Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 3, MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM – page 37, 39 “THE JAY WALKER”
Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking.
He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings.
Up to this point you would label him as a foolish
chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession.
You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull.
Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether.
Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule.
He tries every known means to get the jay-walking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways.
But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man
would be crazy, wouldn’t he?
You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it?
We, who have been through the wringer, have to
admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay-walking, the illustration would fit us exactly.
However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane.
It’s strong language—but isn’t it true?
Some of you are thinking: “Yes, what you tell us is
true, but it doesn’t fully apply.
We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves so well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again.
We have not lost everything in life through drinking and we certainly do not intend to.
Thanks for the information.”
That may be true of certain nonalcoholic people who, though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies have not been damaged as ours were.
But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge.
This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of