Powerlessness or Personal Choice?

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Good morning Derek Stone here with Big Book Wizard and we are going to jump right in here with week
7. Before we do a review of last week just a quick disclaimer. Derek Stone is a life coach, interventionist
speaker and man in recovery. That&#39;s me. He does not claim membership in, affiliation with, or
representation of any organization, facility or group (12-step or otherwise). All references to Alcoholics
Anonymous are made in reference to this book and not to be construed as affiliation. My videos and live
big book studies and online meetings are for educational purposes only and are not to be construed as
professional advice nor are they presented or to be construed as an adequate replacement for other
recovery efforts which may prove necessary including medical detox, professional treatment, rehab IOP,
counseling, therapy, medication, meeting attendants, sponsorship and/or 12-step work.
Review of last week&#39;s episode. Couple of strong points. We only went over one paragraph, but there was
a lot contained there. What makes a person alcoholic is not that they drink to change the way they feel.
Everybody drinks to change the way they feel, including the 14 or 15 year old who&#39;s taking their first
drink ever in life just to succumb to peer pressure and feel accepted. Everyone drinks alcohol to change
the way they feel. What makes a person an alcoholic is that they drink after making a firm resolution not
to drink anymore. That&#39;s the distinction because not everybody does that. For a ‘real alcoholic’ the
guaranteed side effect of taking zero drinks is to become restless, irritable and discontent. There is a
difference between that moment of realization or aha moment where a person has an epiphany that
alcohol is causing problems and they should quit. There&#39;s a difference between that and the necessary
psychic change which enables an alcoholic to quit entirely. Oftentimes will let people confuse those two
things and it&#39;s a huge disservice.
Without having the psychic change that we just referenced real alcoholic is doomed to repeat the cycle
of deciding to quit and then deciding to drink again and then deciding to quit again and then deciding to
drink again and then deciding to quit again and then deciding to drink again. If that cycle sounds familiar
understand you might be a real alcoholic and if that&#39;s according to the doctor&#39;s opinion that we read last
week, you are doomed to repeat that cycle ad infinitum ad nauseam for the rest of your life. Just for
edification, a little bonus content that I created here, is a list of all the examples of the term spiritual
experience that are used throughout the book. This is what the doctor is referring to when he says the
psychic change, it&#39;s his medical terminology for spiritual experience. I&#39;m not gonna read all of these
necessarily but page 28, 29 ‘surprisingly enough we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual
experience’. 44 ‘if that may be the case you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual
experience with conquer’. Page 56 ‘one night when confronted in the hospital he was approached by an
alcoholic would known a spiritual experience’. 66 ‘with the alcoholic whose hope is the maintenance
and growth of a spiritual experience etc’.
I&#39;ve got two pages of this, two and a half pages of this I&#39;m gonna actually print them together in an
article for your edification. So you can either look for a link to that and below or just visit my blog at
bigbookwizard.net. So we&#39;re gonna be in the doctor&#39;s opinion and it&#39;s gonna be where we left off last
week. You&#39;re looking for the page in the doctor&#39;s opinion with a very first indented paragraph begins
with the words ‘on the other hand’. I believe it&#39;s going to be the right-hand side of your book as you&#39;re
flipping through looking at pages. While you take a moment to find it we&#39;re actually going to be on the
paragraph that starts with ‘men have cried out to me’, but that&#39;s how we&#39;re looking for it. While you&#39;re
looking for that I&#39;ll take a moment to acknowledge and recognize my supporters on Patreon. If you&#39;d like

