The Dry Drunk

The Twelve Steps were, right from the very start, intended to start a new religion, to give the followers "vital spiritual experiences" and to turn the followers into religious fanatics — "religiomaniacs". Bill Wilson believed that religious fanaticism was the only answer for alcoholism. Bill often misquoted, "The only radical remedy for dipsomania is religiomania," (Bill attributed that quote to Carl Jung, but Jung never said it. It came from page 263 of William James' book, "The Varieties of Religious Experience".)

But what if you disagree with that message? What if you would prefer to keep the religious beliefs you already have? What if you choose to not believe in the Twelve Steps, and, since they are supposedly only a suggestion, you freely choose to not do the "suggestions"? What if you just want to quit drinking, without becoming a religious convert?

Well, you can still join A.A., because the only official requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, but you won't really be a full-fledged member. The hard-core true believers have a deprecating name for such members: "One-steppers". People who only practice the first step, admitting that they have lost control of their drinking. People who want to quit drinking, and regain control of their lives, but without all of the neurotic wallowing in guilt and grovelling before God that the other eleven steps entail. The true believers will tell you that you can't do that: you have to practice all twelve steps all of the time, or you will relapse.

When people do quit without the Twelve Steps, and without even attending A.A. meetings, the A.A. true believers will say that those people are not really "in recovery"; they are only "abstaining." What's the difference? Some counselors have lists of such differences, like:

Recovery requires working on all of the problems and issues that led one to drink in the first place. Abstinence is refraining from drinking by will power alone.
Recovery involves major lifestyle changes. Abstinence doesn't.
Recovery involves developing a support group or system. Abstinence doesn't.
Recovery requires working on yourself and fixing what is broken. Abstinence doesn't.

But the A.A. true believers don't even ask about such differences, they just automatically proclaim that anyone who doesn't drink, and who also doesn't attend A.A. meetings, is "only abstaining", while someone who is attending A.A. meetings and "doing the Steps" is of course "in recovery," whether they are actually working on any other issues or not.

And the dogmatic believers will proclaim that the "abstainer" is not really enjoying a period of "sobriety", he is "only dry". To accomplish this twist in logic, they bombastically redefine the word "sobriety" as:

SOBRIETY: A special state of Grace gained by working the Steps and maintaining absolute abstinence. It is characterized by feelings of Serenity and Gratitude. It is a state of living according to God's will, not one's own. It is sanity.

Even the word "sanity" is redefined there, as Frank Buchman's sin-free, "surrendered-to-God" (or surrendered-to-Frank), state of living — spending one's life "doing the will of God", as defined by the cult, rather than "doing one's own will."

Likewise, the true believers will say that the "abstainer" is a "dry drunk." "Dry drunk" is yet another imaginary disease invented by Alcoholics Anonymous. The term originally referred to a rather rare condition that some people have during the first months of recovery from alcohol abuse — they stumble around in an uncoordinated manner as if they are drunk, even though they are 100% sober. But A.A. has turned it into a slur, which is supposed to mean that someone is thinking and acting like a drunk man, displaying all of the objectionable characteristics of an obnoxious drunk, even though he is sober. And supposedly, all sober men who won't do the Twelve Steps will suffer from that condition, and will also become bitterly unhappy as well...

If an addict drops out of the Twelve Step system but remains totally abstinate from chemicals, he is said to be a "dry drunk." He is not sober because sobriety requires the ongoing practice of Twelve Stepping. Some also refer to the state of being a dry drunk as "white knuckle sobriety" and believe that such a person is a veritable walking time bomb, ready to descend with no warning precipitously into orgies of drunken oblivion unless he returns to practicing Twelve Stepdom.
The Useful Lie, by William L. Playfair, M.D.

