Saturday, February 5, 2011

Three Views of Recovery

This is from a site that discusses three views of recovery and you can go to that link to engage in discussion and I'd like your opinions here.  The Conversion Experience view best describes the A.A. program... but our experiences in the thing may have minor to drastic variations.  The re-socialization view and the psychological view go a long way to descbribe a lot of our detractors... IMO. 

In my opinion, it starts with a radical refusal to accept help from a Higher Power or The Higher Power or whatever you want to call It... and the supposed empowerment of using the rational mind to overcome any behavior... as if alcoholism is always a choice and nothing more... not to be classed among mental illnesses, physical affliction, and of course... spiritual malady is well off the table because radical atheists among us refuse to honor such a Divine Creator and they want to thwart such line of thinking from the rest of the world.

The Psychological View would seem to go a long way in honoring science and the next pharm that will be the answer to all of our ailments.  This describes the missing link to recovery that some of our detractors claim when they say we A.A.s are not well qualified to work with other drunks, but we should stay out of it and let the "professionals" take over.  My question would be, "What were these 'Professionals' up to prior to A.A.?"  Does the word asylum, nut-house, or ... as Ralph says... "Graybar Hotel" ring any bells?

Well anyway, I'm in agreement with finding a recovery method that suits you and get on with it.  Once you find what works, you should be less likely to bash another method.  But you might be well disgusted in seeing the failures of the many along the way and be tempted to say that this method failed or you did it wrong or you weren't ready.  How about saying, "Maybe this person isn't ready" or "Maybe this person needs outside help."

Oh, and btw, I can identify a few of the folks above, but who is the guy with the specs and the plaid shirt?


Three Views of Recovery

Currently, there are three major conflicting views on the nature of recovery. One view states that recovery is the result of a religious conversion experience. Another holds that recovery is really the process of re-socializing oneself to a community of sober addicts. A third view maintains that recovery happens when addicts expose and treat the underlying psychological causes of addiction.

The Conversion Experience View

This view of recovery understands the Conversion Experience as a psychological process defined by philosopher and psychologist William James. In his The Varieties of Religious Experience, James stated that conversion is a process by which

“a self hitherto divided, and consciously wrong, inferior and unhappy, becomes unified and consciously right superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer hold on religious realities”

According to James, the conversion experience is a huge displacement and rearrangement of the convert’s personality. This internal reorganization is not just a passing experience, instead, a whole new and stable attitude is established.

“the new ideas that reach the center in the rearrangement seem now to be locked there, and the new structure remains permanent.”

For the addict, this means that the former center of his life—the obsession to use—is now discarded and replaced by a sense of personal spirituality. The Conversion Experience View of recovery believes that this kind of radical change in the personality is necessary for true recovery to take place. The Twelve Steps are seen as a tool for creating Conversion Experiences without the intrusion of organized religion. In the Steps, an addict can have a powerful experience, and interpret it however he or she pleases. Therefore, Conversion Experience is often referred to as a Spiritual Experience, and the program is called “spiritual not religious.”

While working the Twelve Steps in a Conversion Experience style, the addict will make a total surrender of both will and life to a Power that heals the addict’s mind. A moral inventory is taken to root out and expose the addict’s primary trouble—selfishness. Amends and Twelfth Step work are designed to relieve the addict of self-concern and encourage a compassion for others. In this compassion, the Conversionists find themselves guided by a real and living Spiritual Power.

Meetings, in the Conversion Experience View, are a chance for recovered addicts to give testimony to the Power of the Steps and invite newcomers to work the Steps with a sponsor. Meetings are not a time to “share” or “check-in.” Instead, they are a time for those who have had a Spiritual Awakening to offer their services to those who have not.

Outcomes anticipated for people in recovery are very high in the Conversion Experience View. People who work the Steps successfully, are expected to find emotional well-being, freedom from mental obsession, and a deep sense of peace that comes from having a spiritual purpose in life. As long as the recovered person continues to help others, his or her sense of well-being is expected to increase. The times of real pain and anguish that are to be expected in life (when a loved one dies for example) are expected to bring the recovered person deeper into dependence upon their Spiritual Source, and so, while painful, will improve the addict’s spiritual life.

The Conversion Experience View exists in many of the Twelve Step fellowships, but is most commonly seen as the View of Alcoholics Anonymous member who strongly advocate for the AA Big Book. Sometimes called “Book Thumpers” or “Program Nazis,” these AA members have a reputation for being conservative and intolerant in the way they express their View. From their own point of view however, the Big Book advocates are trying to save fellow addicts from the pain of self-centeredness. In this way, they believe that they are expressing the spiritual truth of the Steps.

When Conversionists tell their stories, they are most likely to speak of the mental aspects of their addictions and place a strong emphasis on the personality change that they have experienced due to their experience of surrender to God.

The Re-socialization View

This view of recovery is…

“…highly social and involves the use of informal community resources that provide a sobriety-based framework in which one can stop drinking and maintain sobriety.”

William L. White

Slaying the Dragon

In the Re-socialization View of recovery, the biggest problem of the addict is not a need for spiritual experience, nor is it underlying psychological stressors. Instead, the Re-socialization View believes that the addict’s biggest problem is using. When the using stops, the addict’s biggest problem becomes how to stay stopped. Solutions to these problems are fairly straightforward. “Don’t use, go to meetings, ask for help.” “Keep coming back.” “Meeting makers make it.” “90 meetings in 90 days.” These and other similar slogans outline the program of the Re-socialization view—just keep going to meetings.

At times, meetings are emphasized so heavily that many people who hold this View do not work the steps. However, those who do work the Steps, tend to see them as a way to increase involvement in the fellowship. “Higher Power” and “God” are often interpreted as meaning the fellowship, the meetings, and sometimes the Steps and Traditions. Turning one’s will and life over to the care of God, really means coming to meetings and becoming willing to share and listen to others. Moral inventory and Amends are designed to help the fellowship stay intact even when personality clashes occur.

