Where It Begins
AROUND THE TABLES, we worked On the First Step for a newcomer. The leader and I felt our lives had been unmanageable from an early age--primarily because our drinking was out of control. He drank only eleven years and reached AA at twenty-four; I plodded along until I was forty-one.
The more I reflect on being out of control, the more my inventory shows a loss of will in my formative years. The high-school terms were marred by periodic drunkenness; the summers, by prolonged bouts. College, service, and night school were times of serious drinking. And, of course, the next twelve years were catastrophic. Yet my nonalcoholic friends consider only my last four or five years as a problem-drinking period. There are AAs who hold this view. Not I; I know my drinking was out of control early on.
The importance to me of recognizing this lack of control is that it precedes by a number of years the generally accepted concept of a "bottom." Now I try with younger members to drive home this point, so that they may escape those last years when life is truly unmanageable.