AA and a higher power

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Discussion by: jacqui40

I wonder if i could ask for some guidance / discussion regarding AA ( alcoholics anonymous). I have been a member of this fellowship for 9 years now and have battled with alcohol addiction for about 10 years. Approx 1 year ago I happened across some youtube discussions involving Christopher Hitchens. 1 year on from these discussions / videos, I feel foolish for ever having believed my parents fanatical insistence in a God. I could get quite angry about this but I won't as I feel glad that I am able now to break free from such a ridiculous myth. However….   I suffer from and struggle greatly with alcoholism. As such, I still attend AA. It states strongly in the 'BIG BOOK' (of alcoholics anonymous), that if i do not accept that I 'higher power' will save me, then I AM going to die from this illness. Sometimes i feel that i would rather die from alcoholism than from dilusion. Could I ask for some feedback here? thank you very much. Jacqui x  ps, I am a new member, so sorry if this has already been discussed, or if i sound extremely naive x

76 COMMENTS

  1. I trained as a facilitator for 12 step programs. God is obviously a construct that people put faith in so as to get better. It works for some , it does not work for others. Your in a difficult situation. What can I say , keep plugging way.

    And you don’t sound naive , you could study more about natural history and science , who knows that could lead you into a more mature place.

    In terms of addiction I know it is irrational to begin with , so it maybe hard to reason your way out it. Cant say whether you should discontinue this 12 step program.

    Anyone have advice on scientific based addiction therapy?

    • thank you for your comment. it is much appreciated. i recall an aa member telling me that ‘as the problem centres in my mind, i cannot go to the mind for the solution. i have to turn to ‘god’ ‘. growing up in an irish catholic household, and then spending 9 years in a ‘cult’ (that being aa), is bound to result in an enormous amount of brainwashing and confusion…. and illness maybe. .

      I trained as a facilitator for 12 step programs. God is obviously a construct that people put faith in so as to get better. It works for some , it does not work for others. Your in a difficult situation. What can I say , keep plugging way.

      And you don’t sound naive , you could study more about natu…

  2. Don’t accept that there are only these two options which were presented to you – dying of alcoholism or believing in a god. If believing in a god saves some people from alcoholism (perhaps it does, I don’t know), well you know there are better things than religion in this world in which you can believe. Better things to make your life meaningful – perhaps the people you love, the interests you have, the things you enjoy doing. And there are many more things you can do – maybe learn a new skill, become an artist, play music, become interested in astronomy or dancing or really anything that takes your fancy. Find something bigger and better than a god to save you if you can. Best wishes.

    • In reply to #2 by Archaic Torso:

      Don’t accept that there are only these two options which were presented to you – dying of alcoholism or believing in a god.

      It does sound like swapping one addiction for another.

    • thank you so much. i live in england. i cannot speak for the legal system in other counties, but i know that the legal system here still recommends that alcoholics go to aa. by their own admission (aa that is), the success rate is between just 3 and 6%, each year, but our courts still send people to this ‘spiritual’ programme. i remember telling an old sponsor of mine that i was struggling with the God concept. i was told that if i started to struggle with it, then i was starting to think that i WAS God, and i therefore needed to get on my knees and pray for ‘his’ help…..

      Don’t accept that there are only these two options which were presented to you – dying of alcoholism or believing in a god. If believing in a god saves some people from alcoholism (perhaps it does, I don’t know), well you know there are better things than religion in this world in which you can beli…

    • i have been throwing this question around in my head since this morning……………….the answer is maybe a little all over the place…

      back in 2005 i was really struggling with my addiction. i was attending AA and it was not working for me at all. one evening a lady at one of the meetings told me to go home and pray for a week, on my knees, to God, and to ask him to please remove my addiction. she was so sure that this would work that i did as she said. I prayed (like never before) for ‘God’ to remove my alcoholism.. Roughly 10 days later i discovered i was pregnant. during that week i developed hyperemesis, chronic morning sickness. the pregnancy saved my life. i could not tolerate even the mention of alcohol. i, at the time, viewed this as an absolute miracle, nothing less. AA members called it a Godincident. i was sold. it had taken me 9 years to get pregnant, and in that 1 week of praying, all my ‘prayers’ were answered.. i remained sober for just over 3 years. i absolutely believed that ‘God’ had done this for me. so, in that respect, i had deemed religion useful in confronting my alcoholism. the timing was amazing….now, i am left with no God, and with a monster addiction to ‘battle’ alone….

      Incidentally, before your Hitchens-triggered epiphany did you ever find that religion was useful in confronting your alcoholism?

      • That’s interesting. I can see that believing in something would be of great help in a situation like that. But like I said above, there are many things in which you can believe and which can make your life worthwhile and meaningful. If believing in a god which turned out not to be real helped to save you before, just think of how much better it will be to believe in the wonderful things you can find and learn in the real world. And these will not abandon you. Kind wishes.

        In reply to #19 by —
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        i have been throwing this question around in my head since this morning……………….the answer is maybe a little all over the place…

        back in 2005 i was really struggling with my addiction. i was attending AA and it was not working for me at all. one evening a lady at one of the meetings to…

  3. If you believe AA is what it takes to help you battle your alcoholism, I suggest you find something which to you can represent a “higher power”. This could be your brain, which in a sense is a higher power, because it makes decisions for you on a subconcious level. You could also pick a big oak tree in your garden, as a representive for the “force” of nature.
    Don’t take the expression “higher power” too literally.
    Best wishes.

    • thank you. i was told in AA that if there comes i time when i think i can turn to my brain to solve my problems, i clearly need to pray to God for some help….. thankfully this week i have turned to this forum and ‘the orange papers’. both are helping so much. very grateful for all comments…

      If you believe AA is what it takes to help you battle your alcoholism, I suggest you find something which to you can represent a “higher power”. This could be your brain, which in a sense is a higher power, because it makes decisions for you on a subconcious level. You could also pick a big oak tree…

  4. I think some people have gotten away with regarding the whole of the universe as a higher power. It’s bigger than you, anyway. =)

    You’ve probably already tried this, but just in case, try googling phrases that include “secular” with recovery or addiction to see if you can find one of those groups in your area. They’re slowly growing. SOS is one such group.

    • than s for your comment. have located smart recovery uk via google.

      In reply to #7 by KimCox:

      I think some people have gotten away with regarding the whole of the universe as a higher power. It’s bigger than you, anyway. =)

      You’ve probably already tried this, but just in case, try googling phrases that include “secular” with recovery or addiction to see if you can find one of those groups i…

  5. Alcoholics Anonymous actually uses a multifaceted treatment program, of which the twelve steps (or rather coming to believe in a higher power) is one. Even if you recognize that the problem is greater than you can handle doesn’t mean that you have to rely on mysticism to manage, in fact, accepting that there is no magic, and that help has to manifest from material sources may speed your way to moving forward.

    Get info on the sponsor system and get a good sponsor. Gather your friends around you (those you can trust to be supportive) and come out to them as a recovering alcoholic. Our innate desire for higher purpose comes from our drives towards community, and this is one of those purposes that it serves.

    Also research into Harm Reduction models of combating alcoholism and even using DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). I’m sure that a repertoire of distress-tolerance alternatives to drinking will serve well to help not fall off the wagon when stressed.

    The 12-step programs I’ve been in were very agnostic when it came to higher powers, and realized that everyone has to walk their own path, so I would expect no less from any meetings to which you go. If you do get too much grief (i.e. any) then look for other meetings, because no-one needs that kind of bullshit. AA is supposed to be truly unconditional.

