Once, when I was working with a sponsor in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), we were discussing the concept of the allergy to alcohol. It’s the idea that alcoholics develop an allergy to alcohol, brought on by the feared first drink. I could never grasp it back then. I could not bring myself to conceptualize what it meant to experience an allergic reaction to alcohol. I mean, I tried to relate it to some allergy I experienced in real life. For example, there is a certain brand of laundry detergent that causes my skin to break out in hives after I put on clothes that are washed with that particular detergent. To me, that was the allergy. Honestly, I really don’t like that description for alcoholics, because the first drink for an alcohol, creates a craving for more alcohol for alcoholics. Trust me, when I have a beer, I certainly crave another beer. But, if I bust out in hives, the last thing I want to do is but on more clothes that have been washed with that detergent.
So, I could never grasp that concept. The phenomena of craving? That I get. But the allergic reaction I did not. I can’t wrap my head around it, but when I read the words from “The Doctor’s Opinion” of the Big Book of AA about craving, that makes perfect sense to me. The words I’m referring to are, “...They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks…” To me this is almost a jaw-dropping realization that I have gone through this exact thing when I drink. But I’ll add to it by expressing that I feel what can be described as physical pain when I’m restless, irritable or discontent. My nerves feel like they are vibrating a million miles per hour. My head is humming and my mind is a whir of toxic emotions that I can’t seem to ever control. And it feels like when I drink, everything settles down. Those things that bother me, those things that depress me or create anxious in me, seem to quiet down with the effects of a couple of beers. I’m able to make sense of the world – or at least it feels like that.
Anyways, I don’t feel an allergic reaction to beer. I feel pain until I drink. That’s what it is for me. I refuse to quit trying. I’m determined to make this happen until I get it right.