Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
My name is Dave Burbee and I am “An Alcoholic“. Naming me signifies my conviction that there is no such thing as an ex-alcoholic. No man (or women), once alcohol has secured a grip on him, will never, as long as he lives, be safe in saying that he was ONCE an alcoholic. For the rest of his life, the threat of alcoholism will stand at his elbow.
I had my first drunk at age six. Both parents and practically every relative were Alcoholic. At age thirty-six, I surrendered and sought help in AA. Everyone and I repeat everyone who knew me was convinced I would die. However, I celebrated thirty-five years of continuous sobriety in May of this year through the program of AA. AA is a GOD program. Spirituality is the corner stone of AA where God is your most powerful ally. Alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful. Without help, it is too much to handle, but there is one who has all power—that one is God. Half measures will avail you nothing. Ask for His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps one takes as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The motto from here on out is absolute abstinence. That means exactly what it says, and there are sound reasons for it. An alcoholic cannot handle one drink, one drink will mean fifty. You cannot have A beer, A glass of wine, or anything with alcohol in it. Step one defines whether your alcoholic or not; the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
There is no safer refuge than church. If you think you have a drinking problem talk to a Pastor, ask for help, for you cannot win by yourself. Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting; you need feel no shame there. You will meet men and women with the same problems you have. When at a meeting you could very well have a district attorney on your left and a dentist on the right
Let us consider, for a moment, teenage drinking. Oh how I love those wonderful commercials on television, magazines and movies. It is chic to drink is the message. Beer flying everywhere, wine, whiskey; Talk about having a good time? Then, at the end of the ad, comes the disclaimer “Drink Responsible”. This means to be accountable for your actions. HOWEVER as I drink, the alcohol dulls my brain rendering me UNACCOUNTABLE for my actions which is the marketing oxymoron.
Confessions of a Teen Alcoholic
The beginning was innocent in appearance – merely a bottle of my father’s beer, in order to calm myself before the big exam.
My first drink, an experiment recommended by a friend in the senior class, was meant only as a last resort – I needed to pass this test, you realize. Ah, but how that amber liquid metamorphosed to pure silk in my mouth, sloshing down my throat at first, quickly changing to a tender caress. The first sip, followed by a second, and a third, and so on in rapid sequence. I proceeded to another bottle, just as possessed of tranquility as the first. When my temples throbbed with the excruciating intensity of a thousand bass drums the subsequent morning, the lucidity gained from the previous night’s feast with Bacchus had somehow slipped from my grasp. I failed the exam, so piercing was my headache.
Upon arriving home, I made my way directly to the liquor cabinet, in the hopes of discovering a tangible comfort to assuage the misery brought on by my scholarly defeat. A mostly filled bottle of bourbon sat in the foremost corner of the cabinet. I swallowed it all down that afternoon, and was left with an empty decanter – which I stowed away in the cellar, lest my parents know of this new found pastime – and a somewhat intriguing sense of inebriation. Days, weeks, months passed, and I found myself indulging in alcohol much more often, for a myriad of reasons. One day, I had a terrible quarrel with my girlfriend – a bit of Jack Daniels put that unpleasant situation out of my mind. Once, I had a rough time with my coach at soccer practice. Not a problem, simply gulp down a few glasses of mother’s Bordeaux.
The more time I spent with my dear friend John Barleycorn, the more difficult it was to be away from him. The cravings grew to the point where I needed a drink to get myself awake in the morning, while another was necessary to last through my afternoon classes. Alcohol was the focus of any social activity, it was my entire life, and yet I would not admit it. I hid my addiction every moment of every day, storing empty cans and bottles in the attic when there was not a single inconspicuous space left in the basement. I covered the redness of my eyes with mirrored sunglasses, in spite of the fact that most of my day was spent indoors, far from the reaches of the Phoebus’s searing glare.
When I slapped my girlfriend in a drunken rage, I lavished her with purple hyacinths in an attempt to illustrate my sorrow. She refused my gifts, begging only that I stop drinking. No, that was not possible. Alcohol was all that was important. I believed this with my entire being until, foolishly, I went for a drive while I was still intoxicated. My car swerved through the streets until it came to a skidding halt at the feet of a girl no older than thirteen. She was profoundly frightened, shaking uncontrollably, but unhurt.
After the police took their report, and my parents bailed me out of jail for drunk driving, I sat in my bedroom, tentatively dialing the phone number of Alcoholics Anonymous. I spoke with a counselor there for at least an hour; upon hanging up, I reached for my book of Shakespeare, which I had neglected since the drinking began. Opening up to the middle page, I read these words: “O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should with joy, pleasure, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts!”
TWELVE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
#1… Do you drink to relax?
#2…Do you drink when you get irritated?
#3… Do you prefer to drink alone?
#4… Are your grades slipping?
#5… Do you ever try to stop or drink less?
#6… Do you drink in the morning?
#7… Do you guzzle your drinks?
#8…Have you ever forgotten what happened?
#9…Do you ever lie about your drinking?
#10… Do you get in trouble when you drink?
#11… Do you get drunk when you don’t want to?
#12… Do you think it’s cool to be able to drink a lot?
If you answer yes to any one of these questions you have a problem.
Many proclaim it is not the first drink that sends you off on a death wish, but consider this: If you step in front of a train the engine, not the caboose, takes your life.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, praise his holy Name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thy sins, and health all thine Infirmities; who saveth thy life from destruction, and
crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness…. (Psalm 103)