The danger in my roaming the cancer ward rests in the false information I might spread. I might say, since I had a mild form of cancer, "Hey--you really don't have to do everything the doctor says. And you don't have to do everything precisely or specifically the way he tells you to do it. In fact, let me share with you my opinions about treatment because this is all I had to do to get well, and it's an easier, softer way than the way the doctors are telling you". I might even tell them: "And forget this holistic approach to recovery--I did not have to pray. I did not have to turn to God. That part of their recovery program is really not needed--I'm living proof of that. Just treat the physical aspect of the disease." My gosh. Simply by what I'm saying, simply by virtue of the words coming out of my mouth, I would be doing killing things on that ward, wouldn't I? And don't you think the people in charge would run my butt out of there in seconds? They would not sit by idly and let me spread information that will kill the people who are there seeking recovery. The fact is that our hard drinkers (and some of our alcoholics suffering from untreated alcoholism) do all of
that--they often use AA for social or self-serving purposes rather than for the purpose of working steps to "continued spiritual growth". Like us real alcoholics, they, too, were told in their old drinking days to "Get out!" Then they find AA (by some route) and we say, "Come back". Wow--that's new...that's neat. So they also use AA as a Lonely Hearts Club, or for $1/hour therapy instead of $150/hour therapy, or for a place "to
vent--to share--to air their issues". They can live without evidencing a spiritual experience (they do not have to--they are not real alcoholics) and they do not extend true compassion for the struggle to do what they were able to do in a much easier fashion. Their attitude: "Hey, it was easy for me--so the heck with you. But keep coming back, O sick alky. It'll get better". (So what is the sign to those judgmental, pompous people when I get better? Do I become like them? Are they the model? The prototype? I'm starting to feel the need for a new Fourth Step just thinking about them!).
Though we real alcoholics at first glance might look just like the hard drinkers, we are, in truth, very different. We must meet "requirements"--hard drinkers do not have to. We real alcoholics must do the work "precisely" and "specifically" and "Thoroughly"--hard drinkers do not have to. We must have an "entire psychic change"--they do not. We must undergo a "revolutionary change"--they do not have to. We are told that we have a "necessary element; namely, we are "required" to follow a "few simple rules"--they don't have to. We are on a "life and death errand"--they aren't. We must seek it "with the desperation of a drowning man"--they do not have to. Thus comes the danger of being in a meeting with them: we hear from them the exact opposite of what we need to hear, the opposite of what our Book tells us. We hear statements and opinions that may be the truth for them but are fatal lies for us. 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 than 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. 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 "misinterpretation"). 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. The hard drinker, on the other hand, can hurt us. We need to tell them apart. The alcoholic not working the Steps will eventually separate himself from the hard drinker in several ways: (1) he will meet the description of the untreated alcoholic in the middle paragraph of page 52; (2) he will eventual go out and drink; or (3) he will commit suicide, that event occurring at a
rate among us that is times higher than among the general population. Remember: the hard drinker is theone who can stay sober while contradicting (through thought, word and deed) the instructions presented inthe Book.
Why do I think I know so much about them? Because their advice dang near killed me. I listened to them long enough that I got "comfortable" at 7-1/2 years. In truth, I was the most uncomfortable since coming in,because I let them convince me to let up on the work. I heard so many of them pontificating about how they were doing it in their double-digit years (without having to do the work continuously) that I fell for it. Heck, if they can do it that way, I can too. They appealed to my "softer-easier-way-mentality". I no longer worried about those contingencies required for my daily reprieve. They helped reconstruct my ego ("We can do it on our own") and I stopped looking at them honestly and failed to realize that I don't want what they have, even if it is easier. I was at fault for I allowed them to influence me, and I DAMN NEAR DIED!!!
Today, I know that because I am a real alcoholic, the continuous working of the steps is "vital" (that is, "necessary for life")--not for them, but definitely for me. And since that is my experience, please let me share: please stay vigilant, for I have learned the hard way that the enemy who brings a false message is as cunning and baffling and powerful as the disease itself. So, if you are a real alcoholic, know the criteria; watch out for the overblown war stories they use to convince you they are one of us; look out for the statements that are truth for the hard drinkers but are lies for the real alcoholics. Know that we real alcoholics have no choice--we have no control and never will. Know that the only hope for us--continued work and spiritual growth--is not required for those vocal hard drinkers. Know that only by working the steps vigorously can we continue to have the renewed spiritual experience that we must have on a daily basis in order to remain sober and happy and joyous and free. And always beware the message coming from the mouth of the hard drinker (or any non-alcoholic in our groups), for he "disguises his face". He is seated next to you, and though what he shares is really the truth as he sees it, he will unconsciously contribute to kill you when you're least suspecting. That is my experience, so if you are a real alcoholic, I urge you to beware. If you are a real alcoholic, do it the way the Book says; do it the way the Book says; do it the way the Book says!
Copyright 1997 Floyd H.
