XXVII-XXVIII The Doctor's Opinion (Unmanageable Life)

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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XXVII-XXVIII The Doctor's Opinion (Unmanageable Life)

Post by Karl R »

Good Day,

Dr. Silkworth starts his second letter today. I've posted the first page below. He states that the subject of the BB is of 'paramount importance' for those of us with alcoholism.

The 'moral psychology' that the doctor refers to here is often called 'a spiritual solution to our problem' In my own case I was powerless over alcoholism. Under my own power I was free and obsessed to continue taking that first drink (and subsequent 8 beers/day) until I died. It was only after I found a spiritual solution which included my HP that I was free to not drink that daily first drink.

The doctor introduces us to Bill W., a patient in his care who found that telling his own alcoholic story to others like himself was critical to maintaining his own sobriety. The doctor affirms the 'power that pulls us back from the gates of death.' That is a HP that those of us who work the steps and BB find in our own way and then start recovery.


Does someone want to give their personal experience, strength and hope about that last paragraph of today's reading as relates to craving, the allergy which we all suffer from, and how it relates to their problems 'piling up'

in peace for today,
Karl


The doctor writes:

The subject presented in this book seems to me to be of paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic addiction.

I say this after many years’ experience as Medical Director of one of the oldest hospitals in the country treating alcoholic and drug addiction.

There was, therefore, a sense of real satisfaction when I was asked to contribute a few words on a subject which is covered in such masterly detail in these pages.

We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception. What with our ultra-modern standards, our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our synthetic knowledge.

Many years ago one of the leading contributors to this book came under our care in this hospital and while here he acquired some ideas which he put into practical application at once.

Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to tell his story to other patients here and with some misgiving, we consented. The cases we have followed through have been most interesting; in fact, many of them are amazing. The unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive, and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field. They believe in themselves, and still more in the Power which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death.

Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit.

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.
Last edited by Karl R on Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:16 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by martin08 »

For myself, the problems that piled up are summed up in the immediately preceding phrase, my 'reliance upon things human' left me in charge of a solution. Bad idea.
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Post by Oliver »

Hi guys, thanks for your service Karl in putting up these daily readings. It is always good for me to review the opening chapters of the BB.

Problems piling up - well, there's a lot I could write about the specific problems, but as the BB says selfishness, self-centredness was the root of all my troubles.

When I read the description of the early AA's in today's reading, I realised exactly how selfish I can be:- "The unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive, and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field. They believe in themselves, and still more in the Power which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death.

As a drinker I had no concern for anybody else, except where to have concern for somebody else was useful for me and my drinking. I had no faith in myself, no concern for community and no motivation to do anything except where there was personal profit. I was like the actor that is mentioned in the big book who also tries to be the director, the lighting etc... and when another person didn't do exactly as I wanted - that was a perfect excuse to wreck my life a bit more.

Coming to AA, and working the steps with my sponsor has forced me to take responsibility for my actions and for my part in the troubles of my life. I continue to struggle with selfishness, but I have definitely made progress from the darkest of my days. Although I feel I have pulled myself out of hell inch-by-inch, when I look back at how things were, I have actually come miles in a relatively short time. I am so grateful that my sponsor, AA, and God, had faith in me at a point in my life where I had no faith in myself.
Oliver
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Post by jujub »

i can relate to oliver's comments regarding having no faith in himself. that certainly describes my feeling today. i don't have faith in me, aa, god or anything for that matter. i'm just doing as i'm told, getting phone numbers, getting to a meeting today, and trying to get involved in the forum.

i feel like i'm gritting my teeth, digging my heels in and waiting to prove to you all that it won't work. it doesn't seem to be the company line here, but it is where i am at. i know i'm a hopeless alcoholic. i just don't know about a solution.

judi
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Post by jak »

Judi,

Honesty helps. And you have been honest with us today. Thank you.

jim k
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Post by Oliver »

Hi Judi...

Nice to hear from you. Glad that you shared where you are with your recovery. Don't feel that you have to tow the 'company line' - this is a programme of honesty and if individuals are having honest difficulties with the programme it is better to talk about them (and hopefully put some action in to changing them) than to just ignore them and hope they will go away. I remember in the early days for me it felt like it was the hardest thing in the world to be in a room full of AA's who are happy, joyous, free and laughing when the last thing in the world I feel is happy/joy/free. The reality, of course, is that alcohol will never make the situation better - it will only make things worse - and that my best bet of staying away from alcohol is in the programme of alcoholics anonymous.

