Problems Other Than Alcohol
The Big Book chapter, A Family Afterward, pg 133, makes it very clear we should seek outside help with Psychological, Medical and other issues of “various kinds”.
“Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any mark of dissipation. But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies.
Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.”
This issue of outside issues is a tricky one in program.
I feel that it is a delicate balance. Addiction is a disease characterized by denial. As addicts, we have to diagnose ourselves. No one else can do it for us.
The challenge of mental and emotional problems is that we only have our minds to know our minds. And, unlike the disease of addiction, mental and emotional problems are characterized by a lack of clarity and perspective. In such cases, we need an expert for diagnosis and treatment.
Program is designed to help us with our addictive behaviors around food. It is not designed to address other problems. Although many of our emotional problems do resolve once we work a program of recovery, not all will.
I cannot tell you the number of times when someone will call me and say: “I don’t know what is wrong. I have done so many fear inventories on this, and I still feel terrified.”
This is a simple program for complicated people. The 12 step program of recovery will give us physical abstinence, a relationship with God and an opportunity to do service.
If we are abstinent, and working our program and still miserable, to me, it suggests that this is an outside issue and beyond the scope of program. Professional assistance may be warranted and ultimately more helpful.
In my work, it never ceases to amaze me how people are so much more comfortable admitting they are an addict than someone with a mental illness. We have already come to the place where we can admit we have a problem with food. It is a pity that the stigma of mental illness stops some of us from seeking the help we need. The greatest tragedy is that unless both problems are addressed through the appropriate channels, recovery in either area will fail.
AA Big Book