Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moral Psychology

     "We doctors have realized for a long time (not anymore, mind you) that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception (um, yeah, you can't give someone a pill to change them into a better person)." - Alcoholics Anonymous, xxvii

     What is moral psychology?

     Moral psychology is treating the soul through moral change or moral action. Thus, the desired effect that healing morally has on one's soul is procured through the application of moral psychology, and it is crucial to the recovery of an alcoholic or drug addict. Without moral change, we cannot heal spiritually, and if we cannot heal spiritually, we are doomed.

     The Big Book saved my life... and there is a very specific reason for that. It taught me that while there is no hope of achieving lifelong sobriety without healing and changing both morally and spiritually, there is hope if I do. This was prophetic to me, and I knew deep in my heart it was the truth. I knew I needed spiritual help more than anything else, and I knew it with every cell in my body.

     None of my doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, addiction counselors, or even the knuckleheads I met in local AA meetings told me this was necessary. I was told that I would always be a chronic, hopeless addict, with all sorts of mental disorders, who needed to 'just keep comin' and to avoid people, places and things that "made" me want to use.


     Any view or treatment strategy that leaves out moral and spiritual repair is doomed to fail. That is a fact. At least that is my experience. I failed for 15 years following the advice of doctors and science and untreated AA members, but then suddenly, when someone opened up the Big Book and explained addiction to me, I was lit up inside. I applied the Steps with everything I have within me and have been free of addiction, mental illness and medication ever since. That was 9 years ago.

     My life is also different. Before, when I got sober, from point A to point B, nothing changed. I knew I wasn't better. I still sank into depressions. I was still driven and overwhelmed by fear, insecurity, self-consciousness, etc. I knew in my heart that I wasn't okay. I knew it was only a matter of time before I used again. And I did. Over and over and over.

     So it is a disservice of the highest degree to sell addicts and their families remedies and false solutions that are fundamentally flawed and destined to fail from the outset. The community of addiction treatment providers and of watered-down, Step-less AA should be ashamed for failing so many unnecessarily. Any solution for addiction that is morally and spiritually hollow is not a solution. I've tried going the Godless, actionless route and trust me, you don't want to go there. It is a waste of your time, and it is a waste of your family's time.


  1. So you tried and tried and tried many times to get sober and maybe did but always failed? Didn't you want it as bad all those other times as you did the last time? What finally made you get it? I started working my steps, reading the big book, going to meetings about 6 years ago. Stayed sober 18 months. Was totally gung ho and was doing it. Until I wasn't. Is it just not time yet for me? Is it possible that a person can want something so deeply but it just doesnt happen to be the right time for it to happen for them?

    1. Hey man, thank you for reaching out. You're right in that I may have wanted to change before but not change completely, or perhaps I wanted to change but wasn’t willing to go to any lengths to do so. But I also didn't have a solution powerful enough to replace my addiction with. When you say you were gung-ho until you weren't, I remember how I began to suffer even after I recovered but the trick was to be able to suffer and walk through it and still do the work I needed to do. We can't let our feelings stop us. If the mental obsession creeps back in, then something isn't working, so there is probably something I should be doing that I’m not. When I begin to suffer, it's like a message that I have to take more action, whether it's writing 10th Step inventory or meditating, praying, working with others, helping our families etc. I don't think the Steps have ever failed me. If I fail, it's because I failed myself. It indicates that I must have put my spiritual health and God second to something else like some job or relationship or perhaps my own comfort. So me staying okay means I must keep my spiritual fitness on top of my priority list and do enough work such that the mental obsession cannot penetrate my mind and bring me down.

  2. Correct! Mr. Charlie, we can't force a spiritual awaking it has to come from God, if we keep God first in the program of recover, we stay recovered, but if we put other things before him we'll unrecover and relapse faster than we notice it coming.


Anybody Can Take Steps - Chapter Three

* STEP 3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.           Soun...