For Re-Socializationists, sobriety is understood as a difficult process, especially because the sober addict is forced to deal with feelings that were once suppressed by using. When things get rough, an addict goes to a meeting and shares their pain. Other addicts at the meeting sympathize and support those suffering. Sometimes, if there is an addict present who has suffered through a similar hardship, there is a sharing of experience, strength and hope. This makes meetings a kind of mutual-aid group. Other activities that are important in the Re-socialization View are “meetings-after-the-meetings,” sober dances, camp-outs, and other non-meeting social gatherings for addicts.

Expectations for recovering people in the Re-Socialization View are moderate compared to the expectations for people recovering in the Conversion Experience View. It is anticipated that recovery will be a painful process that lasts a lifetime. One is not expected to find relief from mental obsession, nor a vital spiritual life. Instead, the Re-Socialization View expects that people who stick with going to meetings will eventually be able to manage the business of daily life. Recovering people can get jobs and relationships, and keep them for longer than they used to. Recovering people don’t have to sell their TVs to buy drugs, or do any of the other behaviors associated with addiction. Often, recovering people have more money and possessions than they did when they were using. All of this is expected to provide some value and relief in the addict’s life.

The stories of recovering people who hold this View focus on the physical aspects of addiction and the despair and hopelessness of addicted life. These stories are meant to be a reminder to the speaker, and to his or her audience of why not to use again. Some times, though less frequently, stories focus on the things that the speaker has gained by being sober. Generally, Re-Socialization stories end with gratitude for the program, the meeting, and for one more day of sobriety.

The Psychological View

This view of recovery states that addiction is only a symptom of an underlying psychological disorder. In the years since the development of psychoanalysis, many psychological theories have been formed and promoted, each with its own view of the nature of the psychological causes of addictions. The theories range from Freud’s assertion that the alcoholic is expressing latent homosexual tendencies, to the Family Systems Theory concept of the addict as an actor of a role in a dysfunctional family system. Many of these theories, as they have each come into fashion, have had some impact on the Twelve Steps.

Currently, the psychological agreement seems to be that the addict is someone who uses to cope with some kind of pain. This pain might be the result of early child hood trauma, sexual abuse, a dysfunctional family system, low self-esteem, etc. The pain could also be produced by an existing mental disorder, such as Post Traumatic Stress, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, depression, etc. Addicts of this second kind are called “dual diagnosis,” because they are diagnosed with their mental disorder and addiction. Because addicts are seen as using to cope with pain, addiction is sometimes called “self-medicating.”

Recovery in the Psychological View is the process by which an addict learns appropriate methods of self-care. Treatment focuses on treating the source of the addict’s pain, and teaching the addict new ways to cope with pain. There is much talk about “feeling feelings,” and overcoming fears and shame. Sobriety is seen as a time of self-discovery, because feelings surface that were suppressed by using. Because most of these feelings are uncomfortable, the Psychological View attempts to help people in recovery to manage life while processing difficult emotions. Often, addicts are encouraged to use self-affirmations to build a positive self-image and increase self-esteem. Recovering people are instructed in the basics of self-care: hygiene, nutrition, sleep, and healthy social interaction. Sometimes, the word “H.A.L.T.” is used to remind people in recovery to stop and take care of themselves when they feel “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.” The Psychological View encourages proper medication for people who have a dual diagnosis, and regular talk therapy, with emphasis on processing the pain of childhood and difficult personal relationships.

Working the Twelve Steps is not central to the Psychological View of recovery. When the Steps are worked in this View, they tend to be an extension of the type of therapy mentioned above. One realizes one’s powerlessness and turns one’s life over to professional treatment. Inventory is usually “balanced,” meaning that for every negative aspect of self, there is a positive one as well. Inventory also tends to explore things like family dynamics, early child hood trauma, instances where the recovering person feels that he/she has been victimized, etc. Amends are not emphasized in the Psychological View. In fact, most Twelve-Step rehabs will only utilize the first five Steps. Twelfth Step work is almost non-existent in the Psychological View, as professional treatment is seen as filling the role of ‘sponsor.’

Meetings in this View are seen as important to the recovery process. The Psychological View understands meetings in nearly the same manner as does the Re-Socialization View. For the Psychological View, meetings are important not for mutual-aid as much as for group therapy. The emphasis is not on “we help one another out,” but “we each get our turn to process feelings.” Often, addicts exiting treatment will be instructed to attend “90 meetings in 90 days,” and meeting attendance is often part of the routine at rehab. However, in many cases, the Psychological View feels that meeting attendance is not enough for the recovering person. Regular visits to a councilor are encouraged.

The Psychological View’s expectations for recovering people are equal to or less than those of the Re-Socialization View. Addicts are expected to struggle greatly with mental obsession and difficult feelings for the rest of their lives. One figure in the Psychological View, Terrence Gorski, has defined what he calls Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS predicts that people in recovery will not be able to get better through meeting attendance and Stepwork. Instead, the addict needs to see a PAWS trained therapist, or they will have severe symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome that will likely cause them to relapse. These symptoms can never be eliminated, only managed.

Stories of people recovering in the Psychological View often reflect their experiences in therapy. They speak of learning to feel their feelings, coming to grips with early childhood trauma, becoming better at taking care of themselves, or similar topics. Sometimes stories will include mention of Stepwork, but it is usually clear that this is Psychological and not Conversion Experience style Stepwork. Stories include much Psychological language, and will often focus on the emotional accomplishments of the speaker. The process of self-discovery and learning to love oneself feature strongly in Psychological View stories.

Arguments between the Views

Each View of recovery has an argument with each of the other Views. These arguments help us to distinguish the Views from each other, and clarify the values of each View.

