“We doctors have realized for a long time (not anymore, mind you) that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception (um, yeah, you can’t give someone a pill to change them into a better person).” – Alcoholics Anonymous, xxvii
What is moral psychology?
Moral psychology is treating the soul through moral change or moral action. Thus, the desired effect that healing morally has on one’s soul is procured through the application of moral psychology, and it is crucial to the recovery of an alcoholic or drug addict. Without moral change, we cannot heal spiritually, and if we cannot heal spiritually, we are doomed.
The Big Book saved my life… and there is a very specific reason for that. It taught me that while there is no hope of achieving lifelong sobriety without healing and changing both morally and spiritually, there is hope if I do. This was prophetic to me, and I knew deep in my heart it was the truth. I knew I needed spiritual help more than anything else, and I knew it with every cell in my body.
None of my doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, addiction counselors, or even the knuckleheads I met in local AA meetings told me this was necessary. I was told that I would always be a chronic, hopeless addict, with all sorts of mental disorders, who needed to ‘just keep comin’ and to avoid people, places and things that “made” me want to use.
Any view or treatment strategy that leaves out moral and spiritual repair is doomed to fail. That is a fact. At least that is my experience. I failed for 15 years following the advice of doctors and science and untreated AA members, but then suddenly, when someone opened up the Big Book and explained addiction to me, I was lit up inside. I applied the Steps with everything I have within me and have been free of addiction, mental illness and medication ever since. That was 9 years ago.
My life is also different. Before, when I got sober, from point A to point B, nothing changed. I knew I wasn’t better. I still sank into depressions. I was still driven and overwhelmed by fear, insecurity, self-consciousness, etc. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t okay. I knew it was only a matter of time before I used again. And I did. Over and over and over.
So it is a disservice of the highest degree to sell addicts and their families remedies and false solutions that are fundamentally flawed and destined to fail from the outset. The community of addiction treatment providers and of watered-down, Step-less AA should be ashamed for failing so many unnecessarily. Any solution for addiction that is morally and spiritually hollow is not a solution. I’ve tried going the Godless, actionless route and trust me, you don’t want to go there. It is a waste of your time, and it is a waste of your family’s time.