The fundamental opposition to any form of recovery from craving is the addiction itself , which infiltrates the addict’s ego and alters his perspective and judgement in a manner congenial to itself and hostile to any form of recovery. Whatever is or may become a threat to the addiction is typically targeted, devalued, and when possible, destroyed. Because this distortion and subversion of the true ego takes region largely outside the addict’s consciousness he is usually helpless to fight it. Scarcity capacities necessary to separate himself( his true ego) from his addiction( his addicted ego) he falsely believes that his thinking is free and unfettered when it reality it is wholly subservient for the provisions of his addiction. In a certain sense it might even be said that it is the addiction that is doing his thinking for him, though of course he does not recognize this and would defiantly deny it if presented with it. There is a terrible irony in the specific features defiant individualism of the addict- for there is nothing at all individual about the stereotyped biological process of addiction, and the defiance that is commonly encountered in active addicts has almost nothing to do with their true selves and what is good for them but with their false selves and what is good for the craving.” Pass me liberty or give me extinction ,” for the active addict, actually necessitates” Give me my addiction or give me death ,”- and even, at times,” Give me my addiction even if it makes my fatality !”
Because the active junkie views the world through the eyes of his addiction he necessarily notices those things that are favorable to his continuance of his addiction and he neglects or actively disproves those that are not . This psychological fact alone practically guarantees that a well-known recuperation technique such as AA will one way or another be found wanting by the alcoholic to whom it has been recommended. Except under principle and regrettably exceptional circumstances, i.e. when the alcoholic had really and conclusively ”ve had enough” and is therefore willing to do whatever it takes to recover from his alcoholism, the active alcoholic can be expected and are anticipated to antipathy and avoid AA meetings for the simple and obvious reason that such meetings pose a formidable menace to the survival and progression of his addiction. The same might be and in fact is true of any technique of recovery from alcoholism, e.g. inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs. The drawback under which all such potential interventions proletariat in the mind of the drinking alcoholic is the fact that they aim to interfere with his drinking and have some record of success in doing so for others! Therefore, unless ”hes in” a desperate and thus extraordinarily receptive district, he evades them more carefully than he sometimes seems to avoid the risk of his own fatality from the complications and accidental misadventures of his alcoholism.( One is sometimes reminded of the old-time movie vampires, hissing and shrinking from the Cross, by the way urgently ill alcoholics in need or care or AA flee in panic and loathing from the very things that can help them, even save their lives. Could it perhaps be not the person but the disease that has, vampire-like, overpowered and enslaved him which horrors and thus attempts to hide from everything that might save the person or persons by harming the disease ?)
This general resist to anything that might threaten the addiction forms the foundation upon which more precise and localise oppositions remainder and from which they glean their strength and, as it were,” take their orderings .” Resistance to recovery from addiction is a complex and highly adaptive( for the craving , not for its host !) dynamic process that draws upon the complete resources of the self and commits all of the ingenuity and ability of the person to protect the craving and to clog convalescence. Specific obstructions and opposition to recuperation include anxiety, dishonor, shame, humiliation, ignorance, grandiosity and repudiation. All of these roadblocks to recovery from addiction are usually involved in the remarkably stereotyped aversion to AA attendance manifested by the typical alcoholic to whom such attendance is recommended by pals, clas, or medical professionals.
Simple horror of the unknown is a significant, often school principals taken into account in resistance to AA attendance . It requires great courage -or great desperation- for an alcoholic individual to walk into an AA meeting for the first time. Many alcoholics have transient or ongoing feeling ailments which add to the natural dread links with such a new experience. Although some people are able to identify and recognize their anxiety, many are not. Male alcoholics especially may be ashamed of their dread and hence deny it, focusing instead upon any number of largely dishonest rationalizations or red herrings to justify their AA avoidance. Shame and embarrassment are nearly universal replies of alcoholics to the prospect of attending an AA meeting. To show up at an AA meeting, after all, makes a proclamation to all who are present, but also and even more importantly to oneself that he is or might be an alcoholic who has been unable to solve his drinking difficulty by himself. There are actually at least two distinct new sources of shame and stigma here:( 1) that there has been a serious problem with booze, and( 2) that private individuals necessity or that he even might need AA to deal with the problem.
The interesting and very significant fact is that drinking alcoholics themselves are among the most intolerant and intransigent commentators of the so-called medical framework of alcoholism. The vast majority of boozing alcoholics view alcohol troubles as matters such as will power and moral importances. Alcoholic, in other words, before they get sober, seldom understand or have any respect for alcoholics – a Dilemna that plainly complicates and stymie their own chances of recuperation from alcoholism. Thus what ought to be an occasion for health dignity and self-congratulation- being honest with oneself about an booze difficulty and taking appropriate action to overcome it- more often than not feels to the alcoholic ”ve been thinking about” attending his first AA meeting like an enormous and almost unbearable personal failing and something itself to be ashamed and guilty about.
Because in the majority of cases the alcoholic’s bowl of reproach and guilt runneth over, i.e. is becoming too intensive and painful for him to endure, the psychological defense mechanism of paranoid projection commonly steps in to externalize and thus distance his feelings of self-loathing and self-condemnation. By projecting his negative seems about himself onto others he at least removes them one stair from himself and can say to himself” It is not I who loathe and denounce myself, it is those other people who judge or are about to judge me negatively .”
