The fundamental opposition to any form of convalescence from craving is the addiction itself , which infiltrates the addict’s self and adjusts his perspective and judgment in a fashion congenial to itself and hostile to any form of convalescence. Whatever is or may become a threat to the addiction is normally targeted, devalued, and when possible, destroyed. Because this distortion and subversion of the true self takes home largely outside the addict’s consciousness he is usually helpless to fight it. Scarcity the ability to detached himself( his true ego) from his addiction( his addicted self) he falsely believes that his thinking is free and unfettered when it fact it is wholly subservient to the requirements of his addiction. In a 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 junkie- for there is nothing at all individual about the stereotyped biological process of addiction, and the defiance that is commonly encountered during active addicts has almost nothing to do with their true-blue selves and what is good for them but with their false-hearted selves and what is good for the craving.” Commit me liberty or gives people demise ,” for the active junkie, truly necessitates” Give me my addiction or gives people death ,”- and even, at times,” Give me my craving even if it induces my extinction !”
Because the active junkie verifies the world through the eyes of his addiction he necessarily notices those things that are favorable to his continuance of his addiction and he forgets or actively belies those that are not . This psychological fact alone practically guarantees that a well-known convalescence method such as AA will one way or another be found wanting by the alcoholic to whom it has been recommended. Except under ideal and unfortunately exceptional circumstances, i.e. when the alcoholic had really and conclusively had enough and is therefore willing to do whatever it takes to recover from his alcoholism, the active alcoholic can be expected and predicted to dislike 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 convalescence from alcoholism, e.g. inpatient or outpatient reclamation programs. The drawback under which all such potential interventions labor in the brains of the drinking alcoholic is the fact that they aim to interfere with his drinking and have some history of success in doing so for others! Therefore, unless he is in a desperate and thus remarkably receptive nation, he avoids them more carefully than he sometimes seems to avoid the risk of his own extinction from the complications and accidental misadventures of his alcoholism.( One is sometimes reminded of the old-fashioned movie vampires, hissing and diminishing 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 ”peoples lives”. Could it perhaps be not the person but the disease that has, vampire-like, overpowered and enslaved him which frights and thus attempts to hide from everything that might save the person by harming the disease ?)
This general opposition to anything that might threaten the craving is the foundation upon which more precise and localized oppositions rest and from which they describe their strength and, as it were,” take their orderings .” Resistance to recovery from craving is a complex and highly adaptive( for the craving , not for its host !) dynamic process that draws upon the complete the resources available to the ego and employs all of the ingenuity and ability of the person to protect the craving and to clog convalescence. Specific obstacles and resistance to recuperation include dread, reproach, embarrassment, dishonour, ignorance, grandiosity and denial. All of these roadblocks to recovery from craving are commonly involved in the remarkably stereotyped aversion to AA attendance manifested by the typical alcoholic to whom such attending is recommended by sidekicks, house, or medical professionals.
Simple fright of the unknown is a significant, often school principals factor in opposition to AA attendance . It involves 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 disorders which add to the natural horror associated with such a new suffer. Although some people are able to identify and recognize their dread, many are not. Male alcoholics specially may be ashamed of their anxiety and hence deny it, focusing instead upon any number of largely deceitful rationalizations or red herrings to vindicate their AA avoidance. Shame and embarrassment are nearly universal reactions 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 more importantly to oneself that he is or might be an alcoholic who has been unable to solve his drinking question by himself. There are actually at least two distinct sources of dishonor and stigma here:( 1) that there has been a serious problem with alcohol, and( 2) that the individual necessitates or that he even might necessitate AA to deal with the problem.
The interesting and highly significant reality is that boozing alcoholics themselves are among the most intolerant and intransigent reviewers of the so-called medical simulate of alcoholism. The vast majority of drinking alcoholics consider alcohol problems as matters such as will power and moral values. Alcoholic, in other words, before they get sober, seldom understand or have any respect for alcoholics – a Dilemna that certainly complicates and stymie their own chances of convalescence from alcoholism. Thus what ought to be an occasion for healthy dignity and self-congratulation- being honest with oneself about an booze problem 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 los and something itself to be ashamed and guilty about.
Because in the majority of cases the alcoholic’s beaker of disgrace and remorse runneth over, i.e. is becoming too intense and painful for him to accept, the psychological defense mechanism of psychotic projection usually steps in to externalize and thus distance his feelings of self-loathing and self-condemnation. By projecting his negative sympathies 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 magistrate or are about to judge me negatively .”