    • thank you. i have always gravitated towards very religious sponsors. it has been a battle as there has been little common ground. i need to address that. i think it would change everything…

      Alcoholics Anonymous actually uses a multifaceted treatment program, of which the twelve steps (or rather coming to believe in a higher power) is one. Even if you recognize that the problem is greater than you can handle doesn’t mean that you have to rely on mysticism to manage, in fact, accepting t…

  6. Jacqui,
    YOU are the higher power. YOU. And you can do this. People walk away from lots of things: some even walk away from their families. You have to walk away from alcohol and you can do it. You have everything you need to succeed and I wish you luck and peace.

    • thank you kindly. i remember being told in AA that my problem was that i thought i ‘WAS THE HIGHER POWER’, and if i let go of this ridiculous notion and ‘let god’, i would get well…..

      YOU are the higher power. YOU. And you can do this. People walk away from lots of things: some even walk away from their families. You have to walk away from alcohol and you can do it. You have everything you need to succeed and I wish you luck and peace.

  7. Jacqui, I’ve had occasional struggles with alcohol, but I simply would not join AA because of the ‘higher power’ bullshit. There is a fair amount of research out there to demonstrate that AA does not actually get better results than other therapies in any event, and has a very unimpressive relapse rate.

    Look e.g. at counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, possibly neuro-linguistic programming, possibly hypnotism. Not all of these work for all people, but all have good records with addictions including drugs and cigarette smoking.

    And as others have said, get something else going in your life to fill in the hours where you might otherwise end up drinking.

    • thank you so much x

      Jacqui, I’ve had occasional struggles with alcohol, but I simply would not join AA because of the ‘higher power’ bullshit. There is a fair amount of research out there to demonstrate that AA does not actually get better results than other therapies in any event, and has a very unimpressive relapse…

  8. A Muslim friend of mine insists that Rameses ll (aka Pharoah Firon) drowned some 3300 years ago and his body was preserved by Allah as a Sign, Q’uran 10:92
    “So today We will save you in body that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed, many among the people, of Our signs, are heedless”. And that his “Mummy” survived without embalming or preservation but was saved naturally by Allah etc.(a miracle?) The Q’uran written 1400 years ago predicting events in the 18th century when the mummy was discovered after 3000 years.
    One could argue forever about such hypothesis BUT it would be really helpful if anyone knew of scientific tests/arguments that prove that such finds are common and not particularly unusual. Any thoughts?
    .

  9. http://www.cficanada.ca/resources/secular_organizations_for_sobriety

    Hi, here’s a link for groups in Toronto and Vancouver. Not sure where you live, but the organizers of these groups may be able to refer you somewhere in your province/state. Maybe there are more people in AA looking for an alternative style of recovery than AA offers? Have you talked to any of the members in your group about breaking away from the AA model and meeting up on your own? I was in a support group (not AA) years ago off and on and eventually hated it because people never seemed to progress, probably because the group was open to everyone, so new people came in and the old-timers were hearing the same stories over and over. Five of us starting meeting for dinner on Friday nights at each other’s houses for six months. That was the best group work imaginable. It worked for us because there was no “group norms” no “group belief” and we could yell and scream and cry without being told to be calm and follow the group’s rules about specific behavior. Not only did that idea work, it also taught me that when it seems there is no option, that’s the best time to create one.

  10. I’ve recently read a book that discusses AA & the relevance of a higher power and various religious rituals. Contains some possibly useful tips.

    Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
    Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.

    It’s a history of ideas about willpower and its relevance to the human mind’s ability to defer gratification, plan ahead, invest in future circumstances, and to narrow focus in the face of attractive distractions. It’s an area of psychology that fell out of fashion but has resurfaced now that new techniques like fMRI are able to detect the effects of the energy consumption associated with specific neural activity in controlled situations.

    My addiction is chocolate biscuits and cheese. Not quite in the same arena as alcohol and drugs. So I didn’t pay much attention to the specifics regarding AA.

    The theme of the book is not that willpower can be easily harnessed but that it can’t be relied upon in certain situations. So the focus needs to be strengthening willpower where possible, but mostly in conserving it and avoiding heavily relying on it by understanding situations where it will be depleted and adopting work around strategies.

    Some AA practises might be good examples. Many religious rituals may be similar. A superficial example might be things like swearwords. Every culture having something in the way of extremely inappropriate words which everyone knows but no one is normally allowed to speak – except as indications that one has lost self control. (E.g. that one needs help, or possibly that one is the kind of person who is of sufficient status to be permitted to lose control with impunity.)

    The authors discuss some famous alcoholics like Eric Clapton and how the higher power thing worked for him, even though he found the idea ridiculous at first. Musicians invest incredible amounts of time in practising and developing their musical knowledge and skills. So they can hardly be considered to be the kind of people who are likely to be unusually short on willpower. Nevertheless it’s rare to hear of a famous musician who wasn’t addicted to something or other. It’s possible that their level of focus and concentration, and the time of day (or night) that many musical activities occur (especially rock and jazz) are a perfect storm situation for extreme willpower depletion.

    • AA like to quote on willpower. there is one that i hear a lot which is ‘ what good is willpower to you if you have diahorrea’? you need God… etc etc

      I’ve recently read a book that discusses AA & the relevance of a higher power and various religious rituals. Contains some possibly useful tips.

      Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
      Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.

      It’s a history of ideas about willpower and its relevance to the…

      • One thing I got from the will power book is an understanding of what depletes, conserves, strengthens and weakens our ability to suppress physiological urges. Will power reserves depend on the time of day and the kinds and amount of food recently consumed that your body and brain has adapted to as the primary energy source. (Glucose for most people.) Alcohol is an extremely high energy density food – it’s the body’s primary source of energy when available. Our physiology has evolved to process alcohol as a metabolic priority, so as to more rapidly dissipate its toxic impact.

        To some extent a craving for alcohol might not be so different from another person’s craving cheesecake: in both cases the brain senses an impending collapse in available energy that diminishes will power. Our mind attempts to recover the situation by urgently seeking more energy. There’s obviously other complex physiologically addictive factors that affect the reward mechanisms of the mind. But initially it’s all about energy.

        It’s possible that much of the success of AA programs could be explained by displacement activity. Mostly meetings are scheduled for the evening, which is exactly the time that will power would be expected to become entirely depleted in most normal adults. (It’s supposed to be like that so that people won’t resist hormonal urges to sleep, unfortunately our evolutionary heritage hasn’t yet adapted to the more recent competing temptations of video and internet, and very low convenience cost of alcohol – our distant ancestors could only access alcohol at the expense of eating large amounts of rotten food.)

        AA could be an example of a workaround strategy where you put yourself in a situation for a couple of hours at roughly the time of day when will your power would become extremely depleted, but where alcohol is not available and the social proof and commitment aspects of the social psychology of the situation are also favourable.

        It’s possibly similar to periodic detention: an alternative judicial sentence for non-security criminals (crimes typically alcohol related – especially driving offences) where the inmates live in a corrections institution but go to their normal jobs during the week day and return to prison service custody after work each evening and undertake community work on weekends. They’re allowed out unsupervised at times when self-control is less problematic. It almost doesn’t matter what goes on in AA meetings, just as it doesn’t matter what the inmates do after work. The main thing is that there is no possibility of alcohol temptations and a prevailing attitude of disapproval.

