The Physical Craving Phenomenon

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Good morning, Derek Stone here and I am excited to do today’s episode, because today we have something really exciting. We’re going to be announcing the winner of the big book study edition contest that I’ve been holding, a lot of people signed up for that and I’m really excited. So if you don’t win this week you’ll have plenty of chances, but we’re going to get to that in a moment. Before we do the review of last week, let me just give a quick disclaimer that I am not claiming here on this podcast or video whatever you want to call it, I’m not claiming membership or affiliation or representation or anything else with any organization or a facility or a group 12-step or otherwise, these videos are meant to be educational only, they’re not meant to diagnose, they’re not meant to treat, they’re not meant to replace anything else that you might need including professional treatment, detox, rehabilitation, outpatient care, counseling, therapy, medication, needing attendant sponsorship, 12-step work all of that stuff may prove necessary for you.

And these videos hopefully will help aid and incorporate into those efforts, but they are not intended to be or represented as an adequate replacement for any of those things. Okay, so last week we were in the doctor’s opinion, we talked about how Dr. Silkworth considers the subject presented in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, to be the most important subject an alcoholic can consider. Silkworth is honored to be writing the two letters of the doctor’s opinion that he is writing, we also discussed moral psychology it’s medically sounding verbiage to reference a course action which will induce a spiritual experience. It’s a form of psychology later on when the doctor says you know this needs to happen before psychological measures can be employed, the psychological measures he’s referring to are the moral psychology measures, different from regular psychology where we’re dealing with the inner workings of the mind, but it’s more moral psychology having to deal with issues of right and wrong and even issues of spirituality and that’s the term that coined for it back then.

He goes on to say that a spiritual solution to alcoholism while necessary is beyond the scope of medical and even psychological understanding, the point where it comes beyond logical understanding comes later in the book and we looked at that a little bit with Carl Jung’s discussion with an early AA member. But this is what he refers to when he says synthetic knowledge, and last week’s episode discussed what are we talking about with synthetic knowledge, it’s basically the whole collection of tangible, concrete schools of thought that look at tangible concrete things that we can study and so yes of course the world of the Spirit is going to be beyond the realm of those things. There are people who study the world of the Spirit, but what they’re studying is not within the realm of synthetic knowledge. And also the Wilson’s spiritual experience Townes hospital was not a clue; he was able to duplicate this with other alcoholics.

There’s often a story about how he was detoxing in town’s hospital and some of the medications he was on were causing him to hallucinate, and when he reported this spiritual experience to the doctor the next day, Silkworth said hey man just run with it right. He’s like hey, I don’t know what’s happened to you, but you better hang on to it. And it’s true that Silkworth did think that this was a hallucination, but the proof of whether or not that was merely a hallucination or a genuine spiritual experience lies in whether or not Bill was then able to replicate that process with other alcoholics. And we do see historically that Bill Wilson is able to replicate that process with other alcoholics at Townes Hospital, so we know that it’s not a clue. All right, we are going to be on the doctor’s opinion, and again I’m not sure how to direct you to these Roman numeral pages, but this is just after the beginning of his second letter.

So if you turn the beginning of the doctor’s opinion, and turn a couple of pages in you’ll see his second letter that starts with the doctor writes and then about one, two, three, four, five, six paragraphs down literally at the very bottom of that page, in my book it’s XXV but I believe that’s a third, that matches up more with the third edition. But if you’re looking at the bottom of that page you should see this line here, of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit. Again, these psychological measures that Silkworth is referring to are the moral psychology, the twelve steps in this sense. He’s still viewing the twelve steps as moral psychology, and so he’s saying before any treatment can be employed, even the most effective one there is often a medical detox required but here’s what’s interesting to me.

