This week’s HTYH is the beginning of a Medical Doctor’s story. Burns B. from Louisville, KY, spoke at the Grand Wayne Center, May 1st Sunday morning at 10:30AM and it was free to the general public, courtesy of the Fort Wayne Inner Group of Alcoholics Anonymous:

I started taking amphetamines in 1958 and stopped taking them in 1970 and in the process of doing that I was kicked out of medical school three weeks before graduation—alcoholics and addicts can’t stand success. I was taken before the medical board and they asked me if I wanted help? I said, “Please,” so they sent me to see a psychiatrist–an experience that I am grateful for. I’m grateful because I learned some things about analyzing a mental problem and latter, after I was sent to Alcoholics Anonymous, it helped me with my Fourth Step.

The psychiatrist said, “If we can discover, in your mind, what’s causing you to take amphetamines, you can stop taking them.”

We discovered the problem. When I took amphetamines doctors put me in a mental hospital and when I stopped taking amphetamines the doctors stopped putting me in mental hospitals—it worked.

But, I started drinking alcohol and I drank it for 7 years until I hit the same miserable bottom that I did with amphetamines. The difference was that when I tried to stop drinking alcohol, I could not quit—it had me! This time the medical staff sent me to an alcohol treatment program that sent me to Alcoholics Anonymous. The people in AA told me to stop drinking alcohol, get involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and learn how to “act” my way into different thinking? There’s a 180–degree difference between the two philosophies. The first methodology, instructed me to use “my” mind to figure out the problem and fix it. The problem with that philosophy was that I was trying to fix a sick mind–with a sick mind. The second methodology totally worked because I admitted my problem (I was powerless over alcohol), in Step One and became willing to change my daily actions by applying the other Steps, 2-12, in my life and that eventually changed my thinking—we “act “our way into “different thinking”—one-day-at-time.

Sandy Beech said it best: “There’s only two things we need to do to stop getting drunk, first “stop drinking alcohol,” every time we got drunk it was because we were drinking alcohol—No kidding-Don’t take the “first” drink of alcohol! That was brilliant, what a revelation, I thought that I was getting drunk because of my ex-wife, or because, I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks—it couldn’t be my fault—or, was it?

The second thing, Sandy said was, “Change everything you’ve been doing.” Get a sponsor, work the 12 steps, read the Big Book, go to a BB study group, read the book, “12 Steps and 12 Traditions,” go to a 12 & 12 study group, get a home group and go to as many meetings as you can. Instead of drinking alcohol everyday try attending an AA meeting every day—we changed our daily actions, and our thinking changed—what a concept. We cannot think our way into different actions, but we can act our way into different thinking. I got sober and was re-admitted into medical school.

I thought Sandy was the most brilliant man I’d ever heard but he said that he had heard it from his sponsor. It was old news to Sandy but it was “new” news to me and when I tried it—it worked. Today, I act and re-act differently, I’m no longer constantly angry, I forgive you, and me, sooner and there’s some peace and serenity in my life.

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer