ALCOHOLICS CONTRANONYMOUS | A Non-Alcoholic’s Journey Through Alcoholism.

Jon Dunmore

WRITINGS_LetterCapitals_She was everything I liked in a woman: blonde, blue eyes, big tits – and drunk.

And then there’s that old saw: Be careful what you wish for…

There is a cautionary tale in The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (1990) describing all the stupid things he did for the sake of a particular woman – Valerie – and if it weren’t for Ellison including a nude picture of said intoxicating harridan, we would be left scratching our heads in wonder at what kind of female could have stripped this iron-minded man of his masculinity and made him jump through all those hoops for her sake. When we see Valerie’s picture, all that registers is: “Oh, that’s why.”

Far be it from me to compare myself to a REAL writer like Mr. Ellison, but in his grand tradition, I also include a picture of the female for whom, I admit freely, I suffered gladly: I publicize this picture as (paltry) excuse for my own weakness, and in answer to why I was so “affected” by the wiles of woman so late in the brunch of life.

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Oh, that’s why.

Like Harlan’s harpie, Madison was a photographic model; like Harlan, I met her on a shoot; like Harlan, I’ve seen my share of naked women, but there was Something About Madison – yes, there were those, but there was also her serious manner, broken only by her laughing at just one too many of my jokes for it to be mere politeness, and something about the way her lip curled when she did that laughing… whatever the nature of attraction, there it was.

So we hung out. And did that biblical thing – get drunk.

In the beginning, can anyone discern alcoholism from drunken sex? And I wasn’t complaining – I was drinking as much, and getting as much as I wanted – but seven months later, during the fourth time I was manhandling her into my car to bodily dump her at a detox hospital a ninety-minute drive away, I had had it.

Because Madison had become a multi-personality, clingy, clumsy, embarrassing, antagonistic, unappreciative, ungrateful, unintelligible, unsane un-person.

And because nothing we did to curb her drinking worked: not programs, not monitoring her, not leaving her alone, not pouring drinks down sinks, not smashing bottles against walls, not threats of leaving, not promises to stay, not threats of putting her in a home, not police, not loss of residence, not loss of income, not Alcoholics Anonymous.

Especially not Alcoholics Anonymous.

Now let’s understand something: drinking to excess is not wrong in any way, and many times it’s fun. Whether you call it “alcoholism” or just “being drunk” is moot. Drinking to excess should only be a concern when it adversely affects you, or your job, or other people. And Madison’s drinking to excess definitely became adverse in all three areas. That’s why AA came into the picture. Because I thought – as she did – that it was a solution. It’s not.

By being with Madison, and being taffy-pulled through the cogs of the AA circus, my eyes were opened to that insular, underground world, which is no better than a cult and does just as much good, i.e. none at all.

FUK DA PO-LEECE.

AA_cops2Before I luge into the pitfalls and shortcomings of that paradise/excuse for the weak-willed, let me mention the ineffectuality of the police when it comes to alcoholics.

I called the cops during Madison’s last drinking binge (that I would suffer through), and all they had for me was derision, telling me she had the “right to drink herself to death.” Upon my insistence that they “do something/anything” in adherence to their credo of “protecting and serving,” I got the distinct impression that were they to send out a squad car to take in my alcoholic charge, they would find some excuse to take ME in – because at the very least they’d get an arrest out of the wasted drive. They’d use any excuse (that bruise on her arm, me disturbing the peace, or wrongfully accusing her of attacking me – anything!) Let’s face it, if there’s no collar involved and you can’t add to their arrest quota, you don’t exist.

Does anyone wonder why the police try to stop suicide jumpers (on the pretense that the jumper might hurt someone else), but will do nothing to stop a person drinking themselves to death (even though that person could very well become a liability to others as well)? Answer: PR.

A jumper is instant publicity – makes it look like taxpayer dollars are being well-spent when the cops talk a jumper down with so many witnesses. (It’s the same reason highway patrol cops pull over cars from the fast lane, so that they can very publicly cut across four lanes of traffic, thereby advertising the police presence.) But an alcoholic in a nondescript apartment in Reseda? “Every right to kill themselves” – because the taxpayer can’t be publicly stroked into believing their raped taxes are being well-spent on the lush.

