Things that affect you from the neck up

I was standing around a recovery meeting the other night, talking about this or that. Somehow, the age-old topic came up — the lunatic fringe of people and groups who think they are doing sobriety some favor; bringing some honor to the “traditional” way of the early 12-step groups by telling group members that they aren’t sober if they take any mind or mood altering substances — things that “affect you from the neck up.”

Where to start? Where to start!?

First of all, the actual main text of the seminal 12-step group, talks about how the first 100 men and women to recover from alcoholism welcomed cooperation with the medical profession. How it’s often imperative to use their services. In fact, how God has brought them to us for that purpose. So, it seems insane to be going against the advice of a trained medical professional. Not only insane, but downright deadly. This is not speculation on my part — there have been many people who have gotten into very dangerous situations, and even have gone so far as to relapsed and committed suicide following this arrogant advice.

Secondly, while not recommended today, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, actually dabbled with psychedelics when they were first legal and not very understood. No one has retroactively changed his sobriety date or booted him from the AA history books. So, I think we’ve got no wiggle room on judging people on that count.

On a third note, the idea that the criteria used is “affect you from the neck up” is laughable. You know cigarettes, coffee, and energy drinks are the life blood of a lot of recovering drunks, right? I don’t know if you’ve ever had an addiction to any of these things, but if you have and have ever tried to quit, you’ll know that they DEFINITELY count as things that affect you from the neck up.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if you indulge; I’m merely pointing out a huge hypocrisy in the idea that sanity saving anti-depressants keep you from being sober, but five cups of coffee before noon and a pack of cigs a day don’t have any influence on one’s mood. Callin’ major bullshit on that. Strangely enough, the basic text actually talks about being shitty to people for drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, too. Seems like it’s better to drink coffee and smoke a square than to drink again, so there’s that.

No one that I respect has ever tried to tell me what to in regards to my mental health and my medications. I just find it sad and worrisome that we’re still having this conversation around the fellowship. That these things are still being said, even though they are being said with less of a confident bellow and more of a whisper. That people are still trying to practice medicine without a license.

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