Alcoholics Anonymous – More Definitions
The next section of the Allen Carr’s book on controlling alcohol is somewhat confusing as it further discusses what defines an alcoholic. I find the tone somewhat mocking of the Alcoholics Anonymous definition which includes:
‘We are a fellowship of men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking and have found ourselves in various sorts of trouble as a result of drink…’
Personally I don’t think anyone can argue that if you are in Alcoholics Anonymous, you are not there for fun. We have all of us been unable to control our drinking. If this was no problem why would we be there? Because it has been a problem and has caused us lots of problems and misery – affecting not just us but the people we love.
‘…. an overwhelming craving for the very thing that can only worsen the effects of physical suffering, irrational behaviour and increasing isolation..’
This is certainly true. We know that drinking alcohol will make us ill both mentally and physically and that it will cause all sorts of problems if we drink – but we do it nonetheless. We are like kamikaze pilots with a death wish.
‘alcoholism is a progressive illness often of gradual onset..’
Who can deny that it gets worse and usually starts off with us slowly drinking a bit more – and a bit more – until we are drinking far too much and cannot control it?
‘alcoholism is a fatal illness for which there is no known medical cure and many of its victims are forced to wage a losing battle’.
There is no medical cure and thousands and thousands of us can vouch for the fact that people die from it – we have been to their funerals.
‘if we take any alcohol whatsoever into our systems, something happens both physically and mentally…’
It sets off a physical and mental craving.
‘We in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that there is no such thing as a cure for alcoholism, we can never return to normal drinking…’.
I believe this to be true and know several people who after several years have tried and failed. I know no real alcoholic who has demonstrated that a return to controlled drinking is possible. If they could do it, why do they not come back to Alcoholics Anonymous and spread the word?
I have a little more sympathy with Carr taking issue with the definition of alcoholism as an allergy. Many of us choose to see it like this as it helps us to understand how dangerous it would be for us to drink – we all know that those people with a nut or shellfish allergy are not drawn to the very foodstuff that could kill them and alcoholics are – but such an analogy helps us.
Finally Carr does not like the AA assertion that only we can decide if we are alcoholic or not, it is not a decision for someone in AA. Personally I think this is an AA statement to make people feel they can attend Alcoholics Anonymous even if they are not down and out and on their knees. It gives the individual some personal stake and decision in owning the label of alcoholic at a time when they are likely to have had a hard time hearing things they would not want to hear from those close to them.
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