Slips in Recovery

Discussions related to 12 Step Recovery and Treatment
Posts: 365
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:55 pm
Location: Australia

Slips in Recovery

Postby GeoffS » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:54 am

The mystery of slips is not so deep as it may appear. While it does seem odd that an alcoholic, who has restored himself to a dignified place among his fellowmen and continues dry for years, should suddenly throw all his happiness overboard and find himself again in mortal peril of drowning in liquor, often the reason is simple.

People are inclined to say, "there is something peculiar about alcoholics. They seem to be well, yet at any moment they may turn back to their old ways. You can never be sure."

This is largely twaddle. The alcoholic is a sick person. Under the technique of Alcoholics Anonymous he gets well - that is to say, his disease is arrested. There is nothing unpredictable about him any more than there is anything weird about a person who has arrested diabetes.

Let's get it clear, once and for all, that alcoholics are human beings. Then we can safeguard ourselves intelligently against most slips.

In both professional and lay circles, there is a tendency to label everything that an alcoholic may do as "alcoholic behavior." The truth is, it is simple human nature.

It is very wrong to consider any of the personality traits observed in liquor addicts as peculiar to the alcoholic. Emotional and mental quirks are classified as symptoms of alcoholism merely because alcoholics have them, yet those same quirks can be found among non-alcoholics too. Actually they are symptoms of mankind!

Of course, the alcoholic himself tends to think of himself as different, somebody special, with unique tendencies and reactions. Many psychiatrists, doctors, and therapists carry the same idea to extremes in their analyses and treatment of alcoholics.

Sometimes they make a complicated mystery of a condition which is found in all human beings, whether they drink whiskey or buttermilk.

To be sure, alcoholism, like every other disease, does manifest itself in some unique ways. It does have a number of baffling peculiarities which differ from those of all other diseases.

At the same time, any of the symptoms and much of the behavior of alcoholism are closely paralleled and even duplicated in other diseases.

The slip is a relapse! It is a relapse that occurs after the alcoholic has stopped drinking and started on the A.A. program of recovery. Slips usually occur in the early states of the alcoholic's A.A. indoctrination, before he has had time to learn enough of the A.A. techniques and A.A. philosophy to give him a solid footing. But slips may also occur after an alcoholic has been a member of A.A. for many months or even several years, and it is in this kind, above all, that often finds a marked similarity between the alcoholic's behavior and that of "normal" victims of other diseases.

No one is startled by the fact that relapses are not uncommon among arrested tubercular patients. But here is a startling fact - the cause is often the same as the cause which leads to slips for the alcoholic.

It happens this way: When a tubercular patient recovers sufficiently to be released from the sanitarium, the doctor gives him careful instructions for the way he is to live when he gets home. He must drink plenty of milk. He must refrain from smoking. He must obey other stringent rules.

For the first several months, perhaps for several years, the patient follows directions. But as his strength increases and he feels fully recovered, he becomes slack. There may come the night when he decides he can stay up until ten o'clock. When he does this, nothing untoward happens. Soon he is disregarding the directions given him when he left the sanitarium. Eventually he has a relapse.

The same tragedy can be found in cardiac cases. After the heart attack, the patient is put on a strict rests schedule. Frightened, he naturally follows directions obediently for a long time. He, too, goes to bed early, avoids exercise such as walking upstairs, quits smoking, and leads a Spartan life. Eventually, though there comes a day, after he has been feeling good for months or several years, when he feels he has regained his strength, and has also recovered from his fright. If the elevator is out of repair one day, he walks up the three flights of stairs. Or he decides to go to a party - or do just a little smoking - or take a cocktail or two. If no serious aftereffects follow the first departure from the rigorous schedule prescribed, he may try it again, until he suffers a relapse.

In both cardiac and tubercular cases, the acts which led to the relapses were preceded by wrong thinking. The patient in each case rationalized himself out of a sense of his own perilous reality. He deliberately turned away from his knowledge of the fact that he had been the victim of a serious disease. He grew overconfident. He decided he didn't have to follow directions.

Now that is precisely what happens with the alcoholic - the arrested alcoholic, or the alcoholic in A.A. who has a slip. Obviously, he decides to take a drink again some time before he actually takes it. He starts thinking wrong before he actually embarks on the course that leads to a slip.

There is no reason to charge the slip to alcoholic behavior or a second heart attack to cardiac behavior. The alcoholic slip is not a symptom of a psychotic condition. There's nothing screwy about it at all. The patient simply didn't follow directions.

For the alcoholic, A.A. offers the directions. A vital factor, or ingredient of the preventive, especially for the alcoholic, is sustained emotion. The alcoholic who learns some of the techniques or the mechanics of A.A. but misses the philosophy or the spirit may get tired off following directions - not because he is alcoholic, but because he is human. Rules and regulations irk almost anyone, because they are restraining, prohibitive, negative. The philosophy of A.A. however, is positive and provides ample sustained emotion - a sustained desire to follow directions voluntarily.

In any event, the psychology of the alcoholic is not as different as some people try to make it. The disease has certain physical differences, yes, and the alcoholic has problems peculiar to him, perhaps, in that he has been put on the defensive and consequently has developed frustrations. But in many instances, there is no more reason to be talking about "the alcoholic mind" than there is to try to describe something called "the cardiac mind" or the "TB mind."

I think we'll help the alcoholic more if we can first recognize that he is primarily a human being - afflicted with human nature.

Posts: 392
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:44 am
Location: Tampa Bay Area Fla.

