- The Thinking Prior To a Return to Drinking or Relapse

The Thinking Prior To a Return to Drinking or Relapse




Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober

The Thinking Prior To a Return to Drinking or Relapse

Postby Dallas » Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:10 pm

The Thinking Prior To a Return to Drinking or Relapse

The two greatests lessen that I've ever learned in my whole life is:

I. I am alcoholic.

II. Alcoholism effects my thinking -- regardless of how long I've been sober, regardless of how recovered I think I am, regardless of how close I think I am to God, and regardless of how fit I think that my spiritual condition is.

1. It is my "thinking" that will tell me that I am willing, honest, open-minded, and in fit spiritual condition and that I have a desire to be sober and be close to God. It is my thinking that will tell me that I have recovered, and/or that I am recoverying. Each one of those "ESSENTIALS" is something that I do with "my mind" -- and "my mind" is what I use to "do my thinking."

2. Where do I experience my honesty, willingness, open-mindedness, and spirituality? Where do I make the judgement and the decision that "I'm okay today. I'm in a good place today"?

a) My thinking
b) My feelings

3. Where do I experience God, or what I "think" is my experience of God, if it is not through my "thinking"?

4. When I make a "decision" to turn my "will" and life of to the care of "God, as I understand Him" -- What am I using to "make the decision?" What is my "will" consist of? Where does "God, as I understand Him" exist for me?

It's "my thinking."

IF "my thinking" has been damaged by my alcoholism, even when I "think I am recovered"... and "think that I am thinking sanely and normaly" -- and even when I "think that God is directing my thoughts" -- if I forget that I am alcoholic, and that the problem I have with alcohol "centers in my mind" -- I can think myself right into my next drink -- because I have been relying on my "thinking" to tell me that my relationship with God is right, and my spirituality is right on the mark.

Does any of this make sense to anyone else?

I have been sober in A.A. for over 21 years, I have tried to help hundreds of other alcoholics (that's probably why I'm still sober), and I have watched thousands of alcoholics come in and out of A.A.

The one thing that I see in common with all of them and myself is -- we reach a certain point where we are relying on our thinking. And, many of us begin to "think" that we are "relying on God" -- but if you "think" about this one: "What do you use -- to rely on God?" -- the answer is "my thinking."

Another lesson that I've learned that is common to myself and all the alcoholics that I've ever known that returned to drinking is this: "before the drink, we thought we could rely on our thinking."

I'm probably the least-saintly, and least-spiritual memeber in all of A.A., and I have watched some A.A.'s who I have admired their progress towards saintlyness, sanity, spirituality, and their knowledge of God, alcoholism and recovery -- and I have always had a desire and a hope that I could reach the level of spirituality that they posessed -- and, guess what? Some of those A.A.'s that I so much admired for the quality of their sobriety and spirituality -- returned to drinking.

That may not say much to anyone else -- but it says a heck of a lot to me. It has provided me with enough information about alcoholism and sobriety and recovery and spirituality -- to convince me of one thing: "Regardless of how far away I think I am from the next drink -- I am probably wrong about it. Because there is one part of my thining that has been damaged due to alcoholism - that will never recover." :lol:

We often talk about the importance of carrying the vision of God's will for us into all the areas of our lives -- everyday.

There is another vision that I believe we MUST carry with us: and that is "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic and I am alcoholic... and I cannot rely on my thinking, even when I'm thinking that my thinking is about God."

If I forget that primary vision that I must carry with me everyday -- it does not matter how well I carried the vision of God's will into my life.

You see, it's my "thinking" that's telling me, that "I am carrying the vision of God's will in my life."

Before The Pioneers of A.A., had the benefits of having the Big Book to rely on, they gained a lot of information from reading one particular book in the Bible, and it was the book of James.

The primary message of the book of James is: your first mistake is to rely on your thinking. "You show me your Faith by your thinking -- and I'll show you my faith by my actions. :lol: One similarity that I see in the book of James and in our Big Book is: "If you are relying on your thinking, even if your thinking is about God, and sobriety and recovery -- you're screwed!" :lol: :lol:

If you are relying on your thoughts about how to be sober, what Grace is, what Gifts are, and what God is, and you are a real alcoholic ... you're screwed! :lol: :lol:

That's how I've seen it.

Dallas
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Postby garden variety » Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:28 pm

I don't "think" it's wise for me to worry too much about my "thinking", or in what realm of my imagination "God" exists - if "He" is real, or if I'm following "His will" and so forth. I mean, if I "think" too much or too deeply about the way I'm thinking, then I'll probably begin making myself miserable and causing problems which my ego is the root of. I've proven that to myself already in the past many times. I'm really not that important and am totally happy being a "garden variety" alcoholic just like everyone else.

I admit I'm only now just learning that "Keep it Simple" and "One Day at a Time" have value far beyond my understanding. But, what I "think" and say is worthless unless it's been churned through the fellowship for several decades and experienced by several million fellow alcoholics.

The best "gift" about the program, and I mean the very best thing for me, is the knowledge that I didn't invent Alcoholics Anonymous. Something and someone greater than Paul is behind this miracle. With that knowledge alone, I know that at least I have a chance to live sober if I follow the instructions. I can say without second thoughts that I can live a life free from the compulsion to drink and learn how to live one day at a time in a happy, joyous, and free state of mind. None of that came from a single "original" thought that belongs to me exclusively.

Another big "gift" that I've been freely given, that keeps my "thinking" within narrowing boundaries of "sanity" and "clear" thought, is the program of recovery which is the 12 Steps. I learn more each day that the 12 Steps are based on taking actions that have a spiritual or moral foundation. The book says I needed some kind of "moral psychology" to bring about a certain kind of psychological "rearrangement" that would set me on course of being restored to sanity, or else I would be "doomed" as Dr. Silkworth says.

By taking the actions that get me less than halfway through the Ninth Step, I've been promised certain things. One of those promises is very important to me - that promise is the one that gives me the confidence to begin to start trusting my "thinking" again. The promise says "We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." That tells me that my "thinking" is getting healed by taking daily actions that are based on the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps. I don't have to think or worry about whether that is true or not. I didn't invent it - but millions of my fellow alcoholics have confirmed that it is true.

Another "gift" that was freely given to me was a nice big 164-page book of instructions called "Alcoholics Anonymous" that was written by a collection of 100 "recovered" alcoholics, each one with a unique personality and soul. I can use this book to get a general idea whether or not my "thinking" is being influenced by drunkeness or sobriety. The unity in putting together this "Design for Living that really works" seems to have "transcended" any single man or woman's ego, and was miraculously exactly what was needed for the "common good" of every single alcoholic at that time and for times yet to come.

(I personally think this was a miracle of such big proportions that it couldn't have existed only in their "thinking" or "imagination". I personally believe it was a "manifestation" of some kind of higher form of being external to the human realm - I can't "imagine" any other explanation for the Big Book. But it doesn't matter what I think, and not a single man or woman has to believe that.)

Another "gift" that I've been freely given, which is an influence outside of my own imagination and thinking, that will point out any of my self-serving thoughts or ideas is the "altruistic" fellowship of millions of men and women known as Alcoholics Anonymous. If I freely choose to participate in this fellowship, which is an action, my thoughts and actions suddenly become their business. I am given the stabilizing influence of accountability to other human beings.

When I make a comment about "Grace" or "Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness", I'm hoping to "reflect" the same thought that was "freely given" to me by you all that has made my world a better place to live today. If my “arrangement of wordsâ€
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Postby Dallas » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:19 pm

When ALL else fails, including your thinking, regardless of how inspired or God directed it is -- ACTION -- is the magic ingredient that never fails. :lol:

ACTION is the magic. ACTION. ACTION. And more ACTIONS!

You can have the greatest power tools in the universe -- and you can think all you want and have all the faith that you want that God is going to run those action tools for you -- and, nothing is going to happen unless you take ACTION to plug the tool into the POWER SOURCE. And, if certain actions are not taken... what good does it do to be plugged in?

The Power Source doesn't give a hoot what someone thinks about the Power Source.

If I believe in the stuff that's written in the Big Book -- this is precisely what it's saying.... and, I believe it.

Why would the book say "when ALL ELSE FAILS"?

What is "ALL ELSE"?

What is left after "ALL ELSE" has failed?

Simple: Action. The actions never fail. The actions don't care what I believe about the actions.

Chapter 5, does not start out with "Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly THOUGHT about our path." :lol:

Chapter 5, does not start out with "Rarely have we seen a person fail, who's GOD-INSPIRED and GOD-DIRECTED THINKING - THOUGHT about our path." :lol:

"Followed our path" -- does not mean "thought about our path"

"FOLLOWED OUR PATH" == "taking the ACTIONS".

Perhaps God has "healed" that part of your mind -- that has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Sorry if you are healed and I perhaps offended you. I didn't mean to offend, anyone. :lol: I happen to be one of those "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic" type of alcoholics.

I'd rather put my sobriety on what's written about "taking actions" in the Big Book -- rather than put my sobriety on what anyone "thinks" about anything. :lol:

I get sick and tired of watching spiritually fit alcoholics, who have a wonderful "conscious contact with God" -- return to drinking or put a rope around their neck.

If this message offends you -- this message is perhaps not for you -- it's for alcoholics who have already been down that "thinking path" and already tried all those wonderful and logical concepts that that we "hear about" and "read about" -- and they've landed in a place where they are drinking and cannot get sober. Or... it's for those who are sober... and got all the stuff we often hear about and really believed in it -- and they've got the next drink up to their lips. Or... perhaps it's for those who have discovered that they are drinking and they are asking themselves "how did it happen again? I had such a wonderful conscious contact with God, and knew everything about everything about God, and sobriety, and the book and grace, and everything else. Why did I pick up that drink?"

Or.... perhaps it's for someone else... who's wondering if "they're healed, too!" At least, they've had fair warning.

Dallas B.
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Postby DebbieV » Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:43 pm

Dallas Wrote:
There is another vision that I believe we MUST carry with us: and that is "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic and I am alcoholic... and I cannot rely on my thinking, even when I'm thinking that my thinking is about God."



Tomorrow I would have had 6 months sober.

I have sponsored 2 girls.

Call my sponsor when she says.

Read the Big Book.

Go to about 5 or more meetings a week.

Chair 3 meetings a week.

Meet with my sponsor and other women once a week.

Talk to at least 2 other alcoholics everyday.

Read pages 60-63 and 83-88 at least 4 times a week.

Try to Pray everyday (most days on my keens, some all though the day).

In the last two weeks I have had more spiritual experiences than I have since I got sober.

I became more God reliant and less Debbie reliant than I thought possible.

I was experiencing a peace like never before.

I was thinking my way right into a bottle.
How could I go wrong?
Wasn't I doing everything that was suggested?

Last night I want to say I found myself in a bar, but that would be a lie. I went to the bar for the purpose to get drunk.
And I took the God I was thinking about, and the program I was thinking about right along with me.
I did not care about the God I had been thinking about, I did not care about the program I was thinking about.

I am an alcoholic. The problem centers in my mind, and that is where AA, the BB, God, sponsor, meetings and the steps centered also. In my mind.
My problem is not alcohol, my problem is thinking. Alcohol is my cure for alcoholism. What I think, is my loaded gun.

God is not my cure.
AA is not my cure.
Meetings are not my cure.
A sponsor is not my cure.
The steps is not my cure.
The BB is not my cure.
Thinking about them as though they are my cure, will get me drunk. First hand experience.

Let Go Let God?

Meeting makers make it?

My cure for my problem with alcohol, is abstinence. THAT IS IT.

My cure for alcoholism, to understand that I can not trust, understand or rely on my thinking, not about God or AA or anything.

"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of ACTION" Page 85 in the Big Book.

I don't think that is telling me to be sure and not stop THINKING about the spiritual program.

Its was not what I THOUGHT about God, what I THOUGHT about God was great. Still is.
I have a loving God today.
I have a infinite God today.
Same God I had before I took the first drink yesterday.
Same one, in my opinion, that spoke through my first sponsor today when he said I don't care what you think or feel, DON'T TAKE A DRINK TODAY.

