Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Marvin S eppala, M.D., is the chief medical officer of Hazelden, a private not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment program
I learned of four addiction-related deaths this weekend. Three were people I knew in Portland, Oregon, recovery circles and the fourth was Amy Winehouse.
Tragically one must get used to such news if you spend a lot of time with those who have this disease. Whenever someone with addiction dies, I grieve the lost potential and wonder about the limitations of our ability to address this cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
I am also humbled by my own experience with addiction and recovery, and grateful for the help I received.
It seems nearly impossible to believe that people with addiction would continue to use drugs and alcohol to the point of death, but that is what people with addiction do: They deny both the consequences and the risks of using. As we continue to learn about addiction, we’re understanding more about why addicted people behave the way they do. But that’s little solace for friends and family.
Addiction is a brain disease, and our knowledge of it has expanded significantly, which has informed our treatment programs and altered our perceptions. We know that addiction resides in the limbic system, a subconscious part of our brain that is involved with memory, emotion and reward.
We refer to this area of the brain as the reward center, as it ensures that all rewarding or reinforcing activities, especially those associated with our survival, are prioritized. The reward center makes sure we survive by eating, drinking fluids, having sex (for survival of the species) and maintaining human interactions.
In late stages of addiction we can see how reward-related drives, especially those for survival, are reprioritized when people risk their families, their jobs, even their lives to continue to use drugs and alcohol. The continued use of the drug becomes the most important drive, at a subconscious level and unrecognized by the individual, undermining even life itself.
When a methamphetamine-addicted mother makes the nightly news after neglecting her children for four days while on a meth run, we can’t comprehend how anyone could do such a thing and tend to think she does not love her children. She may have been going out for groceries with the intent to return home and feed her children, but ran into a dealer and started using.
Addiction took over, and she was driven by subconscious forces even though she loves her children as much as I love mine. Her love and her natural instincts to care for and nurture her children were overridden by her own brain, the reward system reprogrammed to seek and use drugs at all costs. Unbeknownst to her, drug use has become the most important thing in her life.
When we witness the incomprehensible behaviors associated with addiction we need to remember these people have a disease, one that alters their brain and their behaviors. We tend to believe we all have free will, so it is difficult to understand how the addicts' perception has been so altered as to drive them to destruction.
We also assume they can make their own decisions, especially when it comes to help for their addiction. In so doing we are expecting the person with a diseased brain to accept the unacceptable, that the continued use of drugs is not providing relief from the problem - it is the problem, and they need to stop that which has become paramount.
They are unable to make such decisions because their brains have been altered to prioritize use of the drugs, even above survival itself.
Relief of psychic pain, the real, unimaginable pain of addiction, is part of the problem. People have many reasons for seeking relief from pain; some pain precedes the addiction, but most pain is the result of the addiction.
The addicted neglect their primary relationships and they may lie, cheat and steal to continue drug use. And they know this at some level, they recognize their uncontrolled behaviors, but they can’t change, they can’t stop.
Hopelessness becomes a way of life. Self-loathing, shame and guilt become the norm as the consequences of continued drug use accumulate.
They use drugs to ease the pain, but the very remedy exacerbates the problem. The answer to their dilemma goes unrecognized due to the neurobiological changes that have occurred in their brains.
The good news is that treatment is effective and specifically designed to help people recognize the problem within. Most people are coerced into treatment for one reason or another; they may be facing legal issues, job loss or divorce.
With good treatment their likelihood for recovery and abstinence is just as good as the minority who seek treatment of their own accord. Unfortunately, less than 10% of those with addiction recognize they have it and seek treatment.
This is the primary reason people don’t seek help. Our largest public health problem goes unrecognized by those with the disease.
Every one of these deaths is tragic. They died of a disease that lies to them. Amy Winehouse had incredible musical talent that enthralled the masses, but she became known as much for her struggle with addiction.
We can safely watch such a tragedy, gawking as we drive by the destruction, insulated from the suffering and unable to help. But addiction is all around us and we need to respond to the rising death toll.
All of us are responsible for learning the truth about addiction, raising awareness and intervening for those who have this disease, knowing they are unlikely to be able to do for themselves.__________________________________________________________________
I came across this tonight, read it several times and said "Huh!" Less than 10% of those addicted to any drug, and I'll focus on alcohol here, recognize that they're alcoholics? Thus intervention is the answer? Maybe from Hazleden's perspective, but my experience has shown intervention to be one of the least effective modes of getting someone into treatment. This guy makes it sound like we have half the population of the country stumbling around drunk and not having a clue that something's wrong. Thus the rest of the country needs to educate themselves to force the alcoholics into treatment centers.