His use of the word physical craving for liquor, now I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to hear people in any room talk about the craving for alcohol as having to do with the mind, that’s the colloquial use of the word craving. However, if we’re going to understand what the big book authors intended for us to understand when they wrote this, then we’re going to have to understand the words the way they’re using them. And this right here tells us what kind of craving we are going to be referring to, and so anytime we see Silkworth especially use the word craving for liquor, when he’s talking about that word craving he doesn’t always add the word physical in front of it, but make no mistake that is the way that we’re using the word it is physical. Its physical craving, it’s happening at the bodily level, in other words every cell in my body and I’m not a biologist right, so maybe I’m getting some of the verbiage wrong here, but every cell in my body is craving food, oxygen and water currently.

Now I don’t think of that as a craving because I have ample access to all those things, but if I go 90 seconds without oxygen I’ll begin to feel the craving for oxygen at the bodily level. If I go four days without water, I’ll begin to feel the physical craving for water at the bodily level. If I go 30 days without food, I’ll begin to feel the physical craving at the bodily level for food. And what happens is when alcohol enters my system, if we’re dealing with the physical craving for liquor we’re talking about alcohol being elevated to that same level of importance, almost at the cellular level of being as important as food, oxygen and water. Now we’re going to find out in the next paragraph that this only happens once alcohol enters the body, so whenever we’re using the word craving we are talking about something strictly limited, the discussion is strictly limited to the phenomenon that we observe after an Alcoholics had the first drink, not the first drink ever in life obviously but you know the first drink of the day.

You know I’ve had a period of sobriety lasting almost 24 hours, and alcohol is out of my system and then I take the first drink of the day and it triggers something internally, this physical craving that is quite a phenomenon to observe. So the next paragraph goes on to say we believe, and so suggested a few years ago that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy. Now again we talked last week and we’ll just touch on briefly or two weeks ago I think, we’ll just touch on briefly that when they’re using the word allergy here it’s not in a strict medical sense. Well we have a doctor using it right, so how can that be, well allergies were relatively new thing at the time of this writing, so he’s throwing out this as a theory they didn’t really understand allergies to begin with. So he’s throwing this word allergy out, like hey this might be what we’re dealing with, this thing called allergy might explain alcoholism.

And it explains alcoholism as an analogy, it explains it really nicely as an analogy, you know medically correct who knows. Can someone be producing histamines to alcohol? I don’t know how accurate that is. But when he’s saying so suggested a few years ago, an interesting little fun fact for me is there’s a book called Annie Bertie written in 1800 I believe is the exact date, and I believe that’s the first written record of alcoholism being referred to as an illness and having a physical component. And so this isn’t Silkworth idea, he often gets credited for it. He was the major proponent of it at this time, but he puts in his letter right here we believe meaning the medical fraternity and so suggested a few years ago. So he’s not alone in this opinion, he is the minority opinion, there’s not a lot of doctors that believe that at this time which is why he doesn’t sign his name to the letter, because he would have been dropped out of the medical community.

But there were some that believed him and he wasn’t the first, it wasn’t his theory. So we believe and so suggested a few years ago that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy that the phenomenon of craving that’s supposed to be craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperature. So when we’re talking about a physical craving for alcohol, we’re talking about a phenomenon that is limited to what we would call the real alcoholic, what Silkworth would call the hopeless alcoholic. But what we would call what the big book authors later on would call the real alcoholic and limited to that class. So the phenomenon of intending to have just a couple of drinks at the outset of the night, envisioning that my night is going to look like just a couple of drinks when I go have them, and then proceeding to have six or seven or 24-96 instead that’s an experience it’s limited to the alcoholic, it doesn’t happen in the nonalcoholic drinker.

And so we don’t need to see a whole lot of this occurring in your drinking history to be able to safely help you diagnose yourself as alcoholic, we just need to see a handful of examples even just one, because we know that this never occurs on the non-alcoholic, so if we see it occurring in you it’s a pretty safe bet that you are alcoholic. It goes on to say these allergic types meaning real alcoholics, these allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all. Now he’s not talking gas, liquid, solid any form at all, he’s talking about any amount at all. You know whether it’s a beer, or a shot a hard liquor or a mixed drink or whatever you know it’s like it doesn’t matter, any form at all it’s not safe and the reason it’s not safe is because it triggers that phenomenon of craving.