Conversion vs. Re-socialization

From the Conversion Experience perspective, Re-socializationists are diluting the meaning of the Twelve Steps by not emphasizing a spiritual interpretation of the program. Conversionists point to the fact that many people in recovery could benefit from a Conversion Experience, but are unwilling to make the effort as long as they can ‘get by’ on meeting attendance. The fact that Re-socialization allows people to ‘get by’ and suffer from the mental obsession is seen as a crime by Conversionists; it keeps suffering people from getting real help, and it turns the program into a place where people get by without getting better.

From the Re-socialization perspective, Conversionists are seen as narrow-minded and possibly dangerous. Re-socializationists point to the fact that plenty of people are staying sober in the program without having to get religion or work the Steps. The fact that Conversionists are pushing their nearly religious View of recovery means that some people, who might otherwise stay in meetings, get turned off and don’t come back. Some of these people probably go back to using and may even die as a result. For the Re-socializationists, anything that keeps alcoholics/addicts out of meetings is a bad influence on the program.

Re-socialization vs. Psychological

The Re-socializationists see the Psychological View of recovery as having a basic misunderstanding of the disease of addiction. Alcoholics drink because they are alcoholics, and drug addicts use drugs because they are drug addicts, not because they are trying to cope with pain. Addicts may be in pain, but this is probably the result of their disease, not the cause of it. Psychologists are also seen as having the wrong approach to dealing with addictions. While therapy might be helpful for many, real recovery depends on one addict helping another. This is because only someone with first-hand knowledge of the disease of addiction can really understand the condition of another addict.

People who hold the Psychological View of recovery see the practices of Re-socialization as insufficient to help people recover. Meetings are good for what they are, but meeting attendance alone is often not enough to help addicts deal with the underlying psychological causes of their using. People who have a dual diagnosis, who suffer from PTSD, who are severely depressed, or who have deep personal issues to work through will need more than meetings to successfully stay in recovery.

Psychological vs. Conversion

The Psychological View of recovery reacts strongly against the Conversionist idea that selfishness is the root of the addicts problems. The emphasis on selfishness is seen as bordering on abusive. According to the Psychological View, recovering people need to be affirmed and nurtured, not scolded or told that they are bad. In this View, addicts already have negative self-images, and focusing on selfishness can only serve to increase that negative self-image. For some in the Psychological View, the Conversion Experience View of recovery is seen as taking advantage of vulnerable people. People new to recovery are in an impressionable frame of mind, and Conversionists seem to be attempting to force newcomers into a religious point of view.

Conversionists see the Psychological View of recovery as causing more harm than good. In the Conversionist View, telling addicts to care for and think about themselves only increases their already high level of self-concern and selfishness. Furthermore, the Psychological emphasis on “feeling feelings” and “expressing pain” leads to a recovery environment dominated by narcissism and diseased thinking. In this View, an addict can never express his/herself enough to rid their psyches of the mental obsession to use. The Psychological View of tortures recovering people by forcing them to obsess over their symptoms without offering a real solution to the basic problem of addiction.

Agreement among the views

Our division of the recovery culture into three Views is somewhat artificial. In reality, there are many recovering people whose recovery philosophy represents a mix of two or more of the Views mentioned above. Recovery culture represents a wide spectrum of belief and experience, and there are many ways in which each of the Views can be adapted to match each of the others. For example, the Conversion Experience is a powerful mental experience, and can be understood in Psychological terms. Mutual support networks and Re-socialization clearly have a Psychological benefit as well. And Conversion Experience, in its need to be shared with others, has a strong social impulse and a clear desire to help others Re-socialize themselves. However, our depiction of the three Views of recovery should help our understanding of the Twelve Steps by revealing the major themes that are present within all Twelve Step recovery programs. By looking at each View in its purest form, we can get a clear picture of the kinds of programs and experiences that are available in recovery culture.


  1. Egads! Two posts at the same time. What your saying here, Patrick, is a great analysis of the problems I talk about below. We need to look at each view and learn from it.

    Gorski has written some good stuff about relapse, particularly PAWS and his concept of "stuck points." Fr Martin hits a little on the "stuck point" issue in his "Symptoms of Sobriety" talk. White has written a lot of good stuff, too. I don't necessarily agree with some of the things these guys espouse (Gorski feels caffeine and sugar are threats to sobriety), but I've read them both.

    But great job of the compare/contrast approach to the three views. But by mentioning the "...kinds of programs and experiences that are available in recovery culture" you've joined the heretic club with Ralph and I. I couldn't agree with you more. Too bad AA doesn't see it that way.

  2. Having just read the article I'll have to take back my compliments about your clarity of thought, but will substitute a compliment about your fine research. The comments to the article are as good if not better than the article itself. Thanks for posting it.

  3. ... and you are a hansome scholar.

  4. Ok, Back again. I think I see a lot of the Conversion Experience,some of the Re-socialization Experience and maybe a little of the Psychological Experience in AA.

    The Conversion Experience of course is our reliance on a higher power and the requirement for a radical change in personality.

    The Re-socialization Experience is, I think, reflected in the power of the group. And I believe that the fellowship I experience in AA, i.e., the "group", ranks second only to the steps in the hierarchy of my sobriety. I use the term fellowship as an all-inclusive one. My home groups, my sponsees, you guys, the folks in an AA meeting I attend in Santa Monica. To me the fellowship is pretty important.

    But where do the 12 steps come in? The first 3, 6, 7, and 11 are certainly part of the Conversion Experience. 4 and 5? 8 and 9? 10? Not necessarily so easy to put in a slot. I see parts of all three experiences in some of them.

    The discussion of the Psychological Experience is remiss in that it doesn't discuss Behavior Modification as a valid treatment approach for alcoholism. For some, this is the only thing that works. And it ain't a touchy-feely fuzzy program, either.

    So I can't lump AA into any single Experience, but agree that the Conversion Experience is certainly the most significant of the three.