        If you’re interested in hormonal disruption I haven’t heard of this being any kind of established technique but I know that it is possible to trigger starvation responses in humans (without actually starving) which drives an energy enzyme adaptation away from primary dependence on glucose. It’s a common myth that the brain depends only on glucose – perpetuated even in the Will Power book I recommended. It’s possible that adapting one’s energy metabolism off glucose (and protein – which converts to glucose when employed for energy) might mitigate the energy depletion that diminishes willpower. There’s anecdotal evidence that many people who do try adapting to ‘alternative energy’ (via ketogenic food choices) feel brighter and more energetic and don’t experience an afternoon / evening energy slump. Another aspect is that sleep quality improves – which is another factor that impacts on will power. The hormonal interplay is very complex – it’s possible that this occurs just because people feel more energetic, therefore they exercise more, therefore they sleep better.

        In theory, will power might be enhanced if you’re less energy depleted. But as the book discusses, it can’t be enhanced very much. Best to avoid relying on it.

        In reply to #25 by —
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        AA like to quote on willpower. there is one that i hear a lot which is ‘ what good is willpower to you if you have diahorrea’? you need God… etc etc

        I’ve recently read a book that discusses AA & the relevance of a higher power and various religious rituals. Contains some possibly useful tips.

        Wi…

  11. I had the most awful time of my life in AA. I believed them when I was told that your “higher power” could be anything (even in my case, a flower vase). I did find though that everyone over time eventually came to accept the existence of god – god as interpreted by Bill and Bob in the Big Book. A god of the Oxford Groups and the Moral Re-armament Movement. AA also promotes the highly questionable disease theory of alcoholism. I have come to the view that there are way too many downsides to AA to be of any value to me. The religious (uhm, sorry “spiritual”) nature of AA is rather creepy. I also kept relapsing in AA, bottomed out, then returned feeling the most intense guilt. Not a psychologically healthy place. I eventually did some research for empirical evidence of things that work. I was shocked at how bad 12 step programs do when clinically tested. What has kept me sober the last three years? Several sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy, my pet dog and a wonderful program free of charge called Hello Sunday Morning. I hope this helps.

  12. I think it depends a lot where the AA group you are with exists. I’ve been to meetings and never found that my atheism was a problem at all. I worked in mental health a while ago as well and I’ve known a few people who were social workers or therapists specializing in this field. Those people have been Christians, New Agers, and Atheists, but they all agreed that “higher power” doesn’t have to be God. It just means recognizing that there are things outside your control and that you have goals and desires that transcend your every day life. The other thing that all the mental health professionals I’ve ever talked to agree on is that compared to most mental health/substance abuse treatment approaches AA/NA is one of the most successful.

    This is one of those cases where if you believe in reason and critical thinking you have to score one for the believers. AA works and they have the empirical data that says so. No one at any meeting I’ve been to has ever given me a hard time about being an atheist and I’ve actually had some interesting discussions in meetings about the whole higher power God thing. But these were meetings in San Francisco and Chicago. I would bet that if you go to an AA meeting in a small southern town for example its going to be quite different.

  13. You don’t need to focus your time on a higher-power to distract from an addiction. You could focus on your time on your health or new hobbies – you could even try running your own help group for those suffering the same problems.

  14. I was thinking earlier about the time i stopped drinking some years ago. as i have mentioned in discussion, it was down to my chronic morning sickness, hyperemesis. I would like to think that in the future, a drug could be developed (based around the hormones that lead to my repulsion toward alcohol during my pregnancy, hyperemesis ) that could make chronic alcoholics physically recoil from even the mention of alcohol. i was never a heavy drinker. i am an alcoholic .big difference. nothing at all would stop me drinking. nothing. . . but the hormones generated through my pregnancy absolutely did. they gave me my life back…. i would happily be a guinea pig for such a trial…. thanks for all comments

  15. One other thing I should have mentioned:

    Anecdotal reports, no actual research that I’m aware of, but I’ve heard of folks who’ve been struggling with infertility for years sometimes also suddenly fall pregnant after a period of keto-adaptation. Possibly something to do with the body and mind sensing a physiological situation where stress levels and energy reserves are favourable for reproduction.

  16. When I lived on an island I had a choice of socialising with the druggies or the AA people. AA are very relaxed on what you consider your higher power. You can even use a tree.

    It makes absolutely no sense to me, but I have seen it work. It is the only exception to my assessment that religion in harmful.

    The key to the meetings is they provide non-stop socialising small talk, drenched in sugar treats, coffee and tobacco. They tell stories about wild and whacky things they did when drunk, a sort of nostalgic fantasy.

    • i was looking at The Orange Papers again this morning. the writer argues that AA does more harm than good and that the success rate is less than zero…. i’m still deciding if it is really the place for me…

      In reply to #30 by Roedy:

      When I lived on an island I had a choice of socialising with the druggies or the AA people. AA are very relaxed on what you consider your higher power. You can even use a tree.

      It makes absolutely no sense to me, but I have seen it work. It is the only exception to my assessment that religion in h…

      • In reply to #33 by jacqui40:

        I am not an alcoholic, but I spent a lot of time at AA meetings simply because I wanted to socialise. I saw AA work for people over and over. It is more like horse riding. People try, fall off, try, stay on a little longer, fall off… Eventually they seem to get the hang of it.

        Members are extremely grateful. They are still obsessed with alcohol and other people’s stories of what they did when drunk. They still behave in ways that are socially inept, but they are not doing batshit crazy things anymore, and they start doing non-alcohol related things with gusto.

        I would think the quality of any AA cell would depend on just how bloody minded the group was to interfere in each other’s lives. The cell I was involved with was on an island. There was very much an all for one and one for all attitude. Perhaps an urban group would not take such a personal interest in each member. Part of the magic is when the drunk comes to realise his fellow cell members care and love about him despite the stupid things he has done.

        Everybody in AA has stories about truly stupid and shameful things they have done. Nobody need feel outcast because of personal failings.

  17. We Agnostics and the Doctors Opinion of Alcoholics Anonymous.
    This extract from the Alcoholics Anonymous book (page xxix) is almost exactly what happened to me.
    This is part of the chapter ‘The Doctors Opinion’.
    “. . . unless this person [alcoholic] can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.
    On the other hand-and strange as this may seem to those who do not understand-once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules.
    Men have cried out to me in sincere and despairing appeal: “Doctor, I cannot go on like this! I have everything to live for! I must stop, but I cannot! You must help me!”
    Faced with this problem, if a doctor is honest with himself, he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy. Although he gives all that is in him, it often is not enough. One feels that something more than human power is needed to produce the essential psychic change. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. Many types do not respond to the ordinary psychological approach.
    I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control.”

    AND (on pages 54-5);
    From the chapter ‘We Agnostics’.
    “Imagine life without faith! Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn’t be life. But we believed in life – of course we did. We could not prove life in the sense that you can prove a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, yet, there it was. Could we still say the whole thing was nothing but a mass of electrons, created out of nothing, meaning nothing, whirling on to a destiny of nothingness? Of course we couldn’t. The electrons themselves seemed more intelligent than that. At least, so the chemist said.
    Hence, we saw that reason isn’t everything. Neither is reason, as most of us use it, entirely dependable, though it emanate from our best minds. What about people who proved that man could never fly?
    Yet we had been seeing another kind of flight, a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems. They said God made these things possible, and we only smiled. We had seen spiritual release, but liked to tell ourselves it wasn’t true.
    Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.
    We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us.”

