People are not "powerless" over their desires to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, take drugs, or eat too much. Being sick, and having a messed-up life from too much drinking, is just that — being sick. It isn't "powerlessness." Having difficulties quitting is not "powerlessness", it's having difficulties quitting. Saying that your drinking has really gotten out of control doesn't mean that you are powerless over it.
The "powerless" doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous is one of their most central religious beliefs. It is one of those points where A.A. radically departs from Christianity or any other mainstream religion of the world, and enters the realm of bizarre cult religion. Christianity teaches people to be responsible for their actions. So do all of the other major religions of the world.
A.A., on the other hand, teaches that people are incapable of running their own lives and must surrender control of their lives to the A.A. group [cult] and a "Higher Power" who will control them, and do the quitting for them. Thus A.A. is teaching the doctrine that is common to so many cults — that you cannot make it without the cult. Bill Wilson wrote:
Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, pages 58-59.
Thus the real purpose of Step One is to prepare the new members for Steps Two and Three, where they will confess that they are insane, and then surrender their wills and lives to "God as they understand Him" and Alcoholics Anonymous. That is the standard cult demand that members surrender to the cult, pure and simple.
The Big Book tells us that,
It helped me a lot to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time; and that sobriety was not a matter of will power.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict, page 448.
On the contrary, sobriety is most assuredly a matter of will power and self-control. Nobody else is going to do the quitting for you. Nobody else CAN do the quitting for you. Nobody else is going to hold your hand every Saturday night.
But Bill Wilson kept insisting that the truth was just the opposite. In his second book, written a dozen years later, he wrote:
We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it. There was, they said, no such thing as the personal conquest of this compulsion by the unaided will. ... It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 22.
That is distortions, falsehoods, and outright lies. The true part of that is, "Yes, the sponsors did tell such falsehoods to the newcomers." But nobody is "powerless" over alcohol, and will power most assuredly can break the addiction, and self-confidence is a big help.
The statement that "It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources" is a blatant lie, for two reasons:
- First off, MOST of the people who recover from alcoholism, like 75 or 80 percent of them, do it alone, without A.A. or any "treatment" or any "group therapy" program of any kind. The Harvard Medical School says so. But Bill Wilson didn't want people to know that; they would realize that they don't need to be dependent upon A.A. for their recovery.
- The other reason that "statistical" statement is a lie is more subtle: Bill was implying that the A.A. way yields a higher success rate than people trying to quit drinking by themselves. That is completely false. Bill's cult religion program had, and still has, a horrendous failure rate. Many tests have shown that getting no 'treatment' at all is better than A.A. 'treatment' or help. Fewer people die, fewer people get rearrested for public drunkenness, and fewer people go on intense drinking binges when they don't get any Alcoholics Anonymous. And more people quit drinking and stay quit if they don't get any Alcoholics Anonymous "help".
Bill Wilson would have been much closer to the truth if he had written,
"It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered in Alcoholics Anonymous. More than eighty percent of the newcomers were gone in a month; ninety-five percent were gone in a year, ninety-nine percent were gone in ten years. You have no conception these days of how much failure we had."
Nobody is powerless over urges, cravings, or temptations. Just because you feel an urge or a craving doesn't mean that you have to give in to it, and feed it. The way to quit drinking is not to expect God to just magically remove all desire for drink. The way to quit is to just not give in to the cravings that will inevitably come. And lots of alcoholics do succeed in quitting drinking by doing just that.
|I'm not the only one who has noticed this contradiction. Herbert Fingarette wrote in his book Heavy Drinking:|
If the alcoholic's ailment is a disease that causes an inability to abstain from drinking, how can a program insist on voluntary abstention as a condition for treatment? (And if alcoholics who enter these programs do voluntarily abstain — as in fact they generally do — then of what value is the [disease] notion of loss of control?)
Bill Wilson declared that he was "powerless" over every urge or craving he ever had, no matter whether it was a thirst for alcohol, cravings for cigarettes, greed for money, or the urge to cheat on his wife Lois by having sex with all of the pretty young women who came to the A.A. meetings. That's one of the more novel and creative excuses for cheating on your wife, but it doesn't wash.