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Archive for March, 2007

Fellowships of Addiction

<br /> FellowshipAdd.txt copy<br /> ©2007, Jack Trimpey, all rights reserved.

In the handout materials for AVRT: The Course, is a sheet titled, “Guidelines,” which sets some ground rules for the four-day trek to AVRT-based recovery. Item 3 is:

3. You will probably enjoy the company of the other participants. However, this is not a good place to form relationships. At the onset, you have nothing in common with the other participants but the love of addictive pleasures and a history of bad judgment. I will discourage some kinds of interaction.

Some are uneasy with this notice, particularly the ones who have had substantial exposure to recovery groups, substance abuse counseling, and addiction treatment services. I always explain that AVRT: The Course is not addiction treatment, nor a kind of counseling or therapy, and that I am neither interested in hearing about the problems caused by addiction, nor in hearing about anyone’s personal or social background. I explain that everyone present has suffered greatly, inflicted suffering on others. I make the sweeping assumption that all participants are currently depressed because of the direct effects of alcohol and other drugs, and because of the depressing situations that always attend addiction.

I suggest that AVRT: The Course is more like an algebra class, although the subject matter is considerably simpler and easier to learn. Because learning AVRT® is an individual, sink-or-swim responsibility, compassionate comments, supportive statements, and empathetic helping are inappropriate, just as in algebra class.

Occasionally, a magnetic fascination develops among certain participants. They tend to sit together, seek eye contact with each other, and make sidelong comments to each other during the presentation. They are quite supportive of each other, coming to quick agreement on elusive issues while others continue to struggle. They are also quite defensive of each other when called on a point of learning. Ignoring my advice, they exchange email addresses and phone numbers, and make plans to stay in touch even though they have no good reason whatsoever to get in touch.

Fellowship of the Beast
This unwarranted familiarity and loyalty is a fellowship of addiction, a spontaneous meeting of minds among substance abusers who share a common life agenda, common beliefs, and common values. AA is a fellowship of addiction spawned by its currently-addicted founders, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. If there were no such thing as AA, addicted people such as these would still discover each other, share fellowship with each other, have similar beliefs and values concerning substance abuse, defend each other against common standards of decency and moral conduct.

The camaraderie of addicted people, coupled with their circle-the-wagons defense against the civilized world is nicely summed up by notorious imbiber, W. C. Fields, “Never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” Mimicking Jesus, Bill Wilson stated more doctrinally, “Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group.” However, I say that when two or more substance abusers get together, especially after dark, they’re up to no good.

Heavy drinkers and other substance abusers enjoy a rare kind of camaraderie, which Bill Wilson called the “herd mentality.” They tend to view each other’s shortcomings with gentle understanding, and are quick to forgive each other’s offenses. They are united on certain principles, such as that self-intoxication is not a moral issue at all, that there are many causes of excessive self-intoxication, and that one can never be sure one won’t resume self-intoxication under certain, “perfect” conditions.

The social gravity between addicted people holds true even when addicted people are making great efforts, at significant personal expense, to defeat their addiction, such as when they register for AVRT: The Course. In addiction treatment, the natural cohesiveness of addicted people is idealized and regarded as therapeutic. In AVRT-based recovery, however, it is identified as mingling of Beasts, the joining together in fellowships of addiction, without awareness of the pathological tie that binds them together.

Such is the case in Alcoholics Anonymous! I have named AA the Fellowship of the Beast because it is a gathering of addicted people who have Continue reading ‘Fellowships of Addiction’

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