MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM
1. While this is the third chapter in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, it is the first chapter that specifically discusses what we need to do to take one of the Twelve Steps.
2. The first two chapters in the Big Book, "Bill's Story," and "There is a Solution," were written years before the rest of the Big Book. They were used as part of the original fund raising efforts, and present an overall view of the program.
3. This chapter, "More About Alcoholism," is the first chapter that contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelve Steps.
4. It contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working Step One.
5. We are going to read and discuss the contents of this chapter. This is part of the process of absorbing the pioneers' program and philosophy.
6. Later, in Part 2 of R.A.'s Step Presentation, we will put what we learn here into practice, and formally go through Step One.
7. The title of this chapter, Chapter 3, is "More about Alcoholism."
8. This infers that the preceding chapters have already given us information about alcoholism, and this chapter is going to give us more information.
9. We are now going to learn more about the pioneers' program and philosophy by starting with the first paragraph.
10. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the first paragraph says:
"Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his liquor drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death."
11. The pioneers went to great lengths to make clear the difference between the "real alcoholic" and the "moderate," or "hard" drinker.
12. A "real alcoholic" has lost the power to choose if they will drink or not. They are beyond "human aid." Other people cannot help them. They cannot even help themselves.
13. This book was written for the "real alcoholic," the person who has lost the power of choice in their life.
14. The pioneers tell us that most of them were unwilling to admit that they were "real alcoholics." Even today, it is very difficult for most people to admit that they've lost the power of choice. They are hesitant to admit that they are not like most so-called normal people.
15. Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to keep trying to hold on to the illusion that they will someday be able to control their problems and behaviors.
16. If they admit that they have lost the power of choice, they begin to feel hopeless. Yet that hopelessness, the recognition that they are powerless, is the very foundation that the entire program is based on. That's what the next paragraph talks about.
17. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the second paragraph says:
"We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, had to be smashed."
18. So-called normal people don't need to work a Twelve Step program in order to behave sanely and normally.
19. There is the saying that there are two types of people in the world: those who have the program, and those who need it.
20. There are obviously some people who instinctively seem to go through their lives without the compulsions or insanity that we've experienced.
21. However, experience has shown that many of these people are simply putting on a show. When their lives can be examined closely, it can often be seen that their calm outward appearance does not reflect the reality of their lives.
22. So lets look at the terminology the pioneers are using here. They say that they "had to fully concede to [their] innermost selves" that they were not like so-called normal people.
23. They are not saying that they could make do with the halfhearted admission that they sometimes had a problem. This paragraph makes it easy to see this distinction.
24. They then say that admitting powerlessness "is the first step in recovery." In other words, this is the First Step in the Twelve Step Program of Recovery.
25. They then use very strong wording to strip away any last vestige of the hope that we might still have some control, or might one day get control back.
26. They say, "The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, had to be smashed." Notice the strength of their wording. They say the delusion has to be "smashed."
27. As strongly worded as this is, they apparently felt it was not strong enough. They therefore reemphasize their thoughts in the next paragraph.
28. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the third paragraph says:
"We alcoholics are men and women who had lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovered this control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals — usually brief — were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better."
29. The pioneers take this opportunity to again state that they have "lost the ability to control" their problems and behaviors.
30. They then state that no "real alcoholic ever recovered this control."
31. The "moderate" or "hard" drinker may still be able to control their problems or behaviors. However, the "real" alcoholic does not have any control left, and will never get control back.
32. They go on to say that all of them sometimes had the illusion that they were getting some control back. However, these brief times were always followed by periods of even less control.
33. This paragraph introduces the concept of a "progressive illness." They conclude that when left to their own resources, a "real alcoholic" continues to get sicker, not better.
34. Of course, the "real alcoholic" is not left to his or her own resources. They have the fellowship, and the Twelve Step program.
35. It is obvious that a "real alcoholic" who does not come into the program, and fully work all Twelve Steps, is going to continue to get worse, not better.
36. However, while there is a progressive illness, there can also be a progressive recovery.
37. If we focus on our problems, if we analyze them, if we dissect them, if we talk about them, if we insist on trying to solve them using our non-existent willpower, we often find that we progress deeper into our problems.
38. On the other hand, when we come into Recoveries Anonymous, work the Twelve Steps, turn around and start focusing on the solution, discussing the solution, working the solution, living in the solution, carrying the solution to those who still suffer, we start to progress into the solution. We do get better!
39. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the fourth paragraph says:
"We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it evidently hasn't done so yet."
