A.A. reminds me of the John Huston movie, based on a Carson McCullers story, Wise Blood. In it, a young Army serviceman returns to his Booble Belt origins and finds a special niche, becoming a streetcorner preacher who insists he's founded a Church of Truth Without Jesus (or something like that: the Rev. Hazel Motes doesn't know what he believes). Like the prist in Buñuel's Nazarin, he learns that the going in the life of an itenerant pastor can be rough, and if the rough get going, they learn that no good deed shall go unpunished. To these people, A.A. serves as a surrogate religion, and just as every good Christian wants God to know he is contrite each Sunday, saying "I am Jim Martin and I am an alcoholic" now and then is the functional equivalent of taking the sacraments.
When people ask me if alcoholism is inherited or learned behavior, I volunteer my considered opinion it is both. As a child, on the way home from seeing an uncle who made us pancakes with maple sirup every weekend, I asked my dad what Undle Phlete did for a living, he told me, "Phlete's a realtor," a remark I found curious in view of the fact Uncle Phlete always had a bottle on his counter labeled: TEACHER'S. My father in his later years slept through the evening news, all the trendy soaps, the nightly news, and the talk shows because he'd come home drunk and set out to get drunker.
My older brother at 13 was sneaking into the family pantry to crack an occasional can of Dad's Buddweiser, given us by the case as a cost of business. My father was an attorney and represented some of the employees of the distributorship. We traveled to Mexico frequently, since the booze was cheap, and one morning after a lovely night's sleep in Tamazunchale, we came downstairs looking for Phlete III who we found sitting with his high school buddy we'd invited along, eating tamales and drinking cervezas.
I will not long dwell into my own downward slide into that small glass circle at the bottom of every pinrt and fifth; I will only say that the end came the night I realized I had made a fool of myself in a family setting and thought of something the Buddha said: As you think, so shall you be. My thinking while lushed was nil. My tongue, already objectionable to many, became Lash Larue's hand extention and everyone had welts.
Somewhere I got hold of a book entitled How to Quit Drinking Without A.A. I won't go look up the author and publisher but refer you to google. The author prescribes such a wise and intelligent (I dare say secularist) approach to quitting, I cannot recommendd it more highly. I found that what I was suffering from was a chemical imbalance; that is, the booze had brought about a dependency on sugars. (Ever noticed how a lot of alkies take up candy and become "chocoholics"? I'd simply die without a handful of M&M'S.)
He advised first a regimen of milk thistle tincture dissoved in water to go to work immediately cleansing the liver of toxins. While I am not a huge believer in food supplements, the milk thistle, taken along with the other herbs and foods the author recommends, take the edge off the wanting. These days I drink O'Doulls Amber and sometimes have all-juice cranberry-pomeganate drink with no added sugar and aid my immune system and heart simply by drinking something I could simply swear is a good burgundy.
What is the A.A. slogan making the invitee indoctrinated into the belief that it is a higher power that rules them and that they are not going to drink because they
fear obey this higher power. To me, "higher power" = "God." It would appear to me to be the same old rosary.
Now, my younger brother Terry? He quit once again and went to an A.A. meeting. One of the fellows he helped get home said, as they reached a street corner with a convenience store on one side, "Can we stop here a minute?" They did. He emerged a few minutes later with a twelve pack tucked neath his arm. Terry did not go back to A.A.