Can be copied only by alcoholics and distributed without profit.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This was from a post I just saw at SR entitled "Whatever happened to Tradition 3?" I'm gonna just post this whole sucker instead of linking to the PDF as the author is unknown... so I guess we can "borrow" it here for the sake of discussion... if you're so inspired.
Whatever Happened to Tradition Three?
Here are some thoughts on why Tradition Three is at the heart of the currently debated issue. AA used to work very well. It grew by leaps and bounds and had an astonishing recovery rate by any comparative standard. There has never in recorded history been anything as successful or as long lived as AA, and we weren't the first kid on the block.
In the first 16 years of it's history AA produced a recovery rate in excess of 75%. By 1975 it had declined to about 65%. Today all estimates put it at less than 10% (many as low as 2 or 3%) and overall membership has actually declined in the last couple of years.
By all accounts the "New and Improved AA" is "better" that the old more religious, more rigid, more dogmatic, more exclusive AA of the past. What happened? How can something that is said to be so much better work so much worse?
Could it be that the early members hit upon the keys to success and that subsequent "improvements" that were well intentioned were in reality the literal curse of death.
The founders were clear that they had a solution to the alcoholic dilemma and they were offering it freely to those who wanted it. If a prospective member didn't want what was being offered they went looking for someone else who did.
They didn't beg anybody to join and they didn't coddle the ones who balked at the rigor of their program. They figured the ones who didn't stick would drink some more and if they lived they would get them later. They expected the grave nature of alcoholism to force compliance with our spiritual principles.
They expected those who outright refused to follow the program to end up drinking their way to an open mind. Little did they know.
The long form of Tradition Three begins with the statement: "Our membership should include all who suffer from alcoholism." This statement implies that the potential member must be alcoholic. The more commonly stated short form:
"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." Is not a substitute for the long form. It was never meant as a "loophole" for a non-alcoholic to gain membership. There were very good reasons for excluding non-alcoholics at closed meetings, and excluded they were.
Here are some examples of how the early groups interpreted this principle before Bill wrote in down as such.
Definition of an Alcoholic Anonymous:
An Alcoholic Anonymous is an alcoholic who through application of and adherence to rules laid down by the organization, has completely forsworn the use of any and all alcoholic beverages. The moment he wittingly drinks so much as a drop of beer, wine, spirits, or any other alcoholic drink he automatically loses all status as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A.A. is not interested in sobering up drunks who are not sincere in their desire to remain completely sober for all time. A.A. is not interested in alcoholic who want to sober up merely to go on another bender, sober up because of fear for their jobs, their wives, their social standing, or to clear up some trouble either real or imaginary.
In other words, if a person is genuinely sincere in his desire for continued sobriety for his own good, is convinced in his heart that alcohol holds him in its power, and is willing to admit that he is an alcoholic, members of Alcoholics Anonymous will do all in their power, spend days of their time to guide him to a new, a happy, and a contented way of life.
It is utterly essential for the newcomer to say to himself sincerely and without any reservation, "I am doing this for myself and myself alone."
Experience has proved in hundreds of cases that unless an alcoholic is sobering up for a purely personal and selfish motive, he will not remain sober for any great length of time. He may remain sober for a few weeks or a few months, but the moment the motivating element, usually fear of some sort, disappears, so disappears sobriety.
TO THE NEWCOMER: It is your life. It is your choice. If you are not completely convinced to your own satisfaction that you are an alcoholic, that your life has become unmanageable; if you are not ready to part with alcohol forever, it would be better for all concerned if you discontinue reading this and give up the idea of becoming a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
For if you are not convinced, it is not only wasting your own time, but the time of scores of men and women who are genuinely interested in helping you. (A Manual For Alcoholics Anonymous published by the Akron Group in the early 40's)
The pass key to the door of understanding of alcoholism, as we members of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS understand the problem, is the recognition and the admission on the part of the prospective member that he is an alcoholic.
If he is not alcoholic, our group has nothing to offer him.
If he is, an observance of our program will eliminate the alcoholic problem from his life. We have nothing to offer the controlled drinker. (page 2 Impressions Of AA published by Chicago Group in early 40's.)
MANY PEOPLE can "drink like gentleman," hold their liquor and feel no after-craving for a drink.
Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to offer these drinkers. There exists no liquor problem for them, and we can only say, "More power to them; may they always be able to control their drinking."
This message is directed only to those too whom alcohol has become the BIGGEST problem in life…the true, heart-weary, egoinflated, defeated Alcoholic. (Who Me pamphlet published by Original Salt Lake Group in Early 40's)
You may ask what could be the problem with being a little more inclusive about our membership? Didn't Bill say that our way of life has it’s advantages for all? Why not let them all in. Bill addressed these questions in a Grapevine Article that was later reprinted into a pamphlet called Problems Other Than Alcohol. In it he states the following:
Now there are certain things that AA cannot do for anybody, regardless of what our several desires or sympathies may be.
