Saturday, May 5, 2007

A U-Turn Onto The Broad Highway- The Start of My Journey in Alcoholics Anonymous

I am so grateful today that I know to the core of my being that I am an alcoholic. But, it was not that way when I came into the spiritual program of action. The hopelessness, futility and desperation I felt were indescribable. I had to begin the process which has helped me do a u-turn and go down the sober path of life on God’s terms.

When I walked into a meeting after going through detox at a local hospital, I felt so alone, confused, and helpless. But within that first hour, I began to feel some hope as I could see that there was a new way of life, and the others in the room who had found sobriety were happy. They were kind, non-judgmental and willing to help me. They told me I didn’t have to drink again if I didn’t want to.

I have since learned that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is not for the people who need it- it’s for the people who want it. All I knew is that I could not continue in the awful self-imposed prison in which I was living.

The meetings helped me meet others who are afflicted with the disease. The fellowship experienced in AA is like no other. This was a group of people who shared my common problem and offered me a common solution.

I do not remember the exact things that were said at that first meeting as much as I recall the calmness and contentment that I saw in those members who had some sobriety. They told me, “Keep coming back”- a simple suggestion that still works today after just over 3 years later.

The road to sobriety began with the fellowship and meetings, but I quickly learned that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is in what we lovingly call The Big Book. They suggested that I find a sponsor and begin the process of going through “the steps”. They didn’t tell me what to do, they suggested that I do it.

All of this was new to me! They might as well have been speaking Greek! But when you feel as low and hopeless as I did, you become willing to do anything that will make you feel differently. So I kept coming back every day to listen and learn with the desperation of a drowning woman. Within that first week, I had selected another female sober member to help guide me through the process of “working the steps”.

The disease of alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. It is a combination of a physical allergy known as the phenomenon of craving, a mental obsession of the mind and a spiritual malady which only a psychic change will conquer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You do realise that the disease concept was solely the invention of AA.

Many people call alcoholism a disease. If it is a disease, then it is the only disease without germ or virus, the only one that is bottled and sold over the counter for a profit and brings in tax revenue for the government, state, county and state. If it is a disease, then it is the only disease that turns our boys into criminals and our girls into prostitutes. Why is it that we do not call cocaine or heroin addiction a disease? Because, to do that would be absolutely ridiculous. We know that is not the truth. Why is this same standard not applied to the most dangerous drug manifest in this country, “alcohol”?

Those who have become alcoholics did not become so overnight it all started by taking that one drink, and that put them on the road to drunkenness. Webster defines alcoholism as “the habitual drinking of alcoholic liquor to excess, or a diseased condition caused by this.”

At face value this seems to be an accurate description of someone with alcoholism. Ask most people and they would agree with this definition. However, there are some discrepancies and misinformation in our current use of the term alcoholism that need to be acknowledged. Mainly that alcoholism is not a disease, but a belief. Nowhere has it been proven that the disease exists. Read any literature and the results will not confidently state it is a disease. They will only speculate. The following is a quick and realistic look at "alcoholism". Alcoholism is not a disease, find out how many have already realized that alcoholism and addiction is a choice.

Alcoholism carries with it a stigma that says the person afflicted cannot control their use of alcohol, they are powerless over alcohol, they are spiritually lacking and need to surrender their will to a higher power, and that they have a disease for the rest of their life.

It is unfortunate that we have transformed the term "alcoholism" into a limited definition of a disease. For though it is not a disease, the mere fact that people believe it is a disease, makes it harder for them to escape it's clutches. I believe it does a disservice to those who struggle with alcohol or drugs because it promotes powerlessness and dependency. To look at alcoholism as it truly is (a belief) is to understand and take control of our own individual role in overcoming it. Beliefs can be powerful, but so can the truth. Find out how the majority of those who once struggled with alcohol and drugs changed their lives, and refused to acknowledge alcoholism as a disease.

Many disease model spokespersons are recovered alcoholics and have an emotional investment in viewing themselves as helpless to their own behaviors. A majority of these people are seriously lacking in scientific backgrounds. They say scientific validity ''interferes with the process'' of helping people who need help and claim special qualification to help others. They perceive any challenge to the disease concept as ''a challenge to the validity of their own emotional ordeal and conversion to sobriety.''

The treatment industry also has a substantial economic investment in maintaining the disease concept. As long as alcoholism is considered a disease, medical insurance pays for treating it.

Is the disease model of alcoholism scientific? No. Simply calling behavior a disease process does not make it one, even if doing so assists in creating sobriety. Is the treatment policy based on bad science? Yes. Is there any chance that this attitude will change in the near future? Very unlikely.