The Doctor's Opinion (Continued)
C: I've got a friend who's allergic to, of all things, fish. When he eats fish, his throat swells up, and he almost chokes to death. The fact that he's allergic to fish is beside the point. Because if he didn't eat fish, he couldn't trigger the allergy. If he didn't trigger the allergy, (his) throat wouldn't swell up and he wouldn't have to go to the hospital. But you know that sucker's got something else wrong with him, too. Because every once and a while his mind tells him that it's alright to eat fish. He eats fish, and then back in that hospital he goes.
But I bet you every time his mind says, well, I haven't had any fish in ninety days. I'm just going to eat two pieces. (laughter) Or he says, it's them damn crappie I've been eating. I'm going to start eating bass. (laughter) Or it may say, it's them damn people I've been eating fish with. (laughter) For some reason or other, his mind tells him it's okay to eat fish. He really believes he can. He eats it. It triggers his allergy, and in the hospital he goes.
There's something in my head that tells me that it's okay for me to drink. When it's obvious to everybody, and, at times obvious to me that I cannot drink. There's time. that my mind says that I can. Let's see why that's true.
J: Okay, later on our book is going to (say where the main problem is centered.) I think we as alcoholics need to know as much about (the body as we can.) After all, if we're going to live with this illness we have to make a thorough diagnosis. Later on, our book is going say it is great to know about the body. Okay, we're allergic to alcohol. But then it says, '... the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. ' (p. 23, par. 2) All the work is going to be done in the mind, because we're going to have to live with this (physical) part. There's nothing we can do about it. It begins to describe this on roman numeral twenty-six. Back up a page. (p. xxvi, par. 5) 'Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. '
C: Some people are highly offended when you tell them that. They say, oh, that isn't why I drank. They say, I drank because I love the taste of alcohol. I wouldn't argue with anybody whether they loved the taste of alcohol or not. Now, I loved the taste of cold beer. I always have all my life. I also love the taste of cold mountain spring water. You know, I never did sit down and drink a case of cold mountain spring water. (laughter) How can we go out to our car, which has been sitting out in the sun all day. Open the trunk. Reach in there and get a bottle of vodka out, which is probably a hundred and forty or fifty degrees by now. Take the top off. Take a slug of that stuff straight. And we say, ugh, God, ain't it good' (laughter) I don't think that's why we drank.
I think we drink because we love what alcohol does for us. It make. us feel different.
The normal social drinker gets that slightly tipsy, out of control, nauseous feeling. We get that hot, burning, exciting, in control feeling. We get something from alcohol that we could never get from any other source, period. I was a kid growing up and I was always on the outside of the crowd looking in. Always wanted to be a part of, and knew I could not be. Always knew that whatever I said or did would be the wrong thing and people would laugh, and I would be embarrassed. I became very, very, very introverted and very shy. One night somebody gave me a drink of whiskey. I put that stuff down through my esophagus, and I damn near choked to death. Never drank anything that tasted so horrible in my life as that stuff was.
But as soon as it hit my stomach, things began to change. I began to feel taller and taller bigger and bigger. My facial features began to change. I became Fred Astaire on the dance floor. (laughter) I could talk to the girls. I got one to let me take her home in the car. I became the world's greatest lover in the back seat of a '36 Chevrolet. (laughter) Alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. My mind became obsessed with the idea of drinking alcohol. An obsession of the mind is an idea that overcomes all other ideas.
An obsession of the mind is an idea that is so strong that it makes you believe a lie. It makes you believe something that isn't true. I hadn't been drinking three weeks, and people began to say to me, Charlie, you can't drink. They began to say, you ought to leave that stuff alone. My dad would say, Son, we people can't drink in our family. All of us that try to drink, we end up in serious trouble with it.
My mother began to say, you got an uncle that's already died in an insane asylum from alcoholism. You can't drink.
Everybody could see that, but I couldn't see it. Because alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. My mind became so obsessed with recapturing that feeling over and over and over, that I believed something that isn't true. I believed that I could drink. I believed that I could find a way to drink and not get drunk. I believed that I could find a way to drink like other people. I never could drink. Looking back over my life today, I never could safely drink alcohol, but I didn't know that. I drank until I was forty years old, before I realize that I could no longer drink
alcohol. This is the obsession of the mind.
When you find anything that makes you feel as good as it made us feel in the beginning, your mind's going to become obsessed with it. For some people, it's food. For other people, it's gambling. For other people, it's sex. For other people, it's drugs. For other people, it's work. Anybody who's operating with a true obsession of the mind, can not see the truth about their drinking, or whatever it is they're doing. They believe it's going to be okay. They believe they're normal. They believe it's everybody else that's out of step. Let's see what the doctor lays about that.
J: (p. xxvi, par. 5) 'The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. '
C: Even though, once and a while, I could see what alcohol was doing to me. I'd come out of that Jailhouse and I'd say, man, I've got to quit this damn stuff. It's killing me. Within two hours my mind would believe something different. My mind would say, it wasn't the alcohol. It was those people in that bar. Or quit trying to drink vodka, and go back to bourbon and you'll be alright. Or lay off that bourbon, and drink wine. One time it said, drink rum. The only thing I got out of rum was bad dysentery. (laughter) I'm damn sure allergic to it. We cannot differentiate the true from the false. That's what we got to--if we're going to help the practicing alcoholic-that's what we've got to realize, that the person who's drinking cannot differentiate the true from the false.
They come in the door of an A. A. meeting. We tell them, in our wisdom, everything we know, and they turn right around and they get drunk again. We say, what the hell is the matter with them. What's the matter with them is that they can't differentiate the true from the false. They believe they can drink. That's why alcoholics drink, because they think they can. If I didn't think I could drink, I wouldn't drink. If I could see the truth, and know that every time I drink I'm going to the jailhouse, I wouldn't drink. My mind has got to believe a lie, in order for me to drink. If you believe a lie, that means you cannot differentiate the true from the false.