Recov­ering alco­holics who find their way into the rooms of AA are told to expect dra­matic changes in atti­tude and out­look. Their feel­ings of use­less­ness and self-​​pity will dis­ap­pear, they are told, as will their interest in selfish things. They will become more intu­itive about life, and expe­ri­ence serenity and peace. Their haunting fears will diminish. They will expe­ri­ence a new kind of freedom.

These are known as the “promises” of AA, and they are a cor­ner­stone of 12-​​step recovery. But there is no timetable given. Indeed, alco­holics are told only that these results will mate­ri­alize “some­times quickly, some­times slowly,” and only with painstaking work. In other words, the promises require patience.

And there’s the rub. Patience is not a virtue that most addicts are famous for. In fact, addic­tion by def­i­n­i­tion is an inability to delay grat­i­fi­ca­tion, to tamp down imme­diate appetites for greater rewards later on — rewards like hap­pi­ness and peace. Addicts share this patho­log­ical impa­tience with lots of other risk takers, but theirs has some of the sad­dest outcomes.

Read the article at Huffington Post →