I was in a meeting, years ago, and someone introduced themselves as a recovered alcoholic. My first thought was that they were bragging or being arrogant. This was before I found Joe and Charlie and worked the steps out of the Big Book and began my intense study of it. The original Big Book published in 1939, has, on the back cover “The story of how more than 100 men have recovered from alcoholism”. On the inside flap, it says “many could recover if they had the opportunity that we have enjoyed”. The forward to the first edition, the first line written in the Big Book states “we of alcoholics anonymous are more than 100 men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body”. The very next statement is in bold print “to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book”.
So, what did they mean when they said they were recovered? I will share my thoughts. It states, on page 85, that we are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. I heard someone state that the paragraph preceding that contains the recovered promises. These promises say I am no longer fighting anyone or anything. Sanity has been returned to me. I can see the truth about alcohol. If tempted, I will recoil from it as from a hot flame. I react sanely and normally. This new attitude to liquor has been given to me by my relationship with God and access to God’s power. This state has placed me in a position of neutrality, safe and protected. The problem has been removed. But there are conditions – I will only react this way if I am in fit spiritual condition.
On page 101 it states “an alcoholic who can not be around alcohol still has an alcoholic mind”. Dr. Jung told Roland Hazzard he had the mind of a chronic alcoholic and had not seen a single case recover where this state of mind existed as it did in him. However, Dr. Jung said there were exceptions where alcoholics had vital spiritual experiences. On page 24 it states “an alcoholic is without defense against the first drink”. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove. The Big Book, on page 23, states that if the alcoholic did not take the first drink, his allergy of the body would not be triggered. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic settles in the mind not the body.
The recovered promises take place after you have entered the world of the spirit. This means you are living in the now with God. Steps 4-9 have been worked to the best of your ability and the promises on page 83 are beginning to come true. So, Step 10 is where I practice daily inventory to stay recovered and in the world of the spirit. Recovered is to be in fit spiritual condition so I will react sanely and normally to alcohol. For me, fit spiritual condition is contingent on my seeking God’s direction and power all the time. Step 10 is where I practice getting back to God in the now when I begin to go into self-will. If, on awakening, I ask God to direct my thinking, watch with God during the day when I get back into self, and ask him constantly to remove self-will when it appears, then I will be recovered. Therefore, being recovered depends on what I do each day to establish and maintain my relationship with God. When I inventory at night, I assess where I fell off the beam, what I should have done instead, and ask his forgiveness and what corrective measures should be taken. If I live in Steps 10 and 11 and practice the principles in all my affairs to the best I can with God’s help, then I will be recovered. Recovered is a fragile state, for me, and requires daily action. Because, to be recovered means, for me, I am in the now with God!