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DIGEST, Vol. 8(6): 43-45, APRIL, 1944
LOOK AT ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
By a Catholic Member of the Eau Claire, Wis., Group
is an alcoholic, Catholic or otherwise? How does one know
whether he is a victim of the disease of alcoholism? The
simplest definition of an alcoholic is an uncontrolled drinker.
A man knows well when he is an uncontrolled drinker, on
the incontrovertible evidences of his own actions. And the
voice of conscience speaking awesomely in the darkness of
his remorse tells him clearly that he is a victim of a self-imposed
is not a matter of the amount one drinks, but of what that
amount does to one's personality and character. Some alcoholics
drink two quarts of liquor a day; some do not drink that
in a month. Both are equally gripped by the disease and
obsession. Then there are those who can drink every day
without becoming alcoholic. An honest personal diagnosis
will in errantly reveal the disease.
alcoholic is a person who is allergic, physically and mentally,
to alcohol. The allergy is manifested in a pattern of drinking
opposed to one's experience and common sense and opposed
to his deepest instincts of right. If a man can go into
a bar, have two or three drinks, then willingly stop, and
do this day after day; if he can willingly stop drinking
any time he desires, he is not an alcoholic. But if, intending
to take only two or three drinks, he usually remains to
take a dozen, he is alcoholic. If ' he drinks for sociability
and conviviality, he is not alcoholic. If he drinks to get
drunk, he is.
a large extent the motive, the reason why a man drinks,
determines whether he is an actual or potential alcoholic.
If a man drinks in the morning; if he drinks at any time
when it is folly beyond question, he is alcoholic. If he
shy, cunning and furtive about his drinking; if he lies
to his wife, friends, employer about his drinking, he is
obsessed. If he drinks because he feels the need of alcohol
either to excite his brain or quiet his nerves; if he spends
more than a nominal part of his income for booze which he
drinks himself; if he loses any time from his employment,
work or obligations because of liquor, definitely he is
man's alcoholic obsession becomes manifest when he takes
the first drink. Gone then is control, even desire for moderation.
Because of his peculiar physical and psychical make-up,
all of the defenses which the nonalcoholic drinker possesses
are useless in him. That is so because he is different,
physically, mentally, and emotionally, from the controlled
drinker. Yet, despite his certain knowledge that he cannot
stop after taking the first drink, the alcoholic, five minutes
after giving his solemn word not to drink that day, is banging
on a bar demanding whisky! Why does he do this in the very
teeth of repeated disaster? Because he will not honestly
face his problems and seek the only menu under heaven for
says, "Not my will, but Thine be done." But does
he mean it? He does not. Not so far as liquor is concerned.
Not so long as he continues to drink. What he asks in effect
when he prays is that in his behalf the laws of compensation
be suspended; that God arrest the dicta of nature, and rescind
the natural and spiritual law so that he may indulge in
what he will not admit is defiance of God's will, for him.
God is always deaf to the dumb. He made us all eloquent
in the language of the heart, and He hears only its honest
pleadings. Is the Catholic alcoholic who continues to drink
while he petitions God for help conscious of the duality
of his nature and the duplicity of his prayers? He is. He
knows, where another may not, that he cannot touch the hand
of God so long as his retains the bottle. He knows by spiritual
instinct and by religious training that there is no compromise
will do anything, anything to solve his drinking problem,
but stop drinking! He flatly refuses to accept the fact,
for fact it is, that this and this alone is the price God
demands for his release from the hell of alcoholism; for
his restoration to physical, mental, and spiritual health;
and for restoring to him his courage and self-respect.
one simple act of unconditional surrender will spark into
action all the surging power of the miracle of release.
The very instant a man unconditionally surrenders his alcoholic
problem to God, in that very moment God puts into his hands
the weapons of victory. How quickly he will experience the
exhilaration of complete freedom depends, in my opinion,
upon the degree of faith with which he makes his surrender.
We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that a man must crave
a spiritual experience if he is to be rid of his obsession
the Catholic with his rich background of spirituality religious
heritage, and intimate knowledge of the love and mercy of
Christ, this vitalizing, transforming experience should
not be difficult to realize. It can be astoundingly easy.
As for myself; first having admitted that I could not drink
as others, that I could never again drink anything, I went
to my knees in unconditional surrender, for the first time
in my life. Then with instantaneous clarity I saw the almost
incredibly simple method wherein I could find the power
to convert my utter defeat to magnificent victory. This
method, this technique is so utterly simple that many, I
fear, will refuse to believe that anything so obvious can
produce it. Yet it did for me. It did for many I know.
our colossal conceit, many of us scornfully reject the simple.
But God's law in the Ten Commandments and Christ's teachings
in the Gospels, the profoundest truths under heaven, are
expressed in the simplest of terms. One needs not an educated
mind, but an uneducated heart, to comprehend the promises
of God. The greatest mind on earth cannot read into Christ's
invitation and guarantee more than the most illiterate can
take out of it. "Come to Me, all you that labor, and
are burdened, and I will refresh you." This is Christ's
spiritual device which effected the transformation was this:
a shift in the spiritual emphasis. Suddenly I realized that
in all of my prayers for strength to drink normally, decently,
I was in effect asking almighty God to come over on my side!
Then I saw it. If only I would ask the grace to get on God's
side, He would give it to me. I asked. He responded instantly!
There is is. Too simple? Surely a Catholic freely acknowledges
that God is the source of all power. Does it not follow
that if we stand on His side, where all the power is, that
we are invincible?
Alcoholics Anonymous went to religion for its spiritual
concepts. It had to. There was nowhere else to go. Modern
ethics are sterile. There is no power in today's so-called
philosophy. The synthesis of Alcoholics Anonymous combines
the best in religious practice, psychiatrical thought, and
medical science. Through its program one can find his way
back to buoyant sobriety by going forward in faith.
highroad of A.A. accommodates all who turn on to it in honesty
and sincerity. It is paved with the stones of spiritual
truth dug out of the past for travel to the future by all
who would cross the valley of drunkenness to the heights
of sobriety in mutual help. All can read its signposts,
for they are written in the universal language, but all
Catholics should recognize them as familiar.
this and more Alcoholics Anonymous is ready to offer the
Catholic alcoholic who is prepared to go to any length to
rid himself, through God's grace, of his alcoholic fetters.