Learning Yourself Sober?
But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 39)
The idea that you will be unable to stop using by gaining information alone is a very important point that must not be ignored. It is amazing how many people are interested in learning themselves sober.
Don’t get me wrong, I obviously think that learning alcoholism/addiction information and recovery information have an important role in the recovery process, but I am not under the misconception that if a person gets enough information that the fact they have enough information will magically keep that person sober.
This is one of the grave errors that many of us in recovery and many of us trying to help others through recovery often make. We assume that somehow the right amount of information will keep you sober, it is just a matter of getting you to swallow enough data.
My brother-in-law is a physician, and through his kindness and that of my mother I was placed in a nationally-known hospital for the mental and physical rehabilitation of alcoholics. Under the so-called belladonna treatment my brain cleared. Hydrotherapy and mild exercise helped much. Best of all, I met a kind doctor who explained that though certainly selfish and foolish, I had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.
It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, though it often remains strong in other respects. My incredible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop was explained. Understanding myself now, I fared forth in high hope. For three for four months the goose hung high. I went to town regularly and even made a little money. Surely this was the answer – self-knowledge.
But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank once more. The curve of my declining moral and bodily health fell off like a ski-jump. After a time I returned to the hospital. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 7)
This man (Bill W.) understood himself and why he did what he did. That knowledge made him feel like he had struck recovery gold. He was filled with information about alcoholism/addiction but was not able to abstain from using for long even with that information. He actually felt worse after relapsing with all of that information than he did without the information.
Here is the truth:
INFORMATION WILL NOT KEEP YOU SOBER!!!
My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 13)
Notice the words “way of living”. The information does nothing unless you end up with a new way of living. How good or useful the information is to you can be measured by how much the information creates positive change in you. If the information does not create change in you it is merely occupying space between your ears. In one story the result is described this way:
I have since been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before. My old manner of life was by no means a bad one, but I would not exchange its best moments for the worst I have now. I would not go back to it even if I could. (Alcoholics Anonymous pgs. 42-43)
This is the objective: A new way of living more useful and more satisfying that the one you had before, no matter what your old life looked like. Information is simply one of several tools used to get you there, but the attainment of information is not the destination.
Your goal in recovery is to be a different person than you have been, so you will do different things than you have been so you can end up getting different results than you have been. If you stay the same, you will do the same and get the same or worse results.
How much you know does not necessarily come into play. For example there are people who are highly educated, well educated in recovery information, who have been in and out of programs of all kinds who are somewhere getting lit at the same time as you are reading this. There are also people dumb as stumps that getting the same kind of high at the very same moment (possibly they are together). I suppose one is smarter about doing something incredibly stupid and one is stupidly doing something stupid, but they are both doing exactly the same stupid act: Destroying their own lives. The amount of information retained has not even come into play, nor has the lack of information. They are simply to people who are intoxicated or drunk or high or “on one” or whatever.
I obviously think information is a great help to those of us working through recovery and to those around us. The key is that I feel it is only helpful if you can use the information to help you change.
I suppose a great method to use whenever you take in any recovery information is to ask yourself what I should change about myself or do differently because of what you learned. If you are serious about these changes, you ought to write each one of these things to change about you down and really work on changing these things. You might also get others to help you with each thing you think you should change. And remember:
EITHER YOU ARE CHANGING OR YOU ARE STAYING THE SAME!
Stay sober my friends…