    Kind regards
    Sparrow

  18. You might like Naltrexone as a “higher power.” I thought it worked very well. It isn’t one of those make-you-puke-drugs, it just diminishes the effects of alcohol. You might like to take it with some therapy to improve coping skills.

  19. thank you for the comment. i was reading ‘the process’ and stopped at the sentence (i think it’s third from the end) which says ‘we feel guilty for abandoning the friends who helped us’……. i thought about that for the last 20 mins. i don’t feel guilty here but what i do feel is fear. having attended aa for such a long time and being told clearly that without aa i WILL die because i cannot get well without God (step 3 – made a decision to turn our WILL and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him), still leaves me feeling fearful. the meetings i attend here in england are quite religious. people share all the time about how their higher power saved them. one girl last year shared that God had sent her a horse. I feel like i’m surrounded by crazies, but they certainly got into my brain enough over the last 9 years to leave me doubting my ability to stay well via any other means. i certainly need to start surrounding myself with healthy minded individuals. yesterday morning i watched as my mum tried to pursuade my daughter to go to church. it went on for nearly an hour. my daughter refused (which left my mum very cross with me. sigh. incidentally, and digressing for a moment, i placed my daughter in a faith school some years ago, which she still attends. it is deeply religious. my daughter is told there is a god and so she believes this to be true. unfortunately it has only been this last year that i have stepped away from this madness. i do not wish to remove her from her school / friends etc. i feel this would be wrong and upsetting for her. i am hoping that as she gets older i can gently start to have discussions with her about her beliefs / my beliefs / the beliefs of others etc, and see how she feels. would this seem reasonable? thanks

    Jacquie, I have experience with this, being addicted and alcoholic on and off for almost 30 years of my life, to anything that was available which was basically whatever would change my mood or make me feel better. Drinking and drugging is a way of coping that works very, very well… until it does…

  20. The AA programme has not been shown to work any better than trying to get better yourself with support from family and friends. Alcoholism is not a disease. You probably don’t even have to quit altogether and forever. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just drink less. I know I’ll get flak for saying that, but I really think the whole addiction thing is overblown.

    • I agree here. i’ve never viewed alcoholism as a disease. i do, however, regard it as an illness, either of the mind or manifested as an allergy? i remember well the day that i crossed the line into alcoholism..

      when i was a teenager, there was a very famous footballer in england called george best (sorry, not sure where you are located). many times he would pop up in the news….. Best is back on the drink’ etc, endless interviews where he would swear never to drink again. as a teenager / young adult, i remember him well. i remember always thinking…..’ what a loser. why would someone drink alcohol when there are so many things you can do with your life? / he’s nuts / selfish / weird / lazy etc…. i didn’t get it at all. one morning in 2005 i walked downstairs to make a cup of tea. this was normal, and happened most every day. i put the kettle on, and reached into the fridge for the milk. i saw some bottles of bud in the vegetable rack and took one out. it was about 7am. i opened it and drank it. i remember that moment very clearly because my heart started racing and i remember being so scared. i had no idea what i was doing except that the bud was not going back into the fridge. from that day onwards i had no choice or control over my drinking. alcoholism has ruined and has dominated the last 10 years of my life. it has been described to me in aa as a physical allergy…….. my body can no longer produce the enzymes to break down the alcohol so my body craves alcohol thinking that if i drink more, then more enzymes will be produced. i have no knowledge on this subject, so please forgive the childish description of what i was told. if you are lucky enough to get through the 4 weeks of physical craving, then you are left with ‘the mental obsession’ that non alcoholics do not ever suffer with. and so aa teaches that in order to get well and stay well, you must hand your will and your life over to the care of God. as i stated in a response a few days ago. i believe that science could cure this terrible compulsion, through medicine. as a chronic alcoholic (i’m nothing less), i stopped drinking ‘miraculously’ when i became pregnant. i was repulsed by alcohol. if some one could come along today and inject me with those very same hormones, my prayers would be answered again.

      The AA programme has not been shown to work any better than trying to get better yourself with support from family and friends. Alcoholism is not a disease. You probably don’t even have to quit altogether and forever. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just drink less. I know I’ll get flak for saying…

  21. Jaqui, I recommend to watch your diet. After I had changed to Paleo, Primal. caveman – however you like to call it – no processed food, no grains, sugar, starch, only high quality meat, fish, vegetables you can eat raw – my urge to drink alcohol decreased significantly. I suppose stabilizing my blood sugar levels helped. As an added bonus I lost weight.

  22. i was dipping into the aa big book earlier. it states in chapter 5 that ‘no human power could relieve our alcoholism but God could and would if He were sought. this is not true for me anymore. having read the comments over the last few days on here, i know that i don’t need an idea of magic to stay well. i may still attend some meetings, but my head is now much clearer because of this discussion. very grateful.

  23. I attended an AA meeting and it was incredibly enlightening. The thing I find so strange is this insistence of having prayers and speaking of higher powers while claiming to not have any religious affiliation. That just doesn’t add up, and I feel that needs to be addressed (and in more modern chapters of AA I think it is.) I believe that the whole idea is to humble yourself to the idea that you don’t have all the answers. Those that are addicted often think one more drink will fix all their troubles. They believe no will notice when they show up to work torn up. One that is addicted must shake this arrogance. What I get out of it is that this appeal to a “higher power” is really just a realization that sometimes we might not know what’s best for ourselves when we are caught up in an addiction problem. To understand that we need to have the humility to enlist the help of others to overcome our struggles. This higher power deal, is really just a vestigial organ.

  24. Hi Jacqui,

    I spent more then a decade as a sober member of AA and quite a bit of time in and out of AA!

    As mentioned in this thread and elsewhere, the 12 steps have never been shown to actually work. AA’s success rate is the same as what is called the ‘spontaneous recidivism rate’. In other words, heavy drinkers stop drinking at the same rate on their own as they do attending AA meetings.

    If you spent anything near 9 years in AA you should have seen this. Aren’t there huge amounts of turnover in AA? You go to a meeting and there will be some guy with 10 or 20 years dry and he’ll be singing AA’s praises. But how many people have walked threw the door in those 10 or 20 years? Probably hundreds, maybe thousands. In a meeting with maybe 30 or 50 people in it! Think it through. 30 or 50 successes out of hundreds!!!

    There is a huge ‘no true Scottsman’ fallacy in AA. You need a spiritual experience to quite drinking. Well what about all those heavy drinkers who quite drinking with out a spiritual experience? Well they weren’t ‘real’ alcoholics. That’s a known logical fallacy and it is written write into the so-called Big Book!!!

    Anyway, I shouldn’t bash AA to much. I do like most of the people who go to AA. Also, AA does a good job not butting into politics. It’s rather progressive regarding gays, woman and such.

    Of course, if you want to go to AA for social reasons you can simply show up to a meeting, raise your hand and declare yourself an atheist. They wont kick you out (though you should expect a fair amount of unwarranted browbeating). Perhaps there is someone in the meeting who is an atheist as well but is to afraid to speak up!!!

  25. Well, no one really responded to my post so I’ll try again.

    Most of the ‘spiritual experience’ jargon in AA literature comes from ‘The Varieties of Religous Experience’ (1901) by William James, the only text book referenced in ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ (1939), (by anonymous; colloguially known as the ‘Big Book’ by AA members). For example, Andresvogel asked in comment 42 why there are prayers and talk of ‘higher power’ but an insistence that the program is ‘spiritual, not religious’ and the answer comes from James. James considered the study of religious experiences more important then the study religious institutions.

