Obsession refers to my preoccupation with alcohol. I used to waste a lot of time and energy trying to control my drinking. I'd plan to drink only a certain amount at a time or only a few nights each week. I thought about how alcohol was ruining me and yet the next drink couldn't come soon enough. Thoughts of alcohol -the regret and the longing -consumed me. Those equal, but opposite desires -to drink and to be sober -are common to the alcoholic mind.
Compulsion was the irresistible impulse I experienced when confronted with an opportunity to drink. Despite all my sincere promises to quit drinking I wouldn't be able to conjure a single reason not to get drunk. I'd go on auto-pilot and be drinking before I even considered what was happening.
Craving is my body begging for more when I've had a drink. Once those first few drinks are in my system I will find a way to drink more come hell or high water. It doesn't matter if it means leaving early, paying double, walking for miles, lying, stealing, manipulating, begging or borrowing -I will find a way to continue drinking once I've started.
AA seeks to treat the obsession and stop the compulsion but it can never take away the craving -that's the physical part of the disease. The good news is that I can avoid cravings as long as I learn to deal with the obsessions and compulsions.