On the other hand, Paul Roasberry wrote in his essay The Cult Called A.A.:

Of course, all cults have this in common: they reject and label as untouchables any who do not embrace their particular version of "Truth." To dyed-in-the-wool communists, non-believers are "bootlickers of the capitalists," or "counter-revolutionary hooligans." To the born again fundamentalist Christian, non-believers are "agents of Satan." To Moslems, Christians are "devils," and to Nazis, Jews are "swine." To the Alcoholics Anonymous membership, anyone who stops drinking without chanting the mantras of cult founder Bill W. are "dry drunks," pure and simple. You don't even need to know anything more about the self-quitters — the fact that they quit drinking without A.A. makes them dry drunks, a priori.
The Cult Called A.A., Paul Roasberry

And, unfortunately, 12-Step true believers seem very reluctant to do a reality check there, and compare their theories to actual results: If the A.A. member relapses, while the so-called "abstainer" or "dry drunk" doesn't, the A.A. fanatics will just blame their fellow A.A. member for "defects of character", and "constitutional incapability to be honest with himself", and for not practicing the Twelve Steps properly — for not "working a strong program", and perhaps for "holding something back in the Fifth Step" — while they simply ignore the nonmember abstainer, or proclaim that "He'll still relapse, it's just a matter of time." Under no conditions will the A.A. fanatics question the effectiveness of the A.A. Twelve Step program for actually quitting drinking and staying quit.

In his book, Not-God, Ernest Kurtz gives us an explanation of the dry drunk:

Confronted with the problems and concerns of "living sober," aware from often tragic experience of the special danger to alcoholics of such personality pitfalls as grandiosity, resentments, and the tendencies to dominance over or excessive dependence upon others, old-time members began to formulate a significant three-faceted distinction. "Active alcoholism" was the condition of the obsessive-compulsive drinker who continued to imbibe alcohol. From this situation, two others were to be distinguished. The first was that of the "merely dry" former obsessive-compulsive drinker who "put a cork in the bottle" yet continued to "think alcoholically"; i.e., to entertain grandiose plans and expectations, to nurse feelings of resentment, etc. In "true sobriety" or "serenity," one embraced a new "way of life"; i.e., abandoned grandiosity, resentments, and other claims to be "special," and became aware that one's only true dependence was on the "Higher Power" — that the whole program of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was to be utilized in all aspects of daily life.
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 123.

What nonsense. Such absolute, sweeping, grandiose statements, like that we must only be dependent on a Higher Power and that we must practice the Twelve Steps in all aspects of daily life, reinforce the very type of grandiose thinking that they are denouncing.
(And don't you love how Kurtz declares that alcoholics suffer from "excessive dependence upon others", and the answer is to depend on God more....)

They say that we are supposed to "practice these principles [the Twelve Steps] in all our affairs." (That is Step Twelve.) Are we supposed to practice the Twelve Steps while shopping for groceries at the supermarket? Maybe I should list all of my sins while in the bread aisle? Confess all of my sins to whomever is in the meat section? Make amends to the vegetables? Do my Twelfth Step work by recruiting the check-out girl and the bag boy as new pigeons and babies for Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon?

Heaven forbid, I'd better not do my First Step and Admit That I'm Powerless Over Alcohol while I'm in the beer and wine aisle or I might start grabbing bottles and 6-packs.

Note that Kurtz is again giving us a mystical or superstitious definition of alcoholism — it's a "spiritual disease". According to A.A. theology, alcoholism is not actually caused by drinking alcohol. Strange but true. Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book that "Bottles were only a symbol" (BB, p. 103.) and "Our liquor was but a symptom." (BB, p. 64.). Wilson and A.A. say that alcoholism has all kinds of causes, ranging from resentments to sins to defects of character to moral shortcomings to instincts run wild and self-will run riot, and "desires that far exceed their intended purpose", but drinking alcohol isn't one of the causes of alcoholism. As you might have guessed, Bill Wilson wasn't a doctor.

Now it is true that many alcoholics have underlying medical or mental problems. More than 50% are overtly disturbed. About 40% of alcoholics have suffered from child abuse, and others suffer from physical illnesses. And many women alcoholics were raped as teenagers. Often, alcoholics drink to relieve the symptoms of mental problems like clinical depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or pain that is caused by some other illness. But such people are better treated with Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, or a good painkiller than with the voodoo faith-healing medicine of the Twelve Steps. And note that we are talking about underlying medical problems, while the A.A. pundits like to claim that all of our troubles are due to underlying sin problems (like "selfishness", and not doing the Twelve Steps, and not doing the Will of God).

