A tragic, cautionary, true story

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A tragic, cautionary, true story

Postby Layla » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:55 am

Last week I received a call from one of my best friends. Her brother, who had at one time 12+ years of sobriety, was discovered dead in his apartment. The family knew he'd started drinking, possibly drugging as well but didn't know what to do. So far, it appears he either committed suicide by drinking and drugs, was trying to detox himself without medical attention, or simply went on a binge and ended up dying. :cry:

Here is a little background on him. While he was in AA, he was very involved in service work. He was also what we call a "white chip wonder." As someone who is not a "white chip wonder," the times I spoke with him, he derided me for the times I drank again. He said he didn't understand how some people in AA use it as a revolving door, going in and out. During his time in AA he helped a lot of people. He also intimidated others by telling others they weren't working their program well enough if they kept relapsing. He was quick to cut off newcomers when they shared, saying they had nothing to offer. More than once, he was referred to as an AA nazi and a Big Book Thumper since he was one who said all the answers to life are in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. Please don't get me wrong, he was a wonderful guy who felt he was helping others with his sharing and opinions. However, his approach was unerving to some. Not all, some.

His family found a journal he kept. In the journal he mentioned that after he drank again, he felt too ashamed and embarrassed to return to AA. He said he was afraid of getting the same responses that he had given others. Fear of going back to AA kept him away. Now he is dead.

After this happened, it made it very clear to me how cunning, baffling and powerful alcoholism is. It also made me think about how we treat others who struggle with their sobriety in AA. I love what Dr. Bob said as part of his speech during his last talk at AA's first International Convention in Cleveland in July, 1950.
"Let us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue,
and if we must use it, let's use it with kindess and consideration
and tolerance."

I hope this tragedy will cause some reflection from members on how we pass along the message of AA to others, especially newcomers or members who have relapsed.
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Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:14 am

A very young friend of mine is out and my fear is the same. His ego is going to not let him come back and the fear of the old-geezers who take a stab at the people who go out and when they return.

I will go out today if i don't watch my selfishness and self-centeredness so, i will not look down upon those who slip. I will make sure they are welcome but talk to them and see what led them to the first drink.

I am a strong believer in what the big book says. AT TIMES we will have no mental defense against that first drink. that is why i keep reinstating that we have to always take care off the spiritual malady and that would help us live life without the thought of a drink (that is the 10th step promise).
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby Jim 725 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:32 am

Just curious, but what is a "white chip wonder"? Written inside quotes, as it is, it appears to be a term of derision, and taken along with the rest of your post, I gather it refers to someone who came to AA and hadn't slipped. (Oops, relapsed)
Odd how we hold up as examples those who slip after a number of years of sobriety, but seldom if ever mention those who 'relapse' on a regular basis and finally die drunk.
Some years back two of our local members died, Jim N and "Macadoo" (his preferred nickname). Jim had attained twenty-one years, had helped many newcomers get and stay sober, including me. After his initial slip he had periods of from one to three months, but couldn't get a handle on the program, and dies after four years.
Macadoo,on the other hand, in twenty-six years of AA meetings, never made it to a full year.
I find it strange that some locals use Macadoo as an example of "Keep Coming Back" and Jim as an example of "Oldtimer Ego."
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Postby Layla » Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:34 pm

Where I live a "white chip wonder" is a person who has never relapsed. We use the chip system to denote time in sobriety. A white chip is the sign of surrender and willingness to participate in the AA way. It's the first chip someone receives when they come into AA or come back to AA after slipping. It's not a requirement to pick up a white chip, or any chip measuring time in sobriety, but the practice is widely used around here. As someone who is not a "white chip wonder," it can take a bit of humility to pick up more than one. But, since I look at AA as a program of honesty, I've continued to do that when I've slipped. Never know when it will help someone else who is struggling in their sobriety.
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Postby ProsaicSteelGirder » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:25 pm

Thank you for sharing the story about your friend's brother. As far as frightening members into reflection I'm not sure if that's anymore effective than trying to scare someone into recovery. 8)
What the story does remind me to do and pass on it the necessity for ongoing, continued inventory watching for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear; connecting to a higher power and discussing my findings with someone (Step 10).
So far, for me, I do feel as if I've been placed in a position of neutrality... the problem of liquor has been removed. It does not exist for me. So, I need to keep in fit spiritual condition to keep that energy flowing.
My experience is that when I'm in a fit spiritual condition I have a tendency not to gloat over other's misfortunes, tell them how miserably they've failed, and how they'd better shape up if they want to live. I can allow them their own path and be there for them IF and when they reach out for help.
We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world's troubles on our shoulders.
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Postby Blue Moon » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:57 pm

Layla wrote:Where I live a "white chip wonder" is a person who has never relapsed. We use the chip system to denote time in sobriety. A white chip is the sign of surrender and willingness to participate in the AA way. It's the first chip someone receives when they come into AA or come back to AA after slipping. It's not a requirement to pick up a white chip, or any chip measuring time in sobriety, but the practice is widely used around here. As someone who is not a "white chip wonder," it can take a bit of humility to pick up more than one. But, since I look at AA as a program of honesty, I've continued to do that when I've slipped. Never know when it will help someone else who is struggling in their sobriety.


