1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Most people join AA because drinking is no longer fun and they are seeking a replacement for the bar scene. These people are not alcoholics. But when they say, “I am an alcoholic” or “I am powerless over alcohol” they are perpetuating the Myth of Addiction. It is no coincidence that this is the first step of the initiation into the group — a classic brain washing technique.
Now consider the “hard-core alcoholic” for whom this program was designed, and who claim to benefit immensely from it (and who has probably been through several cycles of it). What kind of person were they before they started drinking? Were they morally upright citizens with stable lives before being overpowered by alcohol? Not at all. They were troubled since childhood. Often mental or physical defects are obvious. These are the psychopaths who take refuge in AA when it is convenient and relapse when sobriety no longer appeals. The program has benefitted them immensely. It is a way of life. Sober or drunk, these are dangerous people.
Common phrases heard in meeting:
“Alcohol didn’t do that. I did that.” While literally true, it is morally meaningless, as it directly contradicts the first step. Note how it is uttered sanctimoniously, without a hint of guilt.
“When I stopped drinking I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and I didn’t know how to deal with it.” This is meant to imply a deep urge or craving to drink again. But consider another interpretation: “I lost an excuse to abuse others, and I couldn’t think of any other ways to express my hatred. I feared judgement and revenge from those I abused and this made me uncomfortable.”
“Thank God my mother was there to give me a place to live. Otherwise I would probably be on the street.” This means: “I am punishing my family for real or perceived injustice during my childhood, and by acting like a drug addict I will guilt them into expending all their financial resources on me until they are depleted, even at the expense of my siblings, who must now fend for themselves.”
“I had enough and I realized I needed help.” The alcoholic has seen the detox – recovery – relapse cycle during childhood and is following in his parents’ footsteps. He has been waiting for this moment for years, the opportunity to progress on to the next phase of the addiction. The ensuing hospitalization/treatment is just a drug vacation, and is mined with self-imposed, intentionally impossible expectations leading inevitably to disappointment and relapse. For example: “Now that I am sober, every day is a gift and I am happy just to see the sun rise.”
“I would rather be an alcoholic than a normal person who can control his drinking.” -> “I’m glad I’m not a ‘normal’ person who would have only himself to blame for his behavior.”
“I was really suffering due to my alcoholism.” -> “I was really suffering because I was aging and unwilling to deal with it like everyone else does. (And I was drinking alot the time.)”
“I was always suffering due to repeated hangovers. (But that gave me a good excuse to stay in bed and avoid housework.)”
“I am a fourth generation alcoholic” -> “I am the product of four generations of AA.”
“Despite my drinking I always got to my job on time. Strangely, that was a priority for me.” -> “I always kept my job because I didn’t want to jeopardize the flow of beer money.”
The Myth of Addiction gets it all backwards:
“I got into a fight because I was drunk.” -> “I got drunk because I wanted to get into a fight and hurt someone. Alcohol helps me prepare for battle and numbs the pain of injury.”
“I hit her because I was drunk.” -> “I got drunk because I wanted to hit her. Why? Because she was getting old and unappealing to me, and that made me angry.”
“I am eager to drink because I am an addict and the alcohol will satisfy my craving.” -> “I am excited to drink because I am excited by all the mayhem I plan to cause when I am drunk.”
The Myth of Addiction reverses the causality. “I was a bad person when I was drunk.” -> “I got drunk so that I could freely behave badly.”
“Drugs and alcohol make you do bad things.” -> “Drinking and drugging provide a convenient cover to rebel and hurt others.”
When you hear the phrase “I did ____ because I was drunk” – turn it around. “I got drunk so that I could do ____.”
Amends – the Empty Apology
“I hurt you because my alcohol problem was out of control. I didn’t realize what I was doing.” The true amend is: “I hurt you because I wanted to hurt you. I drank alcohol while doing it because it was a convenient excuse.”
“I stole from you because I needed money for drugs/alcohol.” -> “I stole from you because I wanted to hurt you. Because I’m an addict, you can’t blame me, because it is a disease beyond my control.”
The purpose of doing drugs is not satisfy a powerful craving. The intention of the addict is to cause harm to themselves or others. Despite the prevalent myths to the contrary, drug addicts don’t rob liquor stores for drug money, or whore themselves out for a vial of crack. They were thieves and sluts well before getting into drugs.
Amends make it easy to apologize and relapse
“Defects of character” are normal
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Jealosy, revenge and even sadism are normal human impulses. One does not need alcohol to reveal them, nor must they be “removed” (step 6), as if they are cancers. The alcoholic blames alcohol for revealing what the rest of us accept as human nature and keep in check. Ironically, they take sanctimonious pride in their elevated self-awareness.
Everyone does wrong. When this happens, most of us figure out ways to prevent it from happening again, for example by avoiding certain people or circumstances. The alcoholic, however, is under no such obligation. Instead, he is taught to see this as a character defect to be removed. Repeated offenses are simply evidence that one must pray harder, or self-inventory more carefully. The alcoholic learns that he can commit wrongs repeatedly, as long as they are quickly acknowledged.
As you listen to shares, think about the unspoken truths, and the facts that have been carefully omitted.
– Consider the periods during which weeks, months, years went by without alcohol cravings.
– Consider how one addiction is easily exchanged for another (addicted to addiction).
– Listen for hints as to why they relapsed. Was it true craving or simply boredom? Did they acknowledge any forethought of what could happen?
– Consider attempts to gain sympathy by listing the wrongs suffered during childhood, while omitting the wrongs they committed.
– Listen for details in the description of the amends – are they real? What steps were taken to prevent the behavior from recurring?
For the people who claim to be drug addicts, think about the war that is being fought to protect them. Think of the 20,000 people who were killed in Mexico last year in the drug war, and their families, and the fact that millions of people in formerly peaceful communities now live in fear because of drug-related gang violence and Mexico’s overpowered security forces. Think of the violence in Afghanistan, cloaked in religious fervor, but intended to protect the country’s immense opium trade. Is it worth it?
In general, drugs and alcohol are bad. We do not condone their use. However, people engage in many self-destructive behaviors (gambling, over-eating, skydiving), and this is not illegal. The reason that drugs are illegal is not that they are bad, but because they are addictive. The supposed addictive power of drugs is the justification for the Drug War.
The Myth of Addiction:
– Is used to justify a violent and expensive drug war
– Promotes the cycle of relapse/recovery (like a chronic disease)
– Enables drug use in the misdirected attempt to help or cure the addict of their disease by providing medical and financial support and “love”
– Undermines families by siphoning off resources from the healthy children
– Powers the multi billion dollar substance abuse treatment industry
– Is a modern delusion
AA philosophy is rife with contradiction, double-talk, and magical thinking, which promotes a cycle of relapse/redemption.
Every drink of alcohol is done freely and with one’s full consent and awareness of the consequences.
Before his first sip, the psychopath has already planned out the destruction he will cause.
The best way to help a drug addict or alcoholic is to stop trying to “help” him.