    James’ views on ‘free will’ and ‘instincts’ also likely had an impact on AA. My opinion is that AA was ahead of the times regarding “Free Will’ in 1939 (compare AA’s first step with free will discusion threads found on this site). However, AA made no real progress since then due to being bogged down with superstition. To bad.

  26. Oh, and Dr. William Silkworth’s opinion in the ‘big book’ about alcoholism being an allergy turns out to be wrong.

    AA acknowledged this in one of their books. (‘Living Sober’, written anonymously of course, off the top of my head I want to say it was published 1975 and the pertinent passage is on page 65ish.)

    Why didn’t AA delete this opinion in later editions of the text “Alcoholics Anonymous’? Because there is strong sentiment in AA based on superstition to never change a single word of the first 164 pages of this book.

    • I had a hard core aa member visit me at home last night (at my request) to talk to me about staying well. she is a very strong member of the fellowship (i think that’s called a bully). anyway. she said she would give me her time and help me to stay well as long as i do what she suggests and stop thinking. she’s said i needed to stop questioning god because my ‘thinking is stinking’. her argument for the existence of god was basically, ‘well jacqui, how can so many people in the world be wrong? and how arrogant am i to think there isn’t a god?’ (sigh). i told her i would go as far as calling my higher power the sun, but that’s it. she said that i can’t reason my way out of this illness, and that god either is or he isn’t… which was it to be? etc etc. she finished by saying that i always had an answer for everything. (this is completely untrue. i just always have a question for everything. she thinks that this will be the death of me..). i have just received a text from her which reads…’at the start we didn’t believe.. we just had to be open minded’

      i hope this goes some way to explaining my confusion over such a long period of time. 9 years of questioning the god idea in aa and 9 years of being told in aa to stop questioning the god idea. arrgh.

      In reply to #46 by The Jersey Devil:

      Oh, and Dr. William Silkworth’s opinion in the ‘big book’ about alcoholism being an allergy turns out to be wrong.

      AA acknowledged this in one of their books. (‘Living Sober’, written anonymously of course, off the top of my head I want to say it was published 1975 and the pertinent passage is on p…

  27. Hi Jacqui40!

    You are dealing with an AA ‘true believer’ and very likely a ‘big book thumper, as they are called here in New Jersey. Remember, she is doing what she does (all that horrible brow beating) because she is under the sincere belief that the only way she can avoid a horrible life and death is to ‘carry the message’ to other alcoholics. Talk about a meme! Anyway, there is probably no argument you can make that will sway her.

    If you want mess with her, just tell her you believe in a higher power that doesn’t care whether or not you believe in a higher power.

    ‘Smart Recovery’ has shown better results then AA. Perhaps you’ll do better there. I liked the ‘self talk awareness’ aspect. Basically, if the thoughts you tell yourself are more of the ‘can do’ variety then the ‘can’t do’ variety you improve your chances (no guarantees) of success in life. No supernatural woo required. It takes a bit of effort to identify and correct this type of thinking but it has been shown empirically to work for many people.

    Plus Smart wont try to guilt you if you do decide to ditch!!!

    Good luck!!!

  28. That’s, pardon my French, a bunch of horse s**t. Just because something is written in a book doesn’t make it true, obviously. The fact that the BIG BOOK says what it is says is probably (if I had to guess) just a consequence of the US being such a profoundly religious society. I doubt AA (or equivalents thereof) in more secular societies say anything about having to accept a higher power,

  29. there is a concept discussed at length by Jean Paul Sarte, “Bad Faith”. The short cut definition, is basically; “lying to oneself conciously”.

    there was a man who, at a certain group meeting, posited to me that both the “eh-eh” and “en-eh” texts are “god given”. I have met some really “scary people”, “but that takes it for me…”

    there is a great book written by Alex Comfort, called, “Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State”. Mostly i would say it is the best book on the manifestation of psychopathy in hierarchical structures…in fact it is these very type of groups that attract many, borderline and psychopathic persons. fellow-aspirants or associates versus “zponzurs”, mentors, or other types of “nonprofessional” “helpers”…

    I am also sure that there are very healthy versions, or groups of these persons, just like there are churches, who have all the best intentions, but what is that old saying???about intentions…

    In the end, the fight with addictions, will most probably reveal other psychological dysfunction, which most people deal with to some degree – my understanding is that addiction to substances, and addiction to Old movies, chocolate, sex, etc…is more a symptom of another larger issue – I am not an addictions professional so this is a “lay” opinion, take it as it is…

    There is another author who I believe sums up the primary dysfunctional event in most people lives – that is a failure to confront, ones own mortality, that is specifically,- a “refutation” of death or mortality…Irvin Yalom – “The Executioners Song” an anthology of short stories, about and from this LA based existentialist psychotherapist

    The story “The Two Smiles” is a classic in my opinion.

    It sounds like you’re on the right track though Jacqui.

    One thing that we all know, naturally, is that we enjoy being around other people, isn’t this a real, simple
    higher power; and it’s REAL.

    The issue that i have with any organisation, including this one, is what they don”t say, what they don’t talk about;
    that says more about a group or individual than anything – though what they don’t say in context to what they do say;
    is probably the more, singular idea that I am proposing here…

    My “journey” in the recovery movement has not been positive -one person, who encouraged, “getting back into life”, “committing to a cause”, i have met with the most frightening and some of the most beautiful people…my point here is that no matter where you go you will encounter some bad eggs, wierdos, simple honest folk, and all the rest

    there is no hard fast rule, many of the folks I have encountered there, are definitely “+hristian-based”, and totally “Old Testament”
    +hristian…what i have seen is that the more people read the Bible, the more they are confused, because, the bible has been, translated, edited, re-written, et al in my opinion it is a “template” for confusion; the question might be, what is “allegory”, “metaphorical”, and what is literal, one might ask the same question of the “le livre de grande”…ok my french isn’t that good…however, in the end it is just divisory, prejudicial, hateful and distasteful – that is the ancient document

    there was another man who reminded me that the “eh-eh” network, was the biggest “outpatient network” in the world.

    my feeling is that I really would rather hangout with all these folks(RDF), because in the end at least we agree that we are working on being “reasonable”. or being reasonable, I do my best, that is all.

    i always had a problem, not so much with “the hi-her pwer” concept, but they go from one chapter, calling it “the hi-her pwer”,
    and then in the very next chapter insisting that you call it “G-o-d”…it is manipulation in the first degree, and I don’t like that….praying on the people who are having a tough time, and looking for help, and they get that “Machiavellian-move” …rational recovery is a good option, SOS, also looks reasonable

    my higher pwr has always been the good example that people like Winston Churchill, Hypatia, Robin Morgan, Wittgenstein, RD, Hitchens, Chomsky and others like them have diligently “actualized”…also I like Jiddu Krishnmurti…anyways good luck!

    Spraguelle

    • very grateful for your thoughts and ideas. that was an interesting read…

      In reply to #51 by Spraguelle:

      there is a concept discussed at length by Jean Paul Sarte, “Bad Faith”. The short cut definition, is basically; “lying to oneself conciously”.

      there was a man who, at a certain group meeting, posited to me that both the “eh-eh” and “en-eh” texts are “god given”. I have met some really “scary people…

  30. I see an enormous amount has been covered. I’ll be brief, but have a lot to say about this. I got sober in AA, and haven’t relapsed since I first sobered late in 1987 when I came to understand my problem.

