Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it. There was, they said, no such thing as a personal conquest of this compulsion by the unaided will. Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol–an allergy, they called it. The tyrant alcohol wielded a double-edged sword over us: first we were smitten by an insane urge that condemned us to go on drinking, and then by an allergy of the body that insured we would ultimately destroy ourselves in the process. Few indeed were those who, so assailed, had ever won through in singlehanded combat. It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources. And this had been true, apparently, ever since man had first crushed grapes.
Among the definitions of allergy is hypersensitivity, and the word comes from words meaning “different” and “beyond.” In this way I can go along with an allergy concept to explain alcoholism, but it isn’t an allergy in the usual way that I use or understand the word. I did a tiny bit of research and it seems that the official AA has been fuzzy on the concept. In fact I think AA is fuzzy on both allergy and disease, and that the literature usually refers to alcoholism as a “malady.” For me, it certainly was a compulsion and an insane urge. I have no personal need to further examine exactly what alcoholism is or isn’t. If the fact that alcoholism is a unique kind of allergy or disease drives even one person away who could have been saved, that would be tragic.
I know people and I know of people who have recovered unaided, that is, without AA. I think they are a tiny percentage of alcoholics, but the quest to be one of them drove me nearly to death. I wanted to recover from alcoholism by successfully drinking, moderately. Any time total abstinence has been my goal, I have embraced AA, if not in the moment (of “having” to go to a meeting or some other something involved in participating in AA) then at least in theory. From the beginning I recognized the ideals of AA as good and I have believed that in pursuing them I selfishly become happier. One of the miracles for me is that at some point I stopped doing it because I had to and began doing it because I wanted to. I would not quit now, not voluntarily, even if in the moment I don’t want to participate.