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The Battle Against Alcoholism

Updated on September 19, 2013

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.” Those words can be found on page 59 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and they refer to the moment of truth when an alcoholic decides to quit screwing around and actually work towards sobriety.

Most alcoholics and/or drug addicts will go through a “warming up” period prior to actually committing to a life of sobriety. This period will consist of several unsuccessful attempts to quit drinking or to modify the drinking behavior in order to lessen the damage and allow the alcoholic to live a more normal life.

These attempts at more normal drinking are bound to fail in most instances because the nature of the beast is all-consuming. Normal doesn’t even enter into the equation and never will. Drinking for an alcoholic is balls to the wall, full throttle guzzling till you drop and attempts to modify this behavior are bound to fail.

That is why the Big Book talks about these half measures. An alcoholic must be willing to do the hard work, to commit to change and that commitment must be total. It is a commitment to change not only lifestyle but to change the person as well.

Some out there will debate that statement and that is fine; let them write their own articles about this subject. For this alcoholic life did not improve until I had become willing to stop drinking and change everything about me and my lifestyle. Period! I had had periods of sobriety, the longest of which was ten years, but I was never happy and I was always close to the next drink. Nothing had really changed in my life other than the fact that I had eliminated the symptom of my trouble, namely booze.

Finally in 2006 I gave up the half-measures and took the necessary step in order to find peace of mind and happiness.

All of which leads us to the point of this article: the concept of half measures is not only relevant in alcoholism but also, in my opinion, in normal society today.

I never planned on being an alcoholic
I never planned on being an alcoholic | Source

My Upbringing

I can hear the words of my father as I write this article. “Bill, when you do a job for someone do more than is expected of you. You may not be rewarded for it but it just makes you feel good to do it.”

There was a man who had no idea what “half measures” even meant. He firmly believed, and lived his belief, that if a job was worth doing then it was worth doing to the best of your ability. No excuses were tolerated and he never met an obstacle that couldn’t be scaled or knocked down. The word quit was not in that man’s vocabulary and I can tell you without hesitation that when you grow up around those standards they tend to stick like flypaper to your psyche.

Did I resent it growing up? You better believe I resented it. I just wanted to do a half-assed job and then go play with my friends. So what if I missed a strip of lawn when I was cutting the grass? What’s the big deal? It still looks okay! So what if one of the plates I washed still had some stains on them? We can get it the next time we wash it.

Those kinds of attitude didn’t fly well in our household and looking back I am oh so grateful that I wasn’t allowed to take the easy way out. When it finally came time for me to stop looking for excuses about my alcoholism I only had to think back to those words of my father to realize where I could find the solution. I needed to quit messing around with half measures and start making a complete effort.

How the brain of an addict works

There was no alcoholism in my family
There was no alcoholism in my family | Source

Observations over a Lifetime

Teaching gave me a wonderful observation post from which I could view others regarding this subject. Over the years of my teaching career I saw an increasing number of students who were willing to do just what was required to get by. When confronted with grades that reflected these half measures they were appalled that they had not received rewards that were equal to their inflated sense of self-worth. What’s the big deal Mr. Holland? I did the assignment! So what if I misspelled a few words? So what if my research was a little faulty? So what if my facts didn’t support my conclusion? It’s the best I could do in the time you allowed us and I think my grade should be better.

All of which earned them my standard response: “Do the work and show me you care and I’ll reward you with the grade you deserve.”

This approach to life is not restricted to just students. I am quite certain that all of you reading this can think of times you have witnessed half measures in the workplace or while out and about doing your daily thing. It seems to be an infection that has burrowed itself into the fabric of society in today’s world. High divorce rate, increased school drop-outs, lack of self-discipline and an increasing willingness to give up when the going gets tough. Any philosophy of life that includes half measures is doomed to fail and that is what we are seeing time and time again.