    The Re-socialization Experience reminds me of those who adhere to the magic chair and magic cup of coffee approach while they discuss the 12 topics of AA.

    The Psychological Experience, as discussed, places emphasis on getting the alcoholic to analyze why he drinks, concluding that when the deep seated reasons are made known, then the solution will be self-evident. I can do the came thing with an alcoholic by saying "You drink because you're a fucking alcoholic. Now go figure out what you're gonna do about it. Maybe try AA." Save them a lot of money. The psych view is also the basis of the worst fucking treatment known to mankind - Intensive Outpatient Therapy.

    Our detractors seem to lean towards the Psychological side, insisting on a "scientific" approach rather than a spiritual one. They're the ones that will intellectualize and pontificate without ever offering alternative solutions. Condemnation without investigation. Well, it keeps them off the streets.

    I don't have a problem with Dr. Peele although he has big problems with guys like us. At least Peele offers alternatives which may or may not work - I haven't studied them yet. But he doesn't devote his life to attacking AA, and actually his condemnation of AA is a small part of his writings.

    It's a good article, Dowg. Lots of stuff to consider. As I mentioned, the comments that follow the article are pretty good, too.

  5. Santa Monica? What are you doing hanging out on Venice Beach? Are you working on your tan?

    The socialization method to me is MOTRers; the 3M skewl; Meeting Makers Make it! Just don't drink! You folks keep me sober. Keep Coming Back! I earned my seat. etc.

    But what about the Socialization and Psycholigical approach for the non-alkies? I think it may work great for them. If "Think through the drink" works for them, so be it. Do we need to kick them out of A.A.? No? Good. Because... guess what? They're not leaving. They're fully entrenched and they are very vocal... right there in our A.A meetings... in our fellowship.

    I was reading some ridiculous thread at SR and have been a good boy to not bring it up here. It's got something to do with a newbie posting a thread about doing A.A. without getting a sponsor, doing steps, ... well doggone it, let me just put it down here;


    "Need Help from Big Book Experts"

    Newbie: Hello,

    I have decided to go to AA but need some answers to some questions before I go. I plan to do a "purist" program only. By this I mean, if it's not in the original BB, I may or may not do it, probably will not do it. I figured this was the best place to post my questions and where I can get answers from experts well versed in the BB. So here are my questions...

    1. Does it state in the BB one must get a sponsor?
    2. Does it state in the BB one must acknowledge birthdays and take chips?
    3. Does it state in the BB that one must say "I am an alcoholic" at every meeting?
    4. Does it state in the BB that one must go to X number of meetings?
    5. Does it state in the BB one MUST do the steps?

    As far as I know, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Also, if the answer is yes to any of these questions, can you please point me in the direction as to where I might find this in the BB? I don't have one but can always go online to read it myself. I guess those are all of the questions I can think of for now. I would appreciate any input and your expertise is valued. Thanks in advance.

  6. More on Newbie;

    1. Thank you for the info! I do hope I don't have to read the whole thing though, as I have ADD and it's quite the challenge for me to get through any book, so I thought I would put these questions out there to the experts.

    I know there are people out there who have read that book several times over, so maybe someone can answer my questions, but thanks for posting.

    2. Thanks so much for your knowledge. Trust me, I'll do much better just following the program as it was intended. That was the founders' views and I am better off that way. The fewer rules and structure, the better I'll deal with things. I am dual diagnosed which does mean that certain things work better for me than other things.

    I do appreciate your well wishes and same to you. Now I can go to a meeting knowing it's ok to just go there with the desire to stop drinking and that is it. I like things very uncomplicated.

    3. Thanks for all your responses. I will keep an open mind, but was really just looking for yes or no answers to my questions. ADD is not my only problem. I am also bipolar with phobic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I've read that for the dual diagnosed, actually other approaches work better in attaining sobriety than AA. The truth is I want to keep it simple, take what I need and leave the rest. What I need is to not drink (in large part so my medications can work and this depression will possibly go away) and get out of my house and be around other people who share my same struggle with addiction or addictions and possibly my psych issues (which is to say they may just happen to have the same psych issues). I know AA is not about psychiatric stuff, but something like 60% of those with alcohol problems have psych issues or the other way around. I isolate so much and just want to stick to the basics and not make things more complicated than they have to be. Appreciate everyone who took the time to post.

    4. Fair question. I know what I need to do as my Dr. has told me what I need to do, only he just told me to minimize my drinking (and did not even suggest AA but I isolate too much and that just makes the depression worse). I also know that I should not be drinking at all on the meds I'm taking or they might not work as well as they could or maybe not even at all. Plus, think of how hard it is on my liver if I drink and take eight different meds a day.

    Also, if I had other choices and types of meetings where I live (I'm talking volume and number) I would most likely go to those meetings rather than AA meetings, but I don't have that option here.

    Part of why I drink is because I am lonely and if I am around other people I am less likely to feel as lonely. Maybe I'll even meet someone like me and make some friends. Who knows? At a minimum, it will force me to do things like take a shower, wear normal clothes, leave my house and that will be a step in the right direction. Since the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, and I have been Dx'd with alcohol dependence, I guess I qualify for membership. I can just go to certain meetings where I don't have to say anything at all.

    Also, if just doing what is in the BB was good enough for the founders, it's good enough for me. I don't like all the additional stuff that has been added along the way.

    I do promise I won't come back here bugging anyone for help. I just needed to know what is really in the book and what is not so I can feel comfortable sticking to my guns when people start pressuring me to do more than I am comfortable with. Take what you need and leave the rest, right? Thanks for your post. Anyway, signing off here.

  7. part 3 of newbie

    5. The criteria for alcohol dependence is in the DSM IV. Since I meet it, I am stuck with the label. I don't like labels, but apparently Drs and insurance companies and people in AA do. I don't mean to be glib, but I really do not like labels. As a result of these labels, I am not medically insurable so it's a real ouch to me.