ALCOHOLICS CONTRANONYMOUS

AA_rockbottomAlcoholics Anonymous is supposedly all about “helping alcoholics” – but in order for alcoholics to receive their help, the alcos must first admit to hitting “rock bottom,” must first admit they “need help,” must admit to having a “disease,” and must admit an imaginary ghost-deity is going to pull them from the pit. Let’s be clear: Rock bottom could even be death. And AA claims to be Christian. I understand the ghost-deity part (part and parcel of the delusion called Christianity), but I can’t figure the Christianity in watching people die in front of you because of their obstinacy, because they refuse to admit they’re sick.

AA: “Everyone should be allowed the dignity to hit their rock bottom.” Yet isn’t it Christianity’s ethos to help people no matter what? If they cry out for help, then shouldn’t you dive in and help? But AA hardens its heart before it will do anything “Christian” for those in need – because those in need have to humiliate themselves first, because, I’m presuming, Jesus said so.

Y’see, AA wants you to be so low, so bereft of hope and help and hand, that you will be susceptible to their mindwashing: about your condition being a “disease,” about Christianity being the cure, about 12 steps that lead nowhere, and about a program that cures nothing.

At AA meetings there is a palpable tension in the air – each of those gibbering fake-smilers a coiled spring. The longer sober, the more coiled. (A “recovering” alcoholic friend once told me, “Every alcoholic is between drinks.” Two years later, she proved her self-fulfilling prophesy right. How convenient that she could just blame her “disease” for “drinking in excess again and affecting her life adversely.”) You can taste the apprehension, from the second they greet you by rubbing your arm too hard, to the moment you’re escaping to the car with all their eyes on your back for being an Other (i.e. Not Alcoholic).

All just waiting to explode; all “between drinks.” Each of them thriving on that masochism of seeing a potential new member to their church of insanity hitting rock bottom.

Their greatest fallacy – which they base their cult on – is regarding their weakness as a condition that only they are prone to, thereby making them “special.” They hate the fact – and blind themselves to it – that everyone can drink, everyone can get drunk and – listen closely, cult – everyone can STOP DRINKING too! Except them! Ha!

AA says, “She doesn’t drink because of pain, depression, a boyfriend, etc., she drinks because she’s an alcoholic.” I agree – but “alcoholic” is being used here as a euphemism for WEAKNESS. To not be alcoholic, don’t drink. But the AA people will tell you it’s not that simple. But it is. Holding the desire at bay might not be simple, but the simple act of not drinking will keep you Not Drunk.

When AA calls alcoholics “victims,” they’re right. But alcos are not victims to the “alcoholic gene” or of “being abandoned by God or friends” – the alcos are victims of the AA culture itself!

Any wonder this insular cult wants to remain anonymous?

TRIGGER HAPPY

AA_brain-trigger“Triggers” is another fun euphemism AA has cooked up to displace blame. Anything that gets the alco thinking about alcohol is called a trigger. And alcos will call just about anything a trigger. From ‘My wife left me’ to ‘My job sucks’ all the way down to perceived problems like not being able to navigate a computer, or not being able to call a taxi. If you think I’m joking, let me introduce you to Madison… remember her? Oh, those things…

Any excuse will do as a “trigger.” It’s never a valid reason – it’s just an excuse!

One counselor says, “There is a stop system and a go system, and the stop system doesn’t come into the picture when a person gets triggered; it’s all about the go system.” I’d call that temporary insanity.

But you know what the real trigger is? Themselves! Their own rationalization of any situation to achieve their end result of guzzling liquor.

And yes, you also begin to blame your sober self as a trigger; the self-doubt careens at you from all angles:

  • “Am I the reason why she can’t STOP drinking?”
  • “Is there something about me that DRIVES her to drink?”
  • “Am I inadvertently giving her the license to drink by not being harsh enough on her?”
  • “Am I being TOO absolutist, which is driving her to drink?”
  • “Should I try to prove my love more?”
  • “Am I suffocating her with love?”
  • And ultimately: Am *I* her Enabler?”

ENABLER: Another cute word that AA made up out of whole cloth to displace blame yet again. But unless someone is grabbing the alcoholic by their hair, tilting their head back and pouring a bottle of gin down their throat, no one but the alcoholic themselves should be called enabler.

