“There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”– How it works – Chapter 5, page 58 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…” These words may seem overwhelming if not impossible to the alcoholic suffering from grave emotional disorders or mental illness.
Close to 1 in 5 American adults struggle with mental illness or an emotional disorder at some point in life, ranging from mild depression or anxiety to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other more serious conditions. The numbers are higher for those struggling with alcohol and addiction. But what hope can an alcoholic trying to save their life and abstain from the drink possibly have?
Thankfully, there is a solution.
Every alcoholic, in fact, must realize he or she has a disease – an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind if progress is to be made. “The Doctor’s Opinion” says so. Realization and admission of lack of power and a reliance on something greater than one’s self summarize the ideals of steps 1-3.
For the “typical” alcoholic or those with relatively minor “outside issues” involving emotional or mental illness, the meetings, fellowship, and steps of the AA program are often times sufficient. For those with more severe challenges, however, more may be required. Doctors and sponsors alike should be consulted with rigorous honesty.
AA has no opinion on outside issues. As with any other medical matter, members decide how to best receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
Now that we are free of alcohol or drugs, we can take responsibility for our our well-being. There is also plenty of experience to draw on from other members who have already traveled that path.
We do not desire to be “the hasty and foolish martyr” (Big Book p. 79) by ignoring medical or practical advice.
Hope exists for the alcoholic of all types. The willingness, courage, and above all, honesty required for alcoholics, especially those with emotional and mental disorders is paramount. But there is a solution…