By Chris Freeman
From the text, Alcoholics Anonymous, There is a Solution – page 20.
“You may already have asked yourself why it is all of us became so very ill from drinking. Doubtless, you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking – “What do I have to do?” It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done.”
Oh yea, THE BOOK. The book that was first published in 1939, and has for the most part been left unchanged from its first printing. I often have been amazed at how this book describes my life. The good and the bad and the ugly. It is as if the authors and contributors had some kind of crystal ball, a magical ability to reach into time and see me as I struggled through my addiction and then as I found the release and freedom that I now have today.
In the first printing, they included a forward to the content.
In the introduction to the actual content they have written this –
“We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”
For the majority of people who claim to be living in this recovered state, the “Big Book” and the 12-step program of recovery, are the standard for which we use to encounter the process of change. The change as being recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body. In 2017 the number of alcoholics, who once were doomed but now live free have grown into the millions.
Recovery is almost anywhere you look and every day in our “modern” world, utilizing today’s technology, addicts and alcoholics reach out for release and freedom. As I personally understand and comprehend the above-mentioned quote, “to show other alcoholics precisely”, is that the directive is to help show others, again, “precisely” how I recovered.
In fact, showing others how we have recovered, is the fundamental basis for the entire 12-step recovery program. Using the standard of the “Big Book” I offer this for your consideration. –
Doctor William D. Silkworth was the leading physician at Town’s Hospital where Bill Wilson, the co-founder and author of the “Big Book” was being treated for severe alcohol dependence.
Just a quick side note for those of us that failed to “stay sober” the first time – Bill Wilson was in the hospital for the third time. All his previous attempts at “staying sober” failed, he found it to be impossible.
The Doctor was asked to write two short letters for the first edition of the book. In the first letter he describes his experience with Bill. –
“In the course of his third treatment he, (Bill), acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise will still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered.” Page XXI Doctor’s Opinion BB, 4th Edition
WOW! Did the good Doctor just say that this guy Bill, had an idea that just might help?
He sure did.
So, here we have Bill Wilson, still in process of detox, approaching the Doc with the idea of “helping others”. That’s crazy right? An alcoholic having an idea that may help other alcoholics.
In the Doctor’s second letter he again speaks of Bill Wilson and his “Idea”. –
“Many years ago on 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 amazing.” Page XXIII Doctor’s Opinion BB, 4th Edition
For many of us, the idea that we could help anyone seems inconceivable and out of reach. How could someone like myself with such a torrid history of failed attempts at life and sobriety be able to help anyone? Like Bill Wilson, I am one of those guys that just could not “stay sober”.
My history was that of 31 years, in and out of sobriety, over and over and over again.
The book describes me well, and I have personalized the quotes as they had applied to me.
I used my gifts to build up a bright outlook for my family and myself, I then pulled the structure down on my head by a senseless series of sprees.BB There is a Solution, p. 21
This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as I knew it – this utter inability for me to leave it alone no matter how great the necessity or wish. BB More About Alcoholism, p. 34
I am unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. BB A Vision For You, p. 152
I was told by many, well-intentioned people; “You can’t help anyone, you can’t even help yourself.”
How did I go from a hopeless drunk, unable to sustain sobriety, unable to live life successfully, and transform into a man, clean and sober, free from dependence and free from the compulsion to drink and drug every time my back was against the wall? How could I have a life with all the purpose, meaning and passion that it now has? My answer is simple.
A good friend of mine told me once,
“If you want something you never have had, you must do something you never have done.”
I had been toting the “Big Book” around for many, many years. I spent hundreds of days actually reading from the “Book”. It had been with me the entire time of those years I had been struggling and repeatedly falling down on my own sword. Dying slowly and painfully for all to see. The answer was in black and white, written in a book that was published in 1939. How could this book have any kind of answer to my problems?
In my next essay I will continue this story of how I did something that I had never done in the previous years of my struggle with drugs and alcohol.
I hope that you find it revealing and informative so that you might ask yourself, “Have I done those things?”