Bill Wilson – AA and LSD
Throughout the world people have heard of self help alcoholic recovery group - Alcoholic’s Anonymous, and its founder Bill Wilson. Not as many people are aware that Bill Wilson promoted as a cure for alcoholism, the use of LSD.
The main limitation of Alcoholic’s Anonymous is that it is not primarily recovery focused. Alcoholics are considered to have a long term and incurable “condition” that means abstinence and intended recovery from alcohol dependence will at all times be a respite, the program providing mentoring and support to help people to deal with continued cravings for alcohol, even after having been with the AA program for many years.
The tension and frustration that can emerge in the life of the “dry” alcoholic, denied his usual refuge in alcohol drinking, can lead to abusive behavior in the home, problems in the work place.
Driving a path of sobriety through the minefield of triggers and temptations to relapse into alcohol use is extremely hard work, and the reason why many AA members accept the occasional relapse as being par for the course.
Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and The Doors of Perception is said to have introduced Bill Wilson to the potential of LSD as a means to alcoholism recovery. Wilson took up with LSD as a “miracle cure” for the ailments of the soul, using LSD regularly during the 1960′s, developing a plan as he reached his 70th year to have LSD made available to all AA members.
Fortunately more sensible heads prevailed, and when the FDA declared LSD to be illegal some years later, that was the end of any plan to make LSD a part of the AA program.
The life and times of Bill Wilson, born in 1895, is recorded in an article in the Modern Drunkard Magazine – that sets out the highs and the lows of his chronic alcoholism, and the work that Bill Wilson did to promote alcohol recovery by developing the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program.
Although many people have gained help and support by joining Alcoholic’s Anonymous, upon reading about the life of Bill Wilson, it’s founder, it is clear that following the precepts of AA, did not in fact bring him the peace, the tranquility, and contentment that he craved.
It is interesting to note that although Bill Wilson successfully stopped his alcohol drinking, he never quite resolved the issue of what should stand in its place. Although espousing a spiritual basis for ultimate recovery from alcoholism, the acknowledgement of and “surrender” to a higher power, Wilson himself professed no formal religious beliefs, dabbled in the occult, and continued to be a substance abuser, including use of psychedelic drugs.
When alcoholism is defined as the symptom of a problem, rather than the primary issue, it becomes possible to look “behind” the drinking to see what might be its causes. It is in the resolution of it’s causes that alcoholism can be treated, otherwise, like Wilson, a person is essentially looking for an alcohol substitute, an antidote to feelings of negativity.
Perhaps the key to Wilson’s life long battle with alcohol is in the depression that came upon him in 1912, when his school friend and soulmate Bertha Bamford died unexpectedly following a routine operation.
For three years Bill battled depression, and then when he injured an elbow, he sought refuge with his mother – who promptly sent him back to school – causing Bill to have panic attacks and an inability to do any physical education.
Doctors examined him and could find no reason for his general incapacity. He had earlier been abandoned by his father, who said he was going away on a business trip, but never returned home. Bill was brought up by his grandparents.
Born to a military/ business background, Bill found recovery in selling cars at his grandfather’s automobile agency – attempting to sell one of the cars to the parent’s of his lost love. It would seem that Bill never recognized the severity of his depression, his grief, and loss - a lonely, isolation that remained a motif in Wilson’s life.
Many years after AA was established Bill Wilson would complain that he did so much for everyone else – no one ever did anything for him.
AA was for Bill a means to recovery from severe emotional depression, and from losing all but the shirt on his back at the onset of the 1930”s financial depression.
Clark Carr, the director of Narconon International, an alternative program for recovery from alcohol and drug abuse says that, in his experience, and most profoundly, drug addiction is a result of people lacking the skills in life to otherwise resolve their conflicts and frustrations.
Bill Wilson, unsupported in his early grief, seems to have carried the burden of his un-mourned loss, for the rest of his life.
In his later years, Bill Wilson sought therapy for his depression, and before his death was investigating nutrition as a possible cure for depression, including the now widely accepted niacin (Vitamin B supplement) treatment that helps to dissipate lethargy, and restores the nervous functioning that is very much depleted by chronic alcohollsm.
Bill Wilson is a case study for a depression based theory of alcoholism, an addiction that could easily be resolved by the comprehensive methods, available today which see addiction recovery as a voyage of personal discovery, in which we learn how to better communicate with others, to get our real needs met, to develop social skills for self improvement and the benefit of the community.
By resolving, and putting behind us, the baggage of our past, we are enabled to move on to a happy, contented drug free way of life.
Comprehensive programs provide drug detox, social and nutritional support, to enable complete addiction recovery.
Narconon residential drug treatment programs breathe new life, and purpose into depressive feelings from the past.
Bill Wilson died 1971, still reaching out for answers to the problem of alcoholism.
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