Alcoholism is but a symptom

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
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Alcoholism is but a symptom

Postby Truthiness » Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:47 am

I am new to the program and am kinda leary about some of the things that are said. The topic of a recent meeting was "alcoholism is but a symptom". Alcoholism is a symptom of what illness or disease? Could someone please explain?

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alcoholism a symptom

Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:33 am

Hey Truthiness!!! Welcome, again!

I sure understand about being leary of some of the things that are said in meetings! It's good to be leary and to check things out. I almost died in my alcoholism listening to some of the things that I heard in meetings.

In the meeting that you're referring to, since I wasn't there, I'm not sure if my answer will be close to how the topic was being used or not. I could give you several paragraphs and page references in the Big Book, as to what might have been meant... but, then again... I might not get close to being on target with the discussion.

So, to keep my reply kind of short... my best guess is... that they might have been referring to page 64, of Chapter 5, How it works:

"Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little
permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This
was Step Four."

Literally, the book doesn't say "our alcoholism was only a symptom"... it says "Our liguor was but a symptom." I would take that to mean that it's saying "my drinking alcohol was but a symptom." And, not to mean, "my alcoholism was but a symptom."

In regards to your questions: "Alcoholism is a symptom of what illness or disease? Could someone please explain?" ....

Perhaps an answer to that, can be found on page 44, of the Big Book, We Agnostics:

“suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.â€

Rusty Zipper
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Postby Rusty Zipper » Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:34 pm

hi truth, nice to meet you, welcome to step12 :wink:

for me, what i have found out, all the years of my life. what i have been taught by my mom, dad, family, tv, school, my pears, the news, books, ect, ect. ...... ppfftt, it was, and at times stil is my reaction to life, others, and at times stil myself... that i have chosen to change!...

foot work and action is what it took, and stil takes... for me letting go of years, and years of self-centeredness is a mind blower... but, it can be done... the old saying, you cant teach an old dog do new tricks... well its proven, one can... with kindness, love, careing, understanding and repetivness... this old dog has learned lots of new tricks... and i'm gratefull and full of gratitude for that.

as the Big Book says, "Acceptance is the Key"

the word "Change" has , and i hope always will be the most important word in my recovery and new life.

so Truth, the truth is that i'm not that same person i used to be...

Truth, you may hear around the rooms, "The same person will use again"

all good wishes, and give only love......................... xxoo, Rusty :wink:

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Postby anniemac » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:42 pm

Hi Truthiness,

Welcome to AA and to this site!

yes, as Dallas said, it seems that the topic at that meeting was misquoted.

For me, "liquor was but a symptom" means that I suffered from a soul-sickness, that my thinking was skewed, even before I picked up my first drink. I was filled with self-pity as a child, I was afraid of the world, I thought I was entitled to special treatment, etc.

Alcohol was actually my solution to my problem, I self-medicated to feel okay about myself. Truthfully, if I hadn't had alcohol to provide some relief, I might have been suicidal.

So, the fact that I drank was just a symptom of the soul-sickness I had.

Now, thanks to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, not only do I no longer drink, but I also no longer suffer from that soul-sickness.

Dale R.
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Postby Dale R. » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:58 pm

But a symptom..... To me, it means that alcohol was a coping skill to some other deep down problem in your life. It could be something medical or mental. Deep feelings of guilt can be a cause. What I an saying is, alcohol made it better in the beginning, but then it turned on you, as it always does. We tend to numb our emotions as well. It is funny, the longer you are in recovery, and the more you learn, and eventually live, the more emotions start coming out.

A good 4th step should show you what it is a symptom of. Questions need to be answered. Ok, you have a resentment, but why. Ok, now you know why, but why did your thinking bring you to that conclusion. And, there will be patterns of that thinking throughout your whole life. This is a character defect, that only God will remove. But, once you understand why, you actually begin recovering from it! Thats the joy of it. Going it alone is not the answer either. Talking honestly to another alcoholic about how you really feel is very important. The more you talk to people, the better you will get.

Which, brings me to getting involved. The more we are involved in the program, more and more will will be revealed to you. Let the miricle happen. Making coffee was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had to get there early, and actually greet people at the door. Then I had to talk to them, and probably made a friend. The more friends you have in AA, the better your chances. Your sponsor should be one of your best friends. Adopted sponsors should follow close behind.

Alcohol is only but a symptom in reality. It is merely a coping skill.

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Postby Dallas » Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:36 pm

Dale, welcome to the forums! Glad you're here!

Since you have previous experience as a coffee maker and greeter... I hope you'll bring those talents and skills with you to the site! We can always use more greeters and someone to keep the coffee brewing!

I know what you mean about getting involved! When I couldn't get anyone to ask me to take on a job... I was told to just go in there and take a job!

Long ago... when we still had smoking in most meetings... it was easy to get a job picking up and washing ashtrays... and picking up the butts in the parking lot! I was real protective of my ashtrays and didn't want anyone messing with them! Then, they told me... I had to pass it on, and rotate! :evil: So, I grabbed the broom and mop and became the sweeper and mopper! I got to take the trash out. Then, I was taught how to make coffee! After I did those jobs well... I got to be a greeter!

Now, when I go to a meeting, especially for the first time I go... I appoint myself as a greeter... it's a good way to get to know everyone and to feel at home and feel a part of what's going on!


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:03 pm

Hello Truthiness,

Neat name.

To me, I think the BB was expanding on what it says about the primary problem of the alcoholic STARTS in his mind. It's in the mind where "the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot" starts. Its in my mind where I am self-centered, and thats what gets that big ol' snowball rolling downhill gobbling up and smashing everything in the way!

The Big Book also goes on to say that by the time I realize I need to quit, I've crossed over to that place where the strongest desire to quit is of no avail. Well guess what? Now the "problem" is no longer a "symptom". By golly, it's real and now is a physical "manifestation". My body is chemically addicted to alcohol. No "roots", no "psychology", just plain old medical science and fact.

So since you're new, don't dice this up into fine shreds and split hairs about the words. Alcoholism is a 3-prong "disease" or "illness". It is a sickness of the body, mind, and soul...or if you like, its a physical, mental, and spiritual "malady". But like Dallas said, it's something we can conquer through the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Welcome again and keep coming back.

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A good book

Postby swimurman » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:15 pm

If you haven't read it, I would recommend the book The Addictive Personality by Craig Nakken. Nakken's assertion is that addiction is a disease process similar to cancer. As there are many types of cancer (breast, lunng, etc) there are many times of addictions (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc). Nakken's point is to treat that disease - addiction - rather than just extinguish the current manifestation of the disease. A great book which really made sense to me - someone who has sruggled with addictions great and small his entire life (alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex)

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