Admission of dependency is first step

By Jeff Cutler

Detection of an alcohol dependency is not always easy, since most people do not seem to know when they cross the line from using alcohol for fun to using it for need.

“Alcoholism is not only a disease of the body, but of the mind and the spirit. It is one of the only diseases known to man where he is the only one who can actually do something about it,” said Jim, not his real name, an Alcoholics Anonymous program coordinator and veteran AA member.

“I got sick of being high all the time. I used (alcohol) for six or seven years before I finally decided to do something about it. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but now I view it as a Godsend,” Jim said.

AA is not a professional treatment program, nor is it a cure. It is a program of total abstinence in which the results completely depend upon the person’s own willingness to stop.

Some dependency and care clinics advertise, “We can help someone who doesn’t want help.” Jim says this is nothing more than a false advertising gimmick used to play on the emotions of the alcoholic’s family. “Alcoholism is a living pattern of not wanting to live life on life’s terms. If you don’t want to get better, you’re not going to,” he said.

The AA program will work only after people admit: they are powerless over their dependency; there is no human power that can relieve their addictions, and that God, in whatever way he is understood by that person, can help if he is sought.

People inflicted with alcoholism do not function rationally—they have no common sense, Jim said. AA works because all people need to have is honesty, an open mind and a willingness to try to overcome their afflictions, Jim said.

“Most professional dependency counselors have learned everything they know from a book, not from actually having the disease. People in AA have already experienced the disease. We understand what the person is going through, and we will do whatever it takes to help,” he said.

The people AA can help are those willing to realize their own personal recovery is directly related to how much they can help others with their afflictions. “When you think you don’t need anything or anyone, you don’t have anything,” he said.

Once in the program, a person is assigned to a sponsor. The sponsor is a veteran member of the fellowship who is there 24-hours a day to help in any way he can. “It is people helping people and expecting nothing in return,” Jim said.

Low self-esteem seems to be a characteristic trait among alcoholics. This often leads people to drink more and more by not wanting to live their lives in an unhappy state of reality. After a while, the physical addiction makes the person experience a never-ending “downward spiral” of not being happy unless they are intoxicated.

AA encourages members to share their feelings honestly with others and have others share honestly with them. “It really helps to raise the person’s low self-esteem by showing them how much they can help others with their same problem,” Jim said.

AA suggests members live their lives by a 12-step list which will lead them on the road to recovery. AA meetings can teach alcoholics how to implement the steps necessary to allow them to become what they want to be in life, he said.

“All AA can do is plant the seed. It is up to the person it is planted in to help it grow,” Jim said.