Addiction and Recovery
By Bob Gaydos
Perhaps the most important tool of recovery from alcoholism is self- honesty. In a society that often seems to revolve around drinking, it’s a rare person who easily admits he or she can’t drink the way everyone else seems to be able to do. Socially. Responsibly.
Two things about that:
- Not everyone else is drinking socially or responsibly. It’s difficult to know what’s really going on in people’s lives away from social settings.
- Acknowledging that one can’t “drink like everyone else” is not an admission of weakness. It’s an acceptance of reality that can be a lifesaver. That’s where the self-honesty comes in.
Many people who are successful in recovery from alcoholism spend a good deal of time looking at themselves. Examining their motives. Judging their actions. It’s a way of warding off some of the things that alcoholics can use as excuses to drink.
Self-inventory is a critical part of the 12-Step recovery pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous 75 years ago. Three of the 12 steps specifically deal with inventory-taking. Obviously, honesty is crucial to the process.
But the first honest moment for an alcoholic comes in admitting there’s a problem. Accepting it may have to come later. To help people determine if their drinking is something other than social, AA World Services has created a 12-step questionnaire. It’s the first step at what is hoped to be honest self-appraisal.
At this time of year, with people typically looking back at what was and perhaps looking forward to changing some things, it seemed like a good time to offer the AA questionnaire. There are other, similar questionnaires, some of which are used as diagnostic tools. This test can be taken privately, right now. Above all, for your own sake, be honest.
Is A.A. For You?
Answer YES or NO to the following questions.
1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking-- stop telling you what to do?
3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
8. Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to?
10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
11. Do you have "blackouts"?
(A "blackout" is when you have been drinking hours or days which you cannot remember. This is a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking.)
12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
According to AA, if you answered YES four or more times, you are probably in trouble with alcohol. The organization says this is based on results of thousands of people in A.A. saying so for many years. It also says, “Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem.”
If the results suggest a problem, it doesn’t mean you must go to AA for help, but you might want to consult a professional for verification and possible treatment. Or, you can go to an AA meeting. Maybe do both.
- Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org/
- AA Orange County: http://www.orangenyaa.org/; (845) 534-8525
- AA Sullivan County: (845) 295-1010
- AA Ulster County: (845) 331-6360
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Council of Orange County: www.adacinfo.com; (845) 294-9000
- Recovery Center, Monticello: 845-794-8080