PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred 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
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Karl R
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PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred goes out)

Post by Karl R » Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:06 am

Good day all,

Running way late today but pausing for a word of prayer now.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

I've posted today's reading below in red. It is the story of Fred-dear to my heart.

Yesterday's reading left us with the thought that the potential or real alcoholic sometimes spends years saying "that's not me" when they bother to think at all about their drinking. I know that was me.

In today's story we find Fred in this position. Fred has a fine life but does have a little problem. A drinking problem. Fred does the spin dry several times but continues to step out rather then start the steps. Eventually a hopeless Fred ends up on an impromptu tour of the US-seeing America by blackout. Doctor's pronouce him hopeless.

For today's homework---We have hopeless Fred who has no sense of proportion or inability to think straight about alcohol. At the end of the story this is Fred

"I have since been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before. My old manner of life was by no means a bad one, but I would not exchange its best moments for the worst I have now. I would not go back to it even if I could."

What happened?


peaceful today,
Karl


Fred is partner in a well known accounting firm. His income is good, he has a fine home, is happily married and the father of promising children of college age. He has so attractive a personality that he makes friends with everyone. If ever there was a successful business man, it is Fred. To all appearance he is a stable, well balanced individual. Yet, he is alcoholic. We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. It was his first experience of this kind, and he was much ashamed of it. Far from admitting he was an alcoholic, he told himself he came to the hospital to rest his nerves. The doctor intimated strongly that he might be worse than he realized. For a few days he was depressed about his condition. He made up his mind to quit drinking altogether. It never occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so, in spite of his character and standing. Fred would not believe himself an alcoholic, much less accept a spiritual remedy for his problem. We told him what we knew about alcoholism. He was interested and conceded that he had some of the symptoms, but he was a long way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself. He was positive that this humiliating experience, plus the knowledge he had acquired, would keep him sober the rest of his life. Self-knowledge would fix it.
We heard no more of Fred for a while. One day we were told that he was back in the hospital. This time he was quite shaky. He soon indicated he was anxious to see us. The story he told is most instructive, for here was a chap absolutely convinced he had to stop drinking, who had no excuse for drinking, who exhibited splendid judgment and determination in all his other concerns, yet was flat on his back nevertheless.
Let him tell you about it: "I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism, and I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again. I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could not happen to me after what I had learned. I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my other personal problems, and that I would therefore be successful where you men failed. I felt I had every right to be self-confident, that it would be only a matter of exercising my will power and keeping on guard.
"In this frame of mind, I went about my business and for a time all was well. I had no trouble refusing drinks, and began to wonder if I had not been making too hard work of a simple matter. One day I went to Washington to present some accounting evidence to a government bureau. I had been out of town before during this particular dry spell, so there was nothing new about that. Physically, I felt fine. Neither did I have any pressing problems or worries. My business came off well, I was pleased and knew my partners would be too. It was the end of a perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon.
"I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner. As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought came to mind that it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. That was all. Nothing more. I ordered a cocktail and my meal. Then I ordered another cocktail. After dinner I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one. I remember having several more that night and plenty next morning. I have a shadowy recollection of being in an airplane bound for New York and of finding a friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of my wife. The driver escorted me about for several days. I know little of where I went or what I said and did. Then came the hospital with unbearable mental and physical suffering.
"As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went carefully over that evening in Washington. Not only had I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against the first drink. This time I had not thought of the consequences at all. I had commenced to drink as carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale. I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come - I would drink again. They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink. Well, just that did happen and more, for what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots. I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow.
"Two of the members of Alcoholics Anonymous came to see me. They grinned, which I didn't like so much, and then asked me if I thought myself alcoholic and if I were really licked this time. I had to concede both propositions. They piled on me heaps of evidence to the effect that an alcoholic mentality, such as I had exhibited in Washington, was a hopeless condition. They cited cases out of their own experience by the dozen. This process snuffed out the last flicker of conviction that I could do the job myself.
"Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be.
"Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems. I have since been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before. My old manner of life was by no means a bad one, but I would not exchange its best moments for the worst I have now. I would not go back to it even if I could."
Fred's story speaks for itself. We hope it strikes home to thousands like him. He had felt only the first nip of the wringer. Most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really commence to solve their problems.

