Addict Identification or Group Discrimination?

On page xxviii, A.A. 4th Edition, in the Chapter, “The Doctor’s Opinion”, it reads, “Men and women drink (use, act out in an obsessive-compulsive manner) essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol (drugs, obsessive-compulsive behavior). The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic (addict) life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks–drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink (use) again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of their recovery.

Our experience has shown that if a person be an addict of the hopeless variety, regardless of their addiction — alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, self-harm or injury, co-dependence, they all have one thing in common; they all experience the pattern of addiction that starts with a spree where they have no control over their behaviour, followed by a period of remorse, horror or hopelessness, followed by a firm desire not to do it again, only to succumb to the behavior again and repeat the cycle over and over.

Why then are some people so preoccupied with identification? How are we to cope with so much cross-addiction in the 12 step rooms today? If someone suffers from a number of addictions, should this person join every 12 step group that identifies with his or hers affliction or should they join “a” group and talk about one addiction only and keep the other ones secret? (Some fellowships do not permit the discussion of other addictions.)

Today, alcoholics are showing up in Gamblers Anonymous meetings. The A.A. rooms are filled with cross-addicted alcoholics – such as “black-out” drunks using “crack-cocaine” to extend their drinking bouts! Sex addicts are greeted with smirks and jokes about sex addiction. Gamblers think their addiction is “different”. Alcoholics apparently don’t relate to the “druggies”. Among drug addicts there seems to be cliques about who is more “addicted”.

What do you think about addict identification? Is it group discrimination to exclude other addictions? Are we not all addicts who suffer from a spiritual malady? Does the 12 step program work for any kind of addiction? Have you worked with other addicts who suffer from addictions that are not your own? Tell us about your experiences.

4 thoughts on “Addict Identification or Group Discrimination?

  1. My name is Cameron and I am a recovered drug addict, alcoholic, and self-harm addict.

    I have personally worked with alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, heroin addicts, cocaine addicts, cystal-meth addicts, sex addicts, food addicts, and codependents or harmful relationship addicts. I have worked with men, women, "gay" men and "gay" women.

    When making my approach, I first establish a confidence with the suffering addict by going over the passage in the Doctor’s Opinion (page xxviii, A.A.) that describes the addiction cycle so eloquently. Substituting terms and phrases related to the words drink or alcoholism with their specific addiction works well and we are able to easily identify with each other as addicts. As a result of this approach I have witnessed many different kinds of addicts recover from their malady. Moreover, I can relate to any 12 step fellowship regardless of what addiction they specifically identify with.

  2. One simple thing is the cause of me wanting to run around fixing the world. That would be "EGO" The message is available. People will continue to do what they are going to do. People that I have brought through the steps that find no ease and comfort in alcohol, I would mention to them that AA is probally not the best place for them to hang out as a primary residence. Will they listen to me? No, ego will not let my voice be heard over there insistance or anyone else’s insistence need to be right. Tradition says "one" not "two" things we do in the rooms. On that side, I have no particular view. In the rooms, primary/one, purpose should be respected.

  3. I do the 12 Steps with all addictions and substitute the drug or obsessive compulsive behavior for the word alcohol in the Big Book.

    The results are it has worked successfully with the same frequency I experience with alcoholics, no better and no worse, some have slip and many have recovered.

    I didnt believe it until I actually tried it and saw that an alcoholic like me could guide a crack addict through the 12 Steps and they are doing just fine today. We shared very similar resentments and fears and had alot in common, including our big egos and low self esteem.

    So I tried it again… same results. So now I believe it purely based on the results.

    The 12 Steps removes the obession to act out on any addictive behaviour. This have been experienced hundred of thousands of times and is not a theory. It is experience.

    The substance addicted to is irrelevant.

    You need to stop or die and I need to help you or I may start again.

    I dont really care what the substance of your addiction is, I care about you not dying and learning the Spiritual Principles of the simple 12 steps to live happily again.

    I am happy to work with any addict and in the Preamble of our Back to Basics meetings we welcome all addicts. We are old school and here to stay.

  4. Dan H. writes: I was an iv drug user for 29 years and could not stop and STAY stopped despite coming to the rooms of AA,NA,SLAA,CODA,ACOA. Also brief visits to DA & OA. Finally I walked into a meeting and saw a woman in a golden halo(as I had seen women 3 other times in my life, although one of them had a purple halo, not gold) She listened to me for five minutes and the desire to use left me.

    Although I had to work to twelve steps amidst over year of incredible pain and suffering and various external trials, once I had finished, I KNEW I never had to use again. AND WAS GOOD WITH THAT!!!

    I had experienced pretty much the full deal that the steps can offer-a true psychic shift, opening of my heart chakra, and connection to my overself. HOWEVER, I became aware that my sexual behavior was pretty rampant, and not in keeping with the self image I held as a concept of integrity.

    So I returned to SLAA and worked the HOW(non conference approved, but sourced from OA I believe) And MIRACULOUSLY my compulsive masturbation of over 30 years fell away AND I NEVER HAD TO DO IT AGAIN. Compulsively anyway(: But what I realised was this: god had cured my drug addiction, but had not cured my sex addiction(and yes there is a healthy level of sex and intimacy, Slaa recovery is NOT abstinence. Post withdrawal anyway. That’s repression) BECAUSE I had never asked him into that area of my life!

    The fact is the steps work, whether you have the full CONSCIOUS vision into Gods world like me, or simply an educational experience of a spiritual awakening(aa big book appendix:spiritual awakenings), BUT EACH FELLOWSHIP HAS SPECIAL INSIGHT INTO THEIR OWN AREA, and the fellowship offers identification through open sharing and healing and acceptance thru the same. I often see persons with 6-7 years ‘sober’ or ‘clean’ come into SLAA and be humbled by the fact they can’t just ‘pick it up’.

    It’s the same story-I can’t, but WE can.

    God Bless, and keep coming back.

    The truth is, these program’s work BEST for the most desperate, for they are MOST open to God

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