Self-knowledge the way to Relapse. God’s Power the way to Sobriety.


I’ve been doing some studying in the Big Book and of course have seen things that I’ve never seen before.   Working with people in the program who relapse has caused me to ask lots of questions.  What’s missing?  In Chapter 3 of the Big Book it uses examples of three people and their thinking before a relapse.  This is a great place to start.  The first 100 had experience with relapse and they noticed some commonalities about the thinking that precedes the first drink. All three had several things in common.  They all knew about their condition for two of them it was alcoholism and for the third-jaywalking.  They also had been told of the solution.  So, the alcoholics knew about alcoholism and had been shown the program of AA and told how it works and the Jaywalker was told not to jaywalk.  Jim had made a beginning in the program.  Fred met with an alcoholic once and gathered information.  Both men had knowledge.  Both men failed to enlarge their spiritual life.  They knew the program and were aware of their condition and of the solution BUT the idea to drink, jaywalk won out.  Their knowledge could not keep them sober.  The BB goes on to tell us that we cannot stop on the basis of self-knowledge.  How many times do we see people come into the program stay sober for a time (just like the story of  Jim) and then relapse several times in succession.  Each time they return they announce that they know how the program works and know how to do it and this time it will work but they continue to relapse (much like the jaywalker).  The reason is that you cannot stay sober on the basis of self-knowledge.  All the knowledge about AA, about the steps, about the Big Book will not keep you sober and the two alcoholic examples in Chapter 3 tell us this.  The Big Book says we have no effective mental defense against the next drink, it must come from a Higher Power.  No effective mental defense means we can’t think our way out of a drink.  No matter how much we know about alcoholism or about how much we can lose if we drink, the insane idea to drink will win out.  We don’t have the mental defense to combat those thoughts and we have to rely upon God.

In the Chapter Working with Others it says on pg 98- “..Job or no job-wife or no wife-we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.  When we rely on our own knowledge we are putting our faith and dependence on ourselves and what we know instead of placing our dependence on God.  Lack of knowledge has never been our problem.  Lack of power is our problem and God is the source of the Power that we need.

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