So near yet so far

Going through the workbook with two bright and successful men, separately.  One “gets it” that the memory problem has tripped him up in the past, even concedes that his odds for remaining sober would be significantly better if he attended AA.  The other came back from a disastrous relapse, chastened and humbled.  You could not ask for more emphatic “change talk” – He identified completely with the description of “selfishness” and “self-will run riot ” in the AA Big Book. But neither will go to meetings or commit to anything that includes asking for help from others. They seem to think they see the problem.  The fact they do not see the solution suggests otherwise.  Neither has reached the point of the businessman, in chapter three of the Big Book, when “….hopelessly defeated.  I knew then. It was a crushing blow.” It seems so simple and clear.  Those who embrace AA think they need it.  Those who reject it do not. The belief in “willpower” and “self-control” dies hard. Hard to say how much of that is just another face of craving. For these two gentleman, at any rate, the workbook appears so far to be an exercise in contemplation.

Note: I do realize I am assuming that some form of asking for help is going to be necessary. In a recent workshop with Dr. Rollnick, he emphasized affirming the client’s ability to change.  As a public health psychologist with no apparent understanding of addiction as a disease, that appears similar to affirming that an epileptic can change without medication, or a Type I diabetic can change without insulin.  Much of his work, in fact, involves motivating people to comply with their medical proscriptions. I would like to think we can affirm a person’s ability to change and grow, without reinforcing the idea that they can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” an absurd image used by Abraham Lincoln to affirm the need for education of the previously enslaved to compete in an industrial society.

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