“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.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.43
These few lines are prophetic. And may I point out that they contradict one of the most popular slogans today, “think through the drink” or “think it through”. Sure thinking it through would be great if we could do that, but we cannot. That’s what alcoholism is. That’s what addiction is.
“Think through the drink” contradicts the principle of powerlessness, which is a fundamental principle of Alcoholics Anonymous. That the alcoholic or addicted mind is utterly powerless leaves us with no mental defense. People with no mental defense cannot think through a drink or drug. Furthermore, this slogan is an example of CBT, which is useless for true alcoholics and addicts because it is backwards. Our minds are beyond warped. We cannot think our way into right action, we can only act our way into right thinking, at least in early sobriety. This slogan also assumes the alcoholic mind has ration and reason when thoughts about drinking arise. As well, it assumes that we have choice. Finally, it assumes the alcoholic or addict is not insane, which he or she is. All of these assumptions are quite wrong. Thinking you can think through the drink may get you killed by yourself.
We can only begin to think sanely regarding drugs and alcohol once the mental obsession has been lifted, once the missing chip is re-inserted, once we are made sane again. Until then, alcoholics are subject to relapse at any point in time and for no reason at all. This is what doctors, therapists, treatment centers, modern bumper sticker AA, educators, social workers, addiction counselors, academics and intellectuals don’t understand. The power of choice does not exist in true alcoholics and addicts. And once lost, it does not simply re-emerge from either our own efforts or those of others. Power once lost can only be regained through a vital spiritual experience. We must take enough action to access the power of God, and once accessed, our insanity is often immediately removed. From that point on the addict or alcoholic no longer suffers from thoughts to drink or use. He is safe. He is free. Until then, however, he is subject to relapse.
This is why achieving physical sobriety alone is quite a useless endeavor. ALL sober addicts and alcoholics are simply ticking time bombs, and one day the thought to drink will just float into their heads and once that occurs, they have no chance. They cannot think through the drink. So, if you are in this rather tortured state, the state of recovery, which most addicts remain in for life, then relapse rates will forever be horrible. And these are the folks that mainstream treatment base their understanding of addiction on. They have no consideration for those of us who were as hopeless as hopeless gets and have recovered instantly and for life.
There is all sorts of nonsense out there about how it takes our brains a year to bio-chemically repair etc. etc. etc. Then how do they explain that all thoughts to use or self-destruct were instantly gone the moment I recited the 7th Step prayer? Not only that, but how do they explain that a lifetime of guiding principles, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors were also instantly rearranged and I suddenly wanted nothing more than to grow spiritually and get other addicts to have this relief that I experienced? Let me answer that. They have no explanation, because there is no earthly explanation to what happened to me and to many I know. And this is why stigma exists. Because the mainstream understanding of addiction is that addicts are always “in recovery” and therefore perma-damaged. This is as sad as it is entirely false. Yes many are simply in recovery, suffering, struggling and teetering on the edge, but none of them need to be.
Every addict and alcoholic in the world can become totally recovered. If we want to change, and if we want to grow spiritually with all of our heart, the universe will conspire to make that happen. And if we take the leap, and pass the test of faith, God will reach out with His mind-blowing, unlimited, incomprehensible, unfathomable Power and touch us. And a mere dusting of this sort of Power is enough to restore the heart, mind and soul for life. Trust me, it happens. Miracles happen. I’ve seen many. I am one myself.
God, please teach us…