A lot of times in twelve step fellowships, heavy drinkers, heavy drug users end up in the fellowships because of an intervention of one kind or another; or maybe they just want to change their life and somebody has pointed them toward the rooms and they’ll show up. They don’t necessarily have to work the steps the way an alcoholic does. They don’t necessarily have to become consistent with meetings. A lot of times what will happen is they’ll come around for awhile and then slowly back away - disappear and learn that they can stay stopped on their own willpower, or they can even moderate, that happens quite often. That’s Type One.
“Type Two…your husband is showing a lack of control, for he is unable to stay on the water wagon, even when he wants to. He often gets entirely out of hand when drinking. He admits this is true but is positive that he will do better. He has begun to try, with or without your cooperation, various means of moderating or staying dry. Maybe he is beginning to lose his friends. His business may suffer somewhat. He is worried at times and is becoming aware that he cannot drink like other people. He sometimes drinks in the morning and through the day also to hold his nervousness in check. He is remorseful after serious drinking bouts and tells you he wants to stop but when he gets over the spree, he begins to drink once more. He begins to think once more that he can drink moderately next time. We think this person is in danger. These are the earmarks of the real alcoholic. Perhaps he can still tend to business fairly well. He has by no means ruined everything. As we say among ourselves, he wants to want to stop.” This is probably the majority of the people that show up in the twelve step fellowships, they are somewhere between a type one and a type two. But let’s just look at the type two. He’s showing a lack of control. He can’t quit even when he wants to. After a binge, he’ll come out of it and he’ll want to stop but then he’ll convince himself that he’s going to drink moderately next time and he’ll start drinking again. Sometimes he drinks in the morning and throughout the day to hold his nervousness in check. That nervousness is an actual detoxification from alcohol. That high level of anxiety is actually a part of a detoxing process.
Okay, Type Three. “This husband has gone much further than husband number two. Though once like number two, he became worse. His friends have slipped away. His home is in a near wreck and he cannot hold a position. Maybe the doctor has been called in and a weary round of sanitariums and hospitals…” or rehabs and detoxes…”has begun. He admits he cannot drink like other people but he does not see why. He clings to the notion that he will yet find a way to do so. He may have come to the point where he desperately wants to stop but cannot. His case presents additional questions which we will try to answer for you. You can be quite hopeful of a situation like this.”
Now why are they saying that? As the person gets worse, why are they saying you can be hopeful? I believe it’s because the closer we get to a full concession of our powerlessness, the closer we as alcoholics get to accurately assessing how much trouble we’re in, the more enthusiasm and motivation we’re going to have for practicing a recovery program that nobody wants to practice and few people will even believe will work for them because they’re so different. So again, his friends have slipped away…that happened to me. I didn’t have any friends any more. My home was in a near wreck. My home exploded and everybody left. Could not hold a position, I was becoming unemployable. The only reason I had a job was because I was in construction and there was lots of alcoholics in construction, including my boss. I started the weary round of sanitariums and hospitals. I had gone to outpatient. I had gone to in-patient. I had gone back to outpatient. I was trying to show up at some support group meetings but somewhere in the back of my mind, it was very, very difficult for me to realize that I am going to have to quit drinking for good and for all. That was a very, very difficult concept for me to come up with and I had all of the earmarks of the type three.
“Type Four…you may have a husband of whom you completely despair. He has been placed in one institution after another. He is violent or appears definitely insane when drunk. Sometimes he drinks on the way home from the hospital.” Or home from the detox or home from the rehab. “Perhaps he has had delirium tremens.” I had those. “Doctors may shake their heads and advise you to have him committed. Maybe you have already been obliged to put him away. This picture may not be as dark as it looks. Many of our husbands were just as far gone, yet they got well.” Okay so, the worse you became, the more hope these early Alcoholics Anonymous members have for you.