"Now and then," we read in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous, "a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, "I don't miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time." As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn't happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to manage life either with alcohol or without it. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end."The usual result of "white-knuckling" sobriety is thus, usually, relapse with all the suffering that causes. Hopefully, but far from certainly, that may mean a lesson learned and the "white- knuckling" alcoholic addict will return to the fellowship of A.A. (or a sister organization) and begin working the 12 Steps anew, this time being "fearless and thorough from the very start." Unfortunately, that is the best scenario.
[Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 152-153.]
There are a certain number of "white-knucklers" who find themselves "at the jumping-off place" and do, in fact, jump. They may do so either after drinking some more or, shockingly, even in sobriety. Of the "Four Horsemen" Bill describes, "Despair" can be the most deadly. Ask any old-timer whether they have known anyone with long-term sobriety who, having failed to take the 12 Steps or haing drifted away from the fellowship and work of A.A., has taken their life, and chances are he or she will probably be able to tell you the story of some deceased friend.
Let's face it. None of us is, or will be perfect. But if we do not do the work that is suggested, or if having gone once through the Steps we fail to do the daily work that is required for the maintenance of our spiritual condition, we will inevitably fall into one of these groups. None is safe, all are deadly. Only the amount of suffering and pain absorbed and inflicted varies from case to case.
How to avoid these perils? "Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of the past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit. . . May God bless you and keep you - until then."
[Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 164.]