But alcoholism did indeed find me
But alcoholism did indeed find me | Source


I have no patience with excuse-makers and whiners. Those of you out there who have followed me should not be surprised by that statement. I want to lay the burden of blame right on the doorsteps of those who embrace half-measures. They have to look no further than the mirror to find the reason why their life is not working out quite the way they planned it.

Parents who pat their children on the head and praise them for half efforts are enabling them. Employers who allow half efforts are enabling their employees AND hurting themselves. Family members of alcoholics and addicts who cover up for them and make excuses for them are enabling them and prolonging the offensive behavior.

Worse yet, those who make half efforts and then can’t figure out why their life isn’t working out are self-deceivers of the highest order. We all reap what we sow and if we are planting the habit of only doing what is necessary to get by then we will be rewarded with stunted crops in our later years.


In my humble opinion, the worst part of continually doing half measures is that one begins to believe that they are not capable of doing more. They are, in effect, nurturing the belief that they cannot achieve anything that requires hard work and total effort. To put it another way, by setting standards so low based on past achievement, they are basically blurring the lines of reality so that they have no idea what they are capable of doing and that, to me, is incredibly sad. They have accepted mediocre for so long that mediocre becomes the highest standard that they can envision.

Enough Is Enough

I am humbled by some of the people who have blessed my life. People who have overcome incredible obstacles and who continue to fight each and every day for a better life. People who refuse to accept the status quo and whose first reaction when the going gets tough is to work harder. Those are the people who float my boat and I am proud to know them and learn from them.

I think it’s about time we all set higher standards for ourselves. I know I’m going to because I can’t get those damn words of my father out of my head.

Not happy with your life? Change it! Not happy with your job? Work harder or find another job you can be happy with! Not happy with the way you are treated by others? Demand better treatment and make them live to higher standards of behavior!

We as a species are capable of so much more than we have accomplished so far.

Be the best parent that you can be. Be the best student that you can be. Be the best worker and friend and neighbor that you can be. To do less is to cheat yourself and that is, and should be, unacceptable.

Half measures avail us nothing.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, truer words were never spoken. Oftentimes I am asked to be the sponsor for someone new in the program and I make it known very early on that if they don't want to do the work then they can say goodbye to me right now! I have no time to waste on someone who isn't willing to commit to this lifestyle. I've seen too much pain and I'm not signing on for anymore.

      Your life is just beginning my friend; live it to the fullest.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      You know, I think the most dangerous alcoholic is the one who "half" admits he/she is an alcoholic. They call themselves "functional alcoholics". They go to work every day and pay their bills. But all throughout the workday, they are picturing themselves coming home and "winding down" with a drink. They actually start picturing it half way through the work day.

      Yeah, they may do their job well. They have their bosses fooled about who they really are once outside the confines of the clock.

      Those "functional" alcoholics cannot maintain healthy relationships because, I don't care who you are, if you drink from the time you come home from work until the time you go to bed, the effects are going to turn you into a verbal monster, many times a physical monster. Either way, the person who happens to be sharing the "functional alcoholic's" airspace is in for abuse. Especially if you bring up what you are seeing from this so called functional person.

      Alcoholism and drug addiction are dangerous ways to live. Not only for the offender, but anyone who tries to have a relationship with them. It just can't be. The abuser won't let it.

      Friends, family and lovers can offer help and support. But if the abuser won't recognize he/she has a problem, or thinks it's under control, run for cover my friends!

      If they don't want to be saved, for God's sake save yourself!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I had no doubt that you would agree with this message. We come from the same school of life and no, there is no harm in hard work.

      Thank you as always my friend!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I believe in going the extra mile as it does make a difference in your character. People often just do what it takes to get a job done and fall short of creating a good strong work ethic that puts them ahead. A little hard work never hurt anyone yet. Great wisdom here, Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much Ruby! I always appreciate you stopping by and bringing a smile into my world.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Any addiction is difficult, my biggie was smoking. I tried quitting several times before i got serious. I learned that you had to hate it before you could lick it. Great article Bill....