Postby ccs » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:53 pm

Good read GeoffS !! Great Stuff !!!

here`s something Silky wrote also,
it was about 2 years before that one its pretty long so these are just some bits and peices of it
I love some of the words they used back then do you suppose twaddle means something like B*## SH***T :lol:

Dr. Silkworth's Rx for Sobriety
The Elimination of Slips
The A.A. Grapevine, June 1945

"The majority who slip after periods of sobriety," says Dr. Silkworth, "have double-crossed themselves into thinking that somehow they can have the unopened bottle and drink it, too. Even though they have been in A.A. and going to meetings, and following parts of the program, they have accepted it with reservations somewhere. They actually have been one step ahead of a drink. Then they began playing around with the notion they can drink a little and still have the good things of A.A. The outcome is as inevitable as the bottle becoming empty once it has been opened by the alcoholic."

"Slips are not the fault of A.A. I have heard patients complain, when brought in for another drying out, that A.A. failed them. The truth, of course, is that they failed A.A.
But this mental maneuvering to transfer the blame is obviously another indication of fallacious thinking. It is another symptom of the disease."

A quick way to get Dr. Silkworth's appraisal of A.A. is to ask him how he thinks "slips" can be prevented.

"First," he explains, "let's remember the cause. The A.A. who "slips" has not accepted the A.A. program in its entirety. He has a reservation, or reservations. He's tried to make a compromise. Frequently, of course, he will say he doesn't know why he reverted to a drink. He means that sincerely and, as a matter of fact, he may not be aware of any reason. But if his thoughts can be probed deeply enough a reason can usually be found in the form of a reservation."
"The preventive, therefore, is acceptance of the A.A. program and A.A. principles without any reservations. This brings us to what I call the moral issue and to what I have always believed from the first to be the essence of A.A."
Why does this moral issue and belief in a power greater than oneself appear to be the essential principle of A.A.? First, an important comparison is found in the fact that all other plans involving psychoanalysis, will-power, restraint and other ingenious ideas have failed in 95 per cent of the cases. A second is that all movements of reform minus a moral issue have passed into oblivion."

"But, in my opinion, the key principle which makes A.A. work where other plans have proved inadequate is the way of life it proposes based upon the belief of the individual in a Power greater than himself and the faith that this Power is all sufficient to destroy the obsession which possessed him and was destroying him mentally and physically."

"Since I have been working with A.A. the comparative percentage of successful results has increased to an amazing extent."

"The percentage of success that A.A. has scored leaves no doubt that it has something more than we as doctors can offer.

It is, I am convinced, your second step. Once the A.A. alcoholic has grasped that, he will have no more "slips."

Site Admin
Posts: 4786
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm
Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas USA

Postby Dallas » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:40 pm

Great stuff gang!!! Keep it coming! :wink:

Some do not slip into AA far enough to keep from slipping out.

When I think of slip... I think of feet... and stumbling.... most often, that occurs on Steps. :lol:

When we stop doing what we've been doing that has kept us sober ... we automatically drink again. Regardless of how long or short of a time we've been sober.

The only time that's important for me to be "returned to sanity" is now...

Now is what counts.

Now is what's important

WIN = What's Important Now.


Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm
Location: Denver Co

Postby sunlight » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:38 am

In other words: It's simple to stay sober if I follow directions.

I've found that to be true. Also, it's simple to follow directions because of "sustained emotion". I like that phrase! I'm not going to follow any directions, especially for a lifetime, if they're not going to at least get me where I want to go, and at most, be interesting and exciting.

When I was newly sober, a long-timer with 33 years gave this suggestion:
"Don't drink, go to meetings; don't drink, read the big book; don't drink, get a sponsor; don't drink, take the steps; don't drink, find a higher power & pray & meditate; don't drink, be of service; don't drink, carry the message & work with others.; don't drink!"

Seemed to me there was an awful lot of "don't drink" going on there!
Maybe it was important?

If I am an alcoholic, I can't safely consume alcohol in any form. The moment I put it into my body, I go into a tailspin, mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually. No matter how long I've been sober, the result is going to be the same - tailspin, crash, badly burned if not dead. I won't be capable of following anything if I'm impaired by alcohol.

So, I follow directions & I'm staying sober & life is looking pretty darn good. Why do I need to keep doing all this work? Can't I just skate awhile, & pop a vitamin meeting now & then, & sit back on those comfy laurels?

Just like the diabetic & heart patient, I'm headed for trouble if I do. Alcohol is a subtle foe! Suddenly the thought may cross my mind that one drink wouldn't hurt & the next thing I know, I'm drunk & wondering how I got that way. :? Or that old crappy, whiney, ego-laden thinking is going to seep back in & I'm going to create wreckage, be angry, depressed, & wish I or you were dead.

My daughter worked in a diabetic foot clinic & many of her patients could have arrested their disease if they followed directions. Instead, they did what they wanted & had to have limbs amputated! Quite a price to pay. ("We are like men who have lost their legs...")
She said they thought that the directions "didn't apply to them" & felt they could beat the game, even when experience proved otherwise. Sound familiar?

The directions that I need to follow to stay sober are not dry & dull. They are alive & vital & fresh as the morning dew if I continue to look for the newness in them. To see myself change for the better, to help others recover & go on to new lives, to continually discover meanings and applications of the steps & share it with others, the wisdom, humor, love, generosity & the characters of our fellowship - these are the bright spots of my life! I would not want to miss it!

Following directions insures that I won't. :D

Return to “12 Step Treatment and Recovery”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest