PP 34-37 More About Alcoholism (Jim goes out)

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS
User avatar
Karl R
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3701
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:06 pm

PP 34-37 More About Alcoholism (Jim goes out)

Post by Karl R » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:29 am

Good Morning,

I remember my first day in a meeting room anxiously trying to spot the words to the serenity prayer on the wall as it was recited by all but me. Just for today it holds a special place in my heart.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."


I've posted today's reading below. Yesterday's reading continued to pound away at the powerlessness of the alcoholic over alcohol.

Today's message reinforces the message yet again. Insanity is continuing to drink when we know the eventual result may be death. I am an alcoholic. That's OK but I can't drink even one drink. That one drink will continue the insanity.

Anyone care to share ES and H on their own insanity (lack of proportion and inability to think straight in regards to alcoholic drinking)?

in peace,
Karl

For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. Many of us felt that we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it - this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.
How then shall we help our readers determine, to their own satisfaction, whether they are one of us? The experiment of quitting for a period of time will be helpful, but we think we can render an even greater service to alcoholic sufferers and perhaps to the medical fraternity. So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux of the problem.
What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink? Friends who have reasoned with him after a spree which has brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon. Why does he? Of what is he thinking?
Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim. This man has a charming wife and family. He inherited a lucrative automobile agency. He had a commendable World War record. He is a good salesman. Everybody likes him. He is an intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for a nervous disposition. He did no drinking until he was thirty-five. In a few years he became so violent when intoxicated that he had to be committed. On leaving the asylum he came into contact with us.
We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we had found. He made a beginning. His family was re-assembled, and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had lost through drinking. All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life. To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened. He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in a serious condition. He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family for whom he had a deep affection.

Yet he got drunk again. We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened. This is his story: "I came to work on Tuesday morning. I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned. I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious. Then I decided to drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car. On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar. I had no intention of drinking. I just thought I would get a sandwich. I also had the notion that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which was familiar for I had been going to it for years. I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober. I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk. Still no thought of drinking. I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk.
"Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another."
Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!
Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else?

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5270
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Post by avaneesh912 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:56 am

Karl, you are amazing, in such a short time, you have made tremendous progress. In most meetings, when we talk about "being restored to sanity", people always talk about the crazy stuff they have done before or while they are drunk. After listening to Joe and Charlie tapes, i understood the meaning of insanity: lack of proportion and inability to think straight in regards to alcoholic drinking (wow what a definition).

My counselor challenged me to stay off liquor for a month. I happily took that challenge. I was drunk on day 31, the reason i gave her, i had a body ache so i thought a drink would soothe the pain. She asked me why I didn't think of pain-killer?

I am told this story is put to show that we need to work all the steps on a daily basis: Later on they will tell us Spiritual life is not a Theory we have to life it.

"but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life."
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

Mike O
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3209
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:55 am
Location: UK

Post by Mike O » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:59 am

I've lost count of the number of times over the years when I've been sober for a few weeks and I've decided - "oh, just to break the monotony lets have a few beers tonight and tomorrow stop again. You've done it before , you can do it again. Giving up isn't that hard....!!"

....only to find myself suddenly six months later at my wits end through constant hangover, pain, anxiety, paranoia and struggling to get a foothold in sobriety again.

Yep, it's insanity right enough.

-Mike

User avatar
martin08
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 606
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:37 am
Location: Western Maine

Post by martin08 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:30 pm

.... and when I stopped drinking, the insanity didn't just stop with it.

I was still obsessed with porn. My thinking - "This will make me feel better." It didn't.

I was still obsessed with relationships - "I know if I just spy on my estranged wife, the information I yield will win her back." I was never so wrong.

When my solutions finally came to a dead end, I was beaten into reasonableness. It took an extra six months. But the insane ideas that 'won out' did stop, right where they were supposed to - halfway through the ninth step and the promises came true.

dwelling
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:12 pm

Post by dwelling » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:12 pm

Hi,
Not only is alcohol cunning , baffling and powerful. But I learned in Jims story that the mind of the person who is powerless over alcohol(step one), can't handle the insane idea, when it comes at us suddenly, vaguely and with reassurance.

"Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not." Jim was of this "type" of alcoholic; he had the obsession plus allergy.

He was one of us.

dwelling, "For a while they would be their old sweet selves, only to dash the new structure of affection to pieces once more. Asked why they commenced to drink again, they would reply with some silly excuse, or none."

Oliver
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 908
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:01 am

Post by Oliver » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:34 am

I had the same experience as Martin... when I stopped drinking my insanity continued - my behaviour and thinking was at times worse when I didn't drink and didn't have a programme than when I drank!

Two parts of Jim's story I love - the first is the line "Suddenly the thought crossed my mind". If only I had a dollar for every time a thought suddenly crossed my mind. When I was drinking, I acted upon nearly all thoughts that suddenly crossed my mind. I was without mental defence against the first drink. The thought would suddenly enter my head that a ridiculous, self-destructive and insane course of action was the next indicated thing to do - and seeking instant gratification, I would do it immediately. The programme has helped me to realise that thoughts are not things I have to identify with: just because I have a thought does not mean I have to act upon it. Thoughts are not equivalent with action for me today. The old saying that you cannot think yourself into a new way of acting but you can act yourself into a new way of thinking helped me to focus on doing the right thing (not drinking, serving, and working the steps as - in my case as guided by my sponsor)

The second is the line Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. This is the inevitable outcome for us who are of alcoholic persuasion - asylum or mortuary or both. Remembering the terminal nature of untreated alcoholism helps me to redouble my efforts of the programme.

I think the key to the story lies, as others have noted, with the line "he failed to enlarge his spiritual life". My own experience is that hanging around the fellowship is not enough - unless action is taken and a spiritual awakening had as a result of the steps, the likelihood of drinking again is high. Might not know the day or the hour, but it's very likely to happen and it's most likely coming when it's least convenient with the most to lose. And the results could be fatal.
Oliver
"In exchange for bottle and hangover, I have been given the keys to the kingdom."

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5270
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:40 am

This is his story: "I came to work on Tuesday morning. I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned. I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious.


The JC crew ask "What were you doing all day Monday, Jim?".
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

dwelling
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:12 pm

Post by dwelling » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:52 am

Jim's relapse story is in the big book to give an example to the alcoholic reader something to identify with. In so doing so myself, I was able to sort of come to a realization, for the first time, that my starting drinking was not something I had power over. I went passed the line into insanity when it came to the first drink and any thought processes I might have were insane concerning it.

Jim did no drinking until he was thirty-five ? I have yet to meet anyone in AA who started drinking that late in life and went to pieces so quickly. It sounds like he had the physical allergy immediately and the mental obsession soon after.

dwelling,"God has either removed your husband's liquor problem or He has not. If not, it had better be found out right away."

dwelling
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:12 pm

Post by dwelling » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:20 am

avaneesh wrote:The JC crew ask "What were you doing all day Monday, Jim?".

Jim was probably hanging out with Bill W. on monday, "reviewing carefully what had happened" the last time he got drunk.

dwelling, "Under these conditions we naturally make mistakes."

User avatar
Blue Moon
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3676
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New Jersey

Post by Blue Moon » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:20 am

Jim's story is worthy of careful analysis, up to the point where he orders a whiskey (not much point analysing beyond that, because the insanity has kicked in).

Jim is physically sober. He comes to work irritated, has "a few words" with the boss of an outfit he used to own (sounds like a resentment right there), and drives out into the country to try and sell a car.

Talk about "restless, irritable and discontent". This guy is not in a fit spiritual condition. In such a frame of mind, the choice to walk into a bar he used to frequent, even on some pretext of a sandwich and finding a customer, is already setting up the scene for a drink.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5270
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:40 am

The words/sentences in italics are very important:

Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sense I was not being any too smart, but I reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another."

The story also illustrates the insane thinking that goes through the mind of an alcoholic (that it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach). After he takes the first drink the allergy kicks in and he tries another.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

User avatar
bowlerdawg
Forums Contributor
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:34 pm
Location: triad, nc

Post by bowlerdawg » Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:29 am

so iwas reading my BB in ch3 and here comes jim

the very 1st paragraph of the chapter said something like none of us wanted to admit we were alcoholic or that we were diffrent in mind or body from our fellows, and that hit me today for some reason.

yeah im like that i don't want to admit that either, but its the truth about me.

as i was reading about jim something else ( 2 things ) hit me.

1 we are the same age, and i too had numerous relapses since december.
amongst other similarities.
2 that " all went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life "

i know that if i don't get real w/ God and life that i am destined to repeat my past.

why, after a time, that all is going well do i struggle with my sprituality
i.e. why do i feel compeled to run the show myself ?

i have struggled w/ this probably my whole life

for a time i have no problems letting God have top billing, but inevatably i say everything seems ok, and thanks God I got this now.............

i always end up running head long into the same brick wall, and back to surrender, and defeat.
First of all we had to quit playing God, it didn't work

User avatar
avaneesh912
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5270
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Post by avaneesh912 » Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:04 am

I heard a speaker say 1 thru 9 gets you into the room. 10 and 11 let you stay in the room. if you don't do the deal every day, you get shoved back out of the room.

Step 12 keeps you out of your mind.

Remember selfishness and self-centered-ness is the problem.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

User avatar
jujub
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 143
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:40 am
Location: southeastern wisconsin

Post by jujub » Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:21 am

morning everyone,

probably the best example of insanity in my life came when i lost a fantastic job that i had had for 10 plus years. i loved the organization and what i did. but it got in the way of my drinking. my first reaction to becoming unemployed was a tremendous sense of relief. i could finally drink in peace--nothing would get in the way. never mind that i had no income or job prospects. life was good because i could do what i desperately wanted to do on a daily basis. my solution to my little economic crisis? take all my money out of my retirement fund and become a professional gambler. everything i had worked for was gone within the year. i found myself back in a long term treatment center. the day i was released i was drunk again. shortly thereafter i found myself with a revolver at my head, trying to find the courage to pull the trigger. i was drunk the day i was released from the locked psych ward.

god kept me alive in the 10 years since that time. trying every so often to get sober again--having some periods of sobriety--but never really believing i needed to do everything you guys suggested. i still thought i could pick and choose. still thought a new relationship would be the answer. still thought my thinking was the answer. but inevitably the thought would occur to me that a drink was a perfectly logical activity to engage in. and i had no defense for that thought. i was doomed to act on it because me, myself and i was my higher power. i wasn't living the principles of this program on a daily basis. it was only going to be that one beautiful spring day. that was 18 months ago. today i have 3 weeks sober. i have a higher power today--vague as it has been especially over the last couple of days. but i know in my heart that my hp is keeping me safe as long as i do my part. i do need to do what you guys do. i am one of you today. part of the herd. thanks for all you share--it's a big part of my recovery today.

judi, alcoholic

User avatar
Karl R
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3701
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:06 pm

Re: PP 34-37 More About Alcoholism (Jim goes out)

Post by Karl R » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:52 pm

It's a rainy afternoon here so I thought I would take a pass at the story of Jim in the Big Book.

The story illustrates several things about alcoholism. Jim took his first drink at the age of 35. Being a moderate drinker-Jim takes drink. Then alcoholism comes along and the drink takes a drink(allergy or craving)....then drink takes Jim(obsession). Jim ends up powerless over alcohol. By his own admission he was one of us. By his own admission his life was unmanageable.
To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened. He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in a serious condition.
and
He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family for whom he had a deep affection.
Despite a sincere desire to be sober and a sincere attempt at abstinence spurred along by self evalutation and the helpful analysis of other sober alcoholics Jim finds himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. The insane idea that he can drink like a gentleman wins out. Why?
He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!
Despite Jim's best thinking and the support of other sober friends Jim continues to end up drunk. Why? The clue is in this simple passage....
All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life.
Jim was able to sustain short periods of physcial sobriety under his own will power. The restless, irritable, discontent phenomena which Dr. Silkworth speaks of in the Dr's Opinion required that he do more to achieve lasting recovery. More is needed.

As Dr. Bob said to Bill W. on their first meeting (BB p. 155)
When our friend related his experience, the man agreed that no amount of will power he might muster could stop his drinking for long. A spiritual experience, he conceded, was absolutely necessary,


Durable recovery of mind, body, and spirit required more then self analysis and the support of a few sober friends. It required enlarging his spiritual life. Replacing selfishiness-self centeredness with something better. The twelve steps offer a solution to Jim's lack of proportion and inablity to think straight in regards to alcohol. They offer a pathway which the alcoholic can take to enlarge his/her spiritual life--a spiritual experience.

cheers,
Karl

Post Reply