Our first duty, as a Society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore we have to avoid distractions and multipurpose activity. An AA group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world. Sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group.
Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholic into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.
To illustrate, let's review some typical experiences. Years ago, we hoped to give AA membership to our families and to certain nonalcoholic friends who had been greatly helpful. They had their problems, too, and we wanted them in our fold. Regretfully, we found that this was impossible.
They couldn't make straight AA talks; nor, save a few exceptions, could they identify with new AA members. Hence, they couldn't do continuous Twelfth Step work. Close to us as these good folks were, we had to deny them membership. We could only welcome them at our open meetings. That’s the problem with open membership. There is no identification .
As our book states on page 18:
But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.
The problem is that they can't reach into our alcoholic world and make us believe they understand us and we can't hold drunken misery and death over their heads to entice them into practical application of our spiritual principles. It is a very inefficient system of mutual aid when none of the important motivational factors are shared.
The real tragedy of the situation is that only the alcoholics die. Why are they dying? They are dying because they aren't doing anything.
The first three chapters of our book and the Doctor's Opinion are summarized on page 43 as follows:
Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.
That’s what the promised spiritual awakening is for. It is the only thing ever in recorded history to reliably fix real alcoholics. It worked and kept working until it generally fell out of favor within the fellowship. How did this happen you ask? This slippery slope began in the mid-seventies with the proliferation of clinical treatment options for alcoholism and many of the less severe emotional
An alcoholic algebra developed where if you drink at all and it causes you problems you are a problem drinker and that's as good as alcoholic in a fellowship where all you need is a desire to stop drinking. They sent them in droves. Rehabs, courts, mental heath facilities, probation departments, concerned wives and parents, employers and many others sent us drinkers of all kinds and descriptions who were under the impression that they were alcoholics .
Some members I know personally stated that they were told by various outside agencies that they didn_t have to be alcoholics to attend meetings or become members under the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking clause. So we had a situation where a outside agencies send us their clients who erroneously informed us as to our traditions, and we welcomed them.
We welcomed them because AA worked and these people deserved to experience the same benefits as the existing membership had. The problem occurred when these less-hopeless drinkers could not identify with the deadly drinking patterns described by the real alcoholics and opted out of working various parts of the program because they didn_t seem necessary to them.
Turned out they were right. Non-alcoholic drinkers learned to their satisfaction just what Bill had written on page 39:
That may be true of certain nonalcoholic people who, though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies have not been damaged as ours were. But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge.
This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.
Well, they learned the first part anyway. That second part where self-knowledge wouldn_t fix the alcoholic problem, seemed to escape them. At least that is the impression that is conveyed by what they say at the meetings. I just don't drink and go to meetings is a program of will power and self knowledge.
Nothing else. The idea that I have frequently heard that "you can stay sober on Step One for the rest of your life and the other steps are for straightening out your life" is also based solely on self-knowledge as the cure.
The next time you have a headache see if goes away by telling yourself you have a headache. Sounds kind of ridiculous doesn't it?
Why would it be any different with alcoholism? That's a program that will only work on drinkers who are not alcoholic by definition.
When we allow them membership and they share their legitimate experience of not drinking and not working the program, they cannot help the real alcoholic who is the only one we are supposed to be concerned about.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Dark Night of Recovery
Gerald May brings to light a phenomenon unknown to many in recovery. The Dark Night of the Soul. It is a stage through which many pass, if they are truly on a path of spiritual unfoldment. It is a necessary, yet misunderstood stage of the journey.
“No one understands the dark night of the soul better than people recovering from life-threatening addictions. Some AA members call themselves ‘grateful alcoholics’ because alcoholism finally brought them to their knees. It was only because of alcoholism that they discovered the true depths and longings of their souls.
Such spiritual awakenings can sometimes lead to another kind of dark night, what I’ve called a ‘dark night of recovery.’ To understand it, we need to realize that twelve-step programs work best people have come to know without doubt that recovery is a life-or-death matter, that dependence upon the higher power is the only way to life. This is a special kind of beginning for a spiritual journey. There are no delicate mysterious inner longings here, only the simple, desperate need to stay alive. As long as this sense of absolute necessity continues, a person can work the steps with complete dedication to recovery. Whatever images of God the person may have earlier held, God is now the higher power, the source of the grace one needs to recover, the only hope for survival.
Many people continue in recovery this way for years-perhaps for their whole lives. Others, however, experience something different at a certain point along the way. After having worked the program while, a person may begin to notice that what began as a desperate need for God is changing into a loving desire for God. It is as if God were saying ‘Of course I want to be saving higher power. But I Am also so much more than that. I want to be your deepest love.” And somehow, something in the person’s heart has become free enough to say yes to this barely heard invitation. In the dark night’s characteristic obscurity, compulsion is again becoming freedom, necessity changing into choice.
Before, one needed God as the agent of recovery, the divine dispenser of grace. We serve God (or AA, if you will) like a laborer expecting his wages. Now this need is developing into a love for God as God’s Self. This is a beautiful happening, but it brings with it a new relinquishment that can feel deeply threatening. Along with the sweetness of emerging love comes a certain shakiness about recovery. Recovery is no longer the single most important thing in life. Something else has taken its place, and the fear of relapse grows.
*Note-we are looking at a form of idolatry, the worship of false gods. We worship all the things that help to point us to God-AA, the fellowship, meetings, the Big Book, the steps, our sponsors, service, even ourselves. Yet we forget to worship or to live in thankful contemplation of God. Getting free of this attachment can be very difficult. Many will never get free, because they fear the freedom.
Later, one may come to realize that recovery, as the most important thing in life, had become an idol. God was a means to an end-recovery. Then in darkness, after the heart said yes and love grew, the idol of recovery teetered and fell. The powers had shifted. Recovery is no longer the end, but a means in the service of love.
All the signs of the night are there in this transition. What had worked before no longer does, and one’s previous energetic dedication is waning. More disturbing still, the deep care, the desperate need for recovery seems undermined. And if given the unusual courage and insight to admit it, one would have to say the deepest desire is no longer for recovery, but for God alone.
I have walked with several people through this particularly blessed and troublesome night. All were terrified of relapse, and some temporarily did relapse. But all made it through to deeper freedom: freedom from their enslavement to addiction, but also freedom from their servitude to recovery. Now their gratitude is not only for the grace of recovery, but for the simple freedom to love God and their neighbors more completely.”
-Gerald May from “The Dark Night Of The Soul”
Friday, March 18, 2011
I just like what he had to say about Religion and Christianity.
Not so much about AA here though.
The argument over Christianity gets real tedious, and for several reasons. On the one hand you got your ' literalists' who insist that every word in the Bible is literally, true. Verbatim. ' An if you got any questions you can just shut up 'cause it ain't none of your lookout, no how! On the other hand, you got your secular humanists ( yes, they DO have a manifesto, published 1906) who insist that it is folly, superstition to believe in the existence of Christ, or his divinity. Yeah Sure!
An' if you got any questions you can jus' shut up an' go meditate on your unworthiness! Eat some yoghurt! Hug a bunny! ( Just not a western jack, they'll tear the crap out of you, they sure as hell did my dogs!
Then, of course, you got your Mohammedans, who insist that while He existed, He was not divine, did'nt do what he said. never mind that those Mohammedans asserted this some 642 years after his death, and that there is considerable dispute of the provenance of the Q'uran... the earliest known copy of which is a palimpsest.. Yah, no kidding.
The major religions of the world have some commonalities.. mostly in what they advocate. In matters of treatment of one's fellows, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, those beset by sorrow or misfortune. I suppose that is why we ( Judeo-Cristians) can get along with Bhuddists and Hindus and all manner of odd folk. And they with us. About 99.3% of practicing Bhuddists would rather sell you a big color T.V. at a fat profit than kill you. Me, I'd rather get them Bhuddists hooked into a Coca-Cola franchise than kill them.
However, ( you knew there was one, didn't ya?) There are two major religions which do not have the same moral codices as the rest.
They are communism and Islam. they are the only two which have war and violence as fundamental to the practice of the faith. You may test this assertion for yourself. It is important to note here that 'Fascism" and 'Communism' are just two faces of the same coin. Idealogically, no difference. Just as there is no profound difference in the social model between fascism, Communism, and Islam. ( test the theory!)
......So, what's new? well, both Christianity and Judaism are new. Take a look at human history and you'll see a radical break starting with 'ol Abraham, through Moses, ( wadn't he a cranky dude!)and on and on.
I recommend C.S. Lewis, 'Mere Christianity' or maybe the 'Four Loves', as effective antidotes to the logical-positivist plague of our age. those are short,sharp clear. the very best of apologia.
Yes, i am a wordy bastard, and a redneck too! J.O.M. Cain't help it. I'm an autodidact- only one who was one would have the temerity to say so."
Now I say take that shit ST. See we can be intellectual theologians too.
C.S. Lewis f'in rocks.
I came across this on ST's shitlist and was wondering about this guy. I don't usually read their drivel so I have no history to fall back on. I'm sure some of you guys are familiar with him and was wondering what the consensus was. He seems ok to me, but I haven't read all his stuff yet. Diablo - you've spent some time with ST, any story here?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Haven’t you noticed that seeking "acceptance" from page 417 requires that you keep returning to it? What’s up with that? Can we really experience acceptance from an inexhaustible source within ourselves and not from limited outside sources?
Recently we were discussing page 417, the “Acceptance” page from the stories in the back of the Big Book, and a friend told me,
"That's the only page I was shown out of our book in all five of my rehabs".
