No Grey Areas

     Alcoholics Anonymous – The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.

     “WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication is necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, Foreword To First Edition, xiii

     “‘Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.'” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.27

     The reason we say we’re either recovered or not at all is because there is no in-between. There really isn’t such a thing as “recovering” or “in recovery”, according to AA’s own Big Book. We’re either recovered or we’re completely damaged. We are either insane, still suffering from the mental obsession and therefore subject to relapse at any point in time, or not. There is no grey area.

     So why does everybody in AA say, “I’m Joe Schmo, I’m a recovering alcoholic.”? More to the point, why do heads turn angrily when I raise my hand and say, “I’m Charlie, I’m a recovered alcoholic.”?

God, Thy Will Be Done…

4 thoughts on “No Grey Areas

  1. Used your post as discussion topic. Old timers said they were recovered. Big book says recovered 23x, recover 28x, (newcomer in recovery) 2x. New age members, ie. after birth of rehab etc, changed thinking from recovered to in recovery for ever.

    The promise of the big book was if I do and live the steps I will change. I will recover. And its true. No more obsession, craving, new outlook on life. Better human being, caring for others.

    What was interesting in our discussion group, was people werereluctant to say recovered. If they admitted obsession was gone, they still felt that they were in recovery for ever as defects were never fully gone. Some felt even saying in recovery sounded conceited. Only had reprieve, I can remember wondering why no one ever said they recovered. I guess this is why.

    I think to put it in perspective, its along the lines of saying I have heart disease, ie. Heart attack. While i got better in hospital I was in recovery. Then I recovered. Now I have things I must do for the rest of my life. ie. Medicine, excercise to maintain my health.

    As alcoholic, using steps I recover, maintain using my medicine, the steps.

    Recovered is empowering. Recovering says I haven't got it yet.

  2. Amen. And thank you. Physically, sure, I'm screwed for life. That is, I can never use normally. But mentally, I am without a doubt recovered. That is, I no longer suffer from thoughts to drink or use… and I do the work to maintain my state of being recovered (i.e. sanity). And we certainly can rid ourselves from character defects. It's called taking action – the opposite action – repeatedly. “Recovering” didn't work for me, as I simply had no interest in not being okay. If I'm still recovering (struggling) 20 years from now, then please do me the favor of shooting me in the head 😉

  3. And you're so right about the advent of rehabs etc. The industries of psychology and psychopharmacology have done well to inject themselves into addiction and recovery… if we're always “recovering”, then we'll always need rehabs, therapy and pills. Nonsense.

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