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Beware these ‘recovery logs’ for they lack the necessary power to recover.

Addicts are like drowning men and women. If we don't find some way of keeping our heads above water, we are going to drown and die. So we look for some kind of power to keep us afloat. We notice some logs floating on the surface. These logs look like they're capable of keeping our heads above water, but when we reach for one of these logs we find that they are wet and slippery and we can only hold on for maybe a day, a week, a month, a year, 5 years, 10 years, but at some point we slip and start drowning again.

We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. AA, pg. 28

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics (addicts). No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking (using) careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink (use) like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking (using) is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker (user). The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. A.A. pg 30

The analogy of "logs" to illustrate the many countless vain attempts that thousands of alcoholics and addicts have tried to prove that somehow, someday, we will control and enjoy our drinking, using or acting-out behaviours like ordinary people has proven useful when speaking to suffering addicts in detox, treatment centers, and meetings.

Here is a list of "logs" tested by the experience of thousands of chronic relapsers who have tried them and failed at finding the necessary power to keep sober, clean and free from all addictive, obsessive/compulsive behaviours. Anyone could increase the list.

  • Frothy emotional appeals seldom suffice. (interventions, nice guy/bad guy tactics, reading poetry i.e. "The Man in the Glass", Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow) A.A. pg xxviii
  • Fear (war stories, drunk/drug-a-logs, warning of a doctor) sobered me for a bit A.A. pg 8
  • . . .if a doctor is honest with himself he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy. . .something more than human power is needed A.A. pg xxix
  • . . .felt his only hope would be through what we then called moral psychology (discussion groups) and we doubted if even that would have any effect A.A. pg xxxi
  • Why don't you try beer and wine (substitution)? Lay off the hard stuff A.A. pg 20
  • I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots A.A. pg 42
  • Drink like a gentlemen (controlled drinking) or quit A.A. pg 20
  • I should think he'd stop for her sake (falling in love) A.A. pg 20
  • It would all end with heart failure during delirium tremens or I would develop a wet brain, perhaps within a year (ill health, warning of a doctor) A.A. pg 7
  • We are unable at certain times to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of suffering and humiliation (Consequences" i.e. "Remember when", "Think, think, think through the drink!", "Play the tape all the way through.") of even a week or month ago. A.A. pg 24
  • . . .he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind (self-knowledge, intelligence) and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. A.A. pg 26
  • It was the end of a perfect day (good times), not a cloud on the horizon A.A. pg. 41
  • Some will be drunk the day after making their resolutions (oaths, commitments, promises, etc.), most of them within a few weeks. A.A. pg 34
  • I (Dr. Jung) (psychiatrists,therapists, doctors) have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description. A.A. pg 27
  • . . .after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that while his religious convictions were very good (religious belief), in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience. A.A. pg.27
  • The physician (Dr. Bob) had repeatedly tried spiritual means (prayer and church) to resolve his alcoholic dilemma but had failed. A.A. pg xvi
  • . . .he remained bone dry for 25 years. . .Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic (addict) has--that after long period of sobriety (time, medallions, chips, sobriety birthdays) and self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men. . .in two months he was in a hospital. . .and was dead within four years. A.A. pg. 32-33
  • Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer (substitution) only, limiting the number of drinks (amount of drugs), never drinking (using) alone, never drinking (using) in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking (using) during business hours, drinking only at parties (controlled use), switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines (substitution), agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job (reputation), taking a trip, not taking a trip (change of environment, geographical cure), swearing off forever (oaths and resolutions), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums (detox and treatment centres) A.A. pg 31
  • He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family for whom he had deep affection. Yet he was drunk (high) again (consequences, good reasons to quit). A.A. pg 35-36
  • Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. (Just think through the drink) A.A. pg 37
  • Meeting Slogans: "Keep coming back" (Just don't drink and go to meetings) i.e. 90 meetings in 90 days
  • In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism (addiction) which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods (Trigger lists, avoidance of people, places and things). These attempts to do the impossible have always failed. A.A. pg 101
  • Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense (friends, family members, sponsors, fellowship, doctors, counselors, priests, etc. are all logs). A.A. pg 43

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? A.A. pg. 45

Faced with alcoholic (addictive) destruction, we soon became as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect alcohol (drugs) was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness. Sometimes this was a tedious process; we hope no one else will prejudiced for as long as some of us were. A.A. pg 48

There is a Solution - a way out!

...we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. A.A. pg 98

...our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
  2. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  3. That God could and would if He were sought. A.A. pg 60

We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself? As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built. A.A. pg 47

What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, "a design for living" that really works. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, a design for living tht really works. AA, pg. 28

Thus was our friend's cornerstone fixed in place. No later vicissitude has shaken it. His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation the though of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink (use) even if he would. God had restored his sanity.

What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker then he knew.

Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. To this man, the revelation was sudden. Some of us grow into it more slowly. But He has come to all who have honestly sought Him.

When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us! A.A. pg 57

What recovery "logs" have you tried but they failed to have the necessary power to recover?