Paranoid projection permits the alcoholic to gain a sense of restraint by fully participate in defiant-oppositional demeanor against an imaginary external adversary and likewise to take avoidance precautions by simply abiding away from situations in which “They” might meet and judge him. All of this of course gravely impairs and in many instances interdicts altogether the formation of trusting and supportive relationships may be required for recovery from alcoholism. Newcomers to AA meetings are sometimes so terrified of” running into somebody they know” at a fulfill that they are able to travel far across city or even to another metropoli to attempt to avoid what is for them the frightening potential of being seen at a session by someone who they fear could broadcast their horrid and shameful secret to the world . This dread of detection is a projection onto imaginary others of their own intense moods of chagrin and self-disgust. Unfortunately for the alcoholic in need of the assistance that AA can provide, the easiest and simplest mode to avoid being discovered, talked about and condemned by “Them” is to stay as far away as is practicable from “Them,” namely from the vicinity of an AA meeting where “They” are certain to notice and talk unfavorably about one. And this in fact is the usual and customary psychotic phobic-avoidance defense most shame- and guilt- ridden alcoholics apply. But what seems to them the safer and easier course is in reality the harder and more lethal one: for by avoiding health and emotionally corrective experiences with other people who have also struggled with alcohol questions, the frightened and self-despising alcoholic is isolated, cut off from assistance, and worst of all, shut up entirely with and within himself and his cancer of alcoholism. The usual result, of course, is continued drinking, more guilt, more shame, more paranoid projection and externalization, and more phobic-avoidance of those who could be of ”the worlds largest” help.
The extraordinary alcoholic who manages to overcome, frequently by the pressure of a even greater fear or pressure acting upon him from behind, the formidable difficulties above and who as a result actually shows up, often full of dread and shake at an AA meeting, faces still more jeopardies and difficulties before he can hope to tie up his weather-beaten ship and disembark in a safe harbor. Selective attention and inattention make him to pay particular attention to some things and to forget or minimize others. The general focus of attention will of course be upon continuing his security and self-esteem as he ventures onto brand-new and generally proscribing terrain for the first time. Guided by the” contend or flight” response he will be sensitive to every cue that indicates a real or perceived threat to his already threatened self. The mental defence mechanism of paranoid projection described above induces him to experience his surrounding and the people in it, including other alcoholics, as sinister and potentially critical, reproaching and rebuffing. This naturally sets him on “on guard” and on the lookout for danger.
One sometimes hears from alcoholics that as soon as they ambled into an AA meeting for the first time they felt safe, secure and accepted- but a far more common reaction is precisely the opposite one, in which the alcoholic looks, quite unrealistically, less safe and secure in an AA meeting than just about any place else in ”the worlds”. Since a stereotypical and certainly highly adaptive response to danger is to escaped from it, and since the typical alcoholic attending his first AA meeting will, by the mechanism of psychotic projection described here, experience himself to be in danger that comes from outside him and from which he was able to at least in theory run away, a natural response is to scan and interpret the environmental issues in such a way as to build a obligating instance to vindicate the common and entirely visceral or gut degree desire to run away and never come back. Such” lawsuit building” would certainly be reactionary propaganda and rationalization, for the primary” flight answer” has already been activated, may in fact have been activated before the alcoholic ever even set foot in the session for the first time. But you typically necessary to provide ourselves with a plausible face-saving excuse for actions that we suppose may be contrary to common sense or against our best interest, especially when they are driven by powerful emotional and therefore irrational armies which we do not care to admit openly to ourselves, much less to others. Alcoholic are no exception to this universal human predilection- indeed, they may represent spectacular exaggerations of it, just as they sometimes seem to does of other common human fails and foibles.
In many, perhaps most instances the beginner is likely to be scouring by default for clues of gaps and disagreements with others rather than for evidence of similarity and agreement. The reason for this is obvious: the more evidence he was able to amass to convince himself and anyone else who might be interested that he” doesn’t really belong in AA ,” the faster and more honorably he can beat the hasty withdraw that both his addiction and his damaged and threatened ego lust him to make as soon as possible. Thus if he is not careful and is cognizant of the process he was able to very swiftly constituted a litany of grudges and differences that will, at the least in his own eyes, fully justify his own form of Caesar’s famous boast:” I passed, I checked, and I chose AA was not for me .”
Further complicating these common psychological resists are the direct and indirect effects of booze and often other medicines on the brain , influences which impair judgment, attention, information processing, impulse restraint and climate regulation. And it should not be forgotten that the alcoholic who is only hours, days or weeks away from his last potion is always in a state of active booze pullout which further interrupts normal central nervous system run and characteristically ensues in an anxious, irritable, negativistic state of mind. On top of all this, a significant number of individuals suffering from alcohol dependence( alcoholism) also exhibit symptoms of a feeling ailment such as sadnes or manic-depression ( bipolar disorder) as well as a primary anxiety ailment such as social phobia ( social feeling ailment ).
Given all of the powerful obstructions and oppositions to AA attendance and adoption, the meditate is not that so many alcoholics refuse to go to meetings or, if they move, decline to return- but that any at all do so and that at least some of these keep going back until they can continue to connect with the program and begin to receive assistance from it. Many, though certainly not all, of these success narratives have simply reached a time or been placed in circumstances in which the prospect of AA attendance, frightening and distasteful as it may at first be to them, is nevertheless for them the lesser of two villainies, e.g. captivity, job loss, divorce, emotional suffering or fatality from medical complications of alcoholism.