Monthly Archives: March 2014

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition. – Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 31-32

The least effective way to persuade a person that he is alcoholic is to diagnose him as one. Besides, that is a job for the family. Look at what great results that got them.

Unfortunately, the self-diagnosis suggested here depends on a very shaky assumption, namely that an alcoholic is capable of being honest with himself. I don’t often take issue with the Big Book, but it seems to me that by the time someone gets to our doors they have already tried this experiment in some form or another for years. It seems pointless to ask them to repeat it. As for suggesting that someone “[s]tep over to the nearest barroom,” nowadays it is more likely that they will drive over, and worse, drive away.  I’m not sure I would like that on my conscience.

The important thing to take away from this paragraph is that ultimately an alcoholic’s drinking experience is the most effective diagnostic tool there is. And the best way to draw attention to that is by sharing our own experience. As the new prospect listens to us diagnose ourselves he becomes increasingly able to do the same.

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The litany of the methods

Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums – we could increase the list ad infinitum. – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.31

Glad they just said they “could” increase the list ad infinitum and didn’t actually do it. They wouldn’t have finished writing page 31 yet.  But I think we all chuckle when we read this because it really shows how sadly comical our methods were.

I could comment on this ad infinitum, but I’ll just let the paragraph speak for itself.


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