If you are alcoholic, the solution is the programme of AA - it has worked for hundreds of thousands of alcoholics just like you. Whenever you are in a meeting of AA you can see the results of the programme. I too had difficulty with this - I felt like I was unique. My sponsor described me as 'terminally unique'. I was absolutely convinced that the programme wouldn't work for me because I thought I was very difference and far worse and more insane than any other member. How wrong I was!

Like you I pretty much did what I was told because I was desperate not to drink. I too go phone number, but I was never much good at using them. I am always amazed how glad people in the fellowship are to receive my phonecalls... I felt like nobody would want to hear from me or that I was wasting people's time... little did I know that I might have been keeping somebody sober.

Let us all know how your journeys in sobriety go!
Oliver
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Post by Karl R »

jujub wrote:i feel like i'm gritting my teeth, digging my heels in and waiting to prove to you all that it won't work. it doesn't seem to be the company line here, but it is where i am at. i know i'm a hopeless alcoholic. i just don't know about a solution.

judi
Judi,

Again for the second time today-welcome here.

Ditto everything Jak and Oliver have said.

My own experience-I think back to July 16th of this year and I was hopeless, and depressed and nothing was every getting better after 26 years. Trust me-there is a solution-we'll work on finding that together with everyone here and a higher power's help. I know that there is a solution because today I am sober and every day gets a little better.



Sorry about the madness I created here and in your life today.

cheers for today,
Karl
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Post by jujub »

hi guys,

alcohol is definately my master. it rules my thoughts on a daily basis, and when i decide to drink again--forget about it. i can not stop. physical problems, emotional turmoil, inability to function without the use of alcohol. i haven't been to the grocery store except to buy booze in weeks. my house is in disarray, bills not paid, i can barely get to work. and sometimes i don't. i have sores in my mouth, my liver is distended, i shake and sweat and shiver. my skin crawls. when i drink, i have no use for a toothbrush, soap, shampoo. i black out every time i drink. bruises all over my body. wanting to die. and the only thing i can think of is a drink will cure this. i'll stop tomorrow. but tomorrow never seems to come.

every time i think aa, god, grace is out of my reach--it's my disease talking to me. keeping me in it's ever strangulating grip. i'm trying to replace those thoughts with, why not me? why am i so different that i would not be entitled to the same freedom so many others have found? no, it certainly will not happen overnight. i am very sick and that realization is hitting home for me. like a ton of bricks these last few days. i believe in my heart and soul i am dying from this disease. god help me stay sober.

judi, alcoholic
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Post by ann2 »

Well, a friend used to say, "Don't drink. It's the only start I know." Putting the plug in the jug, as it's also called. White-knuckling it.

For me, it was without any support beyond daily meetings, but for many it involves medical care. As Karl quotes above, "Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit."

I don't have to preach. You know how awful it is. And so do I. Making that phone call when I had the thought to drink was tough but not as bad as actually drinking.

My sponsor would call that a "no-brainer", meaning I wasn't to use my brain at all. If I wanted to drink, I was to call someone, and not allow my brain to make any comment at all. So the calling replaced the drinking. I didn't want to drink more than I didn't want to call.

Keep coming back, Judi.

Love, Ann
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Post by Karl R »

Judi,

I committed a fatal flaw with this reading. I posted this part of this reading in today's thread.

"These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.(dr's opinion)"

That's where you're at.

I should have included this next bit along with what is above. But I broke it off at a bad place. This next bit points at where I found that I needed to be headed very early in my sobriety.

Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives. (Dr's opinion)

What!!!? you say-I don't even have food in the fridge!---You've got to get grounded in a power greater then yourself if you hope to recreate your life. I knew very early on that I couldn't white knuckle it for long.


Now---something from another poster in a later thread.(Thanks Jak).

I was told that there is a Higher power and I tried to believe, then, after a time, I did believe.

Tap into a power bigger then yourself. If it worked for us it will work for you. You will be amazed at what you are worth to your higher power. Your HP cares for you. Each day that you're sober is a demonstration of that care and your HP's active work in your life.