A lot of times people read this and they like to think that what he’s referring to is oh yes, one drink is going to lead me to break out in handcuffs and get arrested and get in trouble and it’s like, listen jaundice, health complications, legal complications, DUI’s, arrest, loss of money, loss of health, waking up after a blackout next to someone I don’t know, hurting my loved ones, losing time and memory like all of that stuff is what makes alcohol dangerous to use in large quantities for anybody. Anybody using alcohol in large quantities that risk for that, it makes alcohol dangerous for an alcoholic to use in any amount. Is that potentially triggers a phenomenon of craving, that’s the danger, that’s why a real alcoholic can never safely use alcohol in any form at all, because it has the potential to trigger that phenomenon of craving and lead to excessive drinking and then of course excessive drinking is just dangerous for anybody.

kay, these allergic types never safely use alcohol in any form at all, and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it. So once having this discovery that I can’t quit this thing on my own, that’s what they’re talking about here right I form the habit and found I cannot break it, that’s an important distinction because most of us form the habit a long time before we discover it. Once I formed the habit and then I discover that I cannot break it, meaning that I wake up one morning and say gee I really need to quit drinking, drinking is having a negative impact on my life, I really need to give this stuff up, I really need to leave it alone for the sake of my fill-in-the-blank job, family, wife, dogs, car, kid, career, business, house, whatever it is I’m trying to keep and not lose to my drinking, man I really got to give up my drinking.

Okay great, and then a couple of nights later I’m drunk again, and then I get back on my horse with a firm resolution never to drink again and then later on a drunk again, and I’m starting to discover I can’t break this habit on my own. So that’s the point he’s describing here, once having formed a habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence and the reliance upon things human, now that’s an interesting statement that I’ll touch back on in a second, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve. Now this is I think a description of what I would describe as an alcoholic hitting bottom, I’ve heard a lot of definitions of hitting bottom, but my favorite that I’ve heard is that hitting bottom is when life circumstances or as the book puts it here problems, when my problems or my life circumstances start piling up quicker than I can justify them. Meaning that life throws me a curveball I lose that job, but I’m able to knock it out of the park with this nice justification of well that boss just didn’t like me.

And then a few months later I get that DUI and I knock that out of the park with a justification of well, you know that was a speed trap. You know and then the girlfriend or the wife threatens to leave me and I knock that one out of the park with well, it wasn’t meant to be. Or she’ll be reactive and then the kids are upset that I missed a game or something, and I knocked that out of the park by saying well you know kids overreact, I lose a job again and you know all these things I’m able to keep up with really adequate excuses, but once they start piling up and I start facing the fact that this might have something to do with my drinking, and I seem to have a habit, I cannot break this habit, I don’t have any confidence in my own ability to manage life. Reliance on things human meaning my own efforts and the efforts of other people, these things start piling up on me and they become astonishingly, that’s a really strong word, astonishingly difficult to solve.

And so these things start piling up quicker than I can justify them, quicker than I can rationalize them away, quicker than I can explain them away and that is the moment in my opinion that an alcoholic really hits bottom. That’s the moment when we really consider okay maybe I can’t do this, maybe I need help and that’s this reliance upon things human. Later on when we start talking about a spiritual solution to alcoholism, and we start talking about you know one of the common denominators of alcoholics is A trauma, lots of trauma and then B not surprisingly enough, a reluctance or resistance or difficulty having relationship with God. Maybe it’s a willingness to have relationship with God, but there’s a difficulty due to the trauma or there’s reluctance due to the trauma or there’s just a flat-out refusal due to the trauma.