Lastly, the Twelve Steps of Bill Wilson are still nothing but a formula for building up a cult religion, not a therapy program for alcoholism. Frank Buchman developed the cult practices that are embodied in the Twelve Steps for the purpose of recruiting and indoctrinating new members for his Oxford Groups cult. Those practices had nothing to do with quitting drinking.

Ernest Kurtz continued with his explanation of dry drunks, and it became quite religious (religious, not "spiritual"):

The "merely dry" or "dry drunk" state was precarious, whether as an intermediate stage between "active alcoholism" and "true sobriety," or as simply a falling away from "true sobriety." A person in this dry but alcoholic condition suffered from much or all of the torment formerly soothed in some way by alcohol, but the accustomed painkiller was no longer an available option, and the fact that "active alcoholism" had been overcome inhibited any perception of "bottom" that could lead to the "surrender" required for "conversion" to "true sobriety." It was a purgatory worse than hell, for one suffered the torment under the illusion that this was heaven; further, from this alcoholic limbo one passed more usually to the hell of active alcoholism than to the heaven of true sobriety.
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 123.

Kurtz says that our underlying problems will become more apparent when we quit drinking, because we will no longer have the anaesthetic effect of alcohol to mask our pain. There is some truth to that. But then Kurtz tries to shove a big, veiled, assumption past us: that alcoholism is essentially caused by sin, and that the Twelve Steps are the cure for sin. Remember that he had defined "true sobriety" as a serene state of mind, free from resentments and other bad things — a state of mind that could allegedly only be achieved by doing Bill's Twelve Steps, including listing and confessing all of your sins for the rest of your life. Their idea of "alcoholic" really means that someone is a sinner, not that someone actually drinks alcohol. (They even accuse children who have never drunk alcohol in their lives of "behaving alcoholically" if the children just act, well, childishly.)

And note the phrase, "dry but alcoholic condition". That is a dead give-away that they define alcoholism as something separate from alcohol. According to Kurtz and A.A., you can be in an "alcoholic condition" without drinking any alcohol at all, and you won't have "true sobriety", they say, if you don't practice Bill Wilson's religion.

So, according to Kurtz, we will get a Serene Heaven on Earth if we do Bill's Twelve Steps, and we will go to Hell if we don't.

Look at the fear-mongering: Kurtz says that people who only quit drinking, without becoming religious fanatics, are in danger:
The "merely dry" or "dry drunk" state was precarious..."
Ernest Kurtz gave us no evidence to support his statement that people who are in the A.A. idea of "purgatory" — people who have quit drinking but who aren't doing the Twelve Steps — are more likely to relapse and return to active drinking than to stay dry.
What longitudinal controlled study, survey, or poll showed that?
What population was Kurtz examining? A.A. members? Ex-A.A. members? Scientologists?
How much more likely to relapse are the non-steppers than the Steppers?
Show me the numbers.

The Harvard Medical School says just the opposite of what Kurtz is telling us: They say that 80% of those alcoholics who successfully quit and stay quit for a year or more do it on their own, without Alcoholics Anonymous and its Twelve Steps, or any other "therapy program" or "support group".

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, performed the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. For it, they interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:

"About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."

So was Kurtz just making stuff up? Or just parroting the standard A.A. dogma and misinformation?

One of the most outrageous sermons on the subject of dry drunk behavior and codependency comes from Paul Molloy, in his A.A.-booster book Where Did Everybody Go?:

Some recognized experts on the problem, like Vernon Johnson, are convinced that the only difference between the alcoholic and his nonalcoholic loved ones is that one is physically affected by the chemical; otherwise, all have all the other symptoms. The "dry" are as sick as the drunk, except that the bodily damage is not there. With every drunk there is a sick "dry" who is almost a mirror image.
      Carry Amelia Nation, the hatchet-swinging, saloon-smashing temperance advocate, divorced her first husband, who was an alcoholic. Because he was an active member of a fraternal order, she later turned her fury against such organizations, then against tobacco, foreign foods, corsets, skirts that were not long enough for her liking and paintings of nudes. Her second husband, David Nation, divorced her on grounds of desertion. The Encyclopedia Britannica called her autobiography "a hodgepodge of disorder." She had such a morbid preoccupation with liquor that she couldn't hang on to her husbands and all but neglected her daughter.
      I have to believe that Carry Nation, who would never let a drop sully her lips, had a monumental booze problem. Alcoholism is, indeed, a "family disease."
Where Did Everybody Go?, Paul Molloy, page 165.

