Thursday, June 2, 2011
"Frothy Emotional Appeal Seldom Suffices"
While such comments are undoubtedly well-intended, and are of some limited benefit to the new member who is beginning to work the 12 Steps, they do little, if anything, for the still-suffering alcoholic - be they newcomers wondering how they can possibly stay clean and sober, or old-timers who are going through one of the curve balls life throws.
"Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices," we read in the introductory "Doctor's Opinion" section of the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous. "The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have substance and weight. In nearly all cases," we read, "their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives."
Bill W. once observed that there was nothing original in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous - i.e., in the Twelve Steps themselves - and that the only thing that was unique to A.A. was the ability of one alcoholic to relate to another alcoholic and his or her experience in depth.
Let's face it, there is quite often a great sense of relief when the alcoholic addict cleans up and sobers up. If he or she has not hit a low bottom, life rapidly becomes "better" almost solely because one is no longer drinking and/or drugging. Initial sobriety, itself, can therefore seem to be recovery itself. (This initial relief is sometimes referred to as a "pink cloud.") But, "the problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind," and the still-suffering (or yet-again suffering) alcoholic needs (a) identification with his or her state of mind, (b) assurance that others have experienced and lived through the mental crisis he or she is facing, and (c) precise directions as to how others have recovered from the same mental distress he or she finds themself in.