For Many Recovering Addicts, The Earth Is Flat!
In ancient times, the church leaders of the day believed the earth was flat. Most people accepted the church’s views without question and it was common belief that if anyone were foolhardy enough to sail too close to the edge of the world, they would surely fall off into the great abyss and perish. (sounds a little like hell, doesn’t it?) To make a long Inquisition short, a scientist named Galileo invented the telescope, which proved that planets are actually round in shape. Religious leaders of the day were outraged to learn Galileo had dared to challenge their teachings and branded him as a heretic. When Galileo set his telescope up on the roof of Cardinal Bellarmine’s Holy Office and asked him to look for himself, the Cardinal refused. Instead, the church held a trial and declared Galileo guilty of heresy. He was placed under house arrest until his death, in 1642. The Cardinal and his organization weren’t interested in any truth, but their own.
Based on this little snippet of history, it’s clear to see how the views of a few authority figures can be used to control the majority of the population. Today’s view of addiction recovery is a good example. In recent decades, authority figures working in the addiction field have convinced most alcoholics and addicts that they suffer from an incurable disease. It’s no more truthful than preaching that the world is flat, of course, but most addicts have swallowed this fallacy hook, line, and sinker. I have no problem with addiction being labeled as a disease. Dis-ease describes addiction perfectly. But, please don’t tell me that addiction is an “incurable” disease. Defining addiction as a disease with no cure not only paints every addict with the same broad brush, it’s also arrogant, insulting and condescending. Even worse, most of the so-called “experts” on the topic have never been addicted to any substance themselves. Most have not walked in the addict's shoes.
There are many of us, myself included, that have been cured of addiction. AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, was one. For those 12 Steppers reading this, please stop wringing your hands and shaking your head in shock and disbelief. Instead, get out your Big Book, 4th Edition, turn to page 191, and read Bill’s words for yourself. You might be in for a surprise.
It’s ironic that AA’s original message of addiction as a CURABLE disease is largely ignored by its members and the addiction treatment profession. It’s no accident, however. Everyone involved in addiction recovery stands to gain, in some form or fashion. Many addicts enjoy the attention their incurable disease offers them – there is a lot of sympathy and attention to be gained, not to mention the convenience of not having to be held accountable in working on their own cure. Seeking a cure is a lot of work, after all. Plus, it’s fun to belong to support groups, where people can all agree they are victims-in-arms. Some people enjoy it so much they spend the rest of their lives talking about it in support groups, and little more.
Treatment professionals and rehab clinics love the incurable disease label because it earns them oodles of money… especially when rehab becomes a revolving door for the hopelessly incurable patient. And where would A.A. be if everyone became cured of addiction? Who would “keep coming back” to shout “it works if you work it” week after week? If most people actually worked the program, a lot of people would be out of a job.
Much like Galileo, I expect some will label my view of an addiction cure as heresy. But, like Galileo and countless others, I’ll continue to stand behind my beliefs, even at the risk of ex-communication and solitary confinement. Five hundred years after Galileo’s death, many still believe what others tell us, without question. Fear is a great motivator. Those that think outside the box might sail off the edge and perish, after all… unless we dare to step aboard our own recovery vessel and set sail for ourselves.
Read AA’s original message and decide for yourself - Big Book, 4th Edition, page 191.