The Exact Nature of our Disease


To my mind, the most pressing question brought up by Alcoholics Anonymous is: “What is the Exact Nature of our Disease?”.  The reason this is so important is that the my mind tries to tell me: “THIS is not part of your Disease!  It’s OK!”.  The Big Book warns me: “Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”  Sometimes I try something, thinking: “Here’s a New Idea!  This is gonna be GREAT!”. When it turns out poorly I take a better look at it and realize: “Wait a minute!  That wasn’t a New Idea, that was an Old Idea, wearing a new set of clothes!”.

I’ve watched friends — confident that their sobriety is great — succumb to some of these.  I have a friend whose brother sent him a thousand dollars because he spent all his money at the casino.  When the money arrived, he decided a grand wouldn’t fix all his problems, but 2 grand would.  So he did the smartest thing he could think of: took the money to the casino to double it.  Walked away stone broke, naturally.  If he was any good at gambling he wouldn’t have been in the position he was.

Another friend doesn’t like herself very much, because she’s so overweight.  So as she sits home alone feeling sorry for herself, looking for a way to feel better.  Aha!  Food gives her comfort!  “Eat a chocolate cake, you’ll feel better!” her disease tells her. They call it “Comfort Food” for a reason.

Nobody likes me ’cause I’m an angry little bastard.  That hurts me, because I really want to be loved, so when you don’t give me the Love I need, I beat the shit out of you.

Nobody wants to be my Boyfriend.  I really want you to like me — I’m sure you’re the one that can make me feel good about myself — so when you ask me out for coffee I throw myself at you and we end up balling.  Never make it for the coffee.  Then you never call me, because you don’t really want a slut for a Girlfriend.

My life blows.  There’s nothing good about it.  All I do is sit around the house because I have no transportation.  I wrecked my car and the cops took my license.  I never went to court on it because I’m scared.  I’m wanted in 3 states and not wanted in the rest, my job sucks and my girlfriend doesn’t… and I swear to God if I couldn’t get drunk every night I’d blow my brains out.  The only peace I can get is a couple of hours of feeling Grandiose and then…. Sweet Oblivion! And then you Morons tell me I should stop drinking!  Are You Crazy!!!  Don’t you see it’s the ONLY GOOD THING IN MY LIFE!!

With only these examples, we can begin to see that often our Problem will present itself as the Solution.  In fact, in order for it to be cyclic or progressive, maybe that’s required.  We have a problem, apply the obvious solution, it makes matters worse, so we apply a solution…  That’s what a cycle requires.

The steps are cyclical, too.  We address the problem, then we improve our relationship with God, then we improve our relationship with our fellow-man, then we address the problem again.  If we don’t go back to ground zero — find an alcoholic to work with — we step out of the cycle.  That’s where the danger begins.

I’m not sure why.  Wayne B. say’s it’s because we’re always going to hang out with Alcoholics, the only choice we have is whether they’re Sober ones or Drinking ones.  But that doesn’t answer the question “WHY?”, that just supports that the premiss is true.

Here’s the truth.


Can you handle it?

The truth is: I’m not the guy who answers the questions.  That’s the truth.  I’m the guy who questions the answers.  I have only one claim to fame: I realize that I’m wrong almost all of the time.  I am possibly the only person you knows who realizes that he’s completely full of shit.  I have come to believe that everything I know about the world is wrong.  So I’m going back through everything I have ever taken as truth and re-examining it, exposing inconsistencies.

I believed I had a problem with Alcohol, but that’s not the whole story. It’s not, anymore than when I firmly believed that I had a problem with Tequila, but that if I stuck with Beer I’d be OK.  It’s not the exact nature of my disease.  I have a problem with my thinking — and the things I believe are true — Alcohol was just the fire that was burning my ass the day I walked in the door.

Alcohol was just a symptom of the disease.  We say that all the time, but how often do we stop to think about the exact nature of our disease?  Is it JUST a “Spiritual Malady”?  I see priests, pastors, and preachers who have this disease.  I’m thinking Spirituality is a CURE for some of us — one of several ways to have a Psychic Change — but that the disease is that I sometimes confuse problems with solutions.

If I don’t address this, I’m apt to fall prey to it again.  I watch people in A.A. — in recovery — who have been divorced a half-dozen times or have sex addictions or gambling problems…  All because they’re not addressing the disease.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

Alcoholics Anonymous pp 23
If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis.  Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really make sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic’s drinking bout creates.  They sound like the philosophy of a man who, having a headache, beats himself in the head with a hammer so that he can’t feel the ache.

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