Harry's story

"Our Liquor is but a Symptom"

This was one of my favourite quotes in the Big Book, when I first came to AA. It is something I always knew about myself, but couldn’t quite work out how.

I always drank alcohol, and got very drunk. Alcohol was a problem for me, but not the main problem, I suspected.

I had the phenomenon of craving, where I couldn’t control my alcohol consumption once I started to drink; and I had the inability to stay stopped for good, even though I knew I really should. The problems my drinking caused me were very damaging, but I continued to drink alcohol even though it was ruining my life. I was powerless over alcohol - 100% powerless.

For me, however, I always had the feeling that something else was wrong with me. Taking the alcohol out of the equation, I still had a major problem.

The Big Book makes references to alcoholism, the malady. We are restless, irritable & discontent, without a drink, as it says in The Doctors Opinion. I always knew I didn’t “feel right” and that’s why I drank. It made me feel better!

I relied on alcohol for the feeling it gave me: fearlessness, confidence and power. The longer I relied on alcohol to give me these feelings, the harder it was, getting, to function sober.

I drank for 6 years, and at the end of my drinking, I felt like I had a mental & emotional illness. As it also says in the Big Book, there are those too, who suffer from grave emotional & mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. At my first meeting I would have defiantly have said I was suffering from a mental illness. That’s why I thought I wasn’t an alcoholic, because drinking is not a problem for me! Sobriety is! I drink because of the way I feel whilst sober.

We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery & depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people. When I read the bedevilments on pg. 52 of the Big Book, I could relate to them entirely, much like most of the Big Book. I’m an alcoholic, my problem’s alcoholism; our liquor is but a symptom!

From going through the 12 steps as laid out in the Big Book, with a sponsor I had a spiritual awakening, as the result. I took me 10 months to complete some of my step 9 amends, and to start sharing in meetings, but when I eventually did, I was amazed. I don’t want to quote the Big Book too much, but the promises came true for me. I was transformed; it was as my eyes opened to a new way of life. . My whole perception had changed. I felt happy, joyous & free! I felt piece and calm serenity like I’d never known. I was reborn. I had recovered from alcoholism!

The emotional and mental torture had been drastically reduced, I had confidence, and alcohol never even existed for me. That’s my experience from my early days of recovery, my first year as a newcomer in AA, absolutely amazing!

My experience came out of sheer desperation. I had to hit breaking point, and be completely hopeless on my own resources.

I’m 5 years 10 months sober now, and I live a completely different way of life - a rewarding, and honest life. It is blissful to sit and reflect on the progress that has been made in my life. Through finding a Higher Power through the Steps, and continuing to perfect and enlarge upon my spiritual awakening, by working 10, 11 & 12 in my life, I have remained sober easily, and have been able to lead a successful life.

At 10 months sober I went to college, after that I went to University for 3 years, I completed that, and went to work in retail superstores, I met my girlfriend there, who I have been with for over 2 years. I have moved on from my first retail job, into full-time, permanent work with another retailer. I have gained my driving licence and have been driving legally for over 3 years. I am making real steady progress with my life, and it has real meaning, purpose & direction.

It is 100% as a result of working the 12 steps, and forming a new way of life based on the spiritual principles of the programme.

I can only share my experience, as one alcoholic who has recovered from his alcoholic, torturous malady by going to AA meetings and following the example of people who went before me.

I am not cured of alcoholism; I have a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. I must constantly work what got me well: the 12 steps. The more action I put in to my daily programme the more freedom & joy I get back. Taking my Step 10 inventory on a regular basis and trying to live an honest life, whilst trying to carry the message of recovery & hope to any still suffering alcoholics.

We know we have a solution; it never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing, when getting another drink, this programme will never let you down.

It takes work, and action, but it works.

I had to learn the causes and conditions of my problem. What was it in me that was causing my misery, failure and destruction?
The answer is all contained within the Big Book of AA, and the 12 step programme.
Thank God for AA

I have a way to live comfortably sober, on a daily basis, upon which terms I can build a happy and purposeful life.

After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!