Well here goes, first time I have done a first step in a long time. As it is 0400 I hope y'all don't mind me using this forum to get some stuff out.
I dragged myself into the doors of AA in September of 1987 (ya 23 years ago). Have been through some very rough times over the years, deaths, breakup of 14 yr relationship, job losses, bankruptcy etc. No matter what was thrown at me I knew that I didn't have
to drink over it, all I had to do was work the steps, go to meetings, and pray like Hell.
Fast forward to present. I am 52 yo, I have two pre-reqs left before I (hopefully) start ADN clinicals in August 2011. I am still clean from alcohol, pot, Rx drugs. What I can't comprehend is how two years ago I got addicted to huffing aerosol video head cleaner. THERE I SAID IT!!
The last sentence is incorrect, I know exactly how it happened, I just never thought it would happen to me (slight ego problem). I quit working my program, pretty simple. [now come the excuses] I was 29 yo when I entered an outpatient program, my therapist there informed me that I must deal with my sexuality if I was ever going to get and stay sober. Fortunately I lived in a city with a very active GLBT AA community, they took me in, loved me and with their support and God's love for me I began a great journey towards being a sober, pretty well adjusted gay man.
Three years ago I moved to a small town [bible belt] to help care for aging parents, my previous career had fell apart with the decline in the housing market and the depression. I went to a few meetings when I got here, with my resentments of having to move and loose my friends and my meetings nothing stuck.
Yes my life has become unmanageable. This little habit is costing me $140.00 a week (I make $8 as a security guard at night while in school), I am on the verge of getting kicked out of my parents home and I just received a notice from school that I have been administratively withdrawn from my English class for attendance [required for NS] I am going to my first NA meeting Monday, I just had to do something towards recovery NOW. Thanks for listening.
"Willpower vs. disease" is a needless distraction that wastes a lot of time and energy on a distinction that accomplishes nothing.
For those uncomfortable with the word "disease," you can substitute the word "condition." Some people are born with the innate tendency to crave alcohol and become dependent on it with little provocation. Others may have begun life with less susceptibility, but choices over time have rendered them unable to easily walk away from a drink or ten.
The vulnerability is a given. Whether it existed genetically from birth or developed gradually is moot. Once it's there, it's there and the person doesn't have a choice about whether or not to feel the pull any more than a block of iron can resist magnetic attraction.
The desire, the craving, the pull--that's the condition (aka disease).
No amount of willpower can enable a person to decide not to have the condition. You don't get to decide you won't have the desire or the craving. You do get to make choices about how you will manage your life with the condition. And even this is incredibly difficult for many.
AA may not be the right solution for everyone, but it has helped so many to get honest and be accountable to others who understand the corroded thinking and mental games that precede the destructive choices. To call it a cult is to impugn an organization that has done an incredible amount of good simply because it doesn't fit everyone.
I see the "condition vs. willpower" debate as about as useful as asking people if they walk with their right foot or their left. You can probably cover some distance using either one exclusively, but you can travel a lot farther if you use both together.
In practical terms, this means that addicts of any kind must come to terms with the fact that they have a compulsion (condition or powerful inclination) to use. And non-addicts need to respect the intensity of that compulsion and not just tell them to "knock it off."
AND addicts have to humble themselves to a future of radical honesty and a lifetime of one small choice after another (willpower) if they want to live. And non-addicts need to understand that absent the support and inspiration and relentless accountability of knowledgeable others, many will not be able to keep their eyes on the prize and will falter.
The compulsion to drink and drug IS a powerful force that goes far beyond choice. But, having identified the compulsion, choices matter greatly. And having a network of people who have already navigated these waters (and know the excuses and the terror) can make the difference between recovering and falling apart.
If AA is not helpful to you, by all means, look for some other method. But please, let's not spend any more time attacking something that is a positive force for change for millions of people.
Time to return to the original topic, supporting a brother in his quest to achieve and maintain sobriety.
Last edit by rn/writer on Dec 20, '10