A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 1

with 3 comments

Why Does An Alcoholic Drink?

Many times one cannot determine any great and glaring mechanism as the basis of why the drinker drinks, but the revealing fact may be elicited:

That alcohol is taken to relieve a certain vague restlessness in the individual, incident to friction between his biological and emotional makeup and the ordinary strains of life.

…. Where the individuality or personality of the alcoholic is concerned these reasons may be divided as follows:

  • A self-pampering tendency which manifests itself in refusal to tolerate, even temporarily, unpleasant states of mind such as boredom, sorrow, anger, disappointment, worry, depression, dissatisfaction, and feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
  • “I want what I want when I want it” seems to express the attitude of many alcoholics toward life.
  • An instinctive urge for self-expression, unaccompanied by determination to translate the urge into creative action.
  • An abnormal craving for emotional experience which calls for removal of intellectual restraint.
  • Powerful hidden ambitions, without the necessary resolve to take practical steps to attain them, and with resultant discontent, irritability, depression, disgruntledness, and general restlessness.
  • A tendency to flinch from the worries of life and to seek escape from reality by the easiest means available.
  • An unreasonable demand for continuous happiness or excitement.
  • An insistent craving for the feeling of self-confidence, calm, and poise that some obtain temporarily from alcohol.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 1.

Well that’s just about the most accurate sounding thing I’ve ever read.   This is, as indicated, taken from Discussion Number 1: The Admission outline in the old-school Detroit Pamphlet, a.k.a. “The Tablemate.”    According to what I’ve read about it,  groups that used this guide for a year had a much higher-than average long-term (1 yr +) sobriety rate.  So of course  I’m reviewing it.   Hard not to read the above and think, since I agree, “damn what a shitbag loser I am.”  So I think that and all kinds of other things such as “what a trip I have this alcoholic incarnation destiny to work through and so did/do all these other folks.”  I try to watch all the thoughts go by like little cats and come back to the moment and see if I can apply it. (Try.)

I 100% concede the above. I don’t even have to think about it. One thing that not been part of my burden is a doubt I am “alcoholic.”  I mean, even if  I’mnot, drinking has controlled and ruined huge chunks of my life for 30 years, so what difference does the label make? “My name is xty and I’m an umbrella.”  Same outcome.

Nonetheless, I do go insane and think I might accidentally have some control “this time.”  If I consciously think at all.  (We’ll come back to that another time.)  I’ve done this millions of times. I retract my step 1-ness.  “Discontent, irritability, depression, disgruntledness, and general restlessness:”  that’s for sure. Okay, enough problem.  Here’s what’s next:

If after carefully considering the foregoing, we admit we are alcoholics, we must realize that, once  a person becomes a pathological drinker, he can never again become a controlled drinker, and from that point on, is limited to just two alternatives:

  1. Total permanent abstinence.
  2. Chronic alcoholism with all of the handicaps and penalties it implies.

In other words, we have gone past the point where we had a choice. All we have left is a decision to make.

Sure. I’m still one the same page, drinking the same kool-aid, hook line and sinker, with complete abandon, a real yes-man.  Total abstinence – there are many reasons I am certain I’m clear on this — doesn’t mean I can do it,; then it would be: Step 1: Quit drinking. Step 2: Get on with your life.  My most immediate example for myself on this certainty is my reaction to a blog I came across last night, again here on wordpress.com via  tag search.  I was tempted to add it to my blogroll with the link “Doomed;” I was tempted to post a comment stating “Dude, you are so fucked.”  It is the journal of a self-identified alcoholic who evidently has tried AA and SMART Recovery and hates them, and is documenting his progress and tribulations as he evolves a controlled drinking regimen. Mind you,  controlled, but in hiding from his family (water bottle in the basement with a daily ration; peanut butter as the best breath cover) and is one thousand percent obsessed all day every day with when he can drink, how much, how much is in the house, ad infinitum.  My reaction was: absolutely chilled.  Amazement and voluminous gratitude I am not in that torture chamber of a lifestyle.   My mind was bent, I couldn’t understand why this guy couldn’t see what I see.  That tell me that viscerally I know it’s all or nothing.  Let’s just say I have this part of step one nailed.


We resolve to do something about it.

  1. We must change our way of thinking. (This is such an important matter that it will have to be discussed more fully in a later discussion).
  2. We must realize that each morning when we wake, we are potential drunkards for that day.
  3. We resolve that we will practice A.A. for the 24 hours of that day.
  4. We must study the other eleven steps of the program and practice each and every one.
  5. Attend the regular group meeting each week without fail.
  6. Firmly believe that by practicing A.A. faithfully each day, we will achieve sobriety.
  7. Believe that we can be free from alcohol as a problem.
  8. Contact another member before taking a drink, not after. Tell him what bothers you – – talk it over with him freely.
  9. Work the program for ourselves alone – – not for our wife, children, friends, or for our job.
  10. Be absolutely honest and sincere.
  11. Be fully openminded – – no mental reservations.
  12. Be fully willing to work the program. Nothing good in life comes without work.

Reading this list, I think “Ok: Hey, I can’t do that; got it; got it; got it got it;  whoops; usually;  got it; got it;  sure; oh shit!;  which program?  And, fully?  Do I have to hold that , right there, don’t move?  Am I going to die drunk if I am pretty damn willing, but not fully?   I have reservations.  About the steps – about whether God as I understand God is really just waiting for me to ask Him to edit me, to intervene in thoughts, relationships, and events.  Whether God as I understand God works that way, or, even if He does, if that is the best way for me to work with Him.  Know what I’m fully willing to do?  Try.  With my misshapen beliefs, self-deception, curtain-flapping mind,  guarded willingness, absentminded resolve…..my concern is that if I wait until the list above describes my state of mind exactly,  I will have already died.


Written by xty

March 3, 2010 at 10:40

3 Responses

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  1. Very simply out, do what you need to do. If you need God, go there. If you need something else, go there. Figure out what you need and make use of whatever that may be. Never forget that you are the dynamic factor. God gave you the sense you need, the motivation and determination that you need.


    March 4, 2010 at 15:46

    • thanks for the encouragement, tintop.


      March 4, 2010 at 15:59

  2. never give up. You will get there and you will gain a regular life and will be able to deal effectively with the insults and pleasures of life. You will have both.


    March 4, 2010 at 22:32

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