So, according to Paul Molloy, Carrie Nation was infected with the dreaded spiritual disease of "codependency" by her first husband, and she never recovered from it. She was allegedly "a dry drunk" for the rest of her life, without ever having drunk a single drop of alcohol in her entire life.

Molloy offered us no evidence that Carry Nation wasn't already crazy before marriage, and Molloy gave us no diagnosis of her extreme behavior and apparent obsessive mental problems other than that she had "a non-drinking booze problem" — that she was a dry drunk. That is absurd. And that is worse than amateur pop psychology.

Neither the American Medical Association nor The American Psychiatric Association recognize the existence of any such disease as "a non-drinking booze problem", or "dry drunk", or "codependency".

And once again, we see that Alcoholics Anonymous redefines alcoholism as a vague "spiritual" disease that actually has nothing to do with drinking alcohol.

We get another example of the same word redefinition stunt in another stepper's book on quitting drugs and alcohol:

I was about nine months into continuous abstinence and going through a particularly difficult period. This was because even though I had gone more than nine months without a drug, including alcohol, I had little real recovery yet, and that was due to the fact that I was still trying to hold onto my old ideas. I was in what's called a dry drunk. I was very angry most of the time and had no idea why. Nobody was doing anything to me, and things were going better than they had been in a long time. I was just angry, with a bad attitude, most of the time.
How to Quit Drugs including Alcohol, L. Douglas Taylor, page 98.

This 12-Stepper actually declares that "recovery" is not really caused by abstaining from drugs and alcohol — not even by nine months of abstinence — which is nonsense. Of course the guy is recovering, and getting some "real recovery". For nine months now, his brain, liver, and kidneys have been healing and rebuilding themselves, his head is getting clearer, and his over-all health is improving.

  • But once again, Alcoholics Anonymous redefines words like "recovery" in a "spiritual" way that has more to do with practicing the 12-Step cult religion than in actually abstaining from drugs and alcohol and physically recovering from the damage done.
  • And once again, if you ever feel angry and frustrated, the steppers say that you are a "dry drunk".
  • And this author declares that recovery requires letting go of your old ideas. (And replacing them with what, 12-Step dogma?) What 'old ideas' must be discarded?
  • Obviously, the author's idea of 'recovery' involves not feeling your feelings, and never feeling angry or frustrated. He just wants Serenity and Gratitude all of the time.

Similary, a Cocaine Anonymous book quoted a former heroin addict, who had by then been clean and sober for twelve years, but who still complained that:

"...I was still suffering from untreated drug addiction, even when I was dry."
Hope, Faith, and Courage; Stories from the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., page 35.

Obviously, he was not. After a week or two of withdrawal, he was no longer addicted to heroin, so he was not suffering from "untreated addiction". (What is that, anyway? Isn't the usual "treatment" for heroin addiction either to shoot more heroin, or to quit and go through withdrawal? That fellow had done both.) Now, the former addict may have had some lingering emotional or psychiatric problems, perhaps an anxiety disorder or PTSD, or lingering hostility, anger, and grief issues, but that is not "untreated drug addiction". And it sure isn't the next condition that book described, where another "recovering" addict declared that:

"...I am powerless over the outcome of everything and that my life is still unmanageable by me."
Hope, Faith, and Courage; Stories from the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., page 38.

That's quite some "recovery".

Curiously, even A.A. founder Bill Wilson was declared to be a "dry drunk" by the other early A.A. members.