They’re the triggers, they’re the enablers, they’re the fucking ALCOHOLICS! Why are you in any way even contemplating taking some of the blame? These are the mind games one gets wrung through when one is a so-called non-alcoholic dating an alcoholic.

Who needs this paradoxical mental trauma?

Y’see, AA had to give alcoholism all these fancy euphemisms and peripherals (calling it “disease,” attaching christianity to it, “triggers,” “12 steps,” etc.) to make alcoholism – ironically – socially acceptable.

Otherwise they’d still be just a pack o’ drunks!

CONTRAPISSANTS

AA_contra-arguesTry calling more than one AA center and asking each the same set of questions. You will never get a straight answer. All information is inconsistent. In researching a suitable refuge to place Madison, I inadvertently came across this anomaly.

  • One group is a complete champion of God, while one group maintains alcoholics did not need God at all to get sober;
  • One atheist group informs that there are many atheist meetings, while another group swears that all meetings are based on religion because “that’s the program”;
  • One alcoholic I spoke to was sick of groups consisting of only old people, and cannot find a meeting with people of her age group, while another says her meeting group is so cool that her young atheist boyfriend actually likes to attend with her;
  • One center told me that all centers confiscate an alcoholic’s meds, due to the strict rule of “no outside drugs, prescription or otherwise,” while another center insists there are centers that do NOT perfunctorily confiscate meds;
  • All groups claim, “We have no leaders,” while bossing the newbies around;
  • A Washington DC group makes newbies clean toilets, as do some Los Angeles groups that I dealt with, while other groups decry this practice…

No straight answers. No rules. No clue.

Meanwhile, doctors and scientists who try to help addicts – a much more commendable practice than the cult of AA – shock us on how contrary their stances are to dumbass AA protocols:

It’s a myth that they have to crash and burn before they can get better. It’s more like any other chronic condition: the sooner you start, the better; the more you stay on top of it, the better.
— Michael L. Dennis, Ph.D.
Director, Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN).

There are misconceptions that really drive me crazy, and one of them is this whole idea that an individual needs to reach rock bottom before they can get any help – and that is absolutely wrong!
— Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute.

HOT CHICK SYNDROME

AA_hotchick1Imagine dropping Madison off at a meeting. What do you think is the first thing running through the heads of every guy in that meeting? You’re right. And this is how they insidiously cultivate alcoholic chicks: “He’s not one of us – he doesn’t understand you…” Does it all sound too pat, too silly? These are not honorable people – they’re alcoholics and thieves and drug addicts, fer cryin’ out loud! They’ve stolen and lied and let people down all their lives – and they’re not about to start being honorable when a fine piece of ass walks through the door. Here’s the irony: you’re the sober one – the type they’re supposedly all trying to be like, the person who is trying to HELP the person you just dropped off – and you are getting stabbed in the back for not being like them!

The argument to the hot chick is never never never: “You’ve got to hold onto that guy faithfully because he’s really trying hard to get you well; cure you of this disease that we all have, so you owe your heart and soul and life to that person…”

Ultimately, after I had quit the scene, Madison would end up with a junkie in one of her groups. When I met her a few years later, she was worse, deteriorating. And he was still a junkie. (To assuage your curiosity, that didn’t stop me doing exactly what I wanted to with her for a few hot weeks.) I only mention this last pit-stop as a shiny advertisement for how Alcoholics Anonymous continues to let down its constituents years into the future.


AA-logoJust because I intimately knew a failure of the cult (Madison) does not mean the program itself is a failure or the cult is not worthwhile in some ways. But the AA program is not as charitable or as spiritually enlightening as they make themselves out to be. And they are definitely no magic bullet. This is my point: the AA cult is neither a failure nor a success. It’s a place for like-minded people who drink to excess to support each other socially. The people that find “success” in it (who become sober) are the people who have the proclivity to stop getting drunk in the first place – the program didn’t do anything for them except provide a social climate that made them feel less unimportant or lonely. And those who fail in the program (return to drinking in excess) do not fail because of a dereliction of the program or its personnel, or even an inherent fault in the protocol – it’s because they were failures even before they became alcoholics!

Thank you for letting me share…

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Alcoholics Contranonymous
A Non-Alcoholic’s Journey Through Alcoholism.
(some names have been changed, but all events are impossibly true)

by Jon Dunmore © 22 Oct 2007.

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