Yeah, that's the ticket. Force them all in... Don't bother with the little details of how you determine a person is a real alcoholic (or not). And while they're in there for 28 days, run them through the 12 steps and show them what AA should really be like. I'll stop before I go on a rant.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Seiberlings place and influence in the fortuitous events that lead up to that providential meeting are not well known in AA lore. As a non-alcoholic Oxford grouper she had already been working with Dr. Bob, arranging for him to attend the weekly meeting at T. Henry’s house. There Dr. Bob would for the first time make the “group confession”; "Well, you good people have all shared things that I am sure were very costly to you, and I am going to tell you something which may cost me my profession. I am a silent drinker, and I can't stop." The common practice of introducing ourselves as alcoholics at the opening of our meetings has it’s origin in this practice of “group confession”. Dr. Bob was then asked “Do you want to go down on your knees and pray?" And he said, "Yes." So they did. That was several weeks prior to meeting Bill Wilson for the first time.
A couple of years earlier in January 1933, Henrietta’s father in-law Harvey Sr. and his son, Russell "Bud" Firestone, sponsored an Oxford movement event at the Mayflower hotel there in Akron. Firestone Sr., by way of his minister, Dr. Walter Tunks, personally hosted the big dinner and brought Dr. Frank N.D. Buchman, the founder of the Oxford movement to Akron. This was all in appreciation for the help the group had given his son “Bud” with his drinking problem. Seiberling described the Oxford group as a “movement which tried to recapture the power of first Century Christianity in the modern world, and a quality of life which we must always exercise”. Henrietta attended that revival styled event where she heard Buchman’s talk wherein he exclaimed to the audience “get right with God”! She did and became a devoted member.
Fast forward to Bill W’s stay in Akron when Bill found himself pacing the lobby of that very same hotel. Tempted to drink, he sees the Bar on one side, and a church directory on the other. He asked for “guidance” in prayer, it came. He went to the directory and put his finger on one random name out of a list. That name was Dr. Walter Tunks. Tunks would direct Bill to Seiberling, of all people. The rest is history.
Bill Wilsons former “preaching” in New York had proved a failure. Now, In his desperate shape, away from home, without a sponsor, discouraged by the collapse of his business interest in Akron, it would seem that he was once again humbled by the reality of the temptation to drink at the Mayflower hotel. It was in a cooperative state of mind that Bill would help himself by helping another man, an equal in the dilemma.
So then and there a founding protocol was established, that brand of AA that was transmitted in unscripted sincerity between Seiberling, Bill and Doctor Bob, between Bill, Bob and AA number one, in T. Henry's living room, on their knees upstairs with a the new man, then regularly at the King School in Akron, between the non-alcoholic Oxford group members and the drunks coming in for help. In all of these occasions God was a welcome and assumed presence.
That was the brand of love, living love, pre text book love, the love that sparked the connection of understanding compassion when one alcoholic worked with another. We can still practice that Love, minus the doctrinal lectures, without over analysis paralysis, without the over specialization that has at times transfigured the solution back into a mystery. There was the simple, one on one phenomenon that was being practiced in the years prior to the advent of our basic text. Make the decision, clean house and trust God, live a decided life each day, share your faith experience, for that was the CORE solution of the AA frontier. That was before we began to parse words and use 1930's dictionaries and further research their Latin origins, before our message took on a more wholesale narrative, often parroting another instead of trusting the power of God, allowing the “spirit of truth” to do it’s own work and telling our story of how we got out.
Seiberling is also credited for her influence in the formative principles which became the 12 Traditions of AA. She was part of the “inner circle” who early objected to the idea of sanitariums or hospitals being considered by Bill, Bob and Anne Smith, Dr Bobs wife. Sieberling insisted "No, we'll never take any money!” On the topic of anonymity she recalled “Another way where I saw that the devil could try to destroy us was having prominent names.”
In latter years Sieberling proved to be somewhat of a “thorn in the side” of AA as she felt it had evolved away from the simplistic God centered meetings of its earlier years. She recounted: "And I tried to give to the people something of my experience and faith. What I was most concerned with is that we always go back to faith". This brings me to the third thing that would be destructive to the early days, Bob and Bill said to me. "Henrietta, I don't think we should talk too much about religion or God." I said to them, "Well, we're not out to please the alcoholics. They have been pleasing themselves all these years. We are out to please God. And if you don't talk about what God does, and your faith, and your guidance, then you might as well be the Rotary Club or something like that. Because God is your only source of power." And finally they agreed. And they weren't afraid any more. It is my great hope that they will never be afraid to acknowledge God and what he has done for them.
