Analysis of an AA Recovery Story: IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN WORSE.
“Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men.” (Albert Einstein)
High parental expectations: were put on him: “the ambition to succeed was instilled in me.” Having idealised his family (a “fine” one), he followed what they told and showed him, and from early age, worked in all his spare time, after school and during vacations as he took on his parents’ motto, “Keep busy; always have something constructive to do.” This continued in adult age when he kept busy and endeavouring to go up the ladder of professional success. Through his hard working he became director of a large bank. As his family was quite community-oriented, so was he, and he also became director of several civic organisations. Social compliance: When his work led him into more and more social activities, he observed his friends who seemed to drink without harmful consequences. With his sense of belonging, his desired outcome was to be similar to friends as an important trait of his personality was that he “disliked being different”. First he had friends in his group membership of leisure activities; later on, he had drinking friends, for whose company he neglected his children.
Progression of addictive behaviour:
Quantities and frequency: He started by drinking occasionally, while enjoying golf-playing, cocktail hour, good news or after hard days, worries or pressures. Then drinking became substitute to other pleasures and excessive. His social and leisure activities, golf, hunting and fishing took second place to it. He went on to morning drinks, “at first just two, then gradually more.” Drinking became prevalent. Obsession: “Drink planning became more important than any other plans.” Alcohol was the priority in his life. Plagued with tension, feelings of humiliation, guilt, remorse, anxiety, depression, helplessness, he was desperate with the emotional torture. “Hangovers were always with me… cold sweats, jumpy nerves, lack of sleep”...
Out of control behaviour:
Neglect of responsibilities in favour of drinking: He became careless, sometimes returning to work when he shouldn’t have, showing how disoriented he was. He worried his business associates. He humiliated his children who stopped bringing friends home, and his wife who threatened to leave him. Invitations to socialise with friends became fewer. He was hurting his family, work colleagues and friends in order to be able to drink as much as possible. Sometimes he would wake up after blackouts, not knowing how he’d got back home, realizing he had driven his car. “I was living in constant fear that I would get caught while driving…Blackouts were a constant worry.” He made many failed attempts to stop, and broken promises. Attempts at concealing drinking: he would go to places where he would be (or believed he would be as later on he realised people knew about his alcoholism) anonymous, sneaking drinks, making excuses to go out, etc… “The next steps were bottle hiding and excuses for trips in order to drink without restraint.”
Change: Rock bottom followed a family crisis and an ultimatum issued by his daughter, “It’s AA – or else!” In the AA program, his emotions changed to hope and relief, his behaviour to ‘getting active’ helping, which he reckons suited him well, taking back his pre-drink community responsibilities, etc. Spirituality: He went for the AA program without reservations, doing all he was told. There his conformism served him well. He made the observation that to refuse the spiritual program would be the consequence of a prejudice: “The fact that AA is a spiritual program didn’t raise any prejudice in my mind. I couldn’t afford the luxury of prejudice.”
APPLICATION OF THEORIES
Social Learning Theory
Social Influence. As in the process noted by A. Bandura (1977), this man learned by...
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