Karl
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Re: 08/23/2008 BB The Dr's Opinion xvi-xvii (unmanageable li

Post by RichInRecovery »

Karl R wrote: The doctor writes:

... that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all

This is something I have to keep in mind. When all else fails for me, I go back to Step 1 and start over again. I have the phenomenon of craving and I am not the average temperate drinker. I have been sober 11 months now. My disease is baffling and cunning. It wants me to forget. I have been coming to believe in a power greater than myself, but I'm not there yet.

In early sobriety all I could do was go to meetings and listen. I stopped drinking and my head started to clear. I still had problems, but I was able to think about them, pray about the things I could not control (which was most of it) and have the courage to make the changes I needed to make for my life to get better.

The concept of "progress not perfection" has helped me greatly. I don't have to work these steps perfectly, just to the best of my ability. When I get involved in AA and try to work my program, I stay sober. As an alcoholic, I want to rule the world, but today all I need to do is not drink and I'm on my way to a better life.

I hope this helps someone. It has helped to keep me sober today.

Rich
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Post by Karl R »

Thanks for being with us this evening Rich.

You've helped me today :) .

Karl
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Post by KC.Chowd »

jujub wrote: i have sores in my mouth, my liver is distended, i shake and sweat and shiver. my skin crawls.

why am i so different that i would not be entitled to the same freedom so many others have found?
I edited your post a bit, sorry.
I also had sores, my liver was biopsied 2xs, I shook so badly that I was unable to hold a full glass of any liquid without spilling it. I also had open sores all over my body from the untreated Psoriasis. Untreated because my liver function was so bad the Psoriasis medication would have killed my liver, and me shortly after that.

I have just over 1 year of sobriety and my liver functions are actualy good, I can take the Psoriasis medication and I am free of sores completely.

I finaly just surrendered, came to believe I was powerless over alcohol and my life was unmanageble. In what some call weakness (surrender) I found strength. A strength like I have never posessed before.

I got a sponsor, I called other AA's when I thought of the drink, I went to lots of meetings and I tried to help other alcoholics even though I was white knuckling it myself.

But most of all I got to Step 3 and I decide to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him. The thing I was told I needed to understand the most is that "There is a God and I aint it".

I will pray that you find a way to not pick up a drink tonight, just like I do for myself everyday.

There is GENIOUS in the Big Book, read it then read the 12x12, then read My name is Bill, then read Came to believe, then read Sponsorship, the relationship of Fr. Eddie Dowling & Bill W.

Just read something everyday that teaches you how people, wrecked people like you and me get sober and live sober.
Go to a meeting everyday and don't pick up a drink between meetings. And while your doing all that ask for help, then help another alcoholic.

But please, keep your mind open to the concept of a higher power, because until I truly found my concept of a HP I just kept committing suicide one drink at a time.

Good luck
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Post by jujub »

hi all,

i don't know how to insert quotes into the text, but suffice to say i appreciate all of your experience, strength and hope. thank you.

i never thought i would sink to these depths. i never thought i could be so sick--physically and mentally. not to mention so cut off from goodness and grace. i always thought i would stop drinking before the consequences became too great. too unmanageable. i've experienced worse externally, but this sickness inside overwhelms me, and scares me.

this is my third day without, and more than anything i wanted to stop and get a drink. somewhere, anywhere. i even thought about knocking on my neighbors doors asking them if i could buy some liquor off of them. too late to buy any from the store. god i want a drink to quiet my mind, quiet my shaking. it's better than wednesday, but it hasn't gone away as it usually did.

i got out of my car and looked up at the sky. there were a zillion stars visible, not a cloud in the sky. all of a sudden a shooting star whizzed by. i have never seen one before. i thought, what else have i missed? and could i be wrong about my future? could i actually live a sober life?

you people tell me it's possible. i don't really believe it, but i want to believe it. maybe, like jak, someday i will believe. what if i am wrong? what else am i missing in this life? and why not me,too?

thanks for listening,
judi--alcoholic
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Post by avaneesh912 »

its the 10th step promise: (bottom of page 84)

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

=================================================

i was told, if i follow the instructions, when i get here, i can be a free man.
i am living this promise. like Martin pointed out in another message, like God, booze is every where.. but i don't have to be scared.
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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