Our counselor, an energetic fellow named Don, calls alcohol the "perfect product." It has never experienced a dip in popularity, he says, never lost its ability to deliver the advertised effect. "Why do you drink or do drugs?" he asks, then answers himself: "Because they work."
But at what price?
Over the course of the weekend, we perform many such self-evaluations. We investigate the damage alcohol has inflicted on our health, relationships, family, etc. A history of ruin is revealed. Don describes three emotional levels that are common among people: Pain, normal and euphoria. The trouble starts when alcohol, meant to produce euphoria, becomes too reliable as a sedative for pain, when the sedative becomes required to produce normal.
Another exercise examines our values. We're told to write down five things we find important, then cross out one by one the values we'd be willing to give up, until only one remains. Almost everyone values the same things, and almost everyone's final priority is family.
Pretty early in the process, one guy says, "I already gave up my life; what do I have left?"
"You still have your driving record," another guy says.