Do alcoholics ever QUIT alcohol?

Many years ago I asked a group of therapists and counselors, all working in the addiction/recovery field, if they believed that at least some percentage of their clients, as a direct or indirect result of therapy, gave up alcohol or their drug of alcoholics ever quit alcohol?

Met, not for the first time that day with stares of incredulity, they raised their hands affirming that belief.

They were wrong.

If you were to sit in the back row of any of the hundreds of AA meetings in your area you’d likely see a row populated by an elderly grandmother, a construction worker, a guy in a nice business suit, a kid with piercings and neck tattoos, and a pretty woman in nursing garb.

How different they appear and, indeed, how different their lives and histories really are in so many ways.  Yet, they seem to be connected and comfortable with one another, despite their obvious surface differences.  The connection they share is real, and it is powerful.

They are bonded through a common experience of pain.

Each of these disparate individuals at some point, usually later, in their drinking/drugging histories, came face to face with enough pain — loneliness, fear, shame, self-hatred, guilt etc. — that the denial which is common to the alcoholic/addict broke down.  They saw, with crystal clarity, that the disarray and chaos in their lives was due solely and directly to their use/abuse of whatever substance they’d come to love and depend on.

They decided that they couldn’t stand any more of the pain that they now linked inexorably to the addictive substance.

Love it though they did, they became willing to do whatever was necessary to rid themselves of their anguish.

If AA could do it for them then, so be it, they’d give it a go.

They found a way, in Alcoholics Anonymous (or other spin-off Twelve Step programs) to achieve lasting, meaningful abstinence.  It worked!

All of them had quit the pain.

All of them understood why their neighbors in the row were there.

- Mark B. Dunay, LICSW, LADC 1

On February 1, 2014, posted in: 12 Steps, AA, addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, counseling, psychotherapy, recovery by
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