Friday, April 29, 2011


The first time I heard that saying in a meeting of Alcoholic’s Anonymous I thought I’d heard it incorrectly. After the meeting I approached the speaker and he assured me that I’d heard it right. I was too new in the program to truly understand the full impact of those words.

Now, after almost 22 years sober, I’ve come to not only under-stand that saying but to firmly believe it. Time and again I’ve seen people hit rock bottom. They come into the rooms of AA sick, bedraggled and desperate. They “will do anything” to stay sober.

But, more often than not they are “well” in a matter of months. They‘ve regained their appetites, they‘re starting to look and feel good and recovery goes out the window. “Alcoholic?,” they say, “Not me. I can take it or leave it. I’ve proved that by not drinking for X amount of days.”

We feel bad as we watch them go. They’ve caught the dreaded “alcoholwasm” syndrome and all we can do is leave the doors open for them and hope that they will be lucky enough to find their way back in before it‘s too late … for them, or sadly too often, for others.

The first thing I had to have drummed into me when I started my AA journey was that stopping drinking is actually the easiest part of recovery. It’s facing the “ism” that’s hard. The “ism’s” are the psychological and personality issues that crop up and that we couldn’t get through before without drinking. We need to face them and put them behind us.

The process of changing how we deal with life and all of it’s problems is a critical part of recovery and I work on it daily. The results are well worth the effort … and it’s really not that hard once I set my mind to the fact that I have alcoholism, not “alcoholwasm.”

As a dear friend in AA puts it: “Getting and staying sober is a cinch. All you have to do is … don’t drink, go to meetings, and change your whole damn life”.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

So, it really ain't so simple, eh?

5:24 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

A thought-provoking post and a very personal one. Thanks for sharing Ginnie.

7:27 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

A dear friend of mine can tell me to the day, hour and minute how long she has been sober.
And it is recovering--never recovered.
Keep on the road, Ginnie.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I know that fighting all addictive behaviours is hard. Years ago, I felt I was an addictive personality so I decided not to drink. I am always aware of the pressure to drink is put on you.
"Would you like a drink?" "No!" Just one, come on!" I can't imagine how much the tempation is for alcoholics in such situations.
My firend Lynne is giving up smoking. It has been several months and it is almost a daily effort to resist even when all her family and myself do not smoke and try to be supportive of her. I guess it will always be thus.

12:02 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

That's exactly how it happened with my former son-in-law. He refused to admit (after the initial confession) that he was an alcoholic and he back-slid big time. He is still in denial, I am sure.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Very interesting Ginnie. Congratulations on 22 years sober. That is awesome. Love Di ♥

3:52 AM  
Blogger ellen said...

Good for you, Ginnie. I can appreciate how much hard work it has taken, and takes.

10:48 AM  
Blogger possum said...

I can't believe it - 28 years and I NEVER heard wasm - lots about isms, no wasm. Well, I guess I will have something to add on Monday! Thanks, Ginnie!

And, yeah, the trick is in being willing to change your life.

Proud of you - 22 years!!!!!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

So very true. I have a friend who is many years sober but has every ism there is. He is, in short, a mess.

5:02 AM  

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