to support me on Patreon that would be a great thing. You could see your name up here and if you see
your name up here you know that you are very near and dear to my heart.
So on the other hand, this is the doctor&#39;s opinion I can&#39; wait til we&#39;re out of the Roman numerals so I can
just give you a page number. In my book it&#39;s XXVIII but that is only gonna line up with third edition Big
Books or if you&#39;ve got a study edition Big Book, it&#39;ll line up with that. But assuming you found this on the
other hand and strange as it may seem to those who do not understand once a psychic change has
occurred the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever
solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol. The only effort
necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules. This is on the heels of the previous paragraph
where the doctor says an alcoholic is doomed to repeat this cycle of deciding to quit deciding to drink
deciding to quit deciding to drink over and over and over again. Unless they have a psychic change, aka
spiritual experience. The next paragraph says on the other hand once we have that psychic change aka
spiritual experience then this very same person who was doomed to repeat that cycle for the rest of
their life suddenly finds himself easily able to control their desire for alcohol. Meaning that this person
will have a defense against the first drink, not that they&#39;re able to control the amount of alcohol that
they drink. A lot of people often read that and get confused.
He&#39;s not saying that they suddenly develop the ability to control how much they drink and drink like a
normal person. By the way I was talking to a friend last week and we were joking around and we said if I
could drink like a normal person I&#39;d drink all the time. That&#39;s an old joke but I think it&#39;s funny. Anyway
that&#39;s the doctor looking in from the outside saying these people seem to have a defense against the
first drink now once they have a psychic change. The only effort that it really requires and this is
comparing and contrasting to before the psychic change. Because before the psychic change for me to
get short spurts of sobriety three months, six months, nine months, a year and a half by the way
compared to a lifetime of drinking those are short spurts of sobriety. In order to get those I have to sit
on my hands, I have to have a really bad consequence, maybe I&#39;ve got to be locked up, I&#39;ve got to have
somebody watching me, it takes all of my concentration and effort I&#39;m miserable. It requires a lot of
endurance. But what the doctor is saying here is once a psychic change has occurred the only effort that
will be necessary to continue that is the same level of effort that&#39;s required to follow a few simple rules.
By a few simple rules the doctor here means the 12 steps
Next paragraph men have cried out to me and sincere and despairing appeal: ‘doctor I cannot go on like
this! I have everything to live for! I must stop but I cannot. You must help me! ‘Now these this is the
most ripe condition to work with an alcoholic or a drug addict and take them through the Big Book or
the 12 steps. That is when a person says ‘I cannot go on like this I have everything to live for I must stop,
but I cannot’. That is the key. Too often far too often in my professional life and my own personal
recovery I encounter people who have the first part of this ‘I can&#39;t go on like this I have everything to live
for I must stop’, but they leave out those three words ‘but I cannot’. Which of course then waters down
the impact of this statement ‘you must help me’ because I don&#39;t understand what the real help is if I
don&#39;t understand that I cannot stop on my own. So we have this group of people. Often times someone
will come to me and say ‘Derek you don&#39;t understand, I can&#39;t drink ever again’. I&#39;ll level with them and
say buddy if you&#39;re a real alcoholic not only can you drink again, but you will drink again. That&#39;s what
alcoholism. It&#39;s not one is too many, a thousand’s never enough. It&#39;s a thousand’s never enough and one
is inevitable. That&#39;s what we&#39;re dealing with here, that&#39;s the problem of alcoholism. The problem is you
cannot stop

Far too often we have people leaving out that key piece ‘I cannot stop I need your help’ and those are
the most ripe conditions. Now for the doctor that&#39;s pretty hopeless because a lot of the methods he&#39;s
gonna employ aren&#39;t gonna be able to work for someone making the statement. That&#39;s what he&#39;s writing
about here is I&#39;ve been in this field for a long time and I&#39;ve got people coming to me saying I must stop
but I cannot and the doctors gonna describe how that feels in the next paragraph. Faced with this
problem this is Dr. Silkworth writing faced with this problem if a doctor is honest with himself he must
sometimes feel his own inadequacy. Although he gives all that is in him it often is not enough. One feels
that something more than human power is needed to produce the essential psychic change, essential
psychic change, cannot do without it. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric
effort is considerable we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a
whole. Many types do not respond to ordinary psychological approach.
This is so crucial understanding what the doctor is saying. Here he&#39;s saying as I am working with
alcoholics I start to get the impression that something more than human power is necessary to produce
the essential psychic change. Meaning that I can&#39;t get someone to have a spiritual experience through
human efforts. Meaning encouragement or threats or came through someone on a normal psychiatric
level like I don&#39;t know cognitive behavioral therapy or something along those lines. These things aren&#39;t
gonna work. He goes on to confirm this in the next sentence. The aggregate of recoveries, aggregate
means like the culmination or the sum total or the average. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting
him psychiatric is considerable, meaning that all these other methods and this is true today I would
offer, this is still true today. All these other methods for staying sober and there&#39;s other programs out
there that don&#39;t use the 12 steps don&#39;t encourage a spiritual experience. They encourage more of a
mindful approach. Things like harm reduction. I don&#39;t want to call out other fellowships, but intelligent
recovery if you know what I&#39;m talking about. Things like this we&#39;ll take an approach to recovery that says
hey it&#39;s dangerous. The statement on the previous page that I can&#39;t stop on my own that&#39;s dangerous
and those things will take that approach
It&#39;s dangerous to say you&#39;re powerless. Don&#39;t do that. We&#39;ve got an approach that will work. Yeah well it
will work for a lot of people. It will work for the type of person who isn&#39;t powerless and that&#39;s the thing
we all need to acknowledge. It&#39;s like why doesn&#39;t the 12 steps work for everybody? Well it&#39;s not going to
be the most effective solution for someone who isn&#39;t powerless, it&#39;s just not. It&#39;s gonna be a really tough
program for someone who isn&#39;t powerless. Just like some of the other programs out there are going to
be really tough or impossible for someone who is powerless. There are two groups of drinkers on the
planet. There are people who can recover on a non-spiritual basis. Those people are not powerless. They
might feel like they drink too much. They might drink all the time. Their excessive drinking might be
causing problems in their life. They might have difficulty quitting on their own and need a little bit of
help. But they do not need divine intervention. Then there&#39;s a group of people who do. We cannot
ignore that these are two distinct categories. This is why the doctor can say look the aggregate of
recoveries from psychiatric effort is considerable. There&#39;s a lot of people getting well from belladonna
treatment or what we would call an abuse today or some of the other treatments that are available, the
medication assisted treatment that&#39;s available to people
There&#39;s a lot of people getting better off of that stuff. There&#39;s a lot of people getting well from
electroshock therapy. There&#39;s a lot of people getting well from group therapy. There&#39;s a lot of people
getting well from hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. There&#39;s a lot of people
responding to that stuff we&#39;re not denying that. But many types do not respond to the ordinary

