Often called a “compulsive illness,” alcoholism is still a baffling mystery to most people. All we really know is that a single drink, a pleasant beverage for many, becomes a deadly trigger for alcoholics. We may even think it’s unfair that we’re unable to enjoy the pleasant customs of social drinking. If we let down our guard, we can even entertain the thought that we’ve somehow been cured of the compulsion to drink.
But we don’t have to understand the exact nature of compulsion to realize that we are victims of it. Bitter experience and the tragic examples of others should tell us that our compulsion exists and is activated by the first drink. That’s really all the understanding we need for living successfully in sobriety.
If there’s anything we should question, it’s not whether we have the compulsion, but why we would have any doubts after so much bad experience with alcohol. After all, if we always had a bad reaction from any other food or beverage, we would soon give it up. Why is there so much persistence in denying that we are compulsively attached to alcohol?
We still may be trying to convince ourselves that we can take a drink safely, and this delusion is another way the compulsion works. All we have to understand is that a single drink leads to our destruction.
I’ll remember today that I’ve accepted the fact that I am alcoholic and subject to disaster with a first drink. I’ll live today with the knowledge that I only have to understand that I have a compulsion to drink.
© 1996 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved.
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