    The two words alcohol dependent and alcoholic can be used interchangeably. I prefer to stick with the DSM IV as my primary stuff is psychiatric and the alcohol stuff is secondary. Well, actually and to be technical, it's co-occurring or comorbid. I hate having all this stuff wrong with me but it is what it is. Hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking.

    6. No worries. It did not come off as rude. It just made me wonder if I had not explained myself well enough.

    I do appreciate everyone's input. I also agree I tend to over analyze things. I am just afraid I am going to make a bad situation worse if I am not careful in how I approach this. I cannot afford for things to get much worse. I already only get out of my house twice weekly and that is only to volunteer and see my therapist. It would help to get out more often and force me to do the other things I mentioned.

    I'll just give it a try and if it seems to make things worse I can always not give it another try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

  8. So there you have it; the modern day newbie or the Stinkin' Thinkin' Troll going onto Sober Recovery to stir the pot?

    When a new person comes to A.A. for "help" but they have a built-in plan, I leave them be. I honestly believe that booze can do more for them than I can.

    They are brand new to A.A., but know the anti/XAer/Orange/Stinkin' Thinkin' playbook word for word. They say shit like, "It's not in the book, so I'm not going to do it. Can you help me?"

    Then when you ask them to do a very small task like, can you sit down and read/reread up to page 43 with an open mind, they come back with "Take what you need and leave the rest, right?"


    Namaste and kumbaya

  9. Oh, well guess what? Stinkin' Thinkin's lates topic.

    It's no wonder they'd gak all over themselves over a Sober Recovery topic like this one. I had a good mind to put this story up two or 3 days ago, but thought I'd be polite and leave it be.

    The folks at ST love this topic because I swear to God they are the ones who created the username "NLOL". I don't have privileges to search anything on SR. I'm lucky to even be able to observe as a lurker. But I'll bet you money that some punk from ST logs in at SR to stir the pot, then ftg, being totally behind it has the audacity to tag it with "How they treat each other when they think no one is looking".

    Well no shit ftg, you created your own drama. Congrats.

  10. OK, well I went through the comments and both ftg and MA mentioned that they think the OP is a troll. So... maybe they're not behind this... that they know of. I'll bet that same money that one of their minions is behind it though.

    SoberPJ was responding to the insipid slogan, "Your disease/addiction is in the parking lot doing pushups" with this beauty;

    SoberPJ says My yes.. the addictions don’t want to get fat thighs or big guts like the humans they want to infest. Even a disease has standards and a little vanity

    That was kind of funny, I guess. Then someone else said that they would buy their steroid-shooting disease a hooker so they could walk by unnoticed, then another said, "my disease can kick your disease's ass"...

    ... so 2 points to ST for having a sense of humor.

    As you were.

  11. Ya gotta love an alcoholic who says I'll just take what I want and leave the rest. This twink is obviously a "maladapted" soul as he refers to DSM IV. And saying that what's good enough for the founders is good enough for me, then mentioning that he isn't gonna do the steps 'cause the BB doesn't say he has to? WTF??

    It's gotta be a troll. Ain't nobody that stupid who's mother didn't smother them at birth. Or maybe the gene pool needs a little more chlorine.

    Carry on, aye!

  12. Oh... I hate to say it, but it's the 37 posts that responded to him/it that demonstrates the stupidity.

    I'm amazed the folks at ST are wise to it and not claiming responsibility.

    Are there rogue anti/XAers out there?

  13. I saw that thread the other day. I lurked on SR from my computer at work. If it's the same one I'm thinking of, only Kieth and Bad Company gave good replies. Even Mark has kind of dumbed it down in an effort to not ruffle feathers.

    As far as the three approaches go. Patrick pretty well summed it up. At my work, I see non-alcoholic and non-addict counselors and mental health therapists trying to apply the psychological approach to clients. According to our clinical manager, all of our clients are mentally ill and and addiction is purely a behavioral problem. I think they are meeting with not much success in taking this approach. To be honest, most of our staff in don't have a clue about what makes people like us tick and what it takes to recover.

  14. Now we're talkin'. Jim, this is the exact reason why I brought up the "Is alcoholism a mental illness" thread... not because I agree with it from my honest experince as a recovered alcoholic... but to show the world the corner that the anti/XAers paint themselves into when they open their thickened sludge mouths.

    Those sick fucks dare to blame us for seeking recovery on our own and refusing help from the "Professional Alcoholism Industry"... while also trying to drive unrecovered potential alcoholics to this very money-making industry.

    Oh, but A.A. is so rich, right? It's such a fucking cult, right? Well if that's the truth, then where's my fucking chedda? Honestly?

    Why do I do it? Why do ... we... do this? I'll tell you two reasons why... two very selfish reasons;

    1) Because when I drink, I become a blackout drunk driver. Not buzzed drinking here... way over the line vicious, mischievous, and sometimes deadly behavior... dispite my horror and guilt when I come to.
    2) Because in the doing of the steps ... it becomes a sufficient substitute to the thing I'm chasing in the booze... the thing that booze once did "for" me but unfortunately become what booze did "to" me (as Jim so aptly points out... it ... recovery... gives me Power.

    That's right. A.A. gives me Power. If properly gained and used... it is Power I seek... right there in that fucking book and right there in those fucking rooms. (pardon the vernacular. It's become an effective bullshit/ anti-XAer filter)

  15. Yeah. All three recoveries can be seen in AA.

    I'll go back to Joe and Chralie since they're on my mind now.

    Psychology hasn't worked in the past. Maybe they have some new fangled approaches but AA is still the best game in town for a reason.

    In fact, the radical atheists cling to psychology for no other reason than they can't stand the thought that there may actually be a God. That's not a scientific approach but a willfull one.

    I guess AA has always had the conversion first, then social then psychological leanings.

