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Classic Reprint – Central Bulletin August 1957

On our way to Columbus last month to the first Ohio General Service Conference, we had the good fortune to share a seat on the train with Ann C. of Niles, Ohio. In the course of our exchange of experiences, Ann told of her appearance on a television program in Indiana in which she was quizzed by the master of ceremonies on the work of Alcoholics Anonymous.

One of the questions she was asked was why some persons succeeded in stopping drinking after embracing AA and why so many failed. She thought for a moment and then answered, “Those that fail undoubtedly say, ‘I can’t stop drinking because I am an alcoholic.’ I am sober with many others, because I won’t drink, because I am an alcoholic.”

We like that answer. The failure wallows in despair because he is an alcoholic. He gives up. He says “What’s the use! No one trusts me anymore. Besides, I can’t stop. I’m different than those other people. I tried AA, but it didn’t work for me.”

Ann put the finger right on the spot when she declared “I won’t drink, because I am an alcoholic.” In those eight simple words are contained all the necessary elements of success in licking an alcoholic’s problem.

First, it indicates a recognition of the fact that alcohol had made her life unmanageable and that she was powerless after alcohol -that the oblivion alcohol produced also guaranteed frightful nightmares, degradation, loss of friends, loss of self-respect, insecurity, fear, etc.

This recognition of her plight and a common sense of decency and desire for what she had forfeited made her grasp for the helping hand of the AA members who offered her hope.

Being convinced that she couldn’t even take one drink, with safety, she embraced the entire AA program and has been one of this area’s most able and effective women in carrying the message to others.

She has lost no dignity in admitting that she is an alcoholic. On the contrary, she has gained the respect and admiration of everyone with whom she comes in contact.

She radiates joy and good nature. Her unselfish sacrifices in the cause of AA; her interest in furthering and maintaining the traditions of AA; her excellent, quick grasp of the problems which beset an individual or a group; her excellent judgment in offering solutions to these problems -they indicate to us that her concise answer to the master of ceremonies was the secret of her success.

It seems to us that those who have difficulty in “getting the program,” only remember the fun they had when they drank. They minimize the trouble that hit them most every time they drank.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself that you can’t drink, be glad you don’t have to.

I won’t drink, because I’m an alcoholic.” If that’s your answer to any temptation, you’ll find joy in living and a reason for it too.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.