Alcoholism, Addictions and Friends of Bill: Post Holiday

By: Burk Pendergrass

Regardless of whether one believes alcoholism and addictions are diseases or not (It is a shame we are still having this argument in the 21st century), they are real problems for millions of people and millions upon millions of families around the world all through the year. But holiday seasons and other times of personal tragedy and importance such as the death of a loved one, a divorce date, etc seem to spur the dependence as well as the craving for self medication and chemically induced euphoria.

Having battled alcoholism and addictions most of my adult life (since Viet Nam), the care of those who have bottomed out and reached out are near and dear to my heart. Bill W, the founder of AA (alcoholics anonymous), understood that. Both of us, like millions of others the world over, have started over more than once, and along the way we have learned the painful truth of the Biblical teaching that no man lives unto himself.

Friends of Bill W know that they cannot make it alone. Just like the group conscience keeps a church, a club, a school, indeed a society going, growing and maturing it keeps the Friends of Bill W on the path to a successful and rewarding life.

The good thing is that everyday we live to see a new sunrise, we have the opportunity to start a new life and to help another enjoy a fresh beginning. That does not mean that all our baggage miraculously disappears. It does mean God has granted us new grace and mercy with which to handle our demons.

It means that those who are walking the walk have a special responsibility to be there for those who still suffer...not that we don't. But, we who have been lucky enough and blessed enough to grasp the deliverance of a power greater than ourselves must take that healing way of life to suffering mankind. After all, we can only truly keep that which we freely give away.

And, especially during this time of year there appears to be plenty of opportunity to reach out to and help our fellowman. During the end of the calendar year holidays more and more people fall off the wagon and need help getting back up. After all, we understand better than most that any excuse will do and that it matters little (if at all) how many times one falls, but how many times one can get back on his feet.

So as we start a new year, any new year, we often find that the numbers in our recovery communities seem to have decreased. Actually what has happened is that the numbers needing our guidance have increased ... significantly. Perhaps the bodies showing up for mutual support have declined, but that simply means the need for outreach has increased.

While others are making new years resolutions to lose weight, get a better job, go back to school, stop smoking or whatever; we should be making resolutions to make greater efforts to be there for those who still suffer, to reach out to those in pain, to find that member of our body who disappeared a week or two ago and then to be about that business today not tomorrow. Someone you love does not have a tomorrow short of your intervention.

Perhaps just showing them the Life Story of Bill W will do the job. It will certainly reinforce your convictions and strengthen your commitment to make it to, make it through, and enjoy sobriety this time ... one day at a time.

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Burk Pendergrass, the author, a recovering alcoholic since his service in Viet Nam, offers the Life Story of Bill W, the founder of AA, for viewing and download at

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