    To defend AA (as apposed to any autonomous group or specific people in AA), it’s a “god” as you understand it. I personally use the random variable we all know and love from Statistics lessons as my higher power. Incidentally Statistics tends to be harder to follow than the Bible for most and promises equally accurate predictions of the future. I had not ever heard of an Atheist or an Agnostic before AA, and it was their “Big Book” that I got my first lesson in something beyond Christianity.

    To reverse on the last paragraph a bit, once I rejected the faith, I realized how pervasive god was in AA’s day to day language. People cant seem to go more than a few sentences without saying god. Too many people toss way too much into their “God will fix it” bin. I’ll say more about that later, including why I think small doses of it can do good. I’m still at AA a bit, but SOS is great too. Nobody in AA has noticed I don’t say god or prayer anymore.

    I was a non-participating Catholic when I reached AA by happenstance. While trying to find a God that I could understand, I discovered the church had me believing in a more powerful version of my dad as the God I understood. I formed an awesome God in AA which didn’t seem to fit any religion, and I didn’t rely on it for much except things I truly needed in a very dictionary sense of the word need. I went happily through life that way till about 2007 when I started to notice how level headed the non-religious people on the Internet were in general relative to religious folks. A debate one day made me acutely aware that God in the Christian sense wasn’t mathematically possible, and that’s when I rapidly reviewed everything I believed in life. I found the rapid shift to reality just as jarring as the shifts that we see in literature when a persons perception of the world is undone; eg. Matrix, Logan’s Run, Allegory of the Cave – Plato, and so on. It took a while to get back to ordinary happy from dumbfounded and disoriented. I’m glad I’m aware and would never return to ignorant bliss.

    One sponsee I had early on in the 90′s was a kind of Buddist, but mostly atheist. We had great conversations and learned from each other. One time while referring to prayer he said to me, “Mike, I don’t know why it works or how it works, but it worked.” His statement caused me to search out why and how; about 10% of AA’ers will tell you to not search for the why’s and how’s. The following video’s from the masterful Derren Brown offer the scientific reason why prayer can work. God is the cheapest placebo ever created.
    Fear and Faith: Episode 1 – http://youtu.be/CU52YAgFxX0
    Fear and Faith: Episode 2 – http://youtu.be/S7ubasw7drI

    The thing is, most people cannot tolerate the full weight of their problems within the current state of their understanding of themselves and the world around them; risks of the future being dim are too great and too heavy. If somebody could teach them that it’s not that bad and will get better, that would be enough. Prayer and a reliance on a higher power does that temporarily and instantaneously. So does every distraction on the Earth. Video games, or good beats, or the smell of dessert, or a boob-lean from a well endowed woman, all have the equivalent power of prayer. They give you time to lose the irrational focus on a potentially bad future outcome, so you can rationally plan your life for the best possible outcome given the current situation.

    And in closing, just to be perfectly clear, I believe that an alcoholic is a person who by some combination of genetics, social influence, and long term organic chemistry self experimentation has altered themselfs into a state that consumption of alcohol and many other things is not safe and cannot be made safe by willpower any more (barring future medical advancements with DNA programming).

    • that was a great read, and btw, i had a lot to do today but i have spent the last hour watching derren brown – fear and faith pt 1. just about to watch part 2. (he’s great) . i appreciate your views / thinking. thanks for the comment. it has helped, as have all comments….. In reply to #53 by RRinWNY:

      I see an enormous amount has been covered. I’ll be brief, but have a lot to say about this. I got sober in AA, and haven’t relapsed since I first sobered late in 1987 when I came to understand my problem.
      .
      To defend AA (as apposed to any autonomous group or specific people in AA), it’s a “god” as yo…

  31. I was an IV drug user for years. When I began to realize that my life was very near its end, I reached out for help. Everyone pointed me to 12-step, so I went. No matter how hard I tried to do what they told me to do, it just didn’t work. I could not get over the higher power concept, nor could I make some of the other principles fit with my particular story. Every time I questioned or protested, I was blamed for being at fault, and for not accepting things. I was told that my higher power could be anything – even a chair! I was unable to wrap my mind around something so ludicrous. I was also told to listen to my higher power and form a relationship, but no matter how hard I listened all I heard was myself. I rejected myself, because they basically told me that listening to myself would destroy me – only listen to the higher power! I never heard this higher power, and began to suspect that they were all hearing themselves and telling themselves that it was in fact some outside force. Every time I had a realization, I rejected it because I was afraid that it was only myself attempting to deceive myself. Surely, this ‘feeling’ or this communication I would receive from the higher power would be distinct from my own thoughts, right? This went on and on for about 18 months, and I never could get more than a few days without my drugs. Finally I began to see all of the similarities between religion and the program. Most sinister of which was the threat that if I didn’t surrender, I was doomed. I was told on one hand that it’s not for everyone, and on the other hand I would die if I didn’t accept the program. Finally my organs began to shut down, I became a walking corpse, my body ravaged by malnutrition and multiple lethal viruses from sharing needles, I said YOU PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS I NEED, and left the program. My true recovery began that very day, and it was INSTANT. I have not used for 13 years now, nor do I have any desire to. For me, it was actually very easy once I left the program. I guess if it makes someone sober then great, but do not believe them when they say they know it all, because actually their success rate is pretty awful. I think that only the addict can answer whether or not the program is working for them since we’re all so different, but had they not scared me into thinking that leaving the program would be suicide, I believe I would have gotten clean much sooner.

    • ………… ‘ had they not scared me into thinking that leaving the program would be suicide, I believe I would have gotten clean much sooner ‘………………. i cannot agree more. i feel strongly that if i come away from AA, my recovery will begin. this fellowship keeps some people sick. this whole ‘you can’t get well without us’ attitude is dangerous to a lot of addicts. by AA’s own admission, their success rate, after all these years, still wobbles between 3 and 6%…………. the irony, as stated, is that every time i have this urge to walk away from the meetings, my desire to pick up diminishes. off to cut the grass with my nice hot cup of yorkshire tea (and 5 biscuits) xx In reply to #55 by Jason S:

      I was an IV drug user for years. When I began to realize that my life was very near its end, I reached out for help. Everyone pointed me to 12-step, so I went. No matter how hard I tried to do what they told me to do, it just didn’t work. I could not get over the higher power concept, nor could…

  32. Alcoholism is not an easy thing to beat… it’s a legal drug that you can practically buy 24 x 7 these days. Tough one, since you don’t believe in God, this higher power that once you substituted to be God is now devoid of any impact or power on your psyche. Alcoholism is not an easy thing to beat… it’s a legal drug that you can practically buy 24 x 7 these days, it’s all too easy to make an excuse to have another drink…. “Sometimes I feel that I would rather die from alcoholism than from delusion”, … perhaps another excuse?? You know what to do already, you know this killing you, you know this effects your family…. When you pick up that first drink you know it’s not going to one…. All these messages that you choose to ignore…. Don’t get me wrong, I understand, addiction is an uncontrollable urge, an itch that must be scratched. You need a support group that caters to your needs, you obviously can’t do this on your own (at the moment), be proactive, look for help… don’t use this as another excuse!! Good luck

    • that made me smile this morning. alcoholics love their excuses. i’m venturing out to my first sober recovery meeting tomorrow, saturday. i read what you said about ..’ YOU KNOW THIS EFFECTS YOUR FAMILY’….. that was a powerful understatement. thank you for your honesty…. In reply to #56 by GRAViL:

      Alcoholism is not an easy thing to beat… it’s a legal drug that you can practically buy 24 x 7 these days. Tough one, since you don’t believe in God, this higher power that once you substituted to be God is now devoid of any impact or power on your psyche. Alcoholism is not an easy thing to beat… it…

  33. Hi Jacqui, God knows I’ve still got innnumerable problems of my own, I’m sure we all do, but I’m working on them, and so I just wanted to add my own words of encouragement, and to echo the other poster who said that you yourself have the power to find your own solution. You’ve certainly shown in your posts so far that you have a tremendous amount of strength and will, so keep strong, and if you learn to know yourself and what you need to do, or can handle, or can’t do yourself then you’ll be able to work out your own solutions.