40. A normal drinker is someone who does not have to work the program. They do not have to be concerned about alcohol. They do not have to worry about going to extremes. This will never be the case for somebody who, as the Big Book describes, is a "real alcoholic." They will never be able to return to so-called normal drinking.
41. This is also true of those with other problems or behaviors.
42. A normal person doesn't have to do anything to eat sanely and normally. Someone who has been compulsive with food may begin to eat sanely and normally, but only if they continue to maintain a fit spiritual condition through work and self-sacrifice for others.
43. A compulsive person, no matter what their problem or behavior may be, must continue to work the program in order to maintain their sanity. They can then behave sanely and normally.
44. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the fifth paragraph says:
"Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore non alcoholic. If anyone, who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right about face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!"
45. The pioneers' experience was that many "real" alcoholics did not want to believe that they had lost the power of choice, that they had lost the ability to choose if they would drink or not.
46. Once again the pioneers are emphasizing the difference between the "real" alcoholic, and the "moderate," or "hard" drinker.
47. If someone who has not been able to control themselves, can "prove themselves to be exceptions to the rule," and suddenly control their drinking, then that would be terrific.
48. However, understanding this point is often difficult. This is because in many other Twelve Step programs, people often share that they have regained control, and they often say that they have done so without working all Twelve Steps.
49. Now we can understand that they are most likely the "moderate," or "hard" drinkers that the Big Book describes. They have not yet lost the power of choice.
50. This next paragraph is very important. While you are reading it we suggest that you try mentally substituting some of the things that might apply to your own problems or behaviors. For example, food, drugs, or gambling.
51. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the sixth paragraph says:
"Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, consulting psychologists, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums — we could increase the list ad infinitum."
52. If your problem relates to food, you can, for example substitute: eating certain types of food only, limiting the number of meals, never eating alone, never eating in the morning, etc.
53. You can do this for any problem or behavior. All of these methods are simply trying to control someone's behavior. This will not work for someone who has lost the ability to control his or her problems or behaviors.
54. As we read back in the third paragraph on page 14, the pioneers tell us that, "All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals — usually brief — were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization."
55. Therefore, they are telling us that none of these techniques, even if they sound good in theory, are a real solution.
56. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 14, the seventh paragraph says:
"We do not like to brand any individual as an alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It will be worth a bad case of jitters if you get thoroughly sold on the idea that you are a candidate for Alcoholics Anonymous!"
57. In this paragraph, the pioneers say that they "do not like to brand any individual as an alcoholic." This policy is sometimes not followed in some meetings of other Twelve Step programs.
58. The pioneers then go on to say that someone can "quickly diagnose" themselves by trying "some controlled drinking." If someone can control their drinking, they are not the "real alcoholic" the program is designed for.
59. However, if someone cannot control their drinking, they will prove to themselves that they are powerless. Sometimes, someone needs to do this in order to become convinced that they have lost the power to choose. This experiment will help them to give up the last vestige of the belief that they can still control themselves.
60. Next we are going to read another of the "personal narratives" that the pioneers describe.
61. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 15, the first, second, and third paragraphs say:
"Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time. We have heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite signs of alcoholism, were able to stop because of an overpowering desire to do so. Here is one.
"A man of thirty was doing a great deal of spree drinking. He was very nervous in the morning after these bouts and quieted himself with more liquor. He was ambitious to succeed in business, but saw that he would get nowhere if he drank at all. Once he started, he had no control whatever. He made up his mind that until he had been successful in business and had retired, he would not touch another drop. An exceptional man, he remained bone dry for twenty five years, and retired at the age of fifty five, after a successful and happy business career. Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has — that his long period of sobriety and self discipline had qualified him to drink as other men. Out came his carpet slippers and a bottle. In two months he was in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated. He tried to regulate his drinking for a while, making several trips to the hospital meantime. Then, gathering all his forces, he attempted to stop, and found he could not. Every means of solving his problem which money could buy was at his disposal. Every attempt failed. Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly, and was dead within four years.
"This case contains a powerful lesson. Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally. But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty. We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If you are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday you will be immune to alcohol."
62. This story focused on the thinking of someone, sober for years, who starts drinking again.
63. Here is someone who was able to have an extended period of abstinence or sobriety. However, all this did was give them the illusion that they had the power to control what they did or didn't do. This shows the importance of convincing someone that they are powerless, and they need to turn to the program, to the spiritual solution, or they are doomed.
64. There are some alcoholics who do occasionally take a drink. That may be their direction and guidance.
65. However, if that is their direction and guidance it must be with the understanding that they are alcoholic, and that alcohol is poison to them.
