All alcoholics suffer from the phenomena of craving, as The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes it. “This phenomenon,” the authors write, “may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.” Alcoholism currently has no cure. Instead, there are manners of living one can develop in order to live without alcohol. “It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated,” the authors explain. “The only relief we have to suggest is entre abstinence.” Throughout The Big Book, this is the only time in the core text the word abstinence is used.
Abstinence means “restraining oneself from indulging in something, typically alcohol”. Abstinence and alcohol go hand in hand. However, alcoholism and abstinence are not always a winning recipe. For some people, abstinence is not the answer to their alcoholism. The severe restriction from alcohol always leads to a worse relapse. Some people use 12 step alternative programs to help them learn how to live a life of moderation rather than total abstinence.
Dr. Carrie Wilkens of the HBO documentary Risky Drinking stated for Refinery 29 that “people who are on the mild or moderate end of the spectrum may or may not need to be abstinent for the rest of their lives. There may be a lot of behavioral things they can do that change their drinking patterns. You could possibly treat any underlying problems…and maybe if you treat those they’ll rely on alcohol less.” Wilkens refers to the spectrum of alcohol use disorder severity she examines in her documentary. “It used to be either you’re an alcoholic or you’re not,” she explains, “And, if you’re an alcoholic, you need to stop drinking. Period.”
The Real Truth
Traditional 12 step philosophy believes that anyone who can do a right about face and “drink like a gentlemen” must not be what is considered truly alcoholic. For a true alcoholic could never pick up and drink normally again. Abstinence is not the only answer for alcoholism, but it is a proven answer for severe cases of it.
Aurora Recovery Centre has seen the benefit of lifetime abstinence from alcohol. We encourage the twelve step philosophy so our members can live successful, fulfilling, and healthy lives. Our facility provides the tranquility and comfort needed for holis