When an A.A. member who was also a famous baseball player, Rollie Hemsley, broke his anonymity in 1940, and declared to the press that he was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, recovering from alcoholism, Bill went ballistic. Bill couldn't stand the idea that someone else was getting more publicity than him, speaking about "his" A.A..

So Bill Wilson broke his anonymity, too.1 Then Bill went on long cross-country speaking tours for several years. He was on the road, promoting A.A., for much of the nineteen-forties. Bill Wilson so routinely broke his anonymity and had his picture published in newspapers that by 1944 he had become the most famous "anonymous" person in the USA. Bill's biographers called his period of publicity-hound narcissistic megalomania a many-years-long "dry drunk":2

Bill's picture was featured in a newspaper article on alcoholism in the August 9, 1942 issue of the Knoxville Journal.
Chester E. Kirk Collection of the John Hay Library at Brown University

"Soon I was on the road," Bill recalled in 1955, "happily handing out personal interviews and pictures."

To my delight, I found I could hit the front pages, just as he [Rollie Hemsley] could. Besides, he couldn't hold his publicity pace, but I could hold mine. I only needed to keep traveling and talking. The local AA groups and newspapers did the rest. I was astonished when recently I looked at those old newspaper stories. For two or three years I guess I was AA's number one anonymity breaker.
        So I can't really blame any AA who has grabbed the spotlight since. I set the example myself, years ago. (LH, 212)
[Language Of The Heart, by William G. Wilson]

As Wilson's head swelled, A.A.'s rank and file indicted him for grandstanding and begged him to get off his "dry drunk."
Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, Matthew J. Raphael, page 139.

Everything Narcissistic vampires do is a move in the great game of self-aggrandizement, which is their main reason for living.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 136.

Robert Thomsen described Bill's grandstanding after Rollie broke his anonymity this way:

      Within a matter of weeks Bill was on the road, giving out interviews and pictures. A group would ask him to speak, he'd get in touch with the chairman, who'd tip off a local reporter, then after the meeting, they'd talk, and the next morning — if the war news didn't preempt him — he would find his picture splashed across page one, often with a rousing account of the number of hopeless drunks he had saved. It was work that Bill W. thoroughly enjoyed, and in the beginning a great many groups went along with him. But only in the beginning.
      Naturally — and inevitably, as he would learn — there were loud objections. "Who does he think he is?"   "What the hell is he pulling?" and "what about Dr. Bob?" He wasn't the only superstar, and soon others were trying to get into the act. And as always, AAs were not shy about expressing their opinions. Nor was Bill. He could still rationalize his every action. This was America, he pointed out, and there was a little thing called free speech here. All organizations, all countries, were being run by big-name leaders now. Secrecy might be all right for others, but the public had a right to know who AA's founders were.
      With that one phrase, "all right for others," Bill began to think of himself as an exception. ...
      He'd accepted Rollie's challenge and was proving that he could command as much publicity as a ballplayer. With his old zest for combat, the Burr and Burton boy was showing them, showing them all. And besides, no one could deny that in some towns his promotional schemes were getting results. More drunks were turning up at meetings after his story appeared.
      One night — and he remembered this because it was the first time he'd heard the words — an old-timer told him that he might indeed be the cofounder, they might owe their lives to him, but he'd better watch himself because he was sure as hell acting like a man on a dry drunk.
Bill W., Robert Thomsen, pages 300-302; pages 278-280 of the Popular Library paperback edition.
Anonymity is "all right for others..."

Narcissistic vampires believe they are so special that the rules don't apply to them.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., pages 135-136.

So "dry drunk" can mean anything from someone who won't do the Twelve Steps to someone who is acting like a publicity-hound megalomaniac. Actually, I guess the phrase "dry drunk" can also mean someone who is acting like Bill Wilson. And "dry drunk" can also mean Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Note that if the term "dry drunk" means all things to all people, then it really does not have any meaning at all. It is just some sort of generic put-down which spares the speaker from having to think very deeply about precisely what it is that the speaker does not like about the other guy...

