M(3), 1/5/15: Silence is Golden
Holy moly, that was the first time I typed out a date with the new year! I hope 2014 closed peacefully, and 2015 is off to a marvelous start for all of you!
Sad news from my part of the world: I have an extremely annoying ailment that has me sounding like a seal when I talk too much. The upside, for me, is that I got to take a seat in the attendee chair at my Monday meeting this morning, and I was able to simply soak in the collective wisdom of the group.
This week’s literature selection comes from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, colloquially referred to as “The Big Book.” My friend who pinch hit for me this morning selected the chapter at the start of the book, entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion.” This chapter is the equivalent to medical seal of approval for the fledgling 12-step program, and it was a risky business, professionally speaking, for the author of the chapter (Dr. William D. Silkworth) to give his endorsement to such a revolutionary solution for the disease of alcoholism.
Had I been able to share with the group without embarrassing myself with my hacking cough, I would have talked about the importance of his term “phenomenon of craving.” Here is what Dr. Silkworth writes:
We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action
of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an
allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and
never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types
can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having
formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost
their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their
problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to
solve. Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which
can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and
-pg. xxviii, Alcoholics Anonymous
Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect
produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they
admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true
from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal
one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can
again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at
once by taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking
with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as
so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass
through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful,
with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and
over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change
there is very little hope of his recovery.
-pg. xxviii-xxvix, Alcoholics Anonymous
I am sure I have said this before, and I am equally sure that I will say it again: the concept of the phenomenon of craving is a major motivator in keeping me sober. Anytime I have even the most fleeting of thoughts that I could have “just one, what would be the big deal,” I immediately consider the idea that I could be opening a Pandora’s box that is the phenomenon of craving, and I consider what my life in active addiction was like, and the mere possibility of that allows me to easily shut down the desire for “just one.”
Most of the rest of the group focused on Dr. Silkworth’s description of alcoholism as a “manifestation of an allergy.” Apparently there has been some debate on whether alcoholism is a disease or an allergy, and people can become quite passionate about defending their particular conviction. Most of the group this morning liked the description of alcoholism as an allergy. After all, the definition of the word allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body to a substance, and most of us who identify as alcoholics can certainly attest that our reaction to drinking, even if it was simply our preoccupation, was abnormal.
One attendee shared that she truly thought she was insane while in active addiction. She observed that, while hungry, she would eat until satiated, and then her eating would slow down. With drinking, however, the complete opposite occurred; the more she drank, the more she wanted. And it seemed like she was the only one in the world who drank like this. An isolating, anxiety-ridden way to live, until she found this 12-step program and learned that she was not crazy, nor was she alone. Now, almost 30 years later, she believes that even if someone offered her a way to “drink like a lady,” she would decline, because then she would have to forfeit all the amazing benefits she realizes from her participation in our program of recovery.
A few members talked about dealing with drinkers during the holiday season. The general take-away from these experiences: create the boundaries you need to protect your sobriety. People generally speaking are not considering what you need while they are drinking, so you need to do this for yourself.
As always, there is so much more to share, but it’s time to prepare some hot tea and honey! Hopefully next week I will be back to normal…
After a 12-day holiday “staycation,” husband and kids are back to school and work. The complete silence of the house is today’s miracle!
Posted on January 5, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Big Book, fellowship, God, Health, Higher Power, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Philosophy, Recovery, self-development, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.