No matter what I think, or think about. I am and always will be an alcoholic.

I have to know that everyday when I get out of bed, all day long, and when my head hits the pillow at night.

I can not think my way sane, when I am using a brain that is damaged to do so with.

I can not think that God is going to keep me sane and sober, when I am using a damaged brain to think with.

I just have to know that I am an alcoholic. And with that knowledge, I have to take ACTION.

Thank God, I didn't use my thinking to make it through this day sober. I took ACTION.

That is MY experience.

Debbie
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Postby Danni » Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:57 pm

My sponsor told me, "The three most dangerous words out of the mouth of an alcoholic are 'I've been thinking' ."

She also said the Seven Deadly words for the alcoholic are: "This is what I think about it."

She also says things like "This is Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. is a program of actions that changes our thinking, it is not a program of thinking that changes our actions."

Another one that I like is "You will find a chapter in the Big Book, titled 'Into Action' and you will not find a chapter titled 'Into Thinking' ."

Her sponsor is often says "In A.A. meetings we do not discuss what we think about something, we discuss what we do about something."

Another one that I've heard is "This is Alcoholics Anonymous, it's for the do'ers. Thinkers Anonymous, is down at Charlie's Tavern. We come to A.A. to do and go back to the bar to think."

Here is an original :lol: (but, I probably heard it in a meeting) "As long as you're thinking about the instructions you're not following the instructions."

"Thinkers think about life and do'ers live it."

I read this one by Dallas, "I would rather be eating ice cream instead of thinking about ice cream."

Thanks for the post, Dallas.

"I came to A.A. because of my drinking and I stayed because of my thinking!"

Love & hugs.

Danni
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Postby Danni » Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:21 pm

Hello Debbie,

I am so sorry to hear that you drank but I am so grateful that you are here to share with us. My heart and thoughts are on you and my prayers are going out for you. It hurts bad enough when I see any A.A. member go back to drinking but when it's another woman it not only hurts more it scares the p-word right out of me! I was told that alcohol harms women more and faster than it harms men and I believe that it does.

I am so grateful that you are back and with us again. I wish I could have been there for you. I understand the fatal nature of our disease. I have relatives who have died from alcoholism. We do not have to live in fear or worry but it is 100% exactly what you wrote, we MUST remember EVERYDAY that we are alcoholic. I am here for you if you need me.

LOVE & HUGS AND HUGS AND HUGS AND HUGS TO YOU!!!!!!

We are ALL here for you!

Danni
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Postby Hope » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:19 am

Dallas, thank you for posting this message. It is exactly what I needed to hear tonight. It would be great if all the replies to this topic were kept on the subject instead of getting all weirded out with unrelated jabbering about a bunch of nothing that has to do with nothing.

I posted this question yesterday in the "Chips" topic and I see it belongs here so I'll post it here.

"Why do some A.A.'s have to make it so difficult and complex and theoretical and about religion? "


Drop the rock. Thinking leads to drinking. I get so tired of hearing people tell me what they think I should think. My sponsor does not tell me what to think or how I should think. She shows me what she has done and when I need help she shows me what to do.

Danni, I love those quotes from your sponsor. They are right so so so right on!

I abhor discussion meetings where everyone sits around discussing what they think of some silly topic and then ask "what do you think about it? Do you want to share what you think?" This is why I normally do not get involved in discussions on the Internet forums and chats. I read but I don't discuss and most Internet sites are just full of what someone thinks about something. Think drink puke gag. Most of the time this Internet site is different here.

I mostly go to speaker meetings because in speaker meetings I hear what someone did about their problems rather than what they think about. I learn by listening to what someone does and if it looks like it worked for them I become willing to try it.

Debbie, sorry to hear of your slip. Glad you are back and are not dead in a gutter somewhere. Hang in there girlfriend. Pick yourself up and keep on trudging! We are here to walk with you hand-in-hand through recovery land! It may have hit you hard but don't let it knock you out of the park. What you wrote is perfect! I wish my mother would have understood those things that you wrote. She might be alive today had she learned what you have learned. We have to be responsible for our own recovery and accountable for our actions. It's not the thoughts I think that gets me drunk but my thinking can lead me right back to drinking.

