The Doctor’s Opinion & Complete Abstinence

Christmas Eve I had a relapse. I was resting on spiritual laurels and not rigorously honest through 10th steps.

Thus, the insanely trivial upset of my husband forgetting enough stuffers to fill my stocking triggered the obsession and sanity did not return, I did not turn to HP or the steps and tools of OA.

Instead I ate. I ate in my old compulsive ways that I hadn’t done since February 2019. It was my longest period without a binge and disease was waiting there for me the whole time, ready to strike when my HP armor was weak.

The sugar and alcohol cravings were incredibly intense on Christmas. I was obsessed, moody and unable to be fully present with family and friends.

The prior night’s binge came at the cost of my serenity, food neutrality and peace of mind.

On the 26th, I got honest on another level and decided to give up artificial sweeteners (primarily diet sodas) and caffeine.

On the 27th, I ate sugar again on my salad when I wasn’t proactive about reading labels.

Thus, my black and white abstinence began mid-day yesterday.

I sought out a new step sponsor yesterday because I thought I need fresh perspective and input. However, all the Big Books sponsors I asked wanted to go slower than I wanted.

I was upset, talked to my sister and decided to ponder a while.

Later last night, I reread my notes from the recent Big Book retreat lead by Lawrie C.

He said relapse happens because food plan wasn’t rigorously honest and/or spiritual program through steps not being worked hard enough to maintain spiritual fitness.

He also said that if relapse occurs past step three, get rigorously honest with food then food sober for a few days.

Then simply say step three prayer and proceed through 4-9. Thus, recovery from relapse doesn’t need to take a long time.

I took comfort from his understanding of the Big Book and decided to follow his guidance.

I have gotten food sober and spending the next few days studying steps 1-3 in his workbook and the Big Book.

I have a fifth step appointment on January 1st with my current sponsor whom I am staying with as she supports the approach endorsed by Lawrie C and the Big Book: abstinence then quick, quick, quick through 1-9.

So after all that background, on to The Doctor’s Opinion and Complete Abstinence.

I reread The Doctor’s Opinion and the first 14 pages of Lawrie’s workbook.

The main points I took away were the absolute necessity of 100% black and white abstinence from binge food ingredients and compulsive behaviors BEFORE working the steps.

As I heard at a meeting, “Complete abstinence is the ticket to working the steps.” Just like alcoholics, I must be sober from compulsive food behaviors and trigger ingredients.

Dr. Silkworth and the first 100 mention this many times through the chapter:

  • “it is imperative that a man’s brain be cleared before he is approached, as he has then a better chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer.” (xxvi-xxvii)
  • “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor” (xxvii-xxviii)
  • “The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.” (xxx)
  • Both the examples of alcoholic recoveries include physical sobriety BEFORE working the solution

Another main point of both readings is the nature of the addict’s malady in the double whammy of the physical allergy (phenomenon of craving of not being able to stop once starting) and mental obsession (inability to stop from starting).

I reviewed my food history and added to it by answering the workbook questions on pages 6 and 14.

My history proves again and again and again that I am the true addict the Big Book defines in “There is a Solution”. I have both the phenomenon of craving and the mental obsession.

It truly is a double whammy only solved through 100% abstinence and a spiritual solution of ego reduction and service to others achieved through the steps. And it is of CRITICAL IMPORTANCE I maintain both those aspects of the solution in order to keep recovery, one day at a time.

This relapse has taught me that food neutrality and the promises will be lost very quickly when I am not rigorously honest with food and completely focused (above EVERYTHING else) on my spiritual connection because I require the spiritual connection to maintain food sobriety.

My history proves this because periods of control with my compulsion were ALWAYS followed by relapse. Before OA, I had zero hope because I didn’t have the solution or knowledge of the double whammy.

Today I have HOPE that continued 100% abstinence and rigorous working of the steps will yield the reconnection with HP and the promises.

All I have is the moment and this moment is one on the path to recovery.



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