And then if that’s the world I’m living in, then I’m going to have to be able to rely on human powers, I can’t establish or won’t establish or I have difficulty establishing relationship with a higher power. And we’re not talking about in response to alcoholism, I mean in life some people rely on a higher power and some people rely on themselves and that’s fine for a time, but a real alcoholic who’s been living, relying on themselves, facing the fact that they can’t rely on themselves anymore, if you are living in a world devoid of God when that happens it’s going to feel pretty hopeless, so there’s some food for thought on that one. We’ll unpack that a lot more as we go through, but I just wanted to call that to your attention that there’s a lot to unpack there in that paragraph. So I’ve created sort of a diagram, I’d like to do a little bit more of this because there is some screen sharing that I’m able to do, so I’d like to do some more illustrations and slides for you on this big book study.

And we’re going to be able to dive into the other half of this, but Silkworths’s hopeless alcoholic if you could draw like an imaginary line down the middle of the screen here, and sort of divide this into two symptoms. You know the first symptom we see is this physical of craving and that refers strictly to whatever happens after the first drink, he uses the word allergy as an analogy to describe it, it really is a phenomenon of craving and this word phenomenon that they’ll use several times. Simply describe something that’s observable yet difficult to explain, if this is the case then one drink for us means consequences, and the consequences again of having one drink for a hopeless alcoholic is not the consequence of losing a car or losing a house, losing freedom or hurting someone, losing health or losing money that’s the consequence of excessive drinking for anyone, the consequence of one drink for a real alcoholic is this idea that I can’t adequately predict what’s going to happen next.

And this is described really nicely on page 21, we won’t turn there right now because I didn’t create a slide for it although I probably should have, but you can read that in your own time. And then there’s a test for that described on page 31, and that is obviously the test of control drinking and again you can read that in the book on your own. Maybe I’ll create some slides for those two pages and we can go in-depth on that next week, but that’s really it for the big book study. That’s all I have prepared its a little shorter one today, because we do have some announcements. The first thing I want to announce is this contest to win a big book study edition, this is a nice book right here and I mean I’ve advertised this a lot, you’ve seen me talk about how every other page is lined.

It’s got its got blank with lines so that you can write notes in it, I don’t know if you can see that every other page. It’s got the original manuscript in the back, so you can read like all the musts that are in the original how it works, and rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions. Yes that’s the original definitions of words that are in the big book with 1937 definitions so from the time they were written a word index, a subject index, hardcover, leather and I got two of these and I was debating giving both of them out because for a short time the only two people entered into the contest, but these are nice they’re wrapped in plastic, they’re brand new, I’m going to send this out to you today and let’s go ahead and I’ve got an electronic selection method and let’s go ahead and click that button.

And it looks like Gabi Cooney from Austin Texas is the winner, and so I’ll be sending an email out to you shortly Gabi, and congratulations I’ll be sending that out to you. Now if you didn’t win please know that your name stays in, and I’ll be drawing the name every month, the last big book study of the month, and so you still have a chance to win, there’s still a reason to tune in don’t lose hope, I want to give away as many of these as possible. Also I’ve got these fancy bookmarks here, I don’t know if you can see them really well, but you know they’ve got the ninth step promises laid out on the front and then they’ve got all the promises on the back with the location, the page number here and the paragraph number where you can find the promises for that particular step. That’s a gift I created for people who join my patron as a supporter, it’s just $5 a month that’s the equivalent of a buck in the basket once a week.

So if you like these videos and you want to support I’ve got the red envelopes here, people that have supported this month that I’m going to be sending out, so if you ordered one that’ll be coming in the mail for you sometime this, I’m putting them in the mail literally today, so however long the post office takes to get that to you. If you’re interested in connecting on social media there’s all my information there, I’m happy to answer questions, I’m not very active on Twitter yet just because I don’t have a lot of engagement there.

So if you want to shoot me some questions over on Twitter, I’d be happy to probably be really responsive over there just because it’d be like a treat to see Twitter come up on my phone and ding. And so that’s it, I’m happy that you’re here and I’m just going to talk for a little bit so that the YouTube logos and stuff can come up on the screen and not block anything. That’s it though I’m happy that you’re watching, wherever you’re watching, whenever you’re watching, congratulations again to Gabby and we will see you next week.

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