66. They must never think that they are immune to alcohol. They must understand that there is no way that they can sit down and drink like a so-called normal person. This is true with any problem or behavior. They need to accept that they will always need to work the Twelve Step program. They will always need to maintain a fit spiritual condition through work and self-sacrifice for others.
67. Sometimes they have to do a certain behavior. For example, no one can stop drinking entirely. They would die. No one can stop eating entirely. That would be insane, and they would also die.
68. So what we are looking for in Recoveries Anonymous is to be restored to sanity. We want a sane range of behavior, with the insane extremes removed, not necessarily the behavior in its entirety.
69. For example, a compulsive gambler, who wants to stop gambling, needs the program in order to be restored to sanity. However, it is impossible for someone to live his or her life without taking chances. They take a risk every time they get out of bed in the morning. They are taking a chance every time they walk across a street, or get into a car.
70. Someone cannot live a normal life without taking chances. Therefore, the program is designed to work so that only the destructive extreme of their behavior will be taken away.
71. Now let's look at an alcoholic. Someone, who used to drink rum and Coke, doesn't usually stop drinking Coke because they are afraid that drinking a soft drink will set them up for a binge.
72. Someone who used to drink Scotch and water does not usually stop drinking water. That would be insane. So an alcoholic does not stop drinking. They work the Twelve Step program so they can be restored to sanity and no longer hurt themselves or others by getting drunk.
73. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 15, the fourth paragraph says:
"Young people may be encouraged by this man's experience to think that they can stop, as he did, on their own will power. We doubt if many of them can do it, because none will really want to stop, and hardly one of them, because of the peculiar mental twist already acquired, will find he can win out. Several of our crowd, men of thirty-five or less, had been drinking but a few years, but they found themselves as helpless as those who had been drinking twenty years."
74. In other words, someone can lose the power of choice and become a "real alcoholic," at any age.
75. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 15, the fifth paragraph says:
"To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time, nor take the quantities some of us have. This is particularly true of women. Potential feminine alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years. Certain drinkers, who would be greatly insulted if called alcoholic, are astonished at their inability to stop. We, who are familiar with the symptoms, see large numbers of potential alcoholics among young people everywhere. But try and get them to see it!"
76. The Multilith Big Book was written in 1939. The number of women, and young people in the program has gone up dramatically over the decades.
77. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 15, the sixth paragraph says:
"As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year. If he is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success. In the early days of our drinking we occasionally remained sober for a year or more, becoming serious drinkers again later. Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic. We think few, to whom this book will appeal, can stay dry anything like a year. Some will be drunk the day after making their resolutions; most of them within a few weeks."
78. Anyone who has been in program for many years will tell you that they quickly lost count of all the other members who celebrated first anniversaries that never turned in second or third anniversaries.
79. We are back to the concept of there being different kinds of people attending the same meetings of the same fellowship.
80. The "moderate," or "hard" drinker can work a very different program than the "real alcoholic." They may be able to moderate or stop without going through the Twelve Steps. They may stay sober, abstinent, or clean from drugs, for a year or more.
81. However, if they have not worked all Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," eventually their spiritual illness progresses. Whatever reason they've used is no longer sufficient to keep them sober, abstinent, or clean from drugs. Their brief recovery is "followed always by still worse relapse."
82. There is an interesting line here. The pioneers say, "We think few, to whom this book will appeal, can stay dry anything like a year."
83. The reality is that the Big Book has no appeal for the "moderate" drinker or the "hard" drinker. They are not interested in what it says. They'll put it down as being dated or sexist. The pioneers' "clear-cut directions" will have no application in their lives because they're not the person this book was designed to appeal to, the "real alcoholic."
84. If they understand the true nature of the problem, "moderate" or "hard" drinkers, can and do decide to work the Twelve Step program. They can do this even though they have not yet progressed into being a "real" alcoholic.
85. However, this often does not happen. This is because these people have the illusion that since they have some control now, they will always be able to control their problems and behaviors. Many people who still are exercising some control cannot really admit that they are powerless to the extent that the program requires. But, there are some people who can and do have that awareness.
86. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 15, starting in the bottom paragraph it says:
"For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a non spiritual basis depends somewhat upon the strength of his character, and how much he really wants to be done with it. But even more will it depend upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. Many of us felt that we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it — this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish."
87. Now we are addressing the "real" alcoholic. This passage makes it clear that the Big Book and R.A.'s program are for those who have lost the power of choice. Recoveries Anonymous is for those who find it "impossible" to stop "upon a non-spiritual basis." The Big Book and R.A.'s program are for those who can't stop themselves no matter how much character they may have, and no matter how much they have the "urge to cease forever."
88. Notice that in this paragraph, the pioneers do not say that it is hard to stop, or difficult to stop. They say that even though they had a "tremendous urge to cease forever," they "found it impossible" to stop.
89. The pioneers are very clear about this point. They emphasize it and re-emphasize it. They do not just say the "inability" to stop. They say, "this utter inability to leave it alone no matter how great the necessity or the wish."
90. Understanding this paragraph frees people from the guilt they felt because they blamed themselves for not stopping. They often beat themselves up because they thought they were lacking the character they needed to stop. They had the desire to stop, but thought they were bad, or wrong, or that they didn't do something right.
91. Now they know that they are simply powerless. They understand that it is impossible for them to stop on a non-spiritual basis. They have learned that "this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish," is the symptom of their spiritual malady.
92. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 16, the first full paragraph says:
"How then shall we help our readers determine, to their own satisfaction, whether they are one of us? The experiment of quitting for a period of time will be helpful, but we think we can render an even greater service to alcoholic sufferers, and perhaps to the medical fraternity. So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux of the problem."
93. The pioneers are now asking how they can help us decide if we are a "real alcoholic." This is what they mean by "one of us."
94. They say that the experiment of stopping for a while might help. However, almost every alcoholic, overeater, addict, or gambler, etc., is able to stop at some point in their life, at least for a while.
95. The crux of the matter is the answer to an important question. Why does somebody who is sober, abstinent, or clean from drugs, etc., perhaps for an extended period, suddenly start hurting themselves or others again?
96. Obviously it cannot be the first drink that causes someone to take the first drink. We have already read the answer to this question earlier in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 10, in the seventh paragraph, it says, "Therefore, the real problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body."
97. We are now going to read another of the "personal narratives" that the pioneers describe.
98. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 16, the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs say:
"What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink? Friends, who have reasoned with him after a spree which has brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy, are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon. Why does he? Of what is he thinking?
"Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim. This man has a charming wife and family. He inherited a lucrative automobile agency. He had a commendable World War record. He is a good salesman. Everybody likes him. He is an intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for a nervous disposition. He did no drinking until he was thirty five. In a few years he became so violent when intoxicated that he had to be committed. On leaving the asylum, he came into contact with us.
"We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we had found. He made a beginning. His family was re assembled, and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had lost through drinking. All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life. To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened. He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in serious condition. He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family, for whom he had deep affection.
"Yet he got drunk again. We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened. This is his story: 'I came to work on Tuesday morning. I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned. I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious. Then I decided to drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car. On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar. I had no intention of drinking. I just thought I would get a sandwich. I also had the notion that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which was familiar, for I had been going to it for years. I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober. I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk. Still no thought of drinking. I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk.
"Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk, it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured, as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another.'
"Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk."
99. In the third paragraph of this story, we want to point out that the pioneers say that when they first met Jim, "We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we had found." In other words, they didn't just tell him about the problem, and have him identify with the problem, they also told him about the spiritual solution they had found.
100. The pioneers continue by saying, "He made a beginning." They don't say Jim went through the entire process. They say he merely made a beginning. Then they say, "All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life."
101. The pioneers do not explain how someone can enlarge their spiritual life at this point in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. However, back on page 7, in the first paragraph, they tell us, "For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that."
102. If someone is not familiar with this passage from page 7, they might think that the pioneers were criticizing Jim for not going to church enough, or not praying enough, etc.
103. While these things may all be true, the pioneers are saying that Jim drank again because he did not "enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others."
104. When we enlarge our spiritual life through "work and self-sacrifice for others" we will be able to survive any trials and low spots we may encounter. We will not go back to hurting others or ourselves.
105. Remember what Bill Wilson told us in his story. On page 7 in the second paragraph, he says, "I was not too well at the time, and was plagued by waves of self-pity and resentment. This sometimes nearly drove me back to drink. I soon found that when all other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day. Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet. It is a design for living that works in rough going."
106. Bill Wilson was plagued by waves of self pity and resentment that nearly drove him back to drink. But when all other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day.
107. In other words, when Bill was plagued by waves of self pity and resentment, when he was thinking about drinking, he didn't say, "well I have nothing to give, I'd better isolate myself and wait till this passes before I try to help anyone."
108. Instead, he said, "I'm in a bad place, but I can get past it if I find someone I can work with." Then he got off his backside and went to Towns Hospital to work with a newcomer.
