Crossing the Line 

Babbling brook high in the mountains.

Something in our bodies changes.  Some switch is flipped.

Probably something about our biochemistry.

Nobody knows.

But we can't go back.

My drinking just slid slowly,

imperceptibly downhill. 

From one glass of wine after dinner,

to two glasses, to a bottle,

then two bottles every night.

Languid river snaking through the mountains.

    We are powerless over our drug of choice.  No amount of will power, self-knowledge, or abstinence will help us.  Only a true and overwhelming spiritual awakening that completely changes the core of our beings will work. 

Cameron's Class on 

"Crossing the Line" >>

“Good morning,” said Cameron, our counselor.  “Today, we're going to talk about crossing the line.  Anyone know what that is?”


Mike raised his hand.  “The invisible line that separates the men from the boys.”

The line that separates using from addiction

“Uh, no,” said Cameron, laughing.  “I’m talking about the line that separates using from addiction.  Just using a lot of drugs or booze doesn’t make me an addict.  What’s the difference?”


Picking up the first drink

“Someone who uses a lot of drugs can still quit when they want,” I said.  “But guys like me and Mike have lost that ability.  Once we pick up the first drink or the first drug, we don’t stop until we pass out or run out of stuff.”


“But it’s more than that,” said Cameron.  “What about this line?”


“The Old Timers says it’s like turning a grape into a raisin,” said Mike.  “A raisin can never go back to being a grape again.”


“Or a cucumber into a pickle,” said a voice form the back of the room.


“Think of it like diabetes,”

Cameron said.  “A person isn’t born with diabetes, but they can inherit the tendency to the disease from their parents.  The disease may never express itself.  But at some point, when that invisible line is crossed, a person’s body can no longer handle sugar.  For the rest of their lives, they will be diabetic.  No matter how long or how well they control their blood sugar, if they stop their medication, their disease will return.”


“Addiction, at least in some cases, is inherited

as well,” she continued.  “It may never be expressed.  It can skip generations.  Or it may be expressed as dependence on drugs and alcohol, or as other behaviors such as shoplifting or gambling.”


“My parents smoked, but they never developed any other form,” I said.  “But I have cousins on both sides with addictive behavior.  One has already died.”

“My descent into the bottle seemed slow and gradual

“I don’t remember crossing any line,” said Mike.  “My descent into the bottle seemed slow and gradual.  Looking back, I have no clear idea of when it happened.”


“But obviously it did,” I said.  Mike nodded.


“Once across that line,” said Cameron, “all the complications of the disease will become apparent. I will not be able to drink socially.  I will become susceptible to any other substance.  My behavior will begin to change and negative consequences will begin to accumulate.”


“Once I cross the line, I can never go back."

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You've Used Up a Lifetime

Supply of Drugs and Alcohol

“We didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to become alcoholics,”

said Robert.  “It didn’t happen like that.   For years I sucked down tons of drugs and booze.   Then one day, something happened.   My body changed.   I crossed the line.”


“What’s that?” I asked.

“My descent into the bottle seemed slow and gradual

“The line that separates using from abusing,” said Robert.   “Once across that line I’ve lost all control over my using.   Where once I could take it or leave it, now I can only take it.   Once across this line I can never go back to just using again.   I’ll never be able to drink like normal people.   “My descent into the bottle seemed slow and gradual. 


“Or an addict?” I asked.


Addiction is like diabetes

“Ah,” I said.   “You mean like diabetes.   A person can have a tendency towards diabetes but never actually develop the disease.   But once he crosses the line from pre-diabetes to the full blown disease, he can never go back.   No matter how well he controls his diet he can never go back to eating sugar.   His disease will always be there, waiting.   Every morning for the rest of his life, when he wakes up, he’ll be a diabetic.


Vera filled her cup and joined us.


“So, for the rest of my life,

every morning when I wake up, I’ll be an alcoholic?"

she said


“Yup,” said Mike.   “You’ve used up a lifetime supply of drugs and alcohol,”


“The cupboard is bare,” I said.