Bill Wilson posing for a staged "man on the bed" publicity photograph.
Bill liked to brag about drunks being healed by "one drunk talking with another", and that the drunks would then get out of bed, pick up their beds, and walk, just like in the story of Jesus healing the cripple by the pool (John 5:2).

Notice the cross on the wall. This photograph was very carefully staged for best effect.

Later, Bill Wilson flat-out lied when he claimed that he had maintained his anonymity:

... He once even wrote to a friend who was questioning the value of anonymity:

Just before publication of the (Big) Book, I toyed with the idea of signing my name to it. I even thought of calling A.A. "the Wilson movement." Had I then dropped my anonymity, it is entirely possible that you and thousands of others might not be alive today. This movement would have gotten off to a false start entirely.
In January 1946, Bill wrote:
The word "anonymity" has for us an immense spiritual significance... subtly but powerfully it reminds us ... that we have renounced personal glorification in public; that our movement not only preaches but actually practices a truly humble modesty ...9 In a spiritual sense, anonymity amounts to the renunciation of personal prestige...10

9. The Language of the Heart: Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1988), p. 13.
10. Ibid., p. 18.

Grateful To Have Been There, Nell Wing, pages 46 and 150.
Nell Wing was Bill Wilson's secretary for many years.

Notice the grandiose claims, and the complete reversal of reality:

"Had I then dropped my anonymity, it is entirely possible that you and thousands of others might not be alive today."

For Bill Wilson to even suggest that thousands of alcoholics would have died if Bill Wilson had grandstanded and promoted himself (like he actually did) is absurd. Obviously, Bill wasn't that important.

The only question remaining is, was Bill Wilson completely deluded and totally disconnected from reality when he wrote that, or was Bill Wilson just a cold, deliberate, scheming liar?

Narcissistic vampires are absolutely shameless in their fantasies about how great they are and how much everybody admires them, or should.
      If you press them, they'll admit that they consider themselves the best in the world at something. Actually, you won't have to press very hard.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 135.

Something else that is funny is that Bill Wilson also made the opposite claim — that alcoholics died because Bill Wilson did not engage in publicity. TIME magazine wanted to do a cover story on Bill and A.A., but Bill refused, believing that he should maintain at least some small pretense of anonymity. Later, Bill worried that his failure to grandstand even just that one single time had fatal consequences for many alcoholics, and he tried to guesstimate how many alcoholics had had to pay the terrible price of Bill Wilson's modesty:

For all I know, a piece of this sort could have brought A.A. a thousand members — possibly a lot more.
        Therefore, when I turned that article down, I denied recovery to an awful lot of alcoholics — some of these may already be dead. And practically all the rest of them, we may suppose, are still sick and suffering. Therefore, in a sense, my action has pronounced the death sentence on some drunks and condemned others to a much longer period of illness.
William G. Wilson, quoted in
'PASS IT ON': The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. staff, 1984, page 314.

Wow. Those poor alcoholics die if Bill Wilson grandstands and promotes himself, and they die if Bill Wilson doesn't. Those poor alcoholics just can't win.

There is one more aspect to the dry drunk issue: the very real problem of mentally adapting to a sober lifestyle. People can go through a lot of emotional turmoil for years after quitting drinking. As Alan Bisbort reported:

When a recovering alcoholic begins to engage in what AA calls "stinking thinking," he or she begins to exhibit the old attitudes and pathologies of their drinking years. These include an increase in anxiety, mild tremors, mild depression, disturbed sleep patterns, inability to think clearly, craving for junk food, irritability, sudden bursts of anger and unpredictable mood swings. According to AA literature, "Boredom and listlessness may alternate with intense feelings of resentment against family and friends, and explosive outbursts of violence."
Dry Drunk: Is Bush making a cry for help?, by Alan Bisbort, American Politics Journal, Sept. 24, 2002.

Note that no superstitious or moralistic explanation for this phenomenon is necessary. It's very simple. Alcohol kills brain cells and makes major changes to the nervous system. (And so does 20 years of whiskey and cocaine, as G. W. Bush learned...) It can take many years for the brain to heal the damage and overcome those effects. Many people report feeling lots of emotional turmoil for the first few years after quitting drinking — to the point of sometimes feeling like seething cauldrons of anger, hostility, resentments, and pent-up frustration.

