Alcoholics Anonymous & History of AA
The State of the Alcoholic or Addict Entering Recovery
This person has made some terrible mistakes. He has wronged many around him. He sometimes blames everyone but himself. And he is frequently the last to conclude that he has a problem with alcohol, with drugs, with society, with sin, and with life—all mixed into one big mess.
Worse, if he quits, he endangers his life. If he has quit before, he is sure to remember that it was far more difficult to stop and suffer than to resume and march toward seeming relief and yet oblivion. If he continues, he dwells in misery and watches things get more and more difficult. And then he faces the music.
It may be a judge who jails him. It may be a boss that fires him. It may be a wife who divorces him. It may be a child who flees from him. It may be a family that lectures him and speaks down to him. It may be a lawyer who sues him. It may be a doctor who sends him to A.A. or N.A. It may be a psychologist or psychiatrist who diagnoses him as dually addicted—today it could be ADD, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety disorder, or almost irreparable brain damage; and an answer may be offered through diagnosis, drugs, counseling, and confinement. It may be a clergyman who tells him he has sinned and must repent and be saved. It may be a “codependent” who tries to “save” him, to admonish him, to control him, and yet to enable him. It may be another A.A. or N.A. who tells him he just needs to quit drinking and go to meetings. It may be another 12-Step zealot who tells him he will have a “spiritual awakening” and overcome his problems if he “works” the program. It may even be an atheist or agnostic or a naive A.A. individual, who tells him he simply needs to go through some exercises, change his behavior, and get rid of his self-centeredness—and thereby have a “personality change.” He is almost certain to meet an anti-God, irreligious person who tells him he must get rid of all his religious trappings and training and either rely on himself or invent some “higher power” of his own conception. He may encounter a Christian minority who insist that A.A. is of the devil, that believers must not go there, and that the Bible forbids such fellowshipping. He may also encounter those who tell him all the “terrible” practices and beliefs of the early AAs which allegedly tainted the entire fellowship then and now. And on and on.
All this while he is facing criminal charges, debt or bankruptcy, divorce or abandonment, loss of job or reputation, lectures from his family, custody battles over his kids, and some of the most unexpected results of DT’s, seizures, and withdrawal that he could ever have imagined. And he may be “enjoying” or “enduring” these situations in a jail or prison or mental ward.
On top of that, today’s scene is peppered with treatment programs, pastoral counselors, secular counseling programs, required abstinence programs, interventions, detox centers, assessments, lack of funds, lack of insurance, lack of support, and probably joblessness.
He faces these—often alone—with brain damage, fear, bewilderment, confusion, anxiety, shame, guilt, condemnation, despair, and hopelessness.
This person is one sick, sad, hurting, despondent “sinner.”
And he is heavily pounded with dogmatic insistence that his problems are of his own making. Bottles, they tell him, were only a symbol. He has been playing God and discovered he wasn’t. One seer wrote that his real problem was “not-god-ness.” Yet nothing seems to work out.
It is not uncommon for him to take his own life, overdose and threaten it, or ponder suicide.
Almost all of us who have attended A.A., N.A., or recovery meetings have heard these details or even told them ourselves over and over and over. In fact, the funnier they are, the more popular they are. The more horrid the events, the more engaging they are to the audience.
Is There a Solution?
Stay tuned for the next article. Learn the varied ways in which the sick newcomer is told he can “recover,” but never get well. Learn how this approach differs from earlier ones in the 1800’s, early 1900’s, and earliest A.A. days. Learn how God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible became a part of the picture.