What I hear is "I can't think myself into right actions but I can act myself into right thinking." When I'm thinking my next step is drinking. I read here in this forum that the hardest part of taking the steps is thinking about the steps.

My alcoholism keeps my ego smashed. My alcoholism keeps me humble and willing. I can get my head wrapped up in promises and forget why I am here. I didn't come to aa because I suffered from promise-deficiency syndrom. First things first I'm here to stay sober.

tHank you for being here

Hope
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Postby Dallas » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:31 am

For the non-alcoholics or the argumentative types:

I thought it would be wise to write a message for the non-alcoholics or argumentative types who might be reading this thread, asking “What the heck are they talking about? How can you do anything without thinking? Don’t they believe in recovery? Restored to sanity? Are they just all nuts?â€
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Postby Lou » Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:36 am

What a great thread! Dallas, when I read your first post, I had no idea what you were writing about! Debbie, I am so sorry to hear about your slip, but I am glad that you are back! Paul your post and Dallas' reply help me to understand.

To me, number 1 is that I am an alcoholic. I am utterly powerless over alcohol.

I have been in a place that my thinking, convinced me that I was "healed." Guess what? I wasn't.

But to Debbie's point, for me, not drinking was not enough.

Without action, I may not have had a drink, but still I was carrying the disease. The disease eventually took over my thinking, which led to that first drink.

Through others like you all sharing your experience, strength and especially hope, I've taken more action in 25 days of sobriety than in a previous 8 years of not drinking. I have to believe that this simple program, which has helped millions of others to achieve and maintain sobriety will work for me as well. If not, what hope is there? I've seen the miracle work in others, why not in me?

So, I hope that my ego stays crushed. I hope that my self-will becomes His-will. And in the mean time all I can do is follow the suggestions of my sponsor, pray, and keep coming back. one day at a time.
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Postby garden variety » Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:02 am

I'm not sure where what went in this thread? :?

First I'll say that I understand that the AA program of recovery is a program of action. If I "think" and don't take action, then I'm not working a program of recovery. I'm just having a fantasy. :wink:

I don't disagree that "thinking" or "dwelling" or "obsessing" can cause problems. I really enjoyed what Dallas just posted about those other areas because I can identify with some of it pretty close.

If I somehow gave the impression that I'm "cured" from the fatal and progressive disease of alcoholism, which today - in my life - has been "arrested" at that stage when I had my last drink - well if I gave that impression that I'm cured, then I really don't know how that came about. I didn't think there was a cure? :?

But I do believe that I've recovered from the hopeless state of mind and body that was once a part of my active addiction to alcohol. Maybe I'm "pushing the envelope" here by "thinking" I can independently "think" in a clear and sober manner about things other than alcohol. You know things like the NFL AFC Central Division, fuel efficiency of the car I replaced the MAF sensor in, the best kind of thermal insulation for my back porch, or why the RAM on my laptop won't register in the system profiler (I'm beginning to think this is one for the HP). It may be a big stretch to "think" that if I pray to this Higher Power I found, that I'll get help with spiritual direction and maybe follow His will that I sometimes have the habit of trusting is His and not mine. :shock:

I read somewhere in the book that after all God gave us brains to use. :shock: :shock: :shock: Step 2 says I came to believe that my sanity could be restored. Step nine has a promise that says I will have intuitive responses that are appropriate when sometime ago I used to be "baffled". Pages 83 -86 of the book talk about excerising my will and thinking in a way that is sane - and it also gives me the instructions on how to get in touch with a Higher Power. The book tells me how to "expand and enlarge and perfect" my spirituality and tells me if I don't that I'll surely drink and to drink means to die. And Yes Dallas, it says when "all else fails" helping another alcoholic works to keep me sober - and I believe that too. :P But here's where maybe our paths go different ways - the thing I learned is that if I put these simple suggestions into action, then my life gets better, and my ability to "think" clearly or in a sane way somehow improves over a time.

