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Powerlessness

Old 05-28-2022, 09:08 AM
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Powerlessness

Powerless. It's the concept that underlies recovery, without an admission of powerlessness there is little hope of an addict or alcoholics recovery. The idea of powerlessness is really simple, there are no gray areas, you either have power over your addiction or you don't. Yet simplicity has not prevented millions of addicts and alcoholics from dying throughout history over their inability to accept that simple concept.



The concept is so important that the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the primary text of the Fellowship of AA, devotes the first 45 pages to powerlessness because without the personal acceptance of powerlessness the rest of the AA program will have little lasting effect. There are so many piercing insights into powerlessness in those first 45 pages that I'll be referring to them repeatedly.

For instance on page 24 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous you’ll find perhaps the best definition of powerlessness I've ever heard and it goes like this:

The fact is that most Alcoholics for reasons yet obscure have lost the power of choice in drink, our so-called willpower becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable at certain times to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

Which means that “if when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking you have little control over the amount you take you are probably alcoholic.” That from page 44.

If you were an alcoholic like me those weren't just words in a book, they were a lived experience. I could not stop drinking no matter what I tried, no matter how desperately I meant to, I could not stop. I was without defense against the first drink. Even worse I was a complete and total failure at controlling my drinking, in fact I had failed so often that I finally quit trying. That’s powerlessness.



Powerlessness is always accompanied by denial, the alcoholic sufferer has a million excuses and reasons why what he's doing is OK. I don't need help, I can quit anytime I want to, I can't be an alcoholic I have a job and I don't live under a bridge, I'm not hurting anybody but myself, I'm a good provider for my family, and on and on ad nauseum.

Most Alcoholics have spent so many years spewing these lies that they can no longer distinguish the true from the false and despite all we can say, many who are real Alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self deception and experimentation they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule therefore non alcoholic. That from the book Alcoholics Anonymous page 31.



Every once in a while a glimpse of the truth would break through the denial. I remember a few years before I hit bottom I would stop at a bar after work and my hands would tremble as I picked up that first drink, by the time I finished it and ordered the second one, the trembling had stopped. And I remember thinking to myself, wow that's what Alcoholics do in the movies, but then I'd shrug it off and just keep drinking.
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Old 05-28-2022, 02:11 PM
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I was completely powerless over alcohol. If I picked up a drink I couldn't stop, and thank God I realized it quickly.
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