More often than not, people believe that alcoholics are powerless in the face of booze. In fact, admitting you can’t refrain from drinking is one of the first things you need to do in the 12-steps approach to treating addiction. In my opinion, this statement is only half true.
Yes, I didn’t have any control over my urges and couldn’t refrain from having another drink. While drunk, I wasn’t in charge of my own mind and had no power over my speech, movement, and judgment. As long as I was under the influence, my mind was governed by the craving for alcohol.
Then again, it’s not all physical
At the beginning of my detoxification, I used to believe that I can’t do anything about my alcohol addiction. Therefore, I placed myself in the hands of professional caretakers at the rehab treatment center where I checked in.
While it lasted for only 3 days, the initial stage of the detoxification felt like an eternity. Once the physical withdrawal symptoms kicked in, I felt like I was going to die. I remember the first night was particularly awful. I had this debilitating headache and wanted to rip the flesh off my bones. Every fiber of my body was aching and the obsession of having a drink kept me up all night.
However, after a few days the pain and discomfort began to subside. By the end of the second week there, things were starting to get better. I still wanted to have a drink, but I also realized I wasn’t going to die without alcohol.
As with any other physical dependence, the chemical is relevant in this case. On the other hand, thinking that alcohol constitutes the root of alcoholism because it has this magnetic power of enslaving people is pure nonsense.
You need to take control over your mind
The origin of alcohol addiction is not physical. Even though you have to struggle to resist drinking alcohol during early recovery, a task that seems impossible at that point, this is the easiest obstacle you can overcome.
What I consider the hardest task of the recovery process is the part that comes right after your body ‘cleans up its act’. As my body learned to live without alcohol, I had to face a bigger demon: trying to wrap my mind around itself.
The emotional connection to alcohol was very high. Let’s not forget that it helped me get through a lot of unpleasantness. As I’m making progress with my recovery, I understand that I granted alcohol a large part of my life. It was the remedy for the overwhelming feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration.
This is not a question of whether AA’s first step – admitting you are powerless over alcohol – is good or bad. In fact, I think it’s an overall good approach that can help you focus on managing the physical urges.
Once you do that, you need to keep going further on the road to recovery. You have to find your inner strength and understand that you have the power to overcome your addiction.