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August 1976

Gluttony

Fifth in a series dealing with seven deadly character defects

A GLUTTON is one who eats or consumes Immoderately; also one who has a terrific capacity to withstand something--"a glutton for punishment." If that isn't a good description of an alcoholic, it will do for a while.

Most people are guilty of gluttony to some degree, as the number of obese folks proves. So, at first glance, this looks like a mere physical failing. But a further peek shows otherwise. A few of the tags hung on a glutton are "greedy, voracious, ravenous, having a wild appetite for some activity or pursuit."

Gluttony is important because it indicates a lack of self-discipline, something most alcoholics forget in their tipsy days. Food is not addictive in the same way as alcohol. But any self-indulgence is childish, and as a part of the growing-up process, gluttony must be faced.

The big thing here is to consider a sensible middle course in food, recreation, sex, ease, exercise, and so on. As Bill W. often said, a basic part of our development lies in acquiring a rational attitude--neither despising a natural appetite nor going overboard in satisfying it.

Someone may point out that most alcoholics do not eat much when drinking, and it's true, but only because of their voracious, ravenous appetite for something other than food. Getting out of line in any phase of life can be a basic flaw in the sober alcoholic as well. There can be no doubt that the alcoholic had better get on a middle course, and stay there.

Thus gluttony, far from being only a habit of eating too much, is overindulgence in anything. The golden mean isn't a mere classic phrase. It actually is golden for the alcoholic who is willing to go all out for sobriety. It does not demand an ascetic program. It is just one more simple way to insure the first objective--one day without one drink--and to free ourselves for growth.

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