Approaching Alcoholics Anonymous as a solution to alcoholism, many alcoholics will balk at the idea that Alcoholics Anonymous provides a spiritual solution. They will claim an inability to believe in God. Alcoholics Anonymous does not apologize for the fact that it takes something bigger than the alcoholic to bring about recovery from alcoholism but its solution is a spiritual solution, not a religious solution.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a broad interpretation of “God” making its way of life available to every alcoholic. “A power greater than yourself” has been offered to those who continue to resist the idea of God. Yet the mental obsession is so strong in some alcoholics they will continue to resist the idea of God even as their alcoholism takes them further and further in to its grasp stripping them of their careers, their family, their friends and often times their life. Self esteem, self worth, integrity, decency, honesty, pride are just a few of the character traits the alcoholic is willing to sacrifice as he clings to his resistance to a spiritual solution claiming an inability or unwillingness to believe in a concept, the concept of a God.
You are remodeling your kitchen. Your contractor has employed the finest wood worker to complete the project. Each day he arrives at your house with his tool kit ready to work. You notice the man has a tool kit filled with semi rusty tools. When you mention it to him, he never really answers directly. He is busy working. His work is good and so you drop the subject.
Imagine this man going home every night and throwing his tool kit on the ground next to the garage. Every night, exposed to the elements, the tools would rust just a little more. Because the process was slow, the man would probably not realize it was happening. Working with these tools had become almost second nature.
Subtly, the tools were becoming a little more and a little more ineffective. The quality of his work might be challenged and he would begin to work harder and with more effort to compensate. And then, seemingly in one day, the tool kit would be totally ineffective. Each tool would be rusted to the point of being unusable. The project is not complete but nothing in the tool kit works anymore no matter how hard the man tries.
The only thing Alcoholics Anonymous asks is that you allow it to provide you with a new set of tools. The cabinet maker would readily turn in his rusty tools for a tool kit of new, shiny tools in order to continue his work. The alcoholic remains skeptical.
This is alcoholism.
It is a physical allergy. The alcoholic’s body has a reaction to alcohol that the social drinker does not experience. It is a mental obsession. The alcoholic’s thinking and perceptions about alcohol differ from those of the social drinker. It is a spiritual malady. The alcoholic’s strategies for living have become as rusted as the tool kit of the cabinet maker.
The man or woman approaching Alcoholics Anonymous looking for a solution to their alcoholism approaches with a rusty tool kit. They bring strategies for living that have been damaged, even if ever so slowly, by alcoholism. Self esteem, pride, self worth, integrity, honesty; all of it has been tarnished by actions and excuses and yet the alcoholic may balk at the spiritual work of the 12 steps. Completing the steps will result in the ideas the man or woman has had about himself being overturned and replaced with a new truth. This seems frightening when one has used every rusty tool in the tool kit to arrive at the place he is standing.
To be doomed to an alcoholic death or live by spiritual principles. This choice is not hidden in the 12 step process of Alcoholics Anonymous. The alcoholic death is described in nearly every meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Members talk of their despair and the incomprehensible demoralization. They talk of a sincere desire to do better, to live better and yet those promises cannot be kept. They dream dreams and plan plans but alcoholism prevents keeping promises. It prevents having a choice. When drinking, the alcoholic must take the second drink. That’s the true alcoholic death.
To live by spiritual principles begins with a simple surrender.
What is the spiritual solution offered by Alcoholics Anonymous? It is a simple formula.
Trust God. The alcoholic has turned to alcohol for a sense of ease and comfort. He continued to drink even when there was no relief found in the bottle. He was powerless to stop or, if he stopped, to stay stopped. Trust that there is a power and, even the most chronic alcoholic, can stay stopped using that power. He simply needs to plug in.
Clean House. Revisit the past with a new perspective. Recognize the stories he came to believe as a child. “I’m no good”, “there is something wrong with me”, “if you really knew me you wouldn’t like me”. Uncover the lies and allow the truth to filter in and fill that hole the wind seems to blow through.
Help Others. Put your hand out to the man or woman approaching Alcoholics Anonymous as a solution to alcoholism and assure them it is a spiritual solution and it is available to them.
Email your questions or topic suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s experience this journey together. You will remain anonymous.