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Mark S

Read Three Pages From The Big Book

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A man of thirty was doing a great deal of spree drinking.  He was very nervous in the morning after these bouts and quieted himself with more liquor.  He was ambitious to succeed in business, but saw that he would get nowhere if he drank at all.  Once he started, he had no control whatever.  He made up his mind that until he had been successful in business and had retired, he would not touch another drop.  An exceptional man, he remained bone dry for twenty-five years and retired at the age of fifty-five, after a successful and happy business career.  Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has-that his long period of sobriety and self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men.  Out came his carpet slippers and a bottle.  In two months he was in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated.  He tried to regulate his drinking for a while, making several trips to the hospital meantime.  Then, gathering all his forces, he attempted to stop altogether and found he could not.  Every means of solving his problem which money could buy was at his disposal.  Every attempt failed.  Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly and was dead within four years.

    This case contains a powerful lesson.  Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally.  But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty.  We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.”  Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever.  If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.

    Young people may be encouraged by this man’s experience to think that they can stop, as he did, on their own will power.  We doubt if many of them can do it, because none will really want to stop, and hardly one of them, because of the peculiar mental twist already acquired, will find he can win out.  Several of our crowd, men of thirty or less, had been drinking only a few years, but they found themselves as helpless as those who had been drinking twenty years.

    To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have.  This is particularly true of women.  Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.  Certain drinkers, who would be greatly insulted if called alcoholics, are astonished at their inability to stop.  We, who are familiar with the symptoms, see large numbers of potential alcoholics among young people everywhere.  But try and get them to see it!  

    As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power.  If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year.  If he is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success.  In the early days of our drinking we occasionally remained sober for a year or more, becoming serious drinkers again later.  Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic.  We think few, to whom this book will appeal, can stay dry anything like a year.  Some will be drunk the day after making their resolutions; most of them within a few weeks.

    For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether.  We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to stop.  Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not.  Many of us felt that we had plenty of character.  There was a tremendous urge to cease forever.  Yet we found it impossible.  This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it-this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.

    How then shall we help our readers determine, to their own satisfaction, whether they are one of us?  The experiment of quitting for a period of time will be helpful, but we think we can render an even greater service to alcoholic sufferers and perhaps to the medical fraternity.  So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux of the problem.

    What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink?  Friends who have reasoned with him after a spree which has brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon.  Why does he?  Of what is he thinking?

    Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim.  This man has a charming wife and family.  He inherited a lucrative automobile agency.  He had a commendable World War record.  He is a good salesman.  Everybody likes him.  He is an intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for a nervous disposition.  He did no drinking until he was thirty-five.  In a few years he became so violent when intoxicated that he had to be committed.  On leaving the asylum he came into contact with us.

    We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we had found.  He made a beginning.  His family was re-assembled, and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had lost through drinking.  All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life.  To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession.  On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened.  He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in a serious condition.  He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on.  Moreover, he would lose his family for whom he had a deep affection.

    Yet he got drunk again.  We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened.  This is his story: “I came to work on Tuesday morning.  I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned.  I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious.  Then I decided to drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car.  On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar.  I had no intention of drinking.  I just thought I would get a sandwich.  I also had the notion that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which was familiar for I had been going to it for years.  I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober.  I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk.  Still no thought of drinking.  I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk.

    “Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn’t hurt me on a full stomach.  I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk.  I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach.  The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk.  That didn’t seem to bother me so I tried another.”

    Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim.  Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him.  He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic.  Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!

Take Our One Question Survey on Surrendering Expectations

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This week, our recovery topic will be “Surrendering Expectations.”

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Call Recovered About Expectations

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Tuesday Night, the recovery topic will be “Surrendering Expectations.”
Over the next several weeks, we will explore the spirituality of the book
Powerless but not Helpless
A Recovery Interpretation of the Tao Te Ching
81 Essential Meditations That Can Change Your Life!

Expectations guide your progress in recovery, but having unrealistic expectations during the process sets you up for failure. When you set expectations so high you couldn’t possibly attain them, you add unneeded stress and decrease your chance of success. Setting realistic expectations in recovery helps you form a healthy framework to succeed.

Tuesday, we talk about Expectations.

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When you “call”, reflect on these questions:
  • For you, how do expectations and resentments relate?
  • How do you manage expectations?
  • What part of the program helps you with expectations?
  • How do you know when an expectation is too high?
  • What happens when an expectation is too low?
So you can prepare for Tuesday’s show, you can get a copy of our Show Notes,  just click 

Big Book Workshop Part 8 – Recovered 1209

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Scott L. from Nashville, TN and Bob D. from Las Vegas, NV doing a Big Book Workshop Weekend in Altamore Springs, FL – January 21st-23rd 2005

Check out this episode!

Water Bottles and Open Talks

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I’ve been sending out water bottles to Premium Members who request them.  The bottles are 26 oz. Custom aluminum water bottles – white with the Recovered Logo.  Just let me know if you want one.  I have about 5 left, so hurry

Also, if you would like to be featured on the Friday Open Talks I post for Premium Members, just email me your Open Talk in a .mp3 format and I will get you published.

Read Three Pages From The Big Book – Pages 22-24

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The Topic for these pages is Controlled Drinking

Click HERE for an episode on this topic.  Most of these episodes are from our back catalog and are only accessible by our Premium Members.  If you would like to become a Premium Member, but the cost is a barrier, just email me at and I will send you a promo code for a free year of membership.




Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God.  These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear-cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives.

    We hope no one will consider these self-revealing accounts in bad taste.  Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women, desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, “Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.”



Chapter 3



MOST OF us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics.  No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.  Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people.  The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.  The persistence of this illusion is astonishing.  Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

    We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.  This is the first step in recovery.  The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

    We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking.  We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control.  All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals-usually brief-were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness.  Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

    We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.  Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men.  We have tried every imaginable remedy.  In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse.  Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic.  Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.

    Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class.  By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic.  If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.  Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!

    Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums-we could increase the list ad infinitum.

    We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself.  Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking.  Try to drink and stop abruptly.  Try it more than once.  It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it.  It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.

    Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking.  But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time.  We have heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite signs of alcoholism, were able to stop for a long period because of an overpowering desire to do so.  Here is one.

Big Book Workshop Part 7 – Recovered 1207

150 150 Mark S

Scott L. from Nashville, TN and Bob D. from Las Vegas, NV doing a Big Book Workshop Weekend in Altamore Springs, FL – January 21st-23rd 2005

Check out this episode!


150 150 Mark S

The Topic for these pages is Will Power

Click HERE for an episode on this topic


When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane.  These stark and ugly facts have been confirmed by legions of alcoholics throughout history.  But for the grace of God, there would have been thousands more convincing demonstrations.  So many want to stop but cannot.

    There is a solution.  Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation.  But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.  When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.  We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

    The great fact is just this, and nothing less:  That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe.  The  central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous.  He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

    If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution.  We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives:  One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help.  This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.

    A certain American business man had ability, good sense, and high character.  For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another.  He had consulted the best known American psychiatrists.  Then he had gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) who prescribed for him.  Though experience had made him skeptical, he finished his treatment with unusual confidence.  His physical and mental condition were unusually good.  Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable.  Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time.  More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall.

    So he returned to this doctor, whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover.  He wished above all things to regain self-control.  He seemed quite rational and well-balanced with respect to other problems.  Yet he had no control whatever over alcohol.  Why was this?

    He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and he got it.  In the doctor’s judgment he was utterly hopeless; he could never regain his position in society and he would have to place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long.  That was a great physician’s opinion.

    But this man still lives, and is a free man.  He does not need a bodyguard nor is he confined.  He can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude.

    Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help.  Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had with his doctor.

    The doctor said:  “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic.  I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.”  Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.

    He said to the doctor, “Is there no exception?”

    “Yes,” replied the doctor,” there is.  Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times.  Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.  To me these occurrences are phenomena.  They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.  Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.  In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you.  With many individuals the methods which I employed are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description.”

    Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church  member.  This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor’s telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.

    Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have already told you, made him a free man.  

    We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men.  What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God.  A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works.

    The distinguished American psychologist, William James, in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience,” indicates a multitude of ways in which men have discovered God.  We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired.  If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.  Those having religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies.  There is no friction among us over such matters.

    We think it no concern of ours what religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals.  This should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the light of past associations, or his present choice.  Not all of us join religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships.

    In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic.  Many who once were in this class are now among our members.  Surprisingly enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual experience.