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have all the faith in the world in you, Cyndi! It's time for the next chapter; step forward and never look back. Who knows what wonders await you? Thank you lil' Sis!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Very cool! Live life to the fullest. I have to tell you, between the support of my John (I call him "Juanito"), inspirational people like you, I'm bravely taking steps into the life that I've wanted to live since I was 21. Why I didn't do it then? I was scared and didn't know enough. Now I know more and I'm still scared. But your inspiration is helping me to take the next steps. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, so am I! I love my life today and wouldn't trade it for anything. Thank you for sharing my friend!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I grew up around AA as my father was in and out of the program a few times before he got serious. White knuckle sobriety never works. You explained what it takes quite well in this article and I think it will probably help others. Glad you arrived alive! Awesome hub!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much Anna and I, for one, am very happy to have you back writing with us. I have missed you my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      7 years ago from SW England

      This is a powerful, inspiring hub, billy. I like the way you apply the alcoholic principle to life in general. It sounds as though your father was a man of wisdom. I know I haven't always done things to the best of my ability and you're right - it does oneself no favours. Voted up, useful and shared. Well done indeed!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you b.Malin! I appreciate your kind words and I hope this finds you well and happy in your new home.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      You are so straight forward in your Hubs on Alcoholism Billybuc. Whole families have to become involved and face the cold hard facts. You've come along way my Friend, and I'm so glad you are here today to share the Good Times as well! You are a True Inspiration!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, you are so job is finished until it meets my standards...and those are pretty high! Thank you once again for stopping by.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      7 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Very good hub, and true. Only half it will never finish it. Kind of like doing half of a job, then quitting. The job was never finished. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tammy, I agree that there are those who will take advantage in certain situations. I have several customers who are like that and I am always self-protective. Thank you once again for being so loyal.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      This is a true and wise mantra. Many people only give 50% in hopes of retaining the best of them for them. I was raised in this same manner from a very early age. I must say it normally pays off. With wisdom and age we learn not to do this for those who would take advantage of our work ethics. Excellent hub and very inspiring.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Kelly...yep, I had some pretty high standards to live by growing up but it's all good for this boy. I needed to learn those lessons so I could deal with adulthood. Thanks for stopping by and I'll be by to visit you shortly.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Bill your old man sounds just like mine! Lolif I got a B - he would have said I should have worked harder and I would have gotten an A. "put your nose in the books where it belongs" was his mantra.

      I do not drink alcohol very often (it makes me sick!) lol. But I do have habits I could apply this to. Like smoking! Ewwww...I've quit several times...leading up to the "not screwing around anymore" phase again now!:) lol maybe this will help - I'll refer to it in my weak moments!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Connie! I'm not sure how I came up with that quote; sometimes the words just write themselves and I'm sure you understand that.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 

      7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      "Half measures are like a foggy day; the color is missing from your life." This quote is awesome! It definitely struck a chord.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Elle, it is a message we can all associate with, me included. Thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tim, thank you very much! That was very kind of you! There are days it doesn't seem so easy, believe me. :) I do love to write and I know you do too. That makes it much easier.

    • elle64 profile image


      7 years ago from Scandinavia

      The words are so true, work harder, halfway is not good enough,it is a good hub for me for a kick up my a..-THANKS

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      bill I love how you tell it like it is.. I have shared this with a friend.. Her husband has trouble with this subject. we love him dearly but to no avail...Bless you for witting these and sharing your heart


    • profile image

      Tim Neitzel 

      7 years ago

      Your words are very true and applicable to society as a whole and not just alcoholics. I either do something full speed ahead or I don't do it at all. Or,I procrastinate. I do that far too often and I'm very aware of what I'm (not) doing. Have I ever told you how much I enjoy your writing? I envy the ease with which you conjure with words!


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