I just read more about AA — basic history, beliefs, the steps, historical context, etc. It’s outdated in a way, sure. But mainly, I think it might just “work” for some people and others, not so much.
I mean, let’s check it out:
1. Powerless? Check. Admitting to this? Um…OK, check. (I hesitate, simply because I really do think that you are not powerless, per se; you want to drink and you have your reasons for doing so. You WANT to get shitfaced and black out and let it all hang out, and YOU FUCKING DO. I ran up against this time and time again, whenever my brother would ask me, So, DDD, you can’t stop after what, three or four glasses? When do you feel like you just can’t stop? And I’d always say, Well, three, yes, three. By the third glass, I don’t WANT to stop. I can, I just never want to. This is, of course, if I’m not already blacking out, in which case I’m not in control anymore. So, yes, check.)
2. Power greater than myself can restore me to my sanity? Sure. Check. I mean, not that I believe that my “higher power” has to be a spiritual entity, as it were. In fact, I can see many a thing being my higher power, including:
*a sense of purpose
*self-love, or the opposite of self-loathing, i.e, I’m good enough and smart enough, so why am I doing this shit to myself?
*a desire to consistently succeed in work, relationships, etc. (especially after seeing what drinking does to them)
*a memory of an absence of craving, and the possibility that life can be like that again
*fear of drinking, and what could happen the next time
3. Turn my will over to God, as I understand him/her? Eh… I don’t know. I think many of us struggle with this idea of fate versus individual purpose. I think it better to consider, WHY do I drink? A lack of purpose, self-hatred, loneliness…maybe even specific circumstances? This could be a lack of “God.” I think turning one’s will over to God could be interpreted outside the context of an actual god (i.e., let a spiritual sense of purpose tell you what to do with your life and time on this planet), but I have seen the more traditional notion advanced in the AA meetings I’ve been to. I like to think of it as, finding my sense of purpose/service, and simply doing that all the time. THAT is what makes me feel less like drinking.
4. – 12. Moral inventory, admitting wrongs, trying to help others. Sort of. On my own, which is what many of us do, on a daily basis. I’m tired of strip mining my mental inventory of horrible drinking mistakes; there ain’t nothing left down there. Running away into booze is lame, yes, WE GET THAT. Making us think that *unless we do the program, we’ll always somehow be selfish drunks?* Kind of a turnoff, quite frankly.
Addiction research has shown that all sorts of neurotransmitters are affected by drinking, not least of which is dopamine, which makes you feel GREAT when it’s enhanced by the booze. Until you realize you’re dependent on this exogenous (outside) source when it’s suddenly taken away. You kill your physiologic feedback loops and it can take a long time for you to normally and adequately start producing dopamine on levels that feel good again. Though, maybe your brain never did, you were always in deficit, and that’s why you turned to booze, or whatever, to self-medicate.
At the end of the day, I drink because I want to fix what’s wrong, not because I intentionally want to hurt people. Maybe other drinkers don’t think twice about why and how and when they turn to the bottle. Maybe that’s why AA works for them, because it’s the first time they’ve put it down long enough to take a look at their “moral inventory.” Who knows?