That is thoroughly believable. The Page 417 theme, as commonly interpreted, is non threatening, ego- inflating and self-centered. For the typically self-absorbed, narcissistic personality type of the common alcholic? Perfect!
“Feel-good" pursuits and hypnotic gadgets like page 417 are the tools of the rehabs. The author, Dr O. would be appalled. Find such a device in the back of the BIG BOOK and viola! "It must be AA" and so "See how we love AA?” As for the actual directions in the Book? Not so much.
My friends problem is a well established one in the treatment business.
Rehabs do not make money by rehabilitating alcoholics and addicts. (What? Did you think “non-profit” meant “doesn’t make money?” Not true. An organization is ‘non-profit” in order to make MORE money than a ‘for profit’ corporation would under the same business model – not less money. “Nonprofit” is a corporate designation for IRS corporate tax filing purposes. In other words: They don’t pay any! They get to keep it -- and to spend it. It is not a declaration of charitableness or altruism. More on that in a future article.)
Many substance abuse treatment facilities, rehabs and the like, make their money marketing a product. That product is a synthetic, man-made form of confidence called ‘self-esteem.’
Separate a client from his substance for a spell allowing his body to detoxify – re-pump him up with enough man-made, self-esteem and false hope, and then clients can re-enter the world for a short spell, making what at first appears to be a new life. Their obsession to use or drink is not resolved. It is temporarily anesthetized.
Until the anesthesia (‘esteem’ ) wears off. Then its relapse and back to the mill again. And again. and again.
Of God-provide “esteem”, called confidence, there is an inexhaustible supply, but ‘self installed’ esteem has a very short shelf life. The people who show us how to give it to ourselves become our Gods when we have to rely upon them for our self-image – an image that we have not earned for real.
Then we are screwed.
But ‘self-esteem’ is appealing. It feels so dammed good. It is every bit as conscience numbing as a shot of booze, the pull off a stem or a fat hit in the vein of pure dope. Every bit and then some! It is very powerful stuff and it is a substitute for the original ‘drug of choice”. To the extent that rehabs do not provide the REAL answer but only a new alternative drug, called “self-esteem” (temporary), the solution they dispense is just as deadly, especially considering that it prevents the client from getting to a real solution to the cause of the problem: God separation. And that is all it is.
At all cost – treatment facilities and their cult following alumni in church basements, posing as AA members, MUST redirect the attention of the alcoholic AWAY from the idea that his obsession originates in spiritual sickness created by his separation from God. He must forget, or even better, never discover that the solution to his problem is spiritual wellness – a reconnecting to God. They must reorder the priorities of the recovery process to emphasize recovery tools, devices and techniques that will not work. They must because if the truth about obsession were found out, they would lose their power over the individual. God MUST NOT be the answer. Rehab provided "Acceptance" is. How tragic a philosophy.
The recovery industry is designed to produce failure. There. I said it. This is absolutely true and it can be proven. Just look at their "success rates". If they were delivering automobiles the Attorneys General would have shut them down decades ago. And they are getting worse, not better.
Unless an alcoholic can be convinced that his happiness depends on him finding strength and solution in the people who provide him with a way to wrest ‘self-esteem' out life - that he will fail to stay sober and he will fail them, they will lose their power over him. This is what rehabs do. It is their MO.
This this is also what some AA’s think is an acceptable form of treatment for alcoholism (Because they bring that self -reliance mindset with them out of the rehabs and into their meetings.)
It is not treatment. It is a blatant and gross mistreatment of the alcoholic.
You can hear this kind of thinking in AA meetings in terms of enslavement like, “You people keep me sober” and “ Meeting makers make it” and just about every other slogan imaginable having absolutely no basis whatsoever in the freeing spiritual solutions proposed in the Big Books Twelve Steps.
There are many other examples too but sticking with “ACCEPTANCE”, let’s look at this deadly little nugget.
Acceptance is an 'effect' of awakening and conscious contact. It can not 'cause' it to happen. The lying ego tells the seeker that if he could only attain the seemingly forever allusive "Acceptance", (Often through even more willful acts like inventories, positive thinking, mantras, service and other distractions) THEN he shall at last be happy, joyous and free. He only discovers that such willful pursuits of any outcome, including "Acceptance", always results in more of the same misery from which he had been seeking relief.
Once we learn to separate from the lying ego-self - we can then see the lie and disbelieve the liar. Until then we will always secretly believe what it tells us, even though it is always lying. There is only one way to separate and expose the lie so it loses power to control us and keep us from the truth, even the truth about its lying deceiving self. That is why the Twelve Steps included meditation as a daily practice.
It’s like the lyrics of the silly song "Don't Worry. Be Happy". It’s great to be happy but the songwriter doesn't tell us HOW to stop worrying or HOW to find happiness. It is very similar to the eclectic religions, cults of the world and even growing New Thought subcultures inside the AA Fellowship that preach and preach or teach and make all sorts of spiritual noises but do not really show anyone HOW to get there.