“The last AA dinner that I went to, over 3,000 people were there. And it was the first meeting that I went to which I was disappointed in. There were two witnesses there, a man and a woman, and you would have thought they were giving you a description of a psychiatrist's work on them. Their progress was always on the level of psychology. And I spoke to Bill afterwards and I said that there was no spirituality there or talk of what God had done in their lives. They were giving views, not news of what God had done. And Bill said, "I know, but they think there were so many people that need this and they don't want to send them away." So there again has come up this same old bugaboo - without the realization that they have lost their source of power.” [source; Transcript of Henrietta's remarks presented at Founder's Day, June 10, 1971]
In the 1950’s Sieberling was living on Park Ave in New York, She was by then very disturbed by the direction AA had taken. In a letter to Clarance S. of Cleavland, himself a founding member of the first AA group meeting she would write,
"A lot of people up here are buffaloed into being "W.W.s" (Wilson Worshipers) instead of "A.A.s'." Notice that A.A. is at the beginning & WW is at the end, even of the alphabet."
She also wrote Clarence,
"Bill will stand exposed for the show off that he is. He is so empty that as you know Anne [Smith] begged me to do a little "missionary work" on him. She [Anne Smith, Dr. Bob's wife] was sorry to have heard him at the last banquet she came to hear."
Upon the death of Dr Bob in June 1953 Henrietta wrote Clarence S. again about A.A.'s memorial Grapevine issue for Dr. Bob. She wrote:
“I can't really read it through because the truth is so doctored up to suit Bill's claims. - The telephone conversation involving me is utterly false & all of it so 'slanted' - I wish he would have left me in the anonymity I have kept” [source How It Worked THE STORY OF CLARENCE H. SNYDER
AND THE EARLY DAYS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS IN CLEVELAND, OHIO]
Henrietta Buckler Seiberling died December 5 1979 at her Park Ave. home In New York. She was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame on October 21, 1998, “best remembered for her pivotal role in the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Also, what is the spiritual approach and why is it effective with alcoholics?
What is A.A.s definition of a "real alcoholic" and is it valid today?
Did Bill and Bob and the authors of the Alcoholics Anonymous book know what they were talking about with regards to being an alcoholic?
Did the A.A. fellowship of 1938 know anything about "alcoholism"? Have advancements about "alcoholism" from then to now made a difference with alcoholics and addicts?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I think this should be asked of every new person prior to coming to the meeting... and be asked to have an open mind to your first step.
Am I an alcoholic? Well am I? How do I find out?
One good way is to go back into my own experience. Look at how I drank booze. Not so much looking at the drama or outer circumstances, but how was it with me and booze? How was it when I tried to control my drinking? Why did I feel the need to control my drinking? How was I when I was abruptly separated from booze once I had a good drunk started?
Ultimately, could I control the amount once I started, and/or, could I stay stopped for something like a year on my own power. When I read pages 30, 31, 32, 33, etc... I start to understand why I might just be an alcoholic.
It's also good to know what an alcoholic isn't. What is a hard drinker? What is a moderate drinker? A teetotaler? Can a hard drinker cross the line and become a real alky? Well, evidently yes. And once an alky, always an alky. But not just anybody can get drunk and become an alcoholic. It's complicated, but it just doesn't work that way. Alcoholism is a very selective malady and tests have been done to support this "theory" if you will. I like what a book Under the Influence says about the matter. But I don't like the doc's plan for recovery.
That's all we need, is another plan, right?
But I was given the dignity to find out for myself whether I was an alky or not. I was not forced, coerced, rushed, etc. into AA. I was given the dignity to come to my own conclusion and act accordingly. At one point, my group had to watch me fight recovery and go out and drink again. As the book say, alcohol is the Great Persuader. For it finally and once again "beat me into a state of reasonableness."
When I came back in, they said I looked whipped. They said I was quiet, scared, and didn't seem to have a plan. For me, that was the start of my first step. But I was given the gift of "being open to my first step" and follow the path of consideration.
To partake in a spiritual excercise, you have to start with a question, not an answer.
It was not necessary that I drink again because for one thing, that's dangerous for a guy like me. I could have died or killed people. But... I got in fear and refused to deal with it. Another plan is to see how well you stay sober on your own power. If neither that nor trying some controlled drinking doesn't work, you're probably an alcoholic.
