MALADY in Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions

Whether you’re an alcoholic woman who can’t stop drinking, an alcoholic woman already in recovery, or a loved one of an alcoholic, we’re here to help. From my own experience as an alcoholic, I came to believe that Bill was right when he declared that alcoholism is a spiritual illness. I survived thirteen years as a mostly dry and yet untreated alcoholic in AA. The bottom line, a true alcoholic or addict has no power to stop, avoid, or control their drinking. People like us are obsessed with the thought of controlling and enjoying our drugs or alcohol.

  • The disease of alcohol and drug addiction is not just mental and physical but also spiritual.
  • Self compassion allows us to be compassionate towards others.
  • I would have strangely blamed this person for making me feel the way I did!
  • Our spiritual malady causes us to be restless, irritable, and discontented.
  • These are all parts of my emotionally entangled web that is spun when I react to some sense of rejection.

We offer extensive detox and therapies to help individuals address the physical aspects of the disease as well as the psychological and spiritual aspects. The spiritual malady is the result of my being out of order with my higher power who I choose to call God. I was the director in the drama of life and managing the world so I could get what I thought I needed to feel ok.

The Spiritual Illness

What can that statement possibly mean to an agnostic? Is the whole idea of someone being spiritually ill acceptable? Especially to someone who doesn’t believe in God? These are questions that I have had to struggle with as an agnostic in AA. As a person in recovery I can definitively relate.

  • If you are an alcoholic, then you know you cannot just put the plug in the jug and quit.
  • Basically, the alcoholic, once they start they cannot control the amount they take.
  • To all non-alcoholics out there celebrating the holidays with a friend or loved one who is no longer drinking because they are in recovery, I ask of you, do not change your drinking because of us.
  • Both The Big Book and The Twelve and Twelve have remained largely unaltered since they were first written.

Other emotions are substituted to hide the shame and maintain self esteem. Anger, exaggerated pride, anxiety and helplessness are substituted to keep from feeling the total blackness of being bad. The buried shame is expressed through defense mechanisms spiritual malady that shield negative unconscious material from surfacing. Hence when I came into recovery I had hundreds and hundreds of resentments swirling around my mind, poisoning my thoughts and sending constant emotional daggers into my heart.

All people, not just alcoholics and addicts, have some form of spiritual sickness (the spiritual malady).

You might be asking, why do I even care about this? Because alcoholics and drug addicts already get looked down upon by much of society with undeserved stigma. It doesn’t matter the cause when we use our disease as an excuse for our shortcomings, does it? Yes, to remain in the recovered state, we must continue to work on the spiritual malady.

What does the Big Book say about the spiritual malady?

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to the symptoms of the spiritual malady as “bedevilments,” explaining that “we were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we …

The magic of the the steps is that they seem to reveal the patterns of behaviour that our actions have prompted over the course of our lives. It helps us see ourselves and our condition of alcoholism and how it effects us and others. The spiritual principles of AA and the 12 steps in particular were drawn from the 4 absolutes of the Oxford group, via initially the 6 steps and the idea of a spiritual malady is also borrowed from the Oxford group. By sin I mean negative emotions that cause distress to me and others. We can also see this as years of not being able to regulate our negative emotions properly, if you wish to see them as sins.

Why do alcoholics and addicts have to turn to a Higher Power to live a spiritual life?

As we work towards this state of selflessness we find that we are slowly being relieved of the hopeless alcoholic state we once thought we were doomed to be in forever. It is constant maintenance of being spiritually connected with a god of your understanding. Whenever you find yourself feeling irritable discontent bored with your life or depressed it is likely that you may have skipped meditation or prayer. In some cases, you could have simply forgotten. In these situations, I feel further from God than normal and then I wonder who moved me or God and the answer is always me.

For me the “spiritual malady” is underpinned by an emotion disorder and makes us over reactive as you say. The Oxford Group said it was a sin disease just as real as any other physical malady, I intend to agree. Sins to me are negative emotions such as self centredness, intolerance, impatience, self pity that impact on my well bing and the well being of others etc. Negative emotions that cut me off from sanity and reason. They do not necessarily come from a Judea-Christian belief structure, just from my own awareness, 12 step practice and years of Neursocience research. The spiritual illness that we faced acted as a catalyst for our addiction, and every attempt to self-medicate our spiritual malady pushed us deeper and deeper into the disease.

Take Your First Step To Recovery

I related and all my negative emotions retreated to source like a evening tide on a beach. I respond to feelings of humiliation by humiliating you, I react to my chronic shame by attempting to created shame in you. These are my main negative emotional reactions to the world that often scare me and make me feel ashamed. Instead of acting on my upset by saying to someone, you have hurt my feelings I do the opposite, I react and attack them in my head, my thoughts, my words and sometimes in my actions.

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