That is because they do not know. No idea. All hat, no cattle.
Wishing it was so, like positive thinking, prayer and meditating for “Bliss” or any outcome -- are all acts of human will - something entirely divergent from the ancient Judeo -Christian spiritual principles proposed by the co-authors of the Big Book – which is “Let go. Let God.”
To seek "Acceptance" first and not God first, guarantees we will never experience that peaceful “symptom” of God connection – which some term as “Acceptance.”
It is an expression of the Grace experience, being in the sunlight of the spirit, however you phrase it.
When people are seeking “acceptance” what they are really seeking is relief from the pain they feel caused by their inability to develop a manner of living that protects them from resentment. They feed on it and then pay the price in fear and worry - anxiety, depression. This is where all bi-polar disorders and addictive, obsessive behaviors come from.
It is amazing how much “acceptance” would come upon us if we won a million dollars in a lottery. That’s because what we so often think of as acceptance is really not so much a spiritual yearning at all, but a selfish craving for relief from of the conflicted soul.
So how to really find acceptance?
First and foremost is STOP READING PAGE 417! It isn’t there. That’s Dr. Paul O’s experience – you aren’t going to get it by assimilation. Turning page 417 into a mantra, hoping to find the relief you thought was “Acceptance” is exactly what has prevented you from ever attaining it. It's stealing.
Dr O did not find acceptance by reading page a 417 or a 449 or ANY page of ANY book. There was no Acceptance page for him to latch and suckle as if it were some kind of spiritual teat, the way so many of us do with some of our Big Book stories.
You’ll just have to get off your ass and do what he did instead. That means have a spiritual awakening.
Find God first by developing resilience against the God separating powers of judgment laden resentment. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Resentment is the primary offender-killer and from it germinates every single form of spiritual illness known to mankind. All of them. Find the answer to resentment and "Acceptance" is automatic.
If we were resilient to the negative forces which we know to be resentment we would never experience a need for acceptance. We’d already have it.We would already be at peace with the world. It is only because we have no means for maintaining our resilience to the barrage of irritation, hostility, anger and fears, and the conflict and pain those bring that we crave relief. We call that relief ACCEPTANCE. It reduces what we think is a spiritual pursuit, to a selfish and self-centered game of ‘relief’ seeking.
Peace and Love,
Danny S - RLRA
Real Live Recovered Alcoholic
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Murky Definitions Cloud Moderate-Drinking Debate
by Carlton K. Erickson
Yet attending AA meetings does not involve diagnostic criteria, since the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. In other words, AA is a program of self-diagnosis. (“Hi, I'm John, and I'm an alcoholic.”)
I am placing “alcoholic” in quotation marks because the word means different things to different people. AA is clear about its view of alcoholism: It is when a person cannot consistently control alcohol use, to the point that it is damaging his/her life. On the other hand, if one looks at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's (NIAAA) Web site (www.niaaa.nih.gov) under “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the General Public,” the definition of “alcoholism” states, “also known as alcohol dependence,” with these symptoms:
Craving—a strong need, or urge, to drink
Loss of control—not being able to stop once drinking has begun
Physical dependence—withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking
Tolerance—the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high”1
The following description is provided:
For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism also have been developed. Such criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as in the International Classification [of] Diseases, published by the World Health Organization (See also “Publications,” Alcohol Alert No. 30: Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.).
The preceding description on NIAAA's Web site is self-contradictory since, unlike the NIAAA definition, the DSM does not define alcohol dependence as including craving or as always including physical dependence and tolerance. Adding to the confusion is the observable fact that many “alcoholics” experience frequent episodes of craving and impaired control, accompanied by associated life problems, long before they develop the later-stage symptoms of physical dependence and tolerance. Are those people who do not satisfy enough DSM criteria mislabeling themselves when they attend AA meetings?
It is almost as if our field has multiple personalities. Personality one, AA, believes that anyone who realizes that alcohol has negatively affected his/her life, can't seem to quit on his/her own, and wants to get help is an “alcoholic.” Personality two, NIAAA, reflecting the bulk of the latest alcohol research, believes that an “alcoholic” should have the four symptoms that are supported by science. Yet many “recovering alcoholics” would dispute this, since their lives were wrecked by alcohol long before they experienced any serious withdrawal symptoms beyond a memorable hangover.
Personality three, the psychiatric community, believes “alcoholism” isn't a scientific term and that a diagnostic discernment must be made between volitional alcohol abuse and pathological alcohol dependence (using the diagnostic criteria spelled out in the DSM-IV). In fact, scientists involved in NIAAA-funded research have published numerous articles on the differentiation and epidemiology of alcohol abuse versus alcohol dependence (see, for example, Hasin et al2 and Koob et al3).
