A.A., Charlie Sheen, and David Arquette
By Dick B.
© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved
This Is All about the News Accounts
I believe it was the famous star and commentator Will Rogers who said: “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” And, while I have 24-plus years in A.A., the only thing I know about Charlie Sheen and David Arquette is what I’ve watched almost daily on TV and seen in the
news stories. The gist of the news seems to be that A.A. is mentioned in most of the accounts.
Charlie Sheen has blasted A.A.. And David has just celebrated 60 days of sobriety in A.A. despite his recent auto accident. What a difference!
Alcoholics Anonymous and What It Offers
Early A.A.—with the 75% success rate early A.A. claimed among its “seemingly-hopeless” and “medically-incurable” pioneers; and early Cleveland A.A.'s documented 93% success rate, and its growth from one group to 30 in a year—offers a compelling lesson for those who enter 12-Step programs today.
Following his visit to Akron in February 1938, Frank Amos, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s agent, summarized the original Akron A.A. “Program” in seven points. Here are those points, as quoted on page 131 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980):
· An alcoholic must realize that he is an alcoholic, incurable from a medical viewpoint, and that he must never drink anything with alcohol in it.
· He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.
· Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him.
· He must have devotions every morning—a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding
· He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.
· It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.
· Important, but not vital, that he attend some religious service at least once weekly.
The message carried by the successful ones—a message that can still be found in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, A.A.'s “Basic Text” (affectionately known as the “Big Book”)—was: “God has done for me what I could not do for myself.” A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson was even more specific. According to page 191 of the fourth edition of the Big Book, Bill stated to the wife of A.A. Number Three (Bill D.):
“Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”
Bill’s cofounder partner, Dr. Bob, put it emphatically in the last line of his personal story quoted on page 181 of the fourth edition of the Big Book:
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!
Many in today’s A.A. don’t subscribe to the statements in the foregoing paragraph. But tens, if not hundreds of thousands, do.
Regrettably, the news accounts today simply don’t mention the help of God as an option for the afflicted alcoholic and drug addict.
The Charlie Sheen Story
By all news accounts, Charlie may be clean, but he clearly still needs help. The key question is does he really want the help he needs to stay clean and sober. And if so, what kind of help does he want? There is no mention of God. There is lots of condemnation of A.A. The TV gurus who talk about his problems have claimed several possibilities: (1) He is in the throws of typical and severe withdrawal. (2) He is hypomanic. (3) He is narcissistic. (4) He is bipolar. (5) He is in great danger; and, some say, needs an intervention.
What about Charlie? He rants on and on, and frequently suggest he is “Winning.”
Many years back, a well-known A.A. oldtimer in Marin County, California—an alcoholic for sure—told of his incarceration in a mental ward. Finally, as he was about to be discharged, he remonstrated to the gatekeeper that he was still crazy. The reply was: “If you don’t drink, maybe
nobody will notice it.”
Many of us watch the erratic behavior, have seen it before among some AAs, and just wonder if Charlie will recognize that—with his admitted use of seven grams of coke on at least one occasion—there’s not much chance that anyone will be sure if he’s crazy or not. Lots of us might point out, however, that if he will decide to quit alcohol and drugs once and for all, turn to God for help, stick to his guns in treatment and A.A., and start helping others, maybe nobody will notice the mental diagnoses.
The David Arquette Story
I know practically nothing about David Arquette. I read that he just celebrated 60 days of sobriety in A.A. I read that he was in an auto accident, swerving into the other lane. I read that he was sober and refused pain pills. And I read that he hustled himself off to an A.A. meeting. No mention in the news of God, the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, a Sponsor, or the frequency of
his attendance at A.A. meetings. And nothing about his helping others.
But, at 60 days of sobriety in A.A., enmeshed in his typical recovery problems, it was refreshing to see that he was doing something about his alcoholism problem and refraining from blaming it on A.A. or someone else. It takes time to recover. And it’s good to see someone is bending an effort to bring recovery about.
I hope to see that Arquette has also turned to God for help, cleaned house, and decided to devote himself to helping others—as a few of the other successfully-recovered celebrities have done.
[Dick B. is a writer, historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and an active and recovered member of the A.A. fellowship. He has published 42 titles and over 500 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and on the Christian recovery movement]