109. It is important to understand this distinction. Even the first paragraph of the chapter "Working With Others," in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 41 says, " Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure your own immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other spiritual activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are fatally ill."
110. In other words, working with others is a spiritual activity. Doing this gives us immunity from hurting others and ourselves.
111. Working with others is an important part of the recovery process. Someone can begin to work with others right away. They do not have to wait until they complete the rest of the Twelve Steps.
112. To make the importance of working with others clear, let's look at the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, pages 1 through 13 present an overall view of the program.
113. Then, pages 14 through 40 present the "clear-cut directions" for working Steps One through Eleven. Finally, pages 41 through 76 contain the "clear-cut directions" for working the various aspects of Step Twelve and the results we can expect from doing this.
114. Think about this; the pioneers took 27 pages to discuss their "clear-cut directions" for the first eleven steps, they took 36 pages just to discuss the various aspects of Step Twelve.
115. The entire discussion of Step 6 is in one paragraph. The entire discussion of Step Seven is also in one paragraph. The entire discussion of Step Eight is in four sentences.
116. Then the pioneers take 36 pages to discuss Step Twelve.
117. We think that this makes the importance of working Step Twelve, to someone's recovery, crystal clear.
118. To accent this point, let's remember what we read in "Bill's Story." Bill was alone in Akron. He was broke. His friends had deserted him. He didn't know how he was going to pay the hotel bill. He was pacing the hotel lobby. At one end of the lobby was a bar; at the other end was a directory of churches. Bill thought about going into the bar and finding some companionship. He thought that he might drink some ginger ale.
119. Then a miracle happened. For the first time Bill thought of others. He thought about all the people who might die if he went into that bar and started drinking. He though about what would happen to others if they were never able to find what he had found.
120. That thought caused Bill to go to the directory of churches. He started making the calls that eventually led to his meeting with Dr. Bob.
121. It's important to note that even though Bill didn't find someone to work with that night, the effort of trying to find someone, kept him sober.
122. Sometimes we are not in a position where it is possible for us to stop what we are doing and work with someone. We may be at work, or at a social function. We may be with our significant other. We cannot drop what we are doing, and go off to find someone to work with.
123. However, you may remember the following quote that we read earlier. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 9, the fourth paragraph says, "Our very lives, as ex-alcoholics, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs."
124. It does not matter if we are at work, at a party, or with other people. It does not matter if we are not able to call someone to work with, or go someplace to meet someone. This is because we can always turn our thoughts to someone we can help. It is always possible for us to do this.
125. Recoveries Anonymous does not expect someone to drop what they are doing, or ignore their responsibilities and obligations. R.A. does not expect someone to leave work and perhaps get fired.
126. The program simply expects us to "resolutely turn [our] thoughts to someone [we] can help."
127. Then, when we are able to do so, we can actually find someone to talk to, or work with, as the case may be.
128. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the first paragraph says:
"Whatever the precise medical definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else?"
129. In R.A., our goal is taken from the Second Step, which says, "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
130. There's a prerequisite for coming to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We first have to admit that our past behavior has been insane.
131. This is why, when asked to quote the Second Step from memory, most people will say, "Came to believe in a power greater than myself."
132. They think the second step simply has to do with believing in some kind of Power greater than him or herself. Some people even use a light bulb, a tree, or even a bus as this Power.
133. However, they ignore the second half of the Second Step. The main point of the Second Step is to come to believe in a very specific Power. It has to be a Power that will "restore us to sanity."
134. This means that first of all, they have to admit that his or her past behavior has been insane.
135. The Second Step makes absolutely no sense unless someone can see that his or her behavior, up until that point, has been insane.
136. That's why the second part of the Second Step does not register with them. That's why they don't discuss it.
137. They understand that a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, can never restore them to sanity.
138. Therefore, they solve this problem by simply ignoring the part of the step that talks about being restored to sanity.
139. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the second paragraph says:
"You may think this an extreme case. To us it is not far-fetched, for this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of our group. Some of us have sometimes reflected more than Jim did, upon the consequences. But there was always the curious mental phenomenon, that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened."
140. We think it is important to note that the pioneers say that insane "thinking has been characteristic of every single one of our group."
141. Yet, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, in the third paragraph, they were still able to state that, "The tremendous fact for every one of us [is] that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer alcoholism."
142. So, even though "every single one" of their group had insane thinking, they were able to "discover a common solution," that they could "absolutely agree" upon.
143. If someone doesn't recognize that their behavior has been insane, how can they come to believe that a Power greater than themselves could restore them to sanity?