    The more of a 'pure' alcoholic you are the less you need of the psychological aspect though. At least that's my observation. Plenty a bone fide alcoholic has used psychology to make excuses and avoid the real problems he faces. I know I did. So I think the conversion philosophy has the advantage of backing you into a corner and getting a decision out of you. Psychology never does. It's open ended and goes on and on and on....at least as long as your insurance will pay for it.

    Psychology is great stuff but I don't think it's the best method for alcoholics by a long shot. A good supplement once recovery is embraced but not so good at inducing recovery for most real alcoholics.

  16. Damn Jim, Do you have to witness IOP sessions, too? God help us all.

    I'm don't know how much of alcoholism is a mental health issue. The only psychological treatment I know of that's met any success in dealing with alcoholism is Behavior Modification Therapy, and that supposedly works with only a small segment of the population. But I really don't give a shit, either.

    I do know that I'm an alcoholic. I know that for me to get sober, it involved more than abstinence as alcohol isn't my problem. But by abstaining from alcohol, I was given the opportunity to change my character, to change me. I was the problem.

    I also know the program of AA allowed that to happen. The character change,the spiritual awakening, occurred and I get down on my knees every day and thank God for relieving me of my alcoholism.

    These things I know. The rest I don't give a shit about. People want to get their tits in a wringer about how fucked AA is can go right ahead. I don't have to go to every argument I'm invited to. But there no fucking doubt in my military mind as to who has the serenity here, and it ain't them. And pardon my vernacular, too.

  17. I think the guy in the plaid shirt is Adam from Mythbusters.

    Actually that would be a good idea for them.
    Myth "an alcoholic can get sober on willpower alone".

  18. jc,

    No, I don't get to observe IOP groups. The remarks I made in my previous post were based on conversations I've had with some of the clinical staff.

    My experience is the same as Tony's. I went to see a psychiatrist once. After several visits, he told me that I was bi-polar and had oppositional- defiant disorder. What I had was untreated alcoholism, as I wasn't drinking at the time. Untreated alcoholism looks a lot like bi-polar because of the mood swings. As for oppositional-defiant disorder, no, I was just a thin-skinned, opinionated, irritable jerk when I wasn't drinking. I didn't like to be told what to do. Hell, I still don't like to be told what to do.

  19. Hi, Tony J (et al):
    I once got sober on willpower alone! I lasted three weeks, ran into two friends, and tied one on with them that more than made up for the dry three weeks! Still, I believe that an alcoholic devoid of any self-discipline doesn't have much of a chance of recovering in or out of any program.
    There was a wonderful movie that I saw many years ago called "Koyaanisqatsi" which means "life out of balance" in the Hopi(?) language. How true back then, and even more true now.
    I am a plain and simple alcoholic like most were back in the 70s. Not so with most today.
    People are so "out of balance", that virtually all areas of their lives are affected. Eating disorders, sex disorders, gambling disorders, drug disorders, whatnot - lives out of control, careening randomly everywhere.
    This pattern seems to have picked up momentum just as our relationship with God went from active to "on hold" to ... whatever you see it as these days. "Do your thing" the song's words went, and so we have.
    Where do we go from here, I often wonder. About the only answer I come up with is to work on being a better person myself, and hopefully be as kind to someone else as some have been to me.
    Our country had quite a few sincere Christians forty years ago, and they were just about the only ones who showed me as a recovering alcoholic any compassion. I sort of took them for granted back then, and miss them today. "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" goes another song - how very true.
    Sorry if I ramble. I've been reading the Book of James, which was the original AA manual, and trying to better understand the roots or foundation of AA philosophy. James 5, 13-16 just might ring a bell to you. I was suddenly struck by the thought that perhaps the earliest Christians (almost all from the lowest social -economic classes)relied on prayer for healing because they couldn't afford doctors, and those doctors were not likely to be very helpful anyway. Who here would care to be treated by a first-century surgeon or GP? Prayer was really their only option to heal, and 2000 years later some still believe that that is still true.
    Don't get me wrong; I am uplifted by reports of spontaneous remission of diseases that are completely unexplainable by doctors. I just don't believe that prayer for healing is called for or answered in all cases. As a carpenter for many years, I had to dig out many a sliver from my hands, and once had to drive myself to a nearby hospital when I cut one hand to the bone.
    Maybe "God helps those who help themselves" has merit in the case of alcoholism or other addiction disorders - what do you think?

  20. Sure. Submission, power of intent, asking... all things that require us to set our ego aside in order to seek and receive help. And why would the ego be a detriment to such things? Because the ego wants power and control... doesn't want to submit or defer to Another.

    James... a nice instruction manual for living, right?

  21. For a great look at God, prayer, and man read Kunster's book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People". It's the best explanation of God and mankind that I've ever read. Some of it may be a bit radical, depending on your religious (not spiritual) beliefs, but his analysis answered a whole lot of questions for me. And I've read Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm and the others. Here's a prayer from the book that I think says it all:

    We cannot merely pray to you, O God to end

    For we know that You have made the world in
    a way

    That man must find his own peace

    Within himself and his neighbor.

    We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end

    For You have already given us the resources

    With which to feed the entire world

    If we would only use them wisely.

    We cannot merely pray to You, O God,

    To root out prejudice,

    For You have given us eyes to see the good
    in all men

    If we would only use them rightly.

    We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to
    end despair,

    For you have already given us the power

    To clear away the slums and give hope

    If we would only use our power justly.

    We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to
    end disease,

    For you have already given us great minds

    With which to search out cures and healing,

    If we would only use them constructively.

    Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,

    For strength, determination, and willpower,

    To do instead of just pray,

    To become instead of just merely wish.

    I think this ties nicely into Ralph's question of God helping those who help themselves. I remember the 3rd step was a big hurdle for me because I believed just that. God helps those that help themselves. Then it occurred to me (a moment of spiritual clarity, if you will) that am I not helping myself by asking God to help lift this obsession? It was that moment that I lost what was left of my ego.