Sin is most assuredly not the cause of those neurological problems, and Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps are not the cure. The only real cure is time. Just hang in there and ride out the storm.
Make sure you take lots of B vitamins.
Also make sure that you eat a good, balanced diet. With some vegetables in it.
Also get off of nicotine and caffeine as much as you can. If you drink coffee, put milk or cream in it to take the edge off of the caffeine. (Latté Brevé is good.)
Don't let yourself get too tired or too hungry.
Engage your mind in positive, cheerful things as much as possible.
Listen to good music.
Enjoy life.
Go for long walks in beautiful places.
Things will get better.


1) See:
Francis Hartigan, Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, page 134.
Matthew J. Raphael, Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, pages 138-140.

2) Matthew J. Raphael, op. cit., page 139.
Also see: Robert Thomsen, Bill W., pages 300 to 302, and 315.


Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson     Francis Hartigan
Thomas Dunne Books, An imprint of St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, 2000.
ISBN 0-312-20056-0
Dewey: B W11h 2000
Francis Hartigan was the secretary of and confidant to Bill Wilson's wife Lois. This book is pretty much a white-wash and tells the whole story from Bill's point of view. But it does contain a few surprises, like the chapter "The Other Woman" which details Bill's love affair with Helen Wynn, and hints at all of his other affairs where he cheated on Lois, both before and after sobriety, all of his married life.

Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder     Matthew J. Raphael
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass., 2000.
ISBN 1-55849-245-3
Dewey: B W11r 2000
This book was written by another stepper — the name 'Matthew Raphael' is a pen name — and it generally praises Bill Wilson and recites the party line about most things, but it also contains a bunch of surprises, like detailing Bill's sexual infidelities, his and Bob's spook sessions — talking to the 'spirits' in séances through the use of Ouija boards, spirit rapping, and channeling, LSD use, and publicity-hound megalomania.

Bill W.     Robert Thomsen
Harper & Rowe, New York, 1975.
ISBN 0-06-014267-7
Dewey: 362.29 W112t
This is a good biography of William G. Wilson, even if it is very positively slanted towards Mr. Wilson, because the author knew Mr. Wilson and worked beside him for the last 12 years of Mr. Wilson's life. And rumor has it that this book was prepared from autobiographical tapes that Bill Wilson made before he died. So expect it to praise Mr. Wilson a lot. Still, this book will also tell you about some of Bill Wilson's warts, his fat ego, his publicity-hound behavior, and his years-long "dry drunks"...

Language Of The Heart     William G. Wilson
A.A. Grapevine, New York, 1988.
ISBN 0-933-68516-5
LC: HV 5278 .W15 1988

Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous     Ernest Kurtz
Hazelden Educational Foundation, Center City, MN, 1979.
ISBN: 0-899-486065-8 or ISBN: 0-89486-065-8 (pbk.)
LC: HV5278
LCCN: 79-88264
Dewey: 362.2/9286 or 362.29286 K87 1979
This is a very pro-A.A., toe-the-party-line history of Alcoholics Anonymous, but it is still a valuable resource for a wealth of historical facts and details.
Quotes: here and here

Where Did Everybody Go?     Paul Molloy
Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1981.
ISBN: 0-385-04997-8
LC: RC565.M58
Dewey: 616.86'1'00924 or B Molloy M
Another piece of propaganda that teaches us that Alcoholics Anonymous is right about everything. The author spent most of the book describing how miserable his drinking life was, and then he suddenly flipped out and became a raving true believer in A.A. who even repeated this:

"... I consider the AA people to be the most charming in the world.   ...
      They have found a power greater than themselves which they serve diligently. And that gives them a charm that never was elsewhere on land and sea. It makes you know that God Himself is really charming, because the AA people reflect His mercy and His forgiveness.
      ... when they have found their restoration, their sense of humor finds a blessed freedom, and they are able to reach a god-like state...
(pp. 187-189.)

"A god-like state"? Talk about delusions of grandeur.... Talk about flattering the cult members by telling them that they are really special....
See another quote here.

