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Countless lives are destroyed every day due to alcoholism and drug addiction. The emotional damage and heartbreak brought about by addiction is beyond measure. Families are torn apart and broken, and careers are ruined over alcohol and drug abuse. Moreover, statistics have shown a strong correlation between alcohol and crime. The percentages of violent crimes committed under the influence of alcohol are staggeringly high. “. . . approximately 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking at the time of the offense. Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate reported that alcohol had been a factor.”1 Additionally, the percentages of violent crimes committed by those under the influence of drugs are disturbing high as well.2  

What’s even more alarming are the non-violent crimes being committed by people every day as a result of irresponsible drinking. Tragically, many decent, intelligent, educated, rational people, who work hard and care for their families, suffer life altering consequences due to alcohol and drug abuse. Simply put, good people do stupid things under the influence. D.W.I’s or D.U.I.’s have negatively impacted and reshaped the lives of many otherwise law-abiding citizens. And alcohol or drug related car deaths have ended many promising lives, crippling countless families and their future generations. Nevertheless, despite all the evidence, warnings, and laws, people drink, drug, and drive. Indeed, bad decisions are made under the spell of intoxicants and illegal substances. 

Just as distressing are the studies showing the significant role alcohol plays in college campus rapes. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, author Malcolm Gladwell hits the nail on the head. And quite frankly, I’ve never heard anyone outside the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous speak so insightfully, directly, and truthfully about alcohol.

. . . when you start digging through the case files of sexual assault cases [on college campuses], everyone’s always drunk. Really, really hard to find a sexual assault case where both parties were sober. . . on campus. . . . the old theory about alcohol was, Malcolm gets drunk, and as Malcolm gets a little tipsy, what you see is the real Malcolm. . . uptight Malcolm falls away, and. . . you see my true self. We no longer believe that, that’s nonsense. . . . when you drink. . . you basically get dumber. You’re cognitive faculties start to kind of shrink. . . you get myopic. . . . all that matters is what’s happening right at this very moment. . . . when I’m drunk, all thought of tomorrow falls away, all thought of consequences falls away. . . . you are not yourself. . . . it’s a formula for something super, super bad happening. And we’re not communicating that fact to kids. . . . There’s a sense that alcohol is a kind of harmless. . . it’s not harmless, it’s a dangerous, dangerous drug.3

Oprah responds, further revealing the ignorance and denial about the dangers of alcohol consumption.

And it’s so interesting too, that when surveys were done, and students are asked, what can we do to deter some of the sexual assaults on campus, people talk about everything other than drinking.(3)

Alcoholism has taken its toll on otherwise sensible people. Commonly, drinkers and drug users lean toward negative behaviors such as gambling, smoking, sexual promiscuity, and infidelity. Children and spouses are oftentimes neglected over the love for the bottle. No question, many of us are guilty of having a few too many and spouting off words that we later regretted saying. In spite of this, many know little or nothing about alcoholism or drug addiction. Oddly enough, this even goes for the alcoholic or addict as well. They typically don’t think they have a problem. And if confronted about it, would reject the notion for they truly don’t believe they have an issue, nor do they have a clue as to harm they are causing others. This may seem hard to believe, but, “Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, and powerful!”4

In the following, it is my hope to bring to light what is unknown and often misunderstood about alcoholism and drug addiction, and correspondingly, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). But before I proceed, I want to again make clear that I speak as an individual recovered alcoholic, not as an AA member or representative of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Firstly, I feel it is important to dispel a common misconception about AA. It is not a religion or cult. You don’t have to adopt or reject any belief system to practice its principles. One can be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, secularist, Yogi, or Buddhist, and practice AA’s Twelve Step Program. And although it may have been designed for alcoholics, anyone can greatly benefit from its wisdom and program. Which is why the Twelve Steps are also practiced in Al-Anon (a fellowship and program created for the families and friends of alcoholics), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous), SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), GA (Gamblers Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), and in many other groups. In the Foreword

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