Sep 08: Obsession


My name is Karen and I’m an alcoholic.

In the Big Book chapter “More About Alcoholism” there is a line “The idea that somehow; someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 30) That fit me to a T. Later in the chapter it talks about some of the methods we try; for example, Drinking beer only…Never drinking in the morning…Switching from scotch to brandy…Swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath, and so on ad infinitum. I was handed my first Big Book while in detox in rehab and read this chapter, including the list. I felt I had just taken a quiz to see if I was an alcoholic and checked all the boxes. It was a relief to know that other people had tried all these crazy methods to quit drinking that had consumed my life for so long.

When I was drinking my mind was like a hamster wheel, constantly thinking about drinking or not drinking, whichever version I was trying out at the moment. Nighttime offered little relief; I woke at 2 a.m. on the dot every morning worried I was going to die from alcohol poisoning or trying to remember what I had said or done the night before. I would start to plan how the next day would be different. In the last year of my drinking I pretty much gave up trying to string together sober days because they weren’t that much better than the days I drank. I may not have had a hangover, but I was never free from the obsession of thinking about drinking.

At the treatment center I went to we learned that alcohol is not only an allergy of the body but also an obsession of the mind. That made so much sense to me. The physical cravings left first, and it wasn’t many days before I started to feel physically better and occasionally slept through the night. The mental obsession was much harder. I have heard people in AA say they had a spiritual awakening and the obsession was lifted. It didn’t happen that way for me. It was very gradual. There was a day, probably about six months sober, when I realized I hadn’t thought about alcohol for several hours. That started to happen more often and those chunks of time, when I felt like I had my brain back, kept me going. For me, losing the obsession that had zapped my energy and my ability to be present for so many years was the key to finding the freedom and happiness talked about in the promises. Occasionally, I’ll go on a trip down memory lane and start to feel nostalgic about having a nice glass of wine. The best way for me to get out of that “stinking thinking” is to remind myself that I am no longer thinking about drinking every minute and that once I pick up that glass that freedom is gone.

I invite you all to share on obsession: how it was lifted or if it’s still a struggle. Of course, please share on any other topic you need to.

Thanks for letting me chair,

Karen H.