How to Quit Drugs including Alcohol     L. Douglas Taylor
Vantage Press, New York, 1999.
ISBN: 0-533-12169-8
Dewey: 362.29 T2435h 1999
LCCN: 96-90788
More 12-Step dogma and misinformation disguised as helpful advice. See quote here.

Hope, Faith, and Courage; Stories from the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous     Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, 1993.
ISBN 0-9638193-0-5 (hardcvr) ; ISBN 0-9638193-1-3 (softcvr) ; ISBN 0-9638193-9-9 (H&I edition)
A book of testimonials (proof by anecdote) from the headquarters of Cocaine Anonymous. Among other things, it teaches us the heresies that "Today I know that I am powerless over the outcome of everything and that my life is still unmanageable by me" (page 38), and GOD = "the Group Of Drug addicts at the meetings" (page 13). Most of the book is devoted to telling us that the story writers were miserable until they joined Cocaine Anonymous, and they were made just so happy by doing the Twelve Steps.

Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry     Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D.
McGraw-Hill, New York, 2001.
ISBN: 0-07-135259-7 (hard); ISBN: 0-07-135267-9 (pbk.)
Dewey: 158.2 B531e 2001
This is a wonderful little easy-to-read book on the psychology of exploitative personalities. It's easy to identify both Frank N. D. Buchman and William G. Wilson as Narcissistic vampires — "Legends in Their Own Minds" who could not tolerate the least little bit of criticism, and who felt entitled to take the best of everything for themselves because they were so special, and who threw screaming temper tantrums when the common rabble displeased them. (See one of Bill Wilson's drunken tantrums here.)
Quotes: here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Dry Drunk: Is Bush making a cry for help?     Alan Bisbort
American Politics Journal, Sept. 24, 2002.
This article is both amusing and disturbing. While getting in a few jokes and jabs, the author asks the very serious question of whether George W. Bush is brain-damaged from alcohol abuse:

Bush said he was a "heavy drinker." But let's not be coy here. Anyone who has ever imbibed heavily over a long period of time knows that "heavy drinker" is the rich man's (or the politician's) code for alcoholic.
      For the record, Bush claims to have stopped drinking for reasons that change each time he's asked about his substance-abusing past (which isn't often, thanks to a cowed press). Let's say he started experimenting with alcohol, as per the national norm, at 16 at prep school, and he began getting regularly wasted at Yale at 18. This would mean that Bush drank steadily "heavily" for at least 22 years [because he has publicly stated that he quit drinking shortly after his 40th birthday]. We are, then, asked to believe that he went cold turkey after more than two decades of heavy drinking, a nearly impossible feat even for someone, as he claims, who was rescued by God.   ...
      It is worth reflecting on George W. Bush's academic history. He graduated from two of the finest institutions of higher learning in this country: Yale and Harvard. He didn't make great grades, but he graduated, an accomplishment warranting some respect. Many rich, well-connected boys have flunked out. [NOTE from the editors: ...or [were] tossed out, as was one Richard Scaife, from Yale, allegedly for his own love of the bottle.]
      The question is then begged, and seems to at least deserve some pause for pondering: how did he, at age 58, get so fumble-tongued, incapable of stringing more than two coherent sentences together, snippily irritable with anyone who dares disagree with him or even ask a question, poutily turning his back on the democratically elected president of one of our most important allies because of something one of his underlings said about him (Germany's Schroder, of course), listlessly in need of constant vacations and rest, dangerously obsessed with only one thing (Iraq), to the exclusion of all other things (including an economy that is slowly sucking the life from the nation as well as the retirement savings of anyone reading these words)?
      Furthermore, why is Bush so eager to engage in violence and so incapable of explaining why? For drunks to function for any length of time in the world, they need enablers. Congress is filling that bill splendidly right now for Bush. As BuzzFlash put it about the recent corporate scandals, "For most of his adult life, those people around him enabled Bush's alcoholism. Now the Democratic Senate is enabling the corporate corruption problem of his administration by not using their Constitutional powers to demand the truth."   ...

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