    Kunster's a rabbi, by the way.

  22. From the late Paul Martin, part one:

    The View from Here: - Each Month a Group of Past Delegates to the General Service Conference Will Talk About the Traditions

    Amateurs Anonymous
    Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
    The first two lines of the long form of Tradition Eight state that "Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire." Several lines further we read: "But our usual AA Twelfth Step work is never to be paid for."
    These may be the most thoroughly ignored words in all of our Twelve Traditions.
    The AA message is a message from one amateur to another amateur. AA didn't begin as one of many ways to help alcoholics. It began because there was nothing else that worked for alcoholics. That's still the case.
    Who could possibly misunderstand those words in Tradition Eight? Just about everyone, apparently. When Dr. Vincent Dole retired as Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee some years ago, he said, "My greatest concern for the future of AA is that the principle of personal service might be eroded by money and professionalism." Unfortunately, that's precisely what seems to have happened.

  23. Paul Martin, part two:

    In July 1950, Dr. Bob, speaking of AA's beginning and growth up to that date, said, "Let's not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind but have little to do with our actual AA work." Like Vincent Dole, Bob had an uncannily accurate view of our future.
    Early in AA's existence, Bill W. was offered a job at Towns Hospital as a paid therapist. Every one of those early AAs said, "Bill, you can't do this to us." Bill would have brought a flood of new business and made money for Towns Hospital and for himself, but what do you think would have happened to our Fellowship if Bill hadn't remained an amateur? With a sharply-focused vision of the real roots of our recovery process, those early members saw the perils.
    It seems that the farther we go in time from the experience of our founders, the farther we get from what they actually did. In large part that's what's happened in AA. We have endless books and booklets explaining the Big Book and the Steps. We have workshops on something called "relapse prevention" which overlook the obvious fact that if we work and rework the Twelve Steps, we'll stay sober and enjoy mental and emotional health.

  24. Paul Martin, part three:

    Unquestionably, some alcoholics need medication but most of them with depression, anxiety, apathy, and fear suffer from untreated alcoholism--a result of insufficient continuing work with the Twelve Steps. The AA message is not the joy of therapy or the gospel according to Prozac, but a "spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps." The foreword to the "Twelve and Twelve" says: "AA's Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."
    In my experience that's totally correct.
    In the spring of 1948, I heard Paul S. talk in Chicago. He was one of the early Akron AAs and I was sober less than a year at the time. Over and over in his talk he said, "AA is of itself sufficient." If the quality of my life isn't what it should be, the best place for me to go for counseling or therapy is to the Big Book or to an AA member who has done enough continuing work with the Twelve Steps to understand that "how it works" means precisely what it says.
    Some years ago I was talking with Dr. Leonard Borman, a research associate at Northwestern University's Center for Urban Affairs and the director of the Center's Self-Help Institute. Borman, who'd spent years studying the development of the self-help movement, told me, "Two principles stand out in AA and the self-help movement. One is that a person who has recovered from a problem can be far more helpful than a professional using only theoretical knowledge. The second is that when an individual helps another without charge, they both benefit."
    The Twelve Steps provide a precise formula for sobriety and a road to mental, emotional, and spiritual health. They give directions for lives of expanded joy and usefulness. They also point up the need for continuing work in the Steps for my own recovery and continuing work with other alcoholics to pass on what I've been given at no charge. If we work with another alcoholic a spiritual transaction takes place, and we both benefit. If, on the other hand, we're paid for this, it becomes a monetary transaction and the spiritual component is destroyed.
    In the past twenty-five years, the treatment of alcoholics has become an immensely profitable industry. In a remarkable coincidence, the optimum length of treatment invariably equaled the number of days covered by insurance. The term "greed" doesn't begin to describe what happened. Greed creates ignorance and it created monumental ignorance in the field of alcoholism treatment on what really helps alcoholics. The problem became obvious. If all that hospitals offered the alcoholic was the AA program, it would be difficult to charge large fees for their services. Inevitably the programs were larded with whatever therapy was popular at the moment.

  25. Paul Martin, part four:

    Meanwhile, many individuals and institutions wanted to cash in on these suddenly gold-plated drunks. Countless AAs went to work in the treatment business and began twelfth-stepping for money. Not surprisingly, AA has been increasingly infected by the professional virus. All of this is destined to befuddle a new person on what really works for alcoholics: the Twelve Steps as a continuing way of life.
    In our eagerness to be friendly with our friends we've been busily trading our spiritual birthright for a mess of psychiatric pottage. By profession Dr. Bob was a physician, but he helped alcoholics as an amateur. By profession Bill W. was a stockbroker, who helped alcoholics as an amateur. In the mid-1960s I spent three years as a member of a board of directors charged with dispensing two grants from the Eli Lilly foundation. One of the members was Dr. William Glasser, a prominent California psychiatrist and author of the best-selling book Reality Therapy. A couple of things that Glasser said have always stuck with me. One was, "If all the therapists disappeared today it wouldn't make any difference, because people would find someone else to talk to tomorrow." And the other was, "When you pay a therapist, you're buying a friend."
    The AA message is free. We don't buy it and we don't sell it because money corrupts the message. We give it away in gratitude for our own recovery. That's the forgotten meaning of Tradition Eight.
    We work with alcoholics for nothing because it's our privilege to help another breathe deeply in the life of the spirit and enjoy the vigorous healing generated by our program's principles. It doesn't work for money.

    Paul M.Riverside, Illinois

  26. The late Paul Martin, of Chicago was a long time AA member who got sober in 1946. Earl Treat, who founded AA in Chicago, and was sponsored by Dr. Bob, was Paul's first sponsor. Paul Martin passed away in 2009 with 63 years of sobriety.