It is not surprising, then, that some scientists advocate that some “alcoholics” can return to “moderate drinking” or “social drinking,” depending on whose definition of “alcoholism” they are using. AA members would argue that an “alcoholic” is by definition someone who can't use alcohol without losing control. So what these scientists fail to realize is that “alcoholics” (as defined by AA and most neuroscientists) should not try to drink “socially,” since to do so might lead to a downward spiral of addiction.3
As a caring human and a scientist, I wonder why anyone would advocate that people who have major problems with alcohol should ever try to drink “responsibly.” It is fine for social drinkers to drink responsibly, but if someone is “alcohol-dependent” (as defined by NIAAA and the DSM) or an “alcoholic” (as defined by AA folklore), why is it important even to suggest that drinking alcohol might be beneficial?
Please, let us develop a unifying message: Some people can learn to drink responsibly (depending on the level of problems resulting from use) by means of better information, positive peer pressure, maturation, or sometimes coercion, fear, or even punishment But the truly alcoholic/addicted/dependent—take your choice until the definitions are clearer—usually need professional and medical help (proven interactional and behavioral therapy, formal “treatment,” and new abstinence-enhancing medications) followed by supportive follow-up programs such as AA.
Certainly unscientific labels and folk terminology confuse the alcohol-overdrinking problem, but any responsible person (especially someone who depends upon evidence) can see that some people can control their drinking (abusers) and some people can't (alcohol-dependent). Anyone who argues against this is either not in touch with the mainstream, respected alcohol-research literature or has a personal agenda that might benefit from further examination.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I've been spending some time over at Agent Orange, Stanton Peele, and even with our little friends over at ST. I've read all the arguments against AA, especially those attacking Vaillant's definitive study about alcoholism. I've already discussed the motives behind these attacks. Peele and Thaddeus Jude are pushing their own programs, Orange is bilking the poor conspiracy theorists, and our little friends are just plain intellectual midgets well out of their element.
So let me take on a few of their main arguments:
a. AA is a cult. This is true by most definitions of a cult. The American Legion, The Presbyterian Church, The Boy Scouts, and the Democratic Party also fit into this same definition of a being a cult. AA, however, has never experienced a schism as have most other cults of this nature. It would be cool to have a secret handshake, though....
b. AA is a religious organization. Strong arguments could also be made for this, as the Big Book has constant references to God, but not to a particular organized religion. The courts are still fighting this one out with the question of mandatory attendance for DUI offenders.
c. AA's effectiveness has been "proven" to be 5% or less. Well, AA's effectiveness has never been studied, so I'm curious as to where this came from. Orange and Peele refer to Vaillant's studies, yet nowhere in his book does Vaillant ever cite a study of AA's effectiveness. In fact, he states several times that controlled studies of AA's effectiveness have proven too difficult to carry out, yet naturalistic studies offer evidence that AA is effective.
d. All the AA opponents state unequivocally that alcoholics can return to normal drinking given the proper treatment. Again, this is true. But our (AA) definition of an alcoholic is a far cry from theirs. To Orange, Peele, et.al., then term alcoholic encompasses anyone from a problem drinker to a hard drinker, a binge drinker, an alcohol abuser, to someone dependent on alcohol per DSM IV. So we're talking different drinkers. By their definition of an alcoholic, they yes, that person could return to normal social drinking. Yet when backed into a corner, ever the most ardent proponent of controlled drinking Shiela Blume, states "Alcoholics who have repeatedly failed to moderate their drinking, or have irreversible physical complications (ie., addiction) due to alcohol, should not drink at all."
e. Another little trick they use is the term "return to controlled drinking for addicted alcoholics." The key here is "controlled" as in a laboratory not a bar. (Sobell and Sobell 1976, 1978a). Their results could never be duplicated by other researchers nor have they ever replicated their findings. Yet their results are touted as "proof" that return to controlled drinking can be successful.
f. Abstinence can be achieved by will power alone. Again true. For the alcoholics who meet Orange's and Peele's definition of an alcoholics, sure will power can be successful. But it's a little like advice to control you're drinking, willpower is useful for those who are only a "little bit " alcoholic.
g. Alcoholism is not a disease. True again. For the problem drinker, the alcohol abuser and such, not it's not a disease. It's a behavioral issue. But to someone who cannot not drink? It's a disease.
So what these folks say, within the context of their own definitions, is pretty much true. Unfortunately, they don't have the intellectual capacity or integrity to honestly apply their arguments to AA's concept of alcoholism. They would rather redefine terminology to suit their purposes and thus prove their arguments, embracing data that supports them and attacking information that disproves their arguments.
In the case of Orange, Peele, Thaddeus Jude and their ilk, it's strictly lying to advance their own greedy agenda. Our little friends are just too caught up in their own neurosis to see reality. I was reading through their site, by the way, and was constantly challenged to come up with any counter arguments to the attacks they make on AA and the Big Book. I couldn't find any specifics, only rambling incoherence. If I found a specific attack, I may have said something.
