Another Members Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous

In a recent issue of Wired (July 2010), a writer advanced the following observations: 1) Alcoholics Anonymous works but no one knows why; 2) Alcoholics Anonymous works for some people but not for all. There are some problems with these conclusions and the contents of the Wired article may give a clue as to the nature of those problems. There was very little indication in the article that the writer and those interviewed had actually read the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) bible, Alcoholics Anonymous., though they made reference to its existence. In fact, the article placed a great deal of emphasis on the fellowship of the program. One problem was the rather fluid definition of “works.” The minimalist under standing of the word as used in this article indicates that AA works if the alcoholic becomes abstinent. This is a criteria used by many treatment centers who measure success by the number of clients who remain abstinent. In fact some treatment centers follow their clients for eighteen months after discharge to obtain data on abstinence. The problem is that, according to the “Big Book,” abstinence is only the beginning. Some people’s lives might get better simply by abstaining, but for many alcoholics, abstinence leads only to being tired, angry, discontent, and irritable. Ask many of the wives, children, and colleagues of a “dry drunk,” they will sometimes admit that the alcoholic was easier to live with when drinking. AA works when the recovered alcoholic is joyous and free. While putting down the drink is the first step to this new freedom, it is but a beginning. The fellowship part of Alcoholics Anonymous is an important aid to this first step. While it can create distraction from the urge to use and can substitute for the social aspects of drinking, it cannot in and of itself help the alcoholic to recreate his or her life. The key to success is this recreation, known in Alcoholics Anonymous as a psychic change, which incorporates a vital spiritual experience. This is made possible by what those who use the Big Book to do steps call the process. This process involves “trusting God and cleaning house.” Having admitted that one’s life is unmanageable and that one is an alcoholic, the next step is to recognize that help is available in a power greater than oneself. Seeking the help of that power comes next. This is followed by a thorough personal house cleaning. This is not the same thing as “confession of sins” to a group. Drunken stories are often no more than an exercise in egoism posing as humility. House cleaning involves discovering the part the alcoholic has played creating problems for self and others. It is a process of self-discovery not of self-flagellation. It is the discovery of how fears create resentments and feed the ego in a pattern of selfishness and self centeredness. This allows the person to identify character defects and get help in dealing with these defects when they arise. The process of cleaning house then allows for the making of amends guided by that power greater than ones self. It is being able to say “I was wrong” and seeking reconciliation. This usually leads to that vital spiritual experience which contributes to a psychic change. The maintenance of that changed life is the simple act of living a life of awareness through daily inventory, prayer and meditation, and service done under the care of a power greater than one’s self. Though the recovered alcoholic may not be religious, he or she is spiritual. Why does AA work for some and not others? Why does it work at all? The answer is in the work.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Joe R

    My experience is, that it works for people that DO it. Not necessarily for people that want it, or even need, but rather to those that simply DO it. I have found that it’s not really rocket science neither, just need to continue to trudge the road to happy destiny. Daily reprieve.

  2. PMosset

    I agree with the majority of what you said. But also as part of the process of living a free and joyous life, you have to uncover and deal with the underlying factors that led you to the point where alcoholism/substances have taken over your life. You have to learn to forgive, not for the person/people that harmed you, but for yourself. Addicts have an underlying demon that drives them and dealing with that is a HUGE issue in recovery!

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