    Paul pretty much sums up how I feel. Although I work in the "field," I am just a layperson. Other than my little talk that I give to detox patients once or twice a week, I don't counsel anyone for hire.

    Like I said, most of the staff where I work really don't seem to have a clue. They know a lot, but know nothing. One of them was pretty much on the same page as I am until she started going to school to get her CDP certification. Not long ago I was telling her how I used to be-the mood swings, the defiance, the hostility, the depression, and always drinking again, despite my best intentions. She says to me "You sound like someone who could have benefited from meds." I said to her "You sound like someone who is learning this stuff in college. I am certain that if I had been given meds that I would be dead right now." She looked at me and asked me why I said that. I told her that, as Tony said, that it would have just one more way around rather than through. There is another counselor that I talk to who said something that I totally agree with. She said "Nowadays it seems that we are more interested in treating the behavior rather than the disease."

    I was telling a friend of mine who is 33 years sober and "old school." that guys like us are considered dinosaurs by the new crowd. That is until they get their ass in a sling through repeated relapse or hitting the wall with untreated alcoholism.

    So be it, I'll be a dinosaur. But I'll be a contentedly sober dinosaur.

  27. And a fine dinosaur you are, Jim. I won't jump on the alcoholism treatment industry bandwagon as it disturbs my serenity. But I recall seeing a therapist a few years back who helped me a lot - personal family relationship issues, mostly. She was highly qualified to deal with alcoholics/addicts,too, although she was neither. I found in talking with her that she was in al-anon. When my alcoholism came up in talking with her, she said she already knew about it. She could tell when I walked in the door, she said. Her treatment? Told me to get my ass to AA. My kinda therapist.

  28. Love that stuff from Kunster's book JC.

    Jim, I'm up to part 4 now and would finish, but am off to my Monday Nighter.

    Paul Martin was a spiritual giant from the Jack Bauer Institute of Ass-kickery with a PhD in Muther-Fuckerology to boot. That stuff from Paul Martin is like sunlight, garlic, and a steak through the heart to the folks at ST and Orange clones from cyberspace.

  29. Thanks to all (especially Joe Cool) for the good feedback!
    McGowdog, you told me the same thing (about prayer being its own reward) last summer over at ST. I considered your words, stated that I would give them more thought, and promptly forgot about them in the confusion of daily life (which describes my style exactly).
    Many of the regulars at ST piled on you automatically, calling you "bat shit" crazy, etc. There are terms that describe people like those that condemn that which they don't understand, and I'm sure that you all know at least some of those terms.
    Anyway, I just picked up a new (to me) book today titled "The Way Out Of The Wilderness" and subtitled "Learn How Bible Heroes with Feet of Clay Are Models for Your Recovery", By Earl R. Henslin, Psy.D. (1991). Dr. Henslin is listed on the jacket as Chairman of the Board of Overcomers Outreach, a Christian 12-step ministry with 900 groups in 48 states and 5 countries.
    I'll begin this book as soon as I finish the one I'm reading now, and will let all know about any interesting or relevant passages. Also, in line with my habit of passing good books on, I'll ship the book at no charge to anyone here who might be interested in it once I'm done with it.

  30. I'm interested to see what you think of that book Ralph, being as my feet are made of clay as well.

  31. Hey Dowg, Just to keep you updated, your "newbie" on SR is up to 51 responses. The last one I read commented him for his brilliant observations. Yep, need more chlorine in the gene pool. I almost want to say something (I obviously haven't been thrown out yet) but I don't think I could do it without calling his bluff. Besides, he's fun to watch. It has to be a troll as no one could be that stupid. He's certainly bringing out the best in some of the morons who take him seriously, though.

    I've come across several references to Bill W. and his comment about repetition in writing steps 6 and 7 but can't find the damn specific quote. I need pedigree, not hearsay, and I know I came across the original quote a while back. Now I'm obsessed with the fucking thing. Another shortcoming I have to work on, I guess.

  32. Well I changed out about 4 chlorine containers about a month ago. You use an ammonia puffer to check for white smoke. Then you use SO^2 to neutralize the chlorine. Chlorine is nasty stuff.

    Take what you need and leave the rest!


    Hey Joe, that SR thread is a good one to stay out of.

    Here's a post from your buddy NLOL;

    "OTT and CableDude, the two of you have made the most sense in this whole thread.

    I have a confession. I am not a newcomer to AA, rather my history spans decades. Truth is, I was considering a return, and just wanted to know what was in the BB. Not having one, having thrown so many out, it was just easier to post. Now that it's confirmed I do not have to buy into all the nonsense, I can still go, but I will resist about 90% of the people I meet there or more, based on this single thread alone.

    How else could someone have known to post the kind of questions I did, were it not for a history of AA? I'm also smart enough to know that the only way to get a straight answer to a straight question is to not appear as a "retread." (what a concept).

    At any rate, if there is only a 5 or 10% chance I am likely to meet someone like the two of you there, those aren't great odds. So I'm still on the fence, and on the side of not going.

    Your smart, thoughtful, refreshing posts were most welcome. "

    Now that CarolD moved your post from the 12 Step subforum to the Alcoholism subforum and away from where it didn't belong, NLOL, you're free to go fuck yourself. If you think you need to go all the way to an A.A. meeting to find some assholes, you're missing the point. Just go find a mirror.

  33. Sadly, it's getting worse. Or better as I think it's funnier that hell. Hawksbill thinks NLOL is "brilliant!" Everyone is in awe of his penetrating questions. I am SO tempted to tell the guy to stop fucking around. I he wants to know what's in the Big Book, go buy one and read it. But don't go to an AA meeting please. You'd be that person that would finally make them change the membership requirement to exclude morons like yourself. Take your bi-polar, disassociated, self-centered, scientific, medicated, purist-approach, psychologically treated personality and check with the folks at ST. I'm sure they have the answers you seek.