I have been reflecting lately about how it is that an alcoholic or addict can be helped to become willing to seek recovery whether through 12 Step meetings or other path to recovery. I recently read an article written by Bill Wilson, AA's co-founder, in 1944, that describes, at least in part, what helps the process of being willing to recover using 12 Step principles. I will first summarize what Bill Wilson said and then give some quotations from the text of the article he wrote. Bill Wilson says in effect that the alcoholic or addict must be convinced that the choice facing him/her is to continue drinking or drugging or go insane or die. In other words, the user needs to develop a state of mind that his/her drinking or drugging predicament is hopeless, that he/she has no way out; that he/she has hit bottom. Here is some of Bill's own language in which he states in the 1944 article that:

"…alcoholism is a complex malady; that abnormal drinking is but a symptom of personal maladjustment to life; that, as a class, we, alcoholics are apt to be sensitive, emotionally immature, grandiose in our demands upon ourselves and others; that we have usually 'gone broke' on some dream ideal of perfection; that, failing to realize the dream, we sensitive folk escape cold reality by taking to the bottle; that this habit of escape finally turns into an obsession, or ***a compulsion to drink so subtly powerful that no disaster, however great, even near death or insanity, can, in most cases, seem to break it; that we are the victims of the age-old alcoholic dilemma; our obsession guarantees that we shall go on drinking, but our increasing physical sensitivity guarantees that we shall go insane or die if we do."

He further said: "When these facts are poured by an AA member into the person of another alcoholic they strike deep – the effect is shattering. That inflated ego, those elaborate rationalizations by which our neurotic friend has been trying to erect self-sufficiency on a foundation of inferiority, begin to ooze out of him. Sometimes his deflation is like the collapse of a toy balloon at the approach of a hot poker. But deflation is just what we AA’s are looking for. It is our universal experience that unless we can start deflation, as a self-realization, we get nowhere at all. The more utterly we can smash the delusion that the alcoholic can get over alcoholism 'on his own', or that someday he may be able to drink like a gentleman, the more successful we are bound to be. In fact, we aim to produce a crisis, to cause him to 'hit bottom' as AA’s say. ***…[O]nce he has accepted the fact that he is an alcoholic and the further fact that he is powerless to recover unaided, the battle is half won. As the AA’s have it, 'he is hooked.' "

That language seems to me to capture the state of mind needed for some alcoholics or addicts to be open to recovery. Unfortunately, there are some who seem to understand their hopeless state but are unwilling or unable, probably the latter, to accept help. As always comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 06/05/2013.


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