3 Responses

  1. Cameron F. says:

    I didn’t realize I was an addict until I tried to stop and found that I couldn’t. Thus, I began my search for some kind of power. I have tried my own will-power, firm oaths and resolutions, frothy emotional appeals from my wife who threatened divorce, shame and guilt at finding my children playing with my dirty needles, my doctor telling me I have liver disease, avoidance strategies of people, places and things such as moving away from all my triggers, spiritual retreats, reading self-help books, taking personal development seminars, going to 12 Step meetings, listening to war stories, fear of overdosing, blackouts, reputation, career, sobriety time, exercise, therapy and counselling, substitution strategies such as marijuana maintenance, and church. All failed me. I realized I couldn’t stop, even though I really wanted to stop! It wasn’t until someone showed my how to work the steps as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that I found a way out. It has been many years now since I have had any desire to drink or use.

  2. Scott Finan says:

    Great Blog. These are the logs I tried which were suggested as a Program of Recovery… hahahahahahahahaha!

    Good damn nearly killed me!

    I tried the TREATMENT CENTRE logs. There were 21 day logs, 28 day logs, 3 months logs, and 1 year logs, wow, but what happened when the logs time was done… it drifted away and so did I!!!! Love that TREATMENT CENTRE log and there are still so many of them out in recovery river floating away, holding hopeful captives until that log reaches its expiration date be it 21 days, 28 days, etc., this log gives the illusion of stability and the recovery river is packed with these useless useless TREATMENT CENTRE logs hold addict captive and wasting their precious time with meaningless illusions.

    I tried the LOG of pyschiatrists, psychogists, addiction counsellors… but wtf… great log for one hour and then I had to tread water like hell for another month between flotations. Thanks, but I cant tread water for more than about 10 minutes, no thanks, you can keep that log, nice try though. Can I get my OHIP card back now?

    And yes, I did try that good old RELIGION log, in fact, I assembled two logs in the shape of a CROSS, hoping for more support, and though the log seemed to be holding others around me for some strange reason, I reckoned that those logs were for the lightweights and I was very heavily addicted by the time I found my RELIGION logs, but GOD BLESS the non addicts who can stay afloat on those logs. The world is better off for the RELIGION logs, but it was not for me.

    Finally, when ALL THE LOGS in my life were tried, and I was till drowning, it dawned on me to look for a ROCK!!!!!!

    Yes, upstream a bit I saw a SMALL ROCK and I swam toward it with all the desperation of a drowning man.

    Upon further inspection it turned out to be a BOULDER sitting right in the middle of all those logs and i only had to push those logs away, it was revealed to me. It had been there the whole time I was drowning but I had missed it, I had tried so many easier ways than taking that effort to swim toward the rock.

    Here was a TIMELESS STONE that I could stand on forever, and I was saved.

    The logs had simply obscured my view, but I had to say, they kept me alive long enough to find the ROCK and for that I am grateful :)

    My ROCK is composed of only 3 elements, Faith in a God, of my own understanding, daily practice of ALL 12 STEPS, and continuous service to other drowning addicts. I have had to jump back into the river and tell the people on the logs about the ROCK. It is big enough for all of us I would exclaim, but alas, some still held on to those logs, and some everntually drowned, but a few wise floaters left the logs and joined me on the ROCK.

    The moral of my story…. I learned how to kill 1000 logs with a single stone!

    Pretty neat!

    Go BIG BOOK SPONSORS go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Lupe P. says:

    I hadn’t understood the term "logs" before. Maybe other people can grab any of them, and they became firm stones. It’s not my experience, however.

    As a mental and emotional sick person, my fav log was (still is) deep dependence from another member to stay serene ("sober"). I hated when my sponsors were not available, or when they got sick or traveled abroad and I "couldn’t continue" Step work without them.

    My 4th step (from a BB guide, no sponsor to share with me) gave me self-knowledge, a deep understanding, but not the exact nature of my defects.

    Relying on my intelligence, too. My 4-year-serenity period, too, that it had qualified me to think, feel and live as other men, that it was going to keep me serene, away from depression and anger. My sound reasoning has failed to keep my fears away or my way of thinking sane. Besides, I don’t have an effective mental defense against my fears, resentments, doubts, etc.

    Interventions and bad guy tactics (called "shock therapy" and described as "two sick minds spiritual colliding and confronting") and "Hyde exorcism" made by one or many 12-step fellowship members are really popular and I’ve met AA members with one or double digit sobriety who always use it to uncloud minds and work through it. They gave me what they had, and it worked, of course, and I became addicted to it and to the sensation of power that it gave me, but these logs haven’t been useful for keeping me long term serene. I see the same in many AA fellas: they have this tool and are keeping the first drink away, but they wonder why they aren’t happy, serene and free. AND one more log: "I don’t need literature but experience, so get out with your BB"

    The only think that is working for me effectively, deeply and strongly is the practice of the 12 steps as described in the Big Book: finding, building and deepening a relationship with God, where He is the Director, Boss and Father, and not me nor any log.

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