People

Chapter 8: To Alcoholism Professionals

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Sponsor’s Note: Since the late 1970’s I have watched the relationship between Alcoholics Anonymous and the Alcoholism Treatment Community oscillate back and forth between cooperation and co-dependence, often descending into a mismatched competition between cross-purpose goals. Sponsoring rehab parolees in the early 1980’s was a joy: 28 days gave them a running start, and most had Sponsor and a Home Group before they ever left treatment. Sponsoring rehab graduates in the 2020’s has become a nightmare: 90 days or more of dogmatic indoctrination seems bent on preparing them to fail when they get to AA.

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Chapter 8

“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future – must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.” Hippocrates, Epidemics

TO ALCOHOLISM PROFESSIONALS

I made first contact with Alcoholism Professionals (A.P.s) in 1979, as the earliest Anheuser-Busch Employee at their Williamsburg, Virginia, location to be sent off for 28-days of treatment. Admittance to the alcoholic ward at Peninsula Psychiatric Hospital played out like a screen-test for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” as a menagerie of human casualties mixed indiscriminately, with drunks standing on the bottom rung of the dysfunctional ladder. At that time, A.P.s understood the limits of what any treatment could do, so after stabilizing my medical condition, they set out to prepare me to succeed in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) But not through group meetings, assigned readings, or manualized introductions. Instead, after 21 days I was taken on a supervised day pass to an A.A. meeting, where I was assigned a sponsor and surrendered publicly in front of what was to become my Home Group.(note) One full week before my return to polite society, I was connected to a uniquely American application of a perennial-primordial tradition that has spanned back through millennia of human history. And one can never underestimate the benefit of warehousing a blackout drunk for 28-days, bringing a timely end to an epic, tragicomic adventure fueled by lawyers, guns, and money.

My alcoholism was far from being a private affair; my recovery was likewise to be a team sport.  A 25-year-old does not find themselves in the straitjacket lockdown of a drunk tank without a lot of help along the way, and without bringing a lot of people along with them. My drinking resume reads like a laundry list  of enabling transactions between friends, family, co-workers, and a variety of institutions both sacred and profane. Likewise, I could now see a conspiratorial path to sobriety being laid down between me and my alcoholic boss, his sober supervisor, my contact at Anheuser Busch’s Employee Assistance Program, my assigned counselor at Peninsula Psychiatric, the Corporate liaison representing my interests between Anheuser-Busch and Peninsula Psychiatric, my A.A. sponsor, my Home Group in A.A., and everyone else that I was too befuddled to remember. It is to the uneven exchanges along such a chain transmission that we will we anchor our general discussion in this Chapter.

I came to AA with a running start on the sobriety clock, but also no preconceived ideas about alcoholism or A.A.  beyond what I had learned from my brief intervention. As time passed and I became a sponsor myself, I would witness the ranks of AA membership swell up with growing numbers of discharged patients, (note) most of whom came in less fortunately situated than I did. Althugh their medical condition relative to mine seemed improved by a month or two of additional abstinence,  they also came weighed down by a conceptual package about alcoholism and A.A. that made it increasingly difficult for them to work the Twelve Steps, and almost impossible to sponsor effectively. To be more specific, we will take a brief look at three unfortunate groups leading the friendly invasion that helped weaken, disrupt, and endanger the chain of transmission upon which Twelve-Step Sobriety depends: the Diseased Modelers,  the Facilitated Twelve Steppers, and the Relaxed Relapsers.

…transcription to be continued…MVC

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Chapter 1

TO ALCOHOLISM PROFESSIONALS

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Chapter 8

TO ALCOHOLISM PROFESSIONALS

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