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Grapevine : January 2011
M Y biggest lie of life was that I was not an alco- holic. Only when AA helped me to get rid of that false idea, after many years of drinking, could my recovery process start. This happened in 1983 when I was 51. When I ended up at a twelve- step treatment centre in Iceland--- after having been on the threshold of insanity and death---it dawned upon me that my problem was the very first drink. That was the one I had to leave alone. Today I know that alcoholism is a disease. Its main characteristic is loss of control. When looking back I now face the fact that my unman- ageable drinking frequently made me say things, do things, behave in ways that I regretted afterward. Year in year out I refused to learn from this bitter experience, no matter how often it was repeated. I kept on be- ing blind to the lesson in spite of its staggering simplicity: Just stay away Believe it or not Faith keeps a questioner sober from that first drink. Forget about it once and for all. By finally accepting it I became able to build a new life, based on honest self-knowledge and spiritual values. I started a hesitating day-to- day walk away from misery toward a new harmony. Since then I have been sober. When, during my stay at a detox unit in Reykjavik, I heard the first time about God or a Higher Power as someone or something that might save me from being knocked down by alcohol, I got suspicious. An adviser at the treatment cen- tre, a former clergyman, explained that belief in a power greater than oneself was essential for a successful recovery from alcoholism. "I don't care which kind of Higher Power might be the object of your faith," he said, adding, "Whether it is the Chris- tian God, Buddha, Allah, a Hindu God or an ancestor spirit doesn't matter." From this statement I drew the conclusion that the force possibly working for alcoholics was not the particular deity they might believe in. It was faith as such. ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID R. 36 January 2011