No matter how many books I read about substance abuse and addiction, I am never more captivated about the subject than when talking about it with my husband. I may be the self-proclaimed codependence expert in the household, but after two stints in rehab and a fair amount of AA meetings, my husband is way more educated about alcoholism and addiction than I could ever pretend to be.
Yesterday we were having one of these discussions, and my husband shared something with me. Every alcoholic who has stepped up and admitted they are a powerless over alcohol has a sea of eyes constantly watching and constantly judging from that moment on. Family members, friends always thinking "Will he fail? Will he fall off the wagon?". To them, that's okay because part of recovery is accepting responsibility for the things you've done, and making amends to the people you've hurt.
But my husband pointed out to me that in that sea of watchful eyes, there are many people who are equally addicted. Some know it, but aren't willing or able to deal with it, a few are completely clueless, and some are hiding it--hiding how much and how often they drink from the rest of us and possibly even from themselves.
So while admitting you are an alcoholic may give everyone else a free pass to watch and judge you, it also gives you an insightful gift. The gift of being able to spot another addict from a mile away.
Bill W. (the founder of Alcoholics Annonymous) also recognized this gift, and believed those in recovery should use it to reach out to others. That's how AA went from two men, to hundreds of millions of confirmed members worldwide.
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