Subtle Insanity Which Precedes the First Drink

Subtle Insanity Which Precedes the First Drink

Subtle Insanity Which Precedes the First Drink

Last night in my home group’s closed big book study, we read the title of this post on page 40 in the chapter, More About Alcoholism, in “Fred’s Story.” As we read on, on page 41, the statements, “the thought came to mind,” and “it struck me” jumped off the page at me.

There was amazing sharing on the topic of our “subtle insanity” and as I was reading, in my book somewhere over the years, I’d written on the top of page 41, “Definition of delusion: false psychotic belief.” While I’m not one of those people who tried to control my drinking prior to coming to the rooms (because I didn’t think I had a drinking problem), it’s not hard to connect the dots all these years later to see just how “subtle” the insanity was back then and just how falsely psychotic my thinking had been.

36 years later, I’m absolutely clear that it’s still as subtle now as it was then. I can be walking through my day and all of a sudden, out of the blue, as a sober member of A.A. who feels most of the time is working a good program, that subtle insanity pops up and rears it’s ugly head. I won’t bore you with the story I shared of how that happened to me just yesterday, but I will say that there was a point in Fred’s story that he finally realized he did, in fact, have an alcoholic mind, and as I have had that same awakening, just because I put down the bottle doesn’t mean my alcoholic brain isn’t still working on me 24/7.

I did share that it’s because of our book, the Twelve Steps, good and effective sponsorship, a strong home group, service, and a God of my understanding that today, I feel confident the image attached to this post is as true for me today as it’s been. I can absolutely feel better by attending meetings, but taking the Steps, coming to believe in a God of my understanding, and having a spiritual awakening (“personality change” sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism – page 567 4th Edition) is the key to being able to deal with that subtle insanity that crops up from time to time.

I remember asking my sponsor once (I think it was when we were taking Step Six) if there was ever going to be a day when I would be “defect free,” and he laughed his butt off and said, “SURE! When your’e DEAD!” ROFLMAO! He went onto say, “If your’e breathin’ – your’e defectin'” (or at least the possibility of it is very strong). I love that Fred went onto say that, “Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems. I have since been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before.”

How grateful I am today that even with several decades under my belt, I still know I can still be close to that subtle insanity that precedes the first drink. It’s – a – process. First, I think:

  • “Why did she give me the wrong address and send me to the wrong place?”
  • Then, I get cranky and walk out to my car to go to the right address and think, “I can’t believe she did that, doesn’t she know I like to be on time to things?”
  • And on the drive over to the right address, I think, “What are they talking about with the doctor without me in the room?”
  • And then I think, “Have they forgot I have medical power of attorney in this situation?”
  • And when I get to the right address and I find the elevator is really slow and I think, “Damn this elevator, hurry up, I need to be in that room!”

It’s – a – process. In a former life, these are the kinds of thoughts my subtle insanity had me throwing liquor at without any consideration of the consequences.

One of our groups newer members, Matt J., who has a little under 5 months said something in the meeting last night I had to write down, he said, “Knowing the right thing and continuing to do the wrong thing is really tiring.”  LOL! I just had to laugh at that if for no other reason than I could completely identify with it.

I’m grateful for Fred’s story and for the reminder. Thank God they wrote it down.

What does YOUR subtle insanity look like today?

In love and service,



  1. Avatar


    Says December 09, 2023 at 10:12 am

    I love this, thank you for sharing. As my life starts to change (for the better) in recovery I notice just how insane my demands upon others and situations in life can get. Thank God for people like you to remind me.

    • Rick W.

      Rick W.

      Says December 09, 2023 at 10:28 am

      Thanks Jenna – what a great event that this change/transformation has occurred in your life. I truly appreciate you reaching out and sharing that with is. God bless!

  2. Avatar

    Jeannie McIntire

    Says December 09, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Love this so much! ♥️ I can certainly relate.

    • Rick W.

      Rick W.

      Says December 09, 2023 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks Jeannie!!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Mary C

    Says December 09, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    Have you been talking to my sponsor?!? At almost 14 years sober, I had a MELT DOWN! She explained the difference between mental health thinking and alcoholic thinking. I FINALLY get the second half of Step One and the alcoholic voice in my head.

    • Rick W.

      Rick W.

      Says December 09, 2023 at 12:43 pm

      LOL!!!! I DO talk to your sponsor from time to time (wink wink), but on this? NOPE! But, it does sound like something that old timer would say!!!! LOL!

  4. Avatar

    Tomy G

    Says December 09, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    Great post Rick! Thank you for the reminder today.

    • Rick W.

      Rick W.

      Says December 09, 2023 at 2:47 pm

      You are more than welcome Tomy!!!!

  5. Avatar


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