  34. I am in day rehab and having a terrible time finding a place to belong. I keep being told it is not about god but about spirituality which means nothing to me. Someone told me a chair could be my higher power but how can a chair keep me sober? A power higher than myself???? I cannot envisage it. What does it mean? Surely it is my own willpower that will keep me sober and to deny that is surrender to weakness. Believe me I would love to hand all resposibilities for my messups to some uncontrollable disease but surweley I need to take responsibility for my own actions, take control of my own behaviouyr and accept that the buck stops with me.

  35. Hi there,
    I think too much is made of ‘addiction’ in that some people will use your fear of it to control you. If you believe you are an alcoholic whether you drink or not, then it is still controlling your behaviour. Such a big deal gets made of it that you feel guilty about not believing in some notional higher power.
    Don’t feel guilty! You are who you are, and you have done what you’ve done. I recommend Sam Harris’s book on free will http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FanhvXO9Pk.
    The thing to do is decide to drink or not. No guilt either way. Just do or don’t. When alcohol has been a crutch in the past, you will fall back on it by association, unless you decide – not for others, not out of guilt or regret, not even for your own well being – not to drink. Just don’t drink.
    Atheists are often asked whether they’re afraid of being dead, to which the answer is,” well, I wasn’t afraid before I was born!” Same thing. You didn’t drink when you were 2 or 3, so why worry about not drinking now. Just don’t drink. The biggest worry is drinking isn’t it, not being sober? So just don’t worry. You’ll find that once you let go of the guilty associations it’s so easy!

  36. Alcohol has been with us a very long time. Elephants have been drinking from pools of water containing fermenting fruit long before we were here.

    I would have thought we would have evolved a built-in distaste for alcohol. Surely it makes us vulnerable to predators, incompetent at hunting etc.

    People from different parts of the world have different degrees of tolerance for alcohol, different susceptibilities to alcholism, and different cultural norms of acceptable consumption. I gather you could evolve in different directions –

    1. alcohol has no effect.
    2. aversion to alcohol
    3. mechanisms to limit consumption.

    Perhaps there is some advantage to consumption, increased social status? Increased resistance to suicide?

    Alcohol causes so much trouble for such a large percentage of the population, I have to wonder “Where’s Darwin?”

  37. having an amazing couple of weeks. having finally reached the conclusion that the buck stops with me, i took drastic action to address my ‘habit’ (which really is what it is). in order to stop drinking i took up smoking. i don’t smoke at all, never have. however, my situation required a drastic solution to kickstart my wellness. every time i wanted a drink, i had a disgusting cigarette. they knocked me off my feet giving me the sensation of being tipsy. it has taken two weeks to stop the drinking thoughts and change my old behaviour pattern. i am not endorsing this as an ideal solution but it has worked for me completely. the mental obssession for alcohol has greatly greatly diminished and i have started getting life back on track, even in just two weeks. i am now smoking approx 6 cigarettes each day and aim to reduce this down to zero over the next few weeks (i am repulsed by the smell of smoke but it has saved my life these last full two weeks). it may seem childish or irresponsible but i felt i was out of options. this discussion board has been my catalyst for change. the comments have given me so much strength through there logical. grateful….

  38. hello jacqui, just checking in with you. I’m happy that you took the time to read Sarte’s piece, i’ve read it many times and it still challenges me – one thing that I would like to point out is that depending on the edition and translation -you may encounter severe discrepancies -I am working on a piece for this site, using the Sarte essay, “Existentialism is a Humanism” and in some versions, entire paragraphs are missing, I’m not trying to make things complex, just pointing out that sources can require a process of “multiple editions comparison”.

    re- your current strategy – there may be less toxic alternatives, that is nicotine gum and the like, although I am not supporting this strategy, though it may be less harmful in the interim…coffee and cigs – you do what works for now. certainly drinking is not good for anyone.

    people do what they can, everyone is different – my story and many others are unique, that’s the human animal…

    a few issues that I might point out – the things that we try to escape from through obsession – exercise-maniac, practice fanatic, excessive this or that,

    typically these activities create other problems that we have to deal with, thereby offering us an existential reason to avoid reality – this so common in civilization, and is probably the cause for the great garbage patches in the “One Ocean”…

    “Certainly, many people believe that when they do something they themselves are the only ones involved, and when someone says to them,”What if everyone acted that way?” they shrug their shoulders and answer, “Everyone doesn’t act that way.” But really, one should always ask themselves, “What would happen if everybody looked at things that way?” There is no escaping this disturbing thought except by a kind of double-dealing. A man(person) who lies and makes excuses for themselves by saying, “Not everybody does that,” is someone with an uneasy conscience, because the act of lying implies that a universal value is conferred upon the lie.” Jean Paul Sarte -Citadel Press -1965, “The Philosophy of Existentialism”

    this leads to isolation, and huge patches of garbage in the One Ocean.

    When I get up in the morning there is some peace because of the collective efforts I am involved with…to the point, if you get involved, whether it is red cross, Oxfam, volunteering for senior citizens or what-have -you, this may provide some respite from that nagging need to escape – I escape sometimes, you are not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you, you are human, and you keep going -if you need those cig, fine -the lesser of two “issues” as they say, though it might be better to take up running 3 miles a day -maybe with a group of women joggers?

    keep up the efforts Jacqui!

    sincerely,

    Spraguelle

    • In reply to #65 by Spraguelle:

      hello jacqui, just checking in with you. I’m happy that you took the time to read Sarte’s piece, i’ve read it many times and it still challenges me – one thing that I would like to point out is that depending on the edition and translation -you may encounter severe discrepancies -I am working on a p…

      Normally I ignore spelling and grammar errors in comments, science knows I make plenty myself, but since you are writing something based on one of his works the name is “Sartre” not “Sarte”

  39. Jacqui, Re – spelling Sartre, versus Sarte, if I caused you any confusion with the spelling, there it is….Sartre.

    Thanks Red Dog.

    “Certainly, many people believe that when they do something they themselves are the only ones involved, and when someone says to them,”What if everyone acted that way?” they shrug their shoulders and answer, “Everyone doesn’t act that way.” But really, one should always ask themselves, “What would happen if everybody looked at things that way?” There is no escaping this disturbing thought except by a kind of double-dealing. A man(person) who lies and makes excuses for themselves by saying, “Not everybody does that,” is someone with an uneasy conscience, because the act of lying implies that a universal value is conferred upon the lie.” Jean Paul Sartre -Citadel Press -1965, “The Philosophy of Existentialism”

    Hmmmmm?

    Spraguelle

  40. Brother, that higher power is inside your brain. I’ve had a couple of monkeys on my back over the years. Alcohol was never an issue, because my stomach rejected it ever being an option. Not to mention, I hated that ‘buzz’. There was plenty, more fun things, including cigarettes. We’re all wired differently. I didn’t like the ‘church for drunks’ atmosphere of AA, plus talking about my problems to (mostly) complete strangers seemed silly. I never was a big talker and got zero benefit from the meetings. There was no NA back then. But that’s the same thing under a different name. My advise to you, if you benefit from the discussions, or fellowship if you prefer, just ignore that higher power crap. ‘Cause, like I said that higher power is your mind. Don’t let the ‘god delusion’ get in the way regardless. Tell your sponsor how you feel, and if he’s not compassionate then you’ve got the wrong sponsor. Find another one. I’m certain you’ll find a like-minded associate you can lean on. Don’t give up on this extremely long and hard trip you’ve begun. Hang tuff and All the luck in the world to you.

  41. I certainly don’t experience you as naive Jacqui. I think it’s a long overdue relevant view….especially when they throw in things like “if we do not accept that a higher power will save us…then we are going to die from alcoholism”.
    Just blatant attempted brainwashing from how I see it. Shocking actually.
    Like no proof of god….no proof of the higher power either….
    tara.

  42. Hi Jacaui, I work at a medical detox…..a residential drug and alcohol withdrawal unit…and I realise that you have already been given a great deal of advice….and I don’t want to tell you what’s right or wrong.
    I’m just going to say that addiction, in my humble view…..all addiction…..is the very real need to dissociate ourselves from emotional pain in the now……more often than not, triggered by something in the now but nonetheless, also deeply connected to our past.
    If I could just help you plant a seed….just one little seed… that could begin to honour the fact that the need to dissociate from pain is real….and that every human being has needed to do it at some point in their lives…(exclusions might include the dalai lama)!
    Take care, tara.

    • thank you so much tara for your comment. it really made me stop and think.

      of course it makes sense to me. i always knew that this was the reason i drank – to cut off from reality, and to ‘get through’ the day. my neighbour is currently sick with a physical illness. i feel that alcoholism / addiction, as a mental illness, does not gain the same understanding or empathy. our community has rallied around my neighbour to help him. my experience has been so so different. friends and family become angry, and eventually distance themselves from addiction / mental illness. i am currently in a positive space albeit relying on cigarettes (which isn’t ideal i know). if i have an issue at the moment, it is dealing with AA friends via facebook, who are smuggly waiting for the ‘inevitable’ big fall. i find their emails unhelpful and self serving. it’s the same message….’ jacqui, we are here for you when you eventually stop believing that you can fight your illness without God’…… etc

      In reply to #70 by tara:

      Hi Jacaui, I work at a medical detox…..a residential drug and alcohol withdrawal unit…and I realise that you have already been given a great deal of advice….and I don’t want to tell you what’s right or wrong.
      I’m just going to say that addiction, in my humble view…..all addiction…..is the…

  43. Hi Jacqui, So very very true…..the majority of mainstream poulation put drug addicts and alcoholics on the lowest rung of the ladder….and have less understanding and empathy, as you say, compared with someone dying of cancer. In actual fact….there are few of us who are able to comfortably exist in the now 24/7. There are workaholics, you name it….survivors of abuse who scrub their floors til their hands bleed…so if their friends come over they will be impressed with how clean everything is….but the survivor keeps cleaning, and it’s never enough…because, although they are desperately trying….they can’t clean up what happened to them as a child. And the reasoning is usually unconscious to them….nonetheless, most think it’s so much better than being a drug addict.
    Workaholics might have more money than gamblers….yet they suffer the same.
    Recovery (again in my very humble view) doesn’t have much to do with The Big Book or any twelve steps….nothing to do with it at all.
    It begins with an empathic, non-judgemental understanding and respectful stance towards wherever we are at…..not with the giving of advice……that I can hear how you are experiencing the A/A members on facebook……feeling like they are waiting for you to fall down, like it’s inevitable…..and what that must feel like for you…….
    How’s our seed going???? I’d water it if I was there with you. Take care, tara.

  44. Hi,
    I am also a 12 step veteran. My understanding of ‘Higher Power’ has changed mightily over the last 17 years. I recently read Wayne Liquorman’s book on the subject and Fred Davis’s “Beyond Recovery” both very good. I think that my conception of a higher power had to expand beyond belief in god or even enlightenment in a non-theistic sense. I need to experience things in order to have faith in them and went down the route of meditative enquiry. I’m glad I did. I am happy to expand on this if you are interested.

    • yes, please do…….

      In reply to #73 by myojo:

      Hi,
      I am also a 12 step veteran. My understanding of ‘Higher Power’ has changed mightily over the last 17 years. I recently read Wayne Liquorman’s book on the subject and Fred Davis’s “Beyond Recovery” both very good. I think that my conception of a higher power had to expand beyond belief in god or…

  45. There are many, many, things in the universe that have greater power than individual humans. Stars, black holes, planets etc… But they won’t save you, nothing can except yourself. If all that was necessary for salvation from addiction was belief in imaginary friends, why would anyone bother with AA?

    One has to want to overcome an addiction before any amount of help will work, which utterly contradicts salvation from an external source.

    “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha

    You do not need faith in the imaginary to kick that beer, only support and determination. One REAL friend is worth a thousand imaginary gods, don’t let idiots tell you otherwise.

  46. To expand then. Having a concept of a higher power or god is not the same as the experiencing of what lies behind the dualistic concepts which we call life. There is a total difference between the idea of me – a separate person (which upon investigation by the way cannot be found) relying on a greater separate being called god and the experience of oneself AS the eternal consciousness upon which or in which all objects mental or physical arise. The confusion can arise because of semantics in the sense that often the word god will be used to describe consciousness but this should never be confused with god as a supreme separate being. It is definitely possible to find out the truth about existence through self enquiry. It is neither theism nor atheism but beyond both. I can expand further if you like.

  47. i have returned (an hour ago) from my daughter’s curriculum evening at her school here in the midlands (uk). it was truely awful. i have rarely felt so confused about what to do. my daughter is 6 years old and is in year 2 at school. this is her third year at this outstanding school. their results, and ofsted report are outstanding. i should be grateful that she has secured a place here. last year after a long inner struggle (and many youtube debates / uploads), i came to the conclusion that i was without a doubt, (i cannot stress this enough,) an atheist. it has been the most liberating experience. this evening i sat in a school hall, packed with ‘believers,’ whilst the head teacher put up a large projector statement from the then pope (benedict) on how all little children in our school, should ‘aim to become saints via their journey through the sacraments’. there was lots of nodding and clapping and prayers. i was worried at one point that i was about to develop instant tourettes, and jump up and scream that they were all crazy!! i don’t say this to make light of that condition at all. i felt so utterly frustrated at the total nonsense i was listening to, i was frightened that i actually would not be able to contain myself!!

    sainthood? what were they all talking about? what evidence? why were they all nodding?

    i definitely don’t wish to remove my daughter from her school. she is settled and happy and has lots of friends. i am just finding it so hard to ‘deal’ with the intense religious ethos there, when to me it is just nonsense, backed up by nothing. i feel guilty for putting my daughter in this position now. any ideas on how to redress the balance would be much appreciated. thank you

  48. Could I ask for some feedback here?
    Hello, Jacqui40. Thanks for the thread.
    I’m an AA member too, that for more than 10 years now. Being an atheist, I had to cherrypick the 12 Step program to suit my belief(disbelief). And let me tell you that I’m considered as a dodo inside the Movement, not beliieving in a “Puissance supérieure”(I’m a french speaker).
    I think that discussing the AA movement is relevant here, because AA pretends to be a laïcal fraternity, but it’s not!–Umpokito–

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