Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Outcomes of A.A. for Special Populations

So... I was directed to this little PDF here.

I'd like to hear your views on it.  It's written by Christine Timko and talks about why A.A. outcomes should be studied in  special populations... such as outcomes of A.A. for women, youth, older people, racial and ethnic groups... such as for African-Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, outcomes for Disabled Groups, Cognitive impairment, individuals with Dual Substance use and psychiatric disorders...

In the reference section, there's a reference to White Bison Inc., The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way, Colorado Springs.  This may be run by our friend Don C?

In any case, I've not looked it through much yet.  I'd like to check it out more and see what's good/bad about it.

It's a 30 page PDF that you can download if you'd like.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Another View


By Marya Hornbacher, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Kicked back with his boots on the table at the head of the smoke-dense room, the meeting's leader banged his fist and bellowed, “By the grace of this program and the blood of Jesus Christ, I’m sober today!”

I blinked.

This was not an auspicious beginning for the project of getting my vaguely atheistic, very alcoholic self off the sauce.

I wondered if perhaps I’d wandered into the wrong room. I thought maybe I’d wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous for crown-of-thorn Christians, and in the next room might find AA for lapsed Catholics, and downstairs a group for AA Hare Krishnas and one for AA Ukrainian Jews.

But a decade later, I’ve become aware that 12-step programs are home to people from every religion, denomination, sect, cult, political tilt, gender identity, sexual preference, economic strata, racial and ethnic background, believers in gun rights and abortion rights and the right to home schooling, drinkers of coffee and tea, whiskey and mouthwash, people who sleep on their sides or their stomachs or sidewalks.

Anyone who cares to sober up, in other words, can give it a shot the 12-step way. The official preamble Alcoholics Anonymous states: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

And millions of people want that and find a way to do it in this program. I’m one of them. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, a raging drunk. Now I’m not.

It wasn’t magic; it was brutally hard work to get from point A to B. I do believe I’d be dead without the help of the people and the structure of the steps in AA.

But I don’t believe in God.

And this can be something of a sticking point when you’re sitting in a meeting room, desperate for almost any route out of hell, and someone cites “the blood of Jesus” as the only way to go. Or when you realize that six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power, or He.

But this shouldn't be a deal breaker. I’m going to make a lot of old-style AA’s cranky with this, but it’s perfectly possible to sober up, sans belief in God.

At first that wasn’t clear to me. It’s unclear to most people because AA has a reputation as a cult, a religion unto itself, a bunch of blathering self-helpers, a herd of lemmings, or morons, and it isn’t those things either. It’s a pretty straightforward series of steps, based on spiritual principles, that helps people clean up their lives in a whole lot of ways.

But if you are of an atheistic or strongly agnostic mindset, chances are you’ll walk into a meeting, see the steps hanging on the wall, and want to scream, laugh, or walk back out.

I tried another tack: I made a valiant attempt to believe. I figured a) these people were funny, kind, and not plastered; b) they believed that some kind of higher power had helped them get sober; c) they knew something I did not.

So I did research. I read every word of AA literature I could find. I read up on the history of half a dozen important religions and a wide variety of frou-frou nonsense. I earnestly discussed my lack of belief with priests, rabbis, fanatics and my father.

People told me their stories — of God, the divine, the power of love, an intelligent creator. Something that made all this. Some origin, some end.

I told them I believed in math. Chaos, I said. Infinity. That sort of thing.

They looked at me in despair.

And not infrequently, they said, “So you think you’re the biggest, most important thing in the universe?”

On the contrary. I think I am among the smallest. Cosmically speaking, I barely exist.

Like anything else, I came into being by the chance, consist mostly of water, am composed of cells that can be reduced and reduced, down to the quarks and leptons and so forth, that make up matter and force. If you broke down all matter, the atom or my body, you’d arrive at the same thing: what scientists call one strange quark, with its half-integer spin.

And I find that not only fascinating, but wondrous, awe-inspiring, and humbling.

I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is humility. The recognition that we are flawed, that we can and must change and that our purpose not only in sobriety but in life is to be of service to others.

I believe that I exist at random, but I do not exist alone; and that as long as my quarks cohere, my entire function on this hurtling planet is to give what I can to the other extant things.

That keeps me sober. Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marya Hornbacher.

The Editors - CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: AtheismBeliefMy Take

Sunday, August 21, 2011



Arguing with someone who hates A.A. is a big waste of my time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

News, Addiction Now Defined As Brain Disorder, Not Behavior Problem

 This fun little topic keeps poping up.  Here's how it's presented at one of my message forums, City-Data.com/forum:

More specifically, 



Addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavior problem involving alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, experts contend in a new definition of addiction, one that is not solely related to problematic substance abuse.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) just released this new definition of addiction after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts.

Addiction Now Defined As Brain Disorder, Not Behavior Problem /New Definition of Addiction/Chronic/Disease & Substance Abuse/LiveScience


It says,

Addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavior problem involving alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, experts contend in a new definition of addiction, one that is not solely related to problematic substance abuse.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) just released this new definition of addiction after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts.

"At its core, addiction isn't just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem. It's a brain problem whose behaviors manifest in all these other areas," said Dr. Michael Miller, past president of ASAM who oversaw the development of the new definition. "Many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems and sometimes criminal acts. But the disease is about brains, not drugs. It's about underlying neurology, not outward actions."