Paranoid projection permits the alcoholic to gain a sense of restraint by fully participate in defiant-oppositional behavior against an imaginary external adversary and also to take avoidance precautions by simply biding away from situations in which “They” might ascertain and judge him. All of this of course gravely impairs and in many instances interdicts solely the formation of trusting and supportive relationships may be required for convalescence from alcoholism. Beginner to AA meetings are sometimes so panicked of” running into somebody they know” at a meet that they will wander far across township or even to another metropoli to attempt to avoid what is for them the frightening potential of being heard at a meeting by someone who they fear could broadcast their frightful and scandalous secret to the world . This dreaded of spotting is a projection onto imaginary other persons of their own intense thoughts of dishonor and self-disgust. Unfortunately for the alcoholic in need of the help that AA can provide, the easiest and simplest path to avoid being find, talked about and denounced by “Them” is to stay as far gone as is practicable from “Them,” namely from the vicinity of an AA meeting where “They” are certain to notification 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 track is in reality the harder and more deadly one: for by eschewing health and emotionally corrective experiences with other people who have also fought with booze troubles, the frightened and self-despising alcoholic is isolated, cut off from assistance, and worst of all, shut up wholly with and within himself and his malady of alcoholism. The usual ensue, of course, is persisted 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 dread or personnel acting upon him from behind, the formidable obstructions above and who as a result actually is demonstrated by, often full of panic and shaking at an AA meeting, faces still more perils and difficulties before he can hope to tie up his weather-beaten ship and disembark in a safe harbor. Selective attention and disregard make him to pay particular attention to some things and to neglect or decrease others. The general focus of attention will naturally be upon retaining his security and self-esteem as he undertakings onto new and generally forbidding terrain for the first time. Guided by the” fight or flight” response he will be sensitive to every cue that intimates a real or perceived menace to his already threatened self. The mental defence mechanism of psychotic projection described above causes him to experience his environ and the people in it, including other alcoholics, as sinister and potentially critical, dishonor and rejecting. This naturally puts 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 consented- but a far more common response 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 world. Since a stereotypical and indeed highly adaptive response to hazard is to flee from it, and since the typical alcoholic attending his first AA meeting will, by the mechanism of psychotic projection described above, seem 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 mode as to build a compelling occurrence to vindicate the common and entirely visceral or gut level desire to run away and never come back. Such” lawsuit constructing” is of course reactionary propaganda and rationalization, for the primary” flight response” 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 suspect may be contrary to common sense or against our best interest, specially when they are driven by powerful psychological and therefore irrational violences which we do not care to admit openly to ourselves, much less to others. Alcoholic are no exception to this universal human tendency- certainly, they may represent stunning exaggerations of it, just as they sometimes seem to do of other common human neglects and foibles.
In many, perhaps most instances the beginner will 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 testify he can amass to persuasion himself and anybody 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 shattered and threatened ego passion him to make as soon as is practicable. Thus if he is not meticulous and conscious of the process he was able to very swiftly constituted a litany of grievances and changes that they are able to, at the least in his own eyes, amply vindicate his own form of Caesar’s famed boasting:” I came, I checked, and I chose AA was not for me .”
Further complicating these common psychological resistances are the direct and indirect effects of alcohol and often other stimulants on the brain , consequences which impair decision, attention, information processing, impulse control and feeling regulation. And it should not be forgotten that the alcoholic who is only hours, days or weeks away from his last beverage is always in a state of active alcohol withdrawal which further interrupts normal central nervous system run and characteristically results in an anxious, irritable, negativistic state of mind. On top of all this, a significant number of individuals suffering from alcohol dependence( alcoholism) likewise exhibit symptoms of a feeling disorder such as depression or manic-depression ( bipolar disorder) as well as a primary anxiety disease such as social phobia ( social nervousnes disorder ).
Given all of the powerful obstructions and resistances to AA attendance and adoption, the wonder is not that so many alcoholics refuse to go to meetings or, if they proceed, wane 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 surely not all, of these success tales have simply reached a point or been placed in circumstances in which future prospects of AA attendance, startling and distasteful as it may at first be to them, is nevertheless for them the lesser of two immoralities, e.g. incarceration, job loss, divorce, psychological sorrow or death from medical complications of alcoholism.