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jujub
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Post by jujub » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:51 am

morning,

"Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be."

i can relate to throwing old ideas out the window. i've stubbornly resisted the idea of a higher power being available to me. of being interested in my little life. i was inherently flawed and doomed no matter what i did. reverse pride in action. until i became willing to believe, i was hopeless. but a moment of clarity--maybe i could have this thing--opened the door to a tiny ray of hope. i am no different, i just need to let go of useless beliefs and become open to new ways of living. all 12 steps are my path to that freedom.

judi, alcoholic

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martin08
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Post by martin08 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:33 am

Judi,

Your last post sound a lot like the sentiment on p.46

Let us make haste to reassure you. We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God.

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Post by ann2 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:34 pm

jujub wrote:morning,

"Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be."
Great quote, judi. "But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. That was not easy." Not easy for sure. I did it only in stages, and only because it was proven to me absolutely beyond a doubt that my way didn't cut it.

I think that proof always has to be individual. But it sure helped me when others pointed out the relevant evidence.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: 9/26/08 BB More about Alc. pp 39-43 (Fred goes out)

Post by Karl R » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:17 am

If you check this thread from yesterday http://www.e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=4889 Martin has given us a great intro to the story of Fred.

Fred was an alcoholic. But he hadn't done the first half of step one; admitted powerlessness over alcohol. Fred saw himself as having some a drinking problem which led to a little unmanageabiltiy in his life. Fred decides to do rehab (or the 30's version of it). In rehab they told him about triggers, the nature of the allergy, and other good information. Fred's doctor even hinted to Fred that he may be a true alcoholic. Unable to stop when he wanted to and/or not in control of the quantity when he was drinking.

Fred left rehab feeling sober and fine. He'd licked his little problem of drink on his own willpower, using bits of the self knowledge that his rehab partners had taught him. His prejudice against powers spiritual would lead to more problems of drink.
I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my other personal problems, and that I would therefore be successful where you men failed. I felt I had every right to be self-confident, that it would be only a matter of exercising my will power and keeping on guard.
and so what happened to Fred? The insane idea caught up with him-he had no effective defense despite great self knowledge and exceptional willpower in other areas of his life. Powerless over alcohol. Relapse.
Physically, I felt fine. Neither did I have any pressing problems or worries. My business came off well, I was pleased and knew my partners would be too. It was the end of a perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon.
"I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner. As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought came to mind that it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. That was all. Nothing more. I ordered a cocktail and my meal. Then I ordered another cocktail. After dinner I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one. I remember having several more that night and plenty next morning. I have a shadowy recollection of being in an airplane bound for New York and of finding a friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of my wife. The driver escorted me about for several days. I know little of where I went or what I said and did. Then came the hospital with unbearable mental and physical suffering.
"As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went carefully over that evening in Washington. Not only had I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against the first drink.
Enter.....two members of AA to 12 step poor Fred. Much like today where we find people coming to alcoholics anonymous with periods of sobreity who have never been 12 stepped. The two members outlined the program for Fred. They outlined the common shared problem of alcoholism and highlighted the 12 step solution they had found. They informed Fred
that spiritual principles would solve all my problems
. They helped him see where his true power and defense could come from.