Coming to the realization that you're an alcoholic should be a scary one. It was for me. For, left to my own devices, I will drink again. And for me to drink again means
So this idea of a God personal to me becomes pretty believable. That's how the 1st step shakes out for me. It's not just the 1st step as listed on the Step Scroll or on page 60. It's everything from Title Page, preface, forwards, Dr's Opinion, Bill's Story, There is a Solution, More about Alcoholism, and a paragraph on We Agnostics... other known as the Bedevilments... "We were having problems with personal relationships..."
And if you'll notice, the first 8 pages of Bill's Story is his drunkalog. You can ask yourself "How did I drink, think and feel like Bill?" Pages 9-16 was what he did to recover.
Up to page 23 or so... that's the physical "craving of booze" when it's in my body. From right after that to about page 43, that's the mental obsession or when alcohol is not in my body, but in my mind; the mental obsession. Then the bedevilments on page 52 talk to me about the spiritual malady, or my life without God, whether I'm sober or not.
Step 1, for me it didn't happen over night.
I posted this probably on my first day at SR and I like the responses that follow it. If I was asked right now what my thoughts are on step one, they would simply center around the 2 issues of control, me with a drink in my body and me with no booze in my system, but reaching for that next first drink... and what exactly was going through my mind at the time.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Alcohol has been around for thousands of years. Alcoholics and/or alcoholism has been around for thousands of years.
Since 1935, we’ve not really advanced too far in the realm of science, medicine, psychology, the understanding of human nature and behavior, the realm of spirituality and religion, etc.
All we’ve done since 1935 is advanced a bit with regards to applications of advancements made over the last few hundred years and beyond.
If anything, we’ve gone backwards in many ways.
It seems a very old-fashioned way of doing things, those 12 Steps. Maybe not so. Maybe doing a set of steps, getting yourself prepared to do that one-on-one recovery with a thirsty yet whipped drunk is an old and proven ancient technique, but it got lost in the shuffle… or wasn’t properly documented and/or written down. Who knows? I do know this; the way I was shown… which looks an awful lot like the 164, sure does seem more and more sensible.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
As one of our eternal mentors (Don) says, "We don't look for our part, because that would assume they have a part in this." Their "part" is of no matter when we're making amends to someone. Whether they have a "part" or not is of no consequence here. If you go into an amend expecting a reciprocal amend, you may be disappointed. To go into it with that expectation may kill the spirit of the whole deal.
Don says that freedom comes in the 6th Step, or the willingness to turn loose of the defect. How can you even see your "part" if you're thinking about their "part"?
It seems like such a huge and simple deal. I can think back to instances where I got free of the defect or did not based on this simple principle.
And on another note, I'm sorry if the removal of some recent posts deleted your comments. The reasoning was that it just did not reach those it was intended for and may have created undue pressure on the recipient. I tend to want answers now rather than considering anothers' reason for posting or not posting. My friend Roger claimed that he couldn't figure out how to post here, but he hasn't called me or emailed me either. Maybe he's just too busy.
Karl and TonyJ, idk. I just don't feel like I should bother them anymore and I wish them well. I've talked to them on the phone in the past and I felt like we left things on good terms. My phone works both ways, so I'll leave them be, but they are missed.
I did a stupid thing over at Stinkin' Thinkin' by even posting over there, but I made mention of Danny B as a such and such pissant or something like that. He found that and responded with an insulting response to me. I was wrong for even mentioning him in that company. I'm going to have to pay for that action.
I want Danny to know that I don't care what he thinks of me. I don't share his assement of me. I'm not a pussy in any way. My sexual orientation is straight in every way. Not that any other is wrong for you. It just is what it is for me. I don't care what you think about our blog and its lack of traffic. I don't care about your blog, your assessment of me, my level of sobriety and spirituality, and my Maker, etc. I just want you to go away. We are done. I would offer to leave you alone and would request you to leave me alone. I don't want what you got and you obviously don't want what I got.
That I'm trying to imagine a world where I've put aside my "rights" and my need to fight, to push back, etc. does not mean I'm going to be any good at it. I've found a path to sobriety and I'm seeking a way to communicate that in a more effective manner. I've still got some defects of character that are not going away over night. This will take time. Maybe my mistakes and subsequent suffering will expedite this process. I hope so anyway.
Hope this post finds you all well. I've got to get ready for work. Have a good day.