144. The pioneers keep on stressing this point. However, it's not a point that is easy for many people to accept. That is why the pioneers use the rest of this chapter to convince people that their behavior, up until this point, has been insane.
145. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"The pioneers sharing that their 'sound reasoning failed to hold [them] in check,' along with them saying that, 'The insane idea won out' really helped me. I was able to accept that I had been doing the best that I could.
"The last time I was hurting myself, I called other people hoping they could somehow stop me. So there is a part of me that felt sane because I recognized the consequences of my actions.
"However, I also beat myself up because I was not able to stop myself. There was a part of me that was just driven to continue hurting myself regardless of the consequences. Some trivial reason always won out and I continued hurting myself.
"Then, I would beat myself up for failing to make the right decisions. I thought that I somehow still had a choice in it. I thought that I just wasn't doing enough.
"But, the pioneers are showing me that my behavior was insane. I now understand that all I was doing was proving that I'm powerless!"
146. When someone can't stop him or herself, when they can't control their problems or behaviors, all they are doing is proving the basic premise of the program.
147. They are proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that their behavior has been insane, and that they are powerless. They are proving that they need to work the Twelve Steps so God can restore them to sanity and do for them what they can't do for themselves.
148. If someone had the power to stop him or herself, they would have.
149. The insane actions someone takes are not choices; they are the symptoms of our spiritual malady. They are obsessions that dominate our thinking, followed by compulsions that force us to act on our insane thoughts.
150. For example, a "real alcoholic" can no more choose not to drink, than someone can choose to stop breathing. If someone tries to hold their breath, they may succeed for a while. Some people can hold their breath for several minutes. However, eventually the compulsion to breathe becomes so overpowering that they just have to take a breath.
151. Many people do not understand the term "compulsion" in this way. They do not understand that they are as powerless over the compulsion to hurt others or themselves, as they are to stop breathing.
152. They do not understand that they cannot will themselves to stop their problem or behavior, any more than they can will themselves to stop breathing.
153. However, there is a solution. Someone can work all Twelve Steps of R.A.'s program, develop a conscious contact with a loving Creator, who will restore them to sanity and do for them all those things they have not been able to do for themselves.
154. The pioneers now go on to give example after example of what we have been talking about.
155. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the third paragraph says:
"In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like. But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. We now see that when we began to drink deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation, of what the terrific consequences might be."
156. So here the pioneers go on to tell us that deliberately deciding to hurt others or ourselves is a sign of insanity. Sane people don't deliberately decide to hurt others or themselves.
157. If someone knows that something is going to hurt other people or themselves, and they decide to do it anyway, that's another indication that they're insane.
158. Again, sane people don't usually do things to hurt others or themselves. Sane people almost never deliberately decide to do things to hurt others or themselves. That's why in R.A., our goal is to work all Twelve Steps so God can restore us to sanity.
159. Sometimes, someone may feel justified in hurting others or themselves. While it may, in some cases be normal to have this feeling, acting on it, and trying to justify hurting others or themselves is insane.
160. Let's go to an extreme to understand this point. If someone had a fight with a loved one; they would be insane to get a knife and stab their loved one, or themselves in their hand.
161. Thinking about doing something, is very different from actually doing it. As we work the Twelve Steps and are restored to sanity, we sometimes think of doing things, perhaps even obsess about them. However, the compulsion is removed. By God's grace we do not act on our thoughts.
162. R.A.'s experience is that many newcomers from other fellowships have read this next paragraph many times. However, R.A.'s experience is that most of these people have never read it in context, with the understanding we now have. By the way, this is another of the personal narratives.
163. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the fourth, fifth, sixth paragraphs say:
"Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap, having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital, a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
"On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce, he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jay walking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he?
"You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay walking, the illustration would fit us exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It's strong language — but isn't it true?"
164. The pioneers use this story as an example of the insane thinking they have been discussing.
165. This story also makes it clear why the R.A. program is not limited to one problem or behavior. R.A.'s goal is to work all Twelve Steps so God can restore us to sanity in every area of lives.
166. When we take the limitations off of what we are working the program for, we find that God can solve all of our problems.
167. Remember, the Second Step does not say that they came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sobriety. The Second Step does not say that they came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to abstinence.
168. If the pioneers wanted the program to have one of those limited goals, then that is what the Second Step would say.
169. However, the pioneers recognized that sobriety and abstinence are the results of being restored to sanity, just like alcoholism and compulsive overeating, gambling, etc., are the symptoms of the spiritual malady that has caused us to behave insanely.
