36 years ago today, I began a recovery journey that has resulted in 36 years of continuous abstinence from alcohol and other addictive substances. I share this here not as a tribute to me but as evidence (even though anecdotal) of how use of simple recovery tools can result in long term recovery. Just briefly, my story is of an individual who, back in August of 1977, was a full blown alcoholic in the latter stages of the disease, but who had no idea there was anything called the disease of alcoholism and who, when offered the opportunity to get sober through the 12 Step Program known as AA, rejected that Program because of the emphasis on spirituality, God, or a Higher Power. After about seven attempts at sobriety in AA, with relapses shortly after intensive hospital treatments, I became willing to go to a long term residential treatment program and willing to seek help from a God I didn't believe in, and try to do the 12 Steps of recovery in AA. Where did the willingness come from after a year of resistance to a spiritually based recovery? I can only speculate that exposure to AA coupled with the ever increasing pain and suffering (loneliness, despair, fear of impending doom, plus physical illness from drinking, such as, seizures, cardiovascular disease, liver disease) caused by alcoholic drinking combined to lead to willingness to try a spiritual way out. These days I would describe the willingness as a spiritual gift.

I'll quote from the AA basic text:

"Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable. 'There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.' -—Herbert Spencer.' (Appendix II, Alcoholics Anonymous)."

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com. 08/12/2013.

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