When considering the following questions, it may be well to consider this:
Opening paragraphs—the definition of alcoholism
The Man of Thirty
- Have you ever successfully stopped drinking for a time and started again?
- Was the physical craving still there?
- If you slipped, do you believe you could come back to AA?
Jim's Story—the "peculiar mental twist"
- Do you believe that, if you achieved all of the things that Jim had achieved, had all the qualities that Jim enjoyed, and had all of the knowledge that Jim had acquired, all of that would keep you sober?
- Have you been relying on achievements, and qualities, and knowledge to keep you sober?
- What is the one area in which Jim fell short?
- How long did Jim fall short for?
- If things are going well, does that mean you are going to stay sober?
- Compare this to 14:6–15:0—what does "enlarging your spiritual life" mean?
- Are you doing this?
- If not, how long do you have before you drink?
- Does Jim have resentment? Do you need to be free of resentment to stay sober? Does Bill, on page 15, have resentment? Does he stay sober? What is the difference between Bill and Jim?
- Jim drinks after having a "sudden" insane thought. What is the insane thought (the "peculiar mental twist")?
- Is he "sane" before the first insane thought? Is there any sign or warning that the first insane thought is on its way?
- Did Jim think of the consequences?
- If you are "sane" today, how do you know whether or not you will "suddenly" succumb to the "sudden" insane thought, like Jim?
- Have you ever had an experience like Jim's?
- What were the insane thoughts/the peculiar mental twists that persuaded you to drink?
- Do you have, under all circumstances and at all times, a sufficient mental defence against such thoughts?
The Parallel-Thinker—"the curious mental phenomenon"
- Have you ever had two sets of thoughts in your mind at once—a sane set and an insane set?
- What is your experience of this?
- What happens if the insane set out of thoughts wins, even for a moment?
- Can you fight this, consistently, under all circumstances, at all times?
- What is the "thrill"?
- What are the consequences?
- Should the "thrill" outweigh the consequences?
- Does knowing that the consequences outweigh the thrill stop you?
- Can you see the insanity of this?
- Is this you?
Fred's Story—the "strange mental blank spot"
- Fred has standing, money, property, a happy marriage, successful children, an attractive personality, and friends and is, on apparently stable and well-balanced. Yet he is an alcoholic and continually relapsing. Do you still believe your alcoholism can be blamed on your lack of standing, your lack of money, your financial insecurity, your broken relationships, your broken personality, your loneliness, or your emotional instability?
- If Fred does not even have the problems you have and is still drinking, are you still under the delusion that, to stay sober, you only need to solve such problems or need to solve such problems at all?
- Fred's "fault" is failure to admit he is an alcoholic and failure to accept a spiritual remedy for his problem. Do you still believe a non-spiritual remedy could work for you?
- He has all of the knowledge about alcoholism of the people that wrote the Big Book. Yet he continues drinking. In the light of the fact that Fred has such knowledge and continues drinking, do you still believe that reading and understanding the Big Book will solve your problem?
- He was positive that humiliating experience plus knowledge would keep him sober—do you still believe that, if you remember where you came from, if you remember what drink "did to you", if you remember your last drink/your last drunk, if you keep the memory evergreen, all of that, plus the knowledge of all of the people around you in AA, will keep you sober?
- Fred believed that he could exercise his will power to keep himself sober. Do you still believe you have the power, at all times, "to get to bed tonight without a drink", "to not drink no matter what"? Do you believe you can, at all times, follow the instruction "don't take the first drink"?
- Fred believed that he could stay sober by "keeping on guard". Do you still believe that this will work to keep you sober, at all times?
- Fred has a period when he has no trouble refusing drinks. Yet he relapses. Do you believe that, because, for the time being, you have no trouble refusing drinks, this will automatically remain the case?
- In the period immediately before Fred relapses (41:0), does he have anything to "drink on"? Do you still believe you "drink on" emotion or circumstance?
- 41:1 "the thought came to mind": can you control what thoughts come into your head?
- 41:1 "it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner": is this thought, in itself, true or false—sane or insane? How many cocktails does he actually have with dinner? Did he follow through with what he said he was going to do? Were these cocktails indeed "nice", as far as we can tell from the story? Again—is what his mind is telling him—in itself—true or false?
- 41:1 "that was all. Nothing more". This is the strange mental blank spot—have you ever experienced the failure of any thought of consequences to show up on the tails of the drinking thought?
- 41:2 "I had made no fight whatever against the first drink." Do you believe that fighting will be effective to prevent you from drinking?
- 41:3 "This time I had not thought of the consequences". Do you believe that thinking of the consequences will be effective to prevent you from drinking?
- 41:3 "they prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come—I would drink again... what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots." Do you have an alcoholic mind?
- 42:0 "I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow." Are you defeated?