We have alcohol-ISM, not alcohol-WASM
Updated: Nov 15
Doctor John returned to the coffee shop on October 30th, 2022, and shared on one of our favorite topics: alcoholism. The episode is worth a listen, for sure, and there were a few things we felt were expound-worthy.
The word alcohol shows up only once in 12-step recovery. This is what we are powerless over. Indeed, the thing that jumped out to us is the importance of believing, in our gut - not just thinking or theorizing - that we are screwed and that we are powerless over alcohol. This is essential. Appreciate and respect the fact that we are sick.
It comes to reason that we ask ourselves the why question; Why am I an alcoholic? Some believe that there is a chemical reaction that happens in the body of an alcoholic, and science could one day prove this. However, if chemicals are the problem, one would assume that chemicals could be the solution. Again, we have yet to see that play out. If it's not a chemical imbalance, then what is it? Is it a disease? Doctor John suggests that it is a spiritual dis-ease caused by the natural human condition, which is consciously aware of self (unlike an animal which is centered, at ease, and at peace most of the time).
This dis ease is where the ISM comes from. We see that we want to fill the dis with something. For some, it’s food; for some, it’s gambling; and for some, it's Amazon shopping. For us, we looked to alcohol to fill that void. And that worked for us until it didn't. We kept trying to recapture the emotionally soothing sensation of that first sip. Duplication eluded us. More did not equal better.
What alcohol does “to us” is that it inhibits our ambitions, temporarily fills the void (the ism), and inevitably act badly. On the surface, normal people connect to the negative consequence and don't go back down that same path again. For whatever reason, alcoholics dismiss the pain for the relief of what alcohol does “for us.”
We think what needs to stay at the forefront of our minds is that “the ism” is always with us. We were born with it, and we will die with it; that deep desire to feel whole.
The memory of the pain of consequences seems to fade over time. We say to ourselves, “that wasn't so bad; surely I can recapture the bliss without causing the bad.” Be sure this is the ISM talking, not common sense.
So, what's the cure? That is a trick question, as there is no permanent cure that we have found. Our experiences reflect only that a daily reprieve from this spiritual malady (dis ease) is there for the taking to anybody who is ready to do the work.
We have found that the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous has provided us with that relief. Our weekly sobriety podcast and the resource room, and these writings are but a good place for us to start. The honest answer is found in continuing to work the program as laid out in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We can't promise that your journey will be ever-pleasant, but we can promise that if you keep working and keep understanding that you will always have this ISM, you will get well.
In conclusion, we believe that there is a true north that guides us. We might not know the next right thing to do, but we inherently understand the next wrong thing. Commit to moving forward today by simply doing the next right thing, and remember that if you pull back, it will come back! (aka continue to work the program of AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions do not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for the advice of healthcare professionals. The author's advice and viewpoints are their own.