170. That is why working a physical program will not work for the "real alcoholic." Going to ninety meetings in ninety days, or going into rehab, are not going to work unless they are also working all Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
171. The pioneers are trying to get people to admit that their behavior has been insane. They are not saying that someone is a bad person, morally reprehensible, or incompetent.
172. They are simply trying to get people to admit that they are powerless, and that their behavior has been insane.
173. They are trying to convince people that if they could simply change their behavior because they wanted to change it, or because they swore off, or because they promised not to do it anymore, they would not be a "real alcoholic." They would not need to work the Twelve Steps to find a spiritual solution. They would not have lost the power of choice. They would not be powerless.
174. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the seventh paragraph says:
"Some of you are thinking: 'Yes, what you tell us is true, but it doesn't fully apply. We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves so well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again. We have not lost everything in life through drinking and we certainly do not intend to. Thanks for the information.' "
175. Many of the meetings in other programs think the solution is to educate people. They believe that if someone knows their so-called trigger points, and the people, places, and things that might set them off, they can just avoid them.
176. These meetings, in other programs, believe that if someone learns about themselves and the inner-workings of their minds, they are not going to hurt other people, or themselves, again.
177. There are also endless self-help books, endless workbooks, and endless recordings of discussions that are designed to give us more knowledge of ourselves. The theory seems to be that the more we know about the people, places, and situations that contribute to our problems and behaviors, the easier it will be to avoid them.
178. Their premise seems to be that all of this knowledge will somehow give us back the control we have repeatedly demonstrated we no longer have.
179. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 17, the eighth paragraph says:
"That may be true of certain non alcoholic people who, though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies have not been warped and degenerated as ours were. But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and reemphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience. Let us take another illustration."
180. So here the pioneers are again making clear the difference between the "non-alcoholic," the "moderate," or "hard" drinker, and the "real" alcoholic.
181. They are saying that those who are not "real" alcoholics may be "able to stop or moderate," their behavior based on what they have learned about themselves. They may be "able to stop or moderate," without fully working all Twelve Steps of our spiritual program of recovery.
182. However, they then tell us that the "real alcoholic," here called the "actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge."
183. We think it is very important to note that the phrase "absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge" in this paragraph is underlined in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, and italicized in the current Big Book.
184. Therefore, it does not matter how hard a "real alcoholic" works to obtain their self-knowledge. They will still be "absolutely unable to stop" because of this self-knowledge.
185. We also think it is important to understand that as much as they emphasized this point by underlining it, and italicizing it, the pioneers did not think they made their point strongly enough.
186. They continue by saying, "This is a point we wish to emphasize and reemphasize."
187. However, even this was not strong enough for them. They then state that this is a point that they want "to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience."
188. Look at what the pioneers are saying and how they are saying it: "Absolutely unable to stop...a point we wish to emphasize and reemphasize…to smash home upon our alcoholic readers."
189. So this point is underlined, italicized, emphasized, re-emphasized and smashed.
190. We believe that this means we cannot doubt the importance of what they are sharing in this paragraph.
191. Then they add the icing on the cake. They tell us that this point "has been revealed to us out of bitter experience."
192. The fact that a "real alcoholic" cannot stop on the basis of self-knowledge was not revealed to them in a dream. It was not something they imagined, or wished for. This fact was learned through years of their actual "bitter experience."
193. To continue making their point about self-knowledge, the pioneers share another personal narrative. We are going to read most of the story before commenting on it.
194. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 18, starting with the first paragraph and continuing all the way through the bottom paragraph, it says:
"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 is so attractive a personality that he makes friends with everyone. If ever there was a successful businessman, it is Fred. To all appearances 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 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, but I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again. I somewhat 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 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, 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 its 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 that 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."
195. The pioneers told Fred about their "spiritual remedy." However, Fred could not admit that he was an alcoholic. He was sure that "self-knowledge" would fix his problem.
196. However, he was "absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge." The pioneers he had talked to, had correctly prophesied that he had an "alcoholic mind." He was a "real alcoholic," and he drank again.
197. Fred learned that "will power and self knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots." He had to admit that he was "hopelessly defeated." He knew then that he was powerless.
198. We are now going the read the final four paragraphs of Fred's story.
199. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 19, starting with the first full paragraph, and continuing through the fourth paragraph, it says:
"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 medical 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."
200. Let's look at the contrast between the first part of Fred's story, and these four paragraphs.
201. First, they did everything they could, gave him all the information they had, to convince him that he was a "real alcoholic," and could not stop on a non-spiritual basis. They failed.