So the next time you come across the drivel put forth by our counterparts in the field of alcoholism, at least you know where they get their arguments from. My personal opinion, ignore them.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I am sure I am not the only one to have read from this site. I just wanted to get your opinions on the credibility of this site.
I found it to be very informative. I learned a few things I had not really thought about before. Like more clarity on the statistics.
Quote from the site;
"Research has shown that there is no sharp distinction between alcoholics and non-alcoholics. Instead, alcoholism can be rated from zero to extremely severe according to the number of symptoms. People are spread out all along the scale, just like with blood pressure or IQ. We're in the 21st century, but the sad fact is, there is no medical cure for severe alcoholism. All medicine can do is provide detox services and crisis management and help people to heal themselves."
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I was at am meeting tonight and got to talking with a friend who been in the program for 20+ years. He was really pissed about an open speaker's meeting we had both gone to on Monday night.
I immediately thought that he was upset because the speaker gave a rambling drunkalog as sometimes happens. But this wasn't the case. My friend was irate because there's the mother of a (female) home group member who also attends the meetings, although Mom isn't an alcoholic. Don't ask, she just does. Helps with the setup etc. and generally makes herself useful.
It seems that this Mom, not an alcoholic, had the utter gall to join in the Lord's Prayer at the end of the meeting, our normal way of closing. He was fucking incensed that she said the prayer as she had no business doing so and it was a flagrant, wanton violation against all AA's traditions. Blasphemy!
In my usual suave manner, my brain froze into a block of ice; a survival tool I've learned when encountering extreme examples of WTF????
Having thought about it for a while now, I'm willing to concede that maybe I didn't get that memo. Perhaps I've been under the misconception that open meeting were just that - open to everyone. That being allowed to attend an open meeting didn't automatically deny any non-alcoholic the right to join in our prayers.
So can you guys help me here, perhaps send me a copy of the memo? My friend, with his many years of sobriety (er, attendance at meetings), has tried to make me understand that he's a far better non drinker than I am and thus knows what he's talking about.
I was suggested to take Anabuse twice in my lifetime and I complied both times. The first time, I was going through level II alcohol education and therapy.. back when I was about 20 years old. I complied and after about a few months, the fine folks at the therapy sessions said I was doing so well in alcohol abstinence and was nearing my commencement of their program, that they just took me off it to see how I did on my own without it. I left there and stayed sober until I eventually drank again. I did not drink on the Anabuse though. I had no intention to drink on it or off it for a time. I say that I had something in me, a desire to stay stopped and I was able to do that. I did not feel tempted to be stupid and drink on it. I had no craving as alcohol was long since out of my system and would only battle the obsession.
Now, fast forward to my next treatment stint, the prior one being when I was 18. I'd be volunteering a treatment center stay as conditions to stay employed with my job after having confessed to having a problem with alcohol and in a place to seek help. While successfully completing my 14 day stay at a local treatment center, I was scheduled to see a dr there as part of setting up my "aftercare" program. He recommended Anabuse. I disagreed, saying that I would be doing A.A. among other things and that I felt things were going well in treatment and my aftercare, as I had an A.A. homegroup, sponsor, group of folks whom I'd seen at least twice a week, plus I was doing the treatment center meetings, etc. Heck, I was chairing A.A. meetings and was working on my 9th step amends by then... with my A.A. group. But no, the doc said, "If you want to show us that you're really commited to stay sober, you'll do this."
So I took the damned Anabuse. My wife told me that she and my MIL had noticed that I stank like rank garlic. I don't really remember noticing too many health related issues, as I was not ingesting booze and was careful about cologne, etc. But on Thanksgiving Day, my appendix almost burst and I had it removed. I took myself off the Anabuse at that point and never looked back. My old doctor, not the treatment center one, had requested an appointment to discuss some things about my liver. I never went to see him. I just stayed away from that Anabuse and recouped the appendectomy and never looked back.
I've heard of some folks that drank on anabuse. Could the courts and docs be partly blamed for this? If you're gonna drink booze, don't take anabuse. That's crazy. We knew a guy who did this and his face turned beet red. I stopped hanging around the guy. I had the power over booze, at the time to not do that. I guess some don't.
Any other experiences on Anabuse? Oh, I do remember some of my A.A. peers telling me that it was bad and don't take it. I told them I wasn't doing it so much for me. I was doing it to keep other folks off my damn back. I remember this one gal who showed up when I did to take our Anabuse. She seemed very nice and all... but it seemed like the more I saw her, the more her face broke out in acne. Could the Anabuse have caused this?
I stopped smelling like stinky garlic when I stopped taking it.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I posted this because Stinkin Thinkers, Ex-AA'ers, ex-spouses of AA'ers and just about every other uneducated, uninformed and non-sober individual propped up Charlie (probably literally) as their poster boy. It also gave everyone one a reason just to complain because living by principles is hard and they don't want to. Thinking about the spirituality is complex for some just better to not care.
Many of our brethren spoke out on this thread, I found it to be enlightening.