Please don't look at me like I have three heads when I say by rigorously working a recovery program that its given me the ability to think more clearly than I ever have before. Please don't tell me that I will never be able to know the will of God because I'm so delusional. Don't suggest tht after watching and following you guys and gals for several years that I can't figure out what Honesty, Openmindedness, and Willingness is because I'm still a delusional drunk - that's way out of bounds in my opinion and I'm not sure it's all that helpful to a new man or woman. :!:

No where in the book or steps does it say there is a law against using my brain to think. It just doesn't make any sense. And I wouldn't have any hope at all if I were to believe that I will always "think" like the drunk I used to be even if I've been sober 21 years and working the recovery program to the best of my ability. If that's what the book says, then I must be reading the wrong book. :shock:

Why would I want to get involved in recovery if it doesn't give me restored sanity and mental capacity? I don't know about anyone else, but I understood somewhere that after having a spiritual awakening as the result of working the 12 steps, my whole outlook and personality gets profoundly altered. Well to me that means I have become a different person that no longer "thinks" the way I "thought" while actively drinking. I mean I could be wrong in my interpretation, so please correct me if I am. (from :evil: to :D )

I don't know about anyone else, but I never got the impression that I would not gain the confidence to think in a clear and sane manner if I followed those "few simple suggestions". Hear me on this - am I the only person who is addicted to alcohol - but after an extended period of sobriety (complete and total abstinence) and taking daily actions that follow the twelve steps and a handful of decent devotionals - that I have maybe just a teensy bit more sense than before? That maybe my mind has become clearer? Or is that some of my "once alcoholic - always alcoholic" delusional thinking pattern? :roll:

Is what everyone here saying that it's all a delusion, that I'm just as insane as I was when I was active in my alcohol addiction? If that's the case, then I must have missed something really important. :oops:

Today I can make decisions that result in positive outcomes. Many of those decisions are the result of what I thought was "sober thinking". Really - now this is just me and I might still be as insane as I was when I was drinking - so don't take what I say too serious. But there are things that happen in my life that are attractive to others as the result of the ability to "think" clearer and better than when I was drinking, and to follow through with action to the best of my ability because I want to. I honestly believe that God as I understand Him wants me to be this way - could be more delusion that needs to be smashed? :o

One of those things is that even though I might be working under a delusion that I can intuitively think in a sane manner, I'm learning how to honestly think about the needs of others and how to help meet them more than I do thinking about myself. Is there something out-of-the ordinary about that?

Seriously folks, I can see "Person A" on the street, identify a need by maybe holding a conversation using complete sentences without as much "dialect" or "poor grammer" as before, and lend the fellow or lady a hand if it's needed. You know - something like helping someone change a flat tire. I know this might seem absurd, but lots of times, things like this happen to me. I don't have to call my sponsor, read the book, pray about it, figure out what spiritual principle to use out of the 12 steps, and then second guess did I really do the right thing? For some reason that maybe is my own delusion, but I believe that sane or "sober thinking" happened automatically.

Now about Debbie and the slip-up - sorry to hear that girl. :( I'm glad you're still alive and back with us - and if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know - either public or private.

Now about the "Once alcoholic - always alcoholic", well that's me too. My possibly delusional "experiements" in independent thinking for routine situations did not change my mind about that. I woke up this morning and I was just as powerless over alcohol as my first day. I'm sure I still have the same "allergic response" to alcohol, that I will develop the phenominon of craving if I have a drink. I don't believe (or "think") for a minute that I will ever be able to drink like a "normal" social drinker. There is no doubt in my mind that the malady of alcoholism is lying dormant inside me and if I drink again, the illness of alcoholism will have progressed to a point as though I never stopped drinking and I will be closer to dead than I ever was before.

Now about being offended? Not me. :D I've given up fighting everything and everybody - that's what you told me now isn't it? I can be a smart-bucket at times - like some teensy little bits and pieces in this post. :roll: But today is the best today there ever was, and I'm even a better Paul today than I was yesterday! Imagine that? The competition is still pretty limited though.

God bless!
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