202. However, they did not give up. Once Fred had proved to himself that he was a "real alcoholic," once he could admit that he could not do the job himself, they were there for him.
203. They continued to share with Fred until he admitted he was hopeless. "Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully"
204. Remember how Ebby had introduced the program to Bill Wilson by describing it as having two parts: "a simple religious idea, and a practical program of action."
205. Now, the pioneers also describe the program to Fred as having two parts, "the spiritual answer and program of action."
206. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the "simple religious idea," or the "spiritual answer" is described as a personal God, who is love, superhuman strength, and understanding, who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
207. The "practical program of action" is now called the Twelve Steps.
208. It is important to understand the "simple religious idea," because as we have seen, it is the foundation upon which taking the Twelve Steps rest. Someone who does not understand, or at least know about, the "simple religious idea," is going to have a very difficult time working the Twelve Steps.
209. Now the pioneers expand the goal of the program by having Fred share, "Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems."
210. Fred now understood that the program was not intended to just focus on his alcoholism. The program in not designed to only work on one problem. This says that the program would solve all Fred's problems.
211. Fred continues by saying that his entire life had changed. He says that as the result of working the program, his new way of living was infinitely more satisfying, and hopefully useful, than the life he had before.
212. While it is true that Fred's story speaks for itself, because of all the distortions that have occurred over the years, we now find it beneficial to add the comments we have been making.
213. Over the years since Fred's story was written, people who have attended meetings in other programs, have been conditioned to believe that the only purpose of the Big Book is for them to identify with the problems described in it.
214. Therefore, they have a hard time taking what the Big Book says at face value. They have a hard time seeing the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." They have a hard time seeing the positive results the pioneers tell we will get from working the Twelve Steps.
215. In fact, in other programs today, in some meetings, they tell newcomers that they must do the job themselves. They tell them that they must control their problems or behaviors before they can begin to work the Twelve Steps.
216. The theory is that someone has to be clear minded in order to understand the program. This sets up a paradox. How can someone successfully moderate or stop their problems or behaviors, and then be able to take the First Step and admit that they are powerless.
217. We just read Fred's story. How clear minded could he have been when the pioneers talked to him? However, once he was convinced that he was powerless, once he could see that his behavior had been insane, once the last flicker of conviction that he could do the job himself had been snuffed out, he began to work the program. He recovered.
218. Fred's story ends by saying that "most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really can manage to solve their own problems."
219. In other words, many alcoholics have to really hit bottom before that are convinced that they are powerless. Once they are convinced that they cannot stop on their own power, that self-knowledge is not the answer, they can begin to work the Twelve Steps. They can develop a conscious contact with a loving Creator.
220. Then God can enter their lives, restore them to sanity, and solve all of their problems.
221. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 19, the fifth paragraph says:
"Most doctors and psychiatrists agree with our conclusions. One of these men, staff member of a world-renowned hospital, recently made this statement to some of us: 'What you say about the general hopelessness of the average alcoholic's plight is, in my opinion, correct. As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from Divine help. Had you offered yourselves as patients at this hospital, I would not have taken you, if I had been able to avoid it. People like you are too heartbreaking. Though not a religious person, I have profound respect for the spiritual approach in such cases as yours. For most cases, there is virtually no other solution.' "
222. Now the pioneers try to validate what they have written. They tell us that, "Most doctors and psychiatrists agree with [their] conclusions."
223. They then quote Dr. Silkworth, who wrote the Doctor's Opinion, which is in the front of R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
224. Dr. Silkworth then confirms his opinion that alcoholics are "100% hopeless, apart from Divine help." In other words, the "real alcoholic" is beyond human aid. They need to work the program so they can find God and recover.
225. Dr. Silkworth ends up by saying that for "most cases, there is virtually no other solution" than the "spiritual approach" used by the pioneers.
226. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 19, the last paragraph says:
"Once more: the alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power."
227. Once again they are talking about the "real alcoholic." They say that he is powerless, and has no "effective mental defense." He is beyond human aid. No other human being can stop him from hurting others, or stop him from hurting himself.
228. Because there are no "musts" in the Twelve Traditions, there is the popular misconception that there are no "musts" in the Twelve Steps or in the program.
229. This paragraph disproves this by giving us one of the most important "musts" that are in the program. It says that a "real alcoholic's" defense "must come from a Higher Power."
230. This happens by admitting we are powerless, and working all Twelve Steps, by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. When we do this, we can get all of the results the pioneers promise.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.