Addiction and alcoholism are both a 3 fold disease, meaning there are three distinct areas that alcoholism affects and the reason you cannot stop drinking and using.
What many people do not know is that the disease of alcoholism is deeper than an allergy and mental obsession. Our alcoholic life is really the symptom of a spiritual malady.
The aspects of the 3 fold illness that need to be understood to recover from alcoholism are:
- The Body
- The Mind
- The Spirit
The three must be addressed to find healing, recovery, and to live life sober.
What Do We Mean by Recovered?
Alcoholics Anonymous, the book that was created in the late 1930s was used to get people sober. Alcoholics would read and follow the steps in the book and get sober.
The title page of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism”
Recovered means free from the obsession and constant struggle to stay sober. That will be lifted if you correctly follow the twelve steps in the book.
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone — even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically.” Page 84 of Alcoholics Anonymous
So what’s the Problem? Why can we not get to this place as chronic relapsers?
The answer is three fold.
Our Body and the Physical Allergy
The book states that when we drink it is similar to an allergy. When an alcoholic puts a drink in their body, they have an abnormal reaction to it.
Basically, the alcoholic, once they start they cannot control the amount they take. The Big Book calls this the phenomenon of craving.
Once it’s in the body it sets off a reaction. The body craves more, and it is purely physical. It is very similar to someone allergic to peanuts. Let’s ask a hypothetical person with a peanut allergy the following: “Can you eat a peanut and use your mind to will yourself not to have a physical reaction.”
Absolutely not! That is delusional thinking!
We as addicts and alcoholics have the same problem. The allergy is not about the mind or our will power. Often people like us have some of the strongest will power that exists.
But when it comes to alcohol and drugs, there is no will power. The reason is that our reaction to alcohol and drugs is physical, it’s not mental. We cannot control our abnormal reaction to alcohol.
The Mind is also Abnormal
So the solution should be to just stop drinking. Right?
We should be able to just put the plug in the jug and move on with our lives. This is why we don’t like most A.A. slogans. They oversimplify our problem and solution and can send the wrong information.
If you are an alcoholic, then you know you cannot just put the plug in the jug and quit. If it were as easy as not eating a peanut anymore, then you would have stopped long ago.
The reason we cannot just quit is that our mind constantly has us believe that we can control and enjoy our drinking. No matter what the consequences were in the past, our mind will be obsessed with the thought of drinking.
Keep in mind that this is separate from the physical craving. Even after someone is completely detoxed and has all alcohol or drugs removed from their body, they will still obsess about drinking or using.
People like us are obsessed with the thought of controlling and enjoying our drugs or alcohol. The biggest problem is that our mind buys the lie that the next time it will be different. No one will know. You deserve it and the consequences are not important.
The Spiritual Malady
Finally, we get to the spiritual malady.
“Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, but we have also been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” Page 64 of Alcoholics Anonymous
Our spiritual malady causes us to be restless, irritable, and discontented. We feel like we are crawling out of our skin.
We cannot manage these feelings.
We begin to obsess and buy the lie because we want to feel the ease and comfort of the first drink. We drink and set off the craving and the cycle of addiction starts all over again.
No Power, No Choice
The bottom line, a true alcoholic or addict has no power to stop, avoid, or control their drinking.
What the book says is that the only thing that will solve our drink problem is a spiritual awakening, spiritual experience, attitude adjustment, or psychic change.
The common way to get this transformational change in your psyche is by doing the 12 Steps that are written in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.