Powerless...A Secular View

Old 09-15-2010, 12:05 PM
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Powerless...A Secular View

After reading the posts regarding powerlessness and what it means to many on this board, I was wondering if anyone in the secular arena had views on it.

I am still trying to decide whether I am a true "alcoholic". I know I have a severe problem with alcohol, to the point that I never want to drink again and made up my mind that I won't, but before I made that ultimate decision, I was powerless because I wanted to drink.

Do you feel the people who need to say they are powerless against alcohol before the first drink are people who in reality and maybe even subconciously still have a desire to drink? I mean for 27 years there was nothing I wanted more in life than to drink, and that is all I knew. There was no way I was going to quit and that's why I tried moderation unsuccessfully for so many years, because I could not fathom life without drinking. But when I finally decided that it wasn't going to be part of my life anymore, (gasp), then it has been a fairly easy process. I am not powerless at all unless I pick up the first one.

If this powerlessness is a tool to get people who really aren't sure they want to quit and it works, great, but maybe it doesn't pertain to every alcoholic. Or maybe I am not a true alcoholic to begin with.

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Old 09-15-2010, 12:32 PM
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Oh, I think you and I are alcoholics. We may have managed to hop off the bus before it dropped over the cliff, but we would have progressed into being "serious" alcoholics in the end.

I haven't read the other thread yet, but I don't believe in powerlessness.

I used to go for a walk in the evenings and had to make sure my wallet was in my pocket before I left. Then as I walked along, I'd go by the beer and wine store, and just for the heck of it, buy some booze. Then I'd carry it home, open it, pour it into a glass, then raise it to my lips and drink it.

That makes six steps where I could have halted the process if I had wanted to. Six times in that scenario where I had the opportunity to say no. Back in those days it was me who wanted to drink, it was me who chose to drink, it was me who opened the bottle, it was me who raised the glass to my lips, and it was me who drank until I got wasted.

I was responsible for my actions, and I'm fully responsible for not ever doing it again. No greater force than I made me drink, and no supernatural being exists to make me is 100% in my own hands to save my own life.

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Old 09-15-2010, 02:21 PM
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Glad you brought this to our corner of SR since I was reading the other thread and was totally lost!!!

Regarding alcoholic or not...I think we were all on the path and whether you definitely e a true "alcoholic" as being someone on that path or being over Murray's cliff is up to you. Its all semantics to me.

At the end of my drinking days I remember how much will power it took me to drink...I was at the point where I despised it yet still forced myself to drink...why did I do that? My guess is because the alcohol had effected me to the point where my depression was overwhelming and on one level I wanted death...I don't care to obsess about it because I am looking forward to the future.

But regarding the powerless aspect to drinking, no I was not powerless over alcohol, but I might have been close to being powerless over my depression.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:48 PM
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I'll have more time to comment later, but one thought for the moment:

"Alcoholic" isn't a toggle that's either on or off. It's a spectrum.
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:15 PM
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I do understand that gneiss. And yes as Murray stated as far as alcoholics go, I consider myself one of the group. But sometimes the "powerless" thing throws me for a loop. At one point I would like to think that I am not powerless against taking the first drink, which I know for almost certain is a fact, but then I read that even some people who have 5-10 years of sobriety then relapse, then say that they were powerless to begin with, and then do the steps, and then say without admitting your powerless you will always come back to alcohol.

I don't think I am setting my self up for failure, but if you read enough long timer posts it would be easy to think that I am. At the same time I would like to think that maybe I just don't want to drink more than some others may admit. I would like to think I have a stronger resolve than most, but at the same time I have a hard time believing that would be the case. Like I said it sort of has me stumped. Is it easy for me to quit because I finally decided that I really wanted to, or is it easy for me to quit because I'm not really a true alcoholic, or is it easy for me to quit because I really haven't quit because I haven't given in and admitted I'm powerless?

Does any of that make sense? I mean I guess it isn't that bad of a dilemma to face at this point, I had a major problem, I fixed it, I feel great, it's something I battled all of my life, but is the battle really over? I say yes...but if you read enough here you might guess otherwise.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:13 PM
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There are some people on SR who quit once and have stayed quit for decades; I can't recall one of them attributing their sobriety to a higher power.

I would look on your success so far as an indication of your strength of character and strength of conviction. I've had a few squirrelly moments, but none so bad as to put booze to lips. Your and my challenge is to not fall into the trap so many others fall into; where they think that quitting wasn't so hard, so what's the harm in getting drunk once in a while.

The limbic system has a long memory. My favourite example is that even the least intelligent kid in class will remember which house gave out the biggest chocolate bars at Halloween last year. One drink would set off a fireworks display in my brain, and as has been proven millions of times before me, I'll pick up pretty much from where I left off. The progressive nature of alcohol's damaging effects to my brain would ensure I keep increasing the frequency and volume consumed, and I'd die an early, ugly death if I wasn't able to quit for good.

A couple months before I managed to quit cigarettes, about 15 years ago, a co-worker said to me, "All you have to do is decide". That comment buzzed around in my brain for months. It irked me to the bone. It annoyed the heck out of me, because in my heart of hearts I knew he was right. Ultimately it comes down to deciding to quit, and to never, ever use again.

Nobody is powerless to alcohol or any other drug. If they use again, it's because they didn't want sobriety bad enough, simple as that, full stop. (Can you see why I didn't join the earlier thread you were talking about?)

Pretty simple stuff, huh?

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Old 09-15-2010, 04:16 PM
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If you want to discuss 12 step concepts...and powerlessness is a 12 step concept (as far as I know no other recovery groups promote the concept) can't do it here.

12 Step Programs are off topic for this forum and posts discussing 12 Step Programs will be removed. Please use the Secular 12 Step Forum for positive topics on Secular 12 Step Recovery.
Maybe, in all seriousness, you guys need to start a social group for these discussions?

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