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I just read "No Link in the Lineage" in the April 1988 issue of the Grapevine. Was I ever able to identify with J. M., the author!
When I first came to AA, I, too, heard that alcoholism is hereditary. Quite naturally, I started looking into my own family for the answer to that burning question, "why me?" I could find no alcoholism in my family. Oh, I might have been able to find it if I looked back far enough, but it wasn't in any of my living relatives, and if they knew of anyone in our past with a drinking problem they weren't telling. Of course, at that time I was playing a dangerous game of relating only with the parts of people's stories that would prove I was not an alcoholic. I began thinking, "I'm not like these people, I didn't, grow up in an alcoholic home."
Thank God by that time I had followed one suggestion and had a sponsor. An excellent sponsor for me, I might add. He kept reminding me to ask myself, "What happens to me when I drink?"
As I gained more sobriety, I was able to better understand what the Big Book was trying to tell me on page 44 when it says, "If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic." Two simple questions for me to ask myself. I could not quit entirely, and I had little control over how much I drank. Therefore, I am probably (I've since removed that word) alcoholic. I had completed Step One.
When I work with a new person today, I try to remember to ask them those simple questions. For me, it doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. I almost had myself believing that I was not alcoholic because I could see no alcoholism in my own family. I don't want to make that mistake with a newcomer.