A little ditty on the “Big Book”, Alcoholics Anonymous (More on Alcoholism).
This chapter starts out by saying; “Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellow.” So who among us is in a rush to say we are different than everyone else? Especially when it comes to drinking and especially if we have built our life around it.
What step is in this chapter?
The first page of this chapter describes the first step of the 12 step program. “We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.” In fact, the entire chapter breaks down the first step from the thinking that is established in the alcoholic through to the inability to stop once alcohol has been ingested.
Are there examples of alcoholism in this chapter?
Yes, there are many examples of alcoholism in chapter 3. In fact, this chapter is the book’s main challenge for you to discover, if completely honest with yourself, you are a real alcoholic. Chapter 3 gives four different examples (stories) of alcoholism and the thinking that precedes the first drink.
One example is about a man around thirty years old who sees that once he starts to drink loses all control of his drinking. Being determined to succeed in the business world he decides not to touch another drop of alcohol until he has succeeded in his business ventures. With his exceptional willpower he does not drink at all until he retires 25 years later at age 55. This is an example of “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”. Because now that he had achieved his lifelong goal of success he started to drink and each time found he couldn’t stop. With all the money at his disposal, in and out of hospitals, trying to stay stopped, he wound up dead within a few short years. This example shows that the idea of laying off for no matter how long a period of time, makes no difference. In fact, this chapter shows that the disease of alcoholism is progressive-even when not drinking the disease continues to worsen, as if the alcoholic had been drinking the whole time.
Another example is used by comparing alcoholism to “jay walking”. Comparing alcoholism to someone who gets a thrill out of racing across the street in front of fast moving vehicles, often times being injured. When hospitalized, he swears to stay off the streets altogether, yet when released, runs right out in front of a truck and wham! When I first read this analogy, I thought “this is so ridiculous”. Yet when I thought of the alcoholics in my life, I could see over and over how perfectly comparable an example this is. The practicing alcoholic may swear off, only to be drunk again in a short time.
This chapter seems to say that the alcoholic is hopeless. What is the solution?
To quote from the very last paragraph of this chapter; “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.” This phrase seems to sum it up nicely.