It's perhaps worth mentioning that relapse is not a requirement to achieve recovery.

I could be described as a "no chip hip" ... I've been in AA meetings on 2 continents, and have still yet to attend one where they hand out any 24-hour chips. Seems like another AA myth, or I must be going to the wrong meetings!
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Postby ODAAT » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:09 pm

Jim 725 wrote:Just curious, but what is a "white chip wonder"? Written inside quotes, as it is, it appears to be a term of derision, and taken along with the rest of your post, I gather it refers to someone who came to AA and hadn't slipped.



It's a colloquial term, Jim. I haven't heard it all over. Just in certain places. AKA "one chip wonder." Just means a person who has stayed sober since he or she came to AA.

In any event, I wouldn't conclude that is derisive "as it is" offered "inside quotes." I think that Layla is just using a grammatically correct (and helpful) method of introducing a term or word that is possibly or probably not known universally.

There's a lot of different customs and symbols that AAers use. Some places use marbles for chips. So, I guess that one can be a "white marble wonder," eh, Jim?

Notice: I do not say that being a "white marble wonder" is bad in any way.

I'd hate to get the "PC Police" after me.
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Last edited by ODAAT on Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Oliver » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:12 pm

I got so many white chips they stopped offering them to me. I should really have taken them back and done some recycling. Was a waste of my own time cos I couldn't get honest. Once I got honest, I started to get better.

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Postby sobercow » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:18 am

Before I began my one day at a time sober path in my journey through life,I had a 25yr history of relapses.

Today I choose not to criticize,condemn or complain.

Who am I to Judge others??
Goodbye Milky Way;Hello Sober Day.
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Postby Layla » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:56 pm

Hi Blue Moon,

Could you please be more specific in your quote, "
... relapse doesn't have to be a part of recovery."


Can you help me out? I haven't read this quoted in the Big Book, or any other AA literature. Is this one of those sayings that came about in the fellowship meetings? I may be missing something.

Thanks so Much,
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Postby Blue Moon » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:14 pm

Layla wrote:Hi Blue Moon,

Could you please be more specific in your quote, "
... relapse doesn't have to be a part of recovery."



Some people say it, I've not seen it in any literature. It's basically "stating the obvious" - a bit like "don't drink and you won't get drunk".

The point is, there can sometimes be almost an expectation that relapse, or even slipping, is inevitable. So many have done it, their experience is necessary to share, just not necessary to do in "if you want what I got, you gotta do what I did" style.

The Big Book doesn't talk much about relapse, perhaps because it makes various assumptions about the reader already wanting to recover.
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Postby Jim 725 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:53 pm

Last year a popular magazine ran an article stating that "Relapse is part of recovery," which is another bit of 'wisdom' from the treatment industry. To me it's another way of saying, "Drinking is part of sobriety." Neither statement makes any sense, but does ease the conscience of the slipper who believes it. While slips do happen they aren't necessary. Contrary to popular belief, a great many alcoholics come to AA and never drink again.
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Re: A tragic, cautionary, true story

Postby Astrid » Mon May 05, 2014 6:46 pm

I just hope I don't drink again because I can't take the consequences. Whatever the term is, I don't care.
"The difficulty lies in our own imagination. It takes time to overcome the restrictions that we place on our own ideas." - John Tabak PhD 'History of Mathematics'
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Re:

Postby chefchip » Tue May 06, 2014 7:16 am

Jim 725 wrote:Last year a popular magazine ran an article stating that "Relapse is part of recovery," which is another bit of 'wisdom' from the treatment industry. To me it's another way of saying, "Drinking is part of sobriety." Neither statement makes any sense, but does ease the conscience of the slipper who believes it. While slips do happen they aren't necessary. Contrary to popular belief, a great many alcoholics come to AA and never drink again.
Jim S.


I'll probably be taken to task for indulging in an "outside issue" but there are big bucks to be found in positing that relapse is a part of recovery. While there are lots of new alcoholics being made every day, I doubt there are enough to support the massive, wealthy and smug "addiction treatment complex" that exists in the world today.

Of course, that IS only my opinion. Tho it seems others share it! 8)

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Re: A tragic, cautionary, true story

Postby Mary » Thu May 08, 2014 5:41 am

Layla, your share really helped me and has given me alot to think about. All about responsibility, honesty , personal truth and the limits of each. I see aa online as an opportunity to be more honest than at face to face meetings. Sometimes i dont know where the line is until i have crossed it. Sometimes i feel tortured by my own gagging order and the percieved consensus within aa that i have to adhere to.

I really dont care much when these preachy sanctimonious loud bullying know alls go out and **** themselves up. As far as i am concerned it proves to me the programme is more than parroting the big book and that people who dont get that are the ones most likely to be going about telling other people how to do it.

Sometimes i feel suffocated by the bleeding heart empathy that abounds in meetings that i just dont have. I dont see your tale as tragic but just the natural course of things. I believe this kind of person accounts for the institutionalised element within aa. Its why i get pissed off when people slag off religion as if aa is completely immune to institutionalisificationing. Now i have to speak my truth and some might say i am not being kind but sometimes its one or the other. I think the truth is always kind, kind of.
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