psychological approach that was true then and it&#39;s still true today. There is never gonna be a
psychological approach to recovery that is gonna work for everybody because there&#39;s a segment of the
population that is powerless to employ those methods. That&#39;s what powerless means and we&#39;ve got to
acknowledge that. I don&#39;t bash those other programs those programs are good for people who aren&#39;t
my people. But for people who are my people the 12 steps is it, it&#39;s all there is gonna be. I was on a
debate forum online and someone contacted me actually and said they were on a debate forum online
too. We were engaging in this conversation around someone telling us or admonishing us for claiming
that alcoholics are powerless and how damaging that is. I posed the question why is it damaging to label
an alcoholic powerless? Why is it damaging to make that the first step and ask an alcoholic that they&#39;re
powerless? The guy said well because they&#39;re not powerless. If someone&#39;s not powerless that&#39;s
dishonest and blah blah blah and keeping people down all the time.
That&#39;s one of the big objections that I hear to this program. I don&#39;t want to call myself an alcoholic every
day when I go to meetings because mind over matter blah blah blah. Ok great. Why is that a big deal?
Why is the belief that you&#39;re powerless such a big deal? Why is that such a threat? Well the answer that
I get is because when you have that idea in your mind it becomes your reality, it manifests and then
you&#39;re stuck. So let&#39;s play this through then for a little bit, let&#39;s think about this logically. I get an idea
that I&#39;m powerless in my mind and I&#39;m powerless over that idea. But I&#39;m not powerless over the
addictive substance. That&#39;s a special kind of special if you ask me. Do you see what I&#39;m saying here?
We&#39;ve got this group that says it&#39;s dangerous to tell that. If Alcoholic’s powerless it&#39;s the most beneficial
thing for them, if an Alcoholic’s not powerless that could be maybe damaging because of the whole
mind over matter thing. That&#39;s why we can&#39;t diagnose anybody. You&#39;ve got to diagnose yourself. Have I
employed every other method that&#39;s available and as this is this 12-step thing the only game in town? If
it’s a last-ditch effort, the last thing I&#39;ve tried that&#39;s the most optimum condition. Problem is we got a lot
of people coming trying to work the 12 steps that maybe don&#39;t need them and haven&#39;t tried to employ
other methods that would work just well for them.
So we need to understand there are two distinct groups of drinkers out there. Those that are just
drinking too much and having difficulties and those that are not making choices around the drinking.
That&#39;s the end of my soapbox there. That really is our episode for today, I think that&#39;s a good place to
leave off. If you&#39;d like to win one of these study edition Big Books you can go to
BigBookwizard.net/enter and pick one up. Hardcover it&#39;s completely free if you win. I do a drawing every
month. In fact I&#39;ll be drawing a name in next week&#39;s episode live. I even pay for shipping. It&#39;s really great.
It&#39;s got blank pages that are lined for note taking. Just a lot of features. You can go ahead and check that
out. Also if you&#39;d like to support us on Patreon for $5 a month I&#39;ll send you one of these bookmarks. On
the one side it&#39;s got all the promises and what paragraph and page number they&#39;re on for the steps and
then it&#39;s got the 9 step promises printed in full on the front there. It&#39;s a six inch glossy sturdy bookmark,
really kind of cool shows your support. Finally last but definitely not least if you or someone you know
needs help please connect with me you can go to BigBookWizard.Net/help and we can try to find you
some professional help. I&#39;ve got a lot of contacts in the industry and we can get you somewhere if you
need to be.
You want to connect on social media, I&#39;ve got a couple of social media things that I do. You can find me
there. Definitely would love to connect on Twitter. I don&#39;t do a lot on Twitter and I&#39;d like to do more so
that&#39;s a real great way to get my chin right off the bat because I won&#39;t have to filter through anything.
That&#39;s about it I&#39;m really grateful that you&#39;re watching this video. If you&#39;ve made it this far and you&#39;ve

watched the whole thing I love you. Even if you haven&#39;t I still love you. You’re just not here to hear me
say it. With that I will see you next week. God bless

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