The names and places will, of course, remain anonymous. But we have been working with a fine man for several weeks to help him solve his problem of chronic relapses, disasterous consequences, and the jaywalker’s seemingly insane repeat behavior putting him down the drain again one more time.
I have worked with this man for many years as he helped me with my research and writing, traveled and helped me on the road, and was able to articulate much of the A.A. history and Bible roots that characterized early A.A. success. And pass them on to others. I’ve seen him do it in many places in the United States.
What happened? He broke up with two different girl friends. Temptation, misplaced friends, and crazy recollections of the bad instead of the good were foremost in his mind. He still had the typical yearning for prescription drugs, street drugs, and alcohol, and he literally neither stopped nor avoided serious sickness and immobility. Nor the habitat he had again established far from family, honest labor, A.A. connections, and fellowship with believers.
Doing what I’ve done in twelfth-stepping for twenty five years, I encouraged him to quit for good and cooperate with our giving him help. Typically, he said he felt better when he was using and drinking, and worse when he stopped. Yet he was moving toward the basket-case category. And, as before, he more easily motivated toward recovery than many.
He stayed at my home the first night. We read the Bible to him and prayed with him. But he slipped away in the morning giving a lame excuse about going to the grocery store many blocks away. When we connected, he confessed that he had been drinking again.
As I often do, I took him to my doctor, who has helped other sponsees. Medical detox and evaluation was my objective. The doctor listened to the details, saw the man’s condition, told him he would never quit until he quit for good; and he suggested the Emergency Room. A place we’ve been before with hurting users and drinkers. There, two different doctors and several nurses saw him, took several blood tests, and apprised him of a medical detox in our county. To my surprise, when urged, he agreed to go to the detox even though his previous self-detoxing had been a horrendous experience and left him weak, depressed, questioning, fearful, and despondent. His family dumped him as far as help went.
And we took him to the detox and treatment facility. And he became very weak as they detoxed him for about seven days. Then they moved him to “residential.” Today he phoned and, with a strong voice, reported that his mother was coming to our county to help him set up residence here and get out of the slippery places and slippery people he had been chumming with and buying from. Previously, her conditional “solution” for him had been: “You’ve got to go to a meeting every day.”
But the “meeting makers make it” wisdom of the rooms is far from adequate as a standard for those who still have dreamy ties with trouble and trouble-makers.
He knew and I knew that. He had also learned, as I had, that, the Akron pioneers had no Big Books, had no 12 steps, had no traditions, had no war stories, and had no meetings like those we know today. Like me, he has not fallen for the nonsense mumbo-jumbo “higher power” stuff. He believes in God, the Creator. He has a Bible. He knows how to pray. He is acquainted with our county, its AA meetings, some of its AAs, and many of its healthy alternatives including tennis (in which he was a high achiever years back), golf (which he took up and enjoyed about four years ago), helping others–which has been one of his acquired long-suits, and working for a number of us in the A.A. fellowship. He has been taught that isolation and loneliness are open doors to temptation.
Will he make it? Will he fall and fail again? Will he stay determined to be abstinent, to do whatever it takes, to fellowship with his Heavenly Father every day, to call on God and His Son and study the Bible every day, to phone or meet with one or more of us when he starts to isolate, feels abandoned, senses deep fear, recognizes and considers temptation. Or, will he and turn his thoughts to the fellowship, to other believers, and to someone he can help (just as the first three AAs did), and keep his eyes and his doings on an upward, honest, loving, kindly, and ambitious plane? I don’t know. But I do know what it means to me to be on tap even at age 89 and with 28 years of sobriety; remember the tools; and urge that he place abstinence, God’s help, Christian fellowship, and service to God and others paramount in his thinking, and hone his knowledge of A.A.’s Big Book and Twelve Steps into a welcome part of the recovery path.
We Twelfth-steppers don’t “make” people get sober or get cured. We don’t “make” them stay away from trouble. We don’t make up some goofy god for them to worship. And we didn’t make the path. We just learned that path, followed it, and shared it with others.