Fred walked away a free man with his alcoholic obsession removed. Fred lived a new and wonderful life free from alcoholic and came to believe that a power greater then himself could restore him to insanity.

cheers everyone,
Karl

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Re: PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred goes out)

Post by Karl R » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:43 am

On the occassion of Bill carrying the message to Dr. Bob. P. 155

Dr. Bob probably said it best....
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

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Re: PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred goes out)

Post by avaneesh912 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:14 am

For a few days he was depressed about his condition. He made up his mind to quit drinking altogether. It never occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so, in spite of his character and standing. Fred would not believe himself an alcoholic, much less accept a spiritual remedy for his problem. We told him what we knew about alcoholism. He was interested and conceded that he had some of the symptoms, but he was a long way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself. He was positive that this humiliating experience, plus the knowledge he had acquired, would keep him sober the rest of his life. Self-knowledge would fix it.
==========================================================================================================================================================================
Fred could not admit that he is powerless over alcohol (step1) and so would not accept a spiritual remedy for his problem (Step 2). Only those who have gone through the wringer could identify with the experiences laid out in the Big Book. A real alcoholic who fails to admit the powerlessness is bound to slip like we see in the story but then there are people who don't understand the queer mental twist we have developed argue about the disease concept and would not accept the spiritual solution but may remain sober.
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)

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Re: PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred goes out)

Post by leejosepho » Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:22 am

"... a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet ... this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish." (page 34)
Fred ... made up his mind to quit drinking altogether. It never occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so ...

Let him tell you about it: "I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism ... I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but ..."
But, Fred had yet to truly understand chronic alcoholism and to become willing to do what is necessary to have the problem removed. And so:
"... Then came the hospital with unbearable mental and physical suffering.

"As soon as I regained my ability to think ... I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come - I would drink again."
That is our deal, our prophetic experience: Either we have the problem removed or we end up drinking again.
"... what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind."
Even though I did not know those words at the time, I knew that to be true of myself before I ever came to A.A.
"... an alcoholic mentality, such as I had exhibited in Washington, was a hopeless condition ...

"Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully ... pretty drastic ... But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be."
My own experience with permanent recovery is more of the "educational variety" (William James, Appendix II), but the result -- "a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps" (Step Twelve) -- is exactly the same: "Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity." (page 57)
Fred's story speaks for itself. We hope it strikes home to thousands like him. He had felt only the first nip of the wringer [and yet finally came to a point of completely giving himself to this simple program]. Most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really commence to [experience permanent recovery].
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: PP 39-43 More About Alcoholism (Fred goes out)

Post by PaigeB » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:55 am

But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be."
Willingness. Or in my case, willing to be willing. The slightest effort brought relief and became the basis of permanent recovery.
After dinner (and drinks) I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed...
They do not say that Fred was extremely uncomfortable and obsessing on a drink. Having already taken the first fatal one, I KNOW I would have been very edgy and in full rationalization about the "highball before bed" my entire walk! In fact, any alcohol establishment would along the way would have taken my money!
They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink.
We are lucky to have a well established AA in front of us. Back in the days of the first 100 they were still "flying blind". Today I know and utilize the tools of the AA program to stay away from the first drink. Like the story of Jim, who had a "vague sense that he was being none too smart" when he took whiskey in milk, I have learned to follow THAT vague warning (perhaps way before the 1st drink thought) and DO something other than just carry on as usual. Perhaps Fred also felt this nagging sense throughout the wonderful day, (because didn't we drink for both good times & bad?) but he ignored it. If I can come up with a trivial reason, I can come up with a reason to not drink and THAT is the thought I need to focus on.

It works. I am currently suffering through a resentment against a person in the program. If I chose to keep this to myself, I would surely be drunk again. Maybe not today... maybe the next time I pass a bar on the way to dinner. But instead I contacted my sponsor, told a trusted friend in AA, and I am doing what has been suggested to me - pray for that person, read Freedom from Bondage in the BB and get to meetings even though that person is there! Practice love & tolerance. It is hard, but not impossible. I heeded the warning and chose the solution offer by AA.

The tools of the program: sponsorship, Big Book readings, call a home group member, help another person new in the program.... Now AA is everywhere - I can get to a meeting with a Group of Drunks and so is ample transportation and cell phones. There are so many tools available to me. I CAN NOT nurse the thought that alcohol will solve my discomfort - in fact, I must immediately change my thought to one of recovery - I have the tools given to me by AA to keep the first drink behind the bar.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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