The new definition also describes addiction as a primary disease, meaning that it's not the result of other causes, such as emotional or psychiatric problems. And like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, addiction is recognized as a chronic disease; so it must be treated, managed and monitored over a person's lifetime, the researchers say.

Two decades of advancements in neuroscience convinced ASAM officials that addiction should be redefined by what's going on in the brain. For instance, research has shown that addiction affects the brain's reward circuitry, such that memories of previous experiences with food, sex, alcohol and other drugs trigger cravings and more addictive behaviors. Brain circuitry that governs impulse control and judgment is also altered in the brains of addicts, resulting in the nonsensical pursuit of "rewards," such as alcohol and other drugs.

A long-standing debate has roiled over whether addicts have a choice over their behaviors, said Dr. Raju Hajela, former president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and chair of the ASAM committee on addiction's new definition.

"The disease creates distortions in thinking, feelings and perceptions, which drive people to behave in ways that are not understandable to others around them," Hajela said in a statement. "Simply put, addiction is not a choice. Addictive behaviors are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause."

Even so, Hajela pointed out, choice does play a role in getting help.

"Because there is no pill which alone can cure addiction, choosing recovery over unhealthy behaviors is necessary," Hajela said.

This "choosing recovery" is akin to people with heart disease who may not choose the underlying genetic causes of their heart problems but do need to choose to eat healthier or begin exercising, in addition to medical or surgical interventions, the researchers said.

"So, we have to stop moralizing, blaming, controlling or smirking at the person with the disease of addiction, and start creating opportunities for individuals and families to get help and providing assistance in choosing proper treatment," Miller said.

Please discuss...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So are you still Powerless... or are you now Powerful?

What's with this word Power being thrown around in A.A. discussion?

We came in as powerless, right?  Well no shit.  If we weren't powerless, we wouldn't have problems with booze amongst many other problems.  Now save your "But alcohol is not the problem" rant for a moment or five.

We come into A.A. with that state of consciousness whether we like it or not.  It just is.  In fact, we may have a myriad of other nasty states of consciousness such as; shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride...

But low and behold, the first thing we are hit with is that darned Serenity Prayer.  We are asked to be granted with acceptance, courage, and wisdom.  These states of consciousness are actually out of order... for courage should be first.  We are granted courage when we step up to the plate and admit we got a problem with booze and need Power to get past here.  We then may grow to the level of consciousness which is neutrality...  Neutrality!  Remember that one?  Then willingness, then acceptance.  When we get to acceptance, we not only accept our situation, but we come to accept the world.  We see that our problems are of our own making... that love is not something we obtain from out there... but it is produced from within.  We get away from the dichotomy of black and white, right and wrong... etc. 

From acceptance, we may advance to reason... that which is the place of doctors, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Einsteins, Frauds, etc.  But... is that far enough?  Not for the alky.  The book talks about Reason... and how it is good, but how me must bridge the shore of Reason to Faith... that which does not confuse the symbols for their true meaning.  Having interpretted a bunch of data and drawn a false conclusion, Reason does not in itself lead us to Truth.  Truth is knowable and attainable.

The real question is, do you want Power?  Do you want to get well?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The "Crux" of the Problem

"The monkey's off our back but the circus is still in town". So goes' the the ole saying, one which brings an immediate identification for most alcoholics that have been dry for any period of time. It becomes apparent as we try to integrate back into the society that we had turned our backs on (or never felt a part of to begin with) that we have a host of contorted emotional conflict within us. We carried around a toxic soup of misappropriated feelings and ideas about life that obviously weren't working. As we related to others we were content one minute, wanna kill some son-bitch the next! The jobs ok, then we felt like an incompetent idiot, may as well die!!!!... naw, just drink-the next minute. Periodically we would suffer from a relapse into a debilitating low self concept. Some innocuous social event occurs. An embracement, an attempt at humor in a social setting backfires, common place rejection in romance or business, we recoil into "tunnel thinking". Suddenly our entire life is defined by that one disproportionally uncomfortable moment. We have no peripheral memory of ever having done ANYTHING RIGHT! We cannot escape the moment; we cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again. This "sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink".

Drinking alcohol is not what was wrong with the alcoholic before he ever took his first drink. Booze was a solution that we stumbled upon, back when we didn't know there was anything wrong with our approach to life. We were not even aware that drinking was a solution to anything, we just naturally followed the well worn path between our house and the 7 Eleven. For most of us the "discovery" of alcohol marked a place of arrested emotional development, deterioration. We seemed to grow more irresponsible, more immature while the non-alcoholic people around us were steady, as if they intuitively knew how to live.

Dr. Carl Young pegged it when he explained to Rowland that a radical personality change brought on by a spiritual awakening is what needed to take place if any chance of permanent sobriety was to follow. He explained: "Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them" The AA text explains that we have being trying to get "a new attitude" towards life by way of a new relationship with our creator.

As alcoholics, drinking became the only normal life, but while we may have recovered from drinking, now we have to recover from "the crux of the problem". If not then we become so uncomfortable in our own skin that a return to drinking or even the thought of suicide looks attractive.

Colter K.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Making A.A. a safer place - Grassroots Movement??

I'm gonna go ahead and take on a topic that SR threw into the waste basket.

I'm actually surprised the thread lasted as long as it did... but after Carol and Company chopped it up, who knows how it ended? Sort of a funny reminder how some winded up here from time to time. I'd also like to make you aware that I was first directed to this topic from SR by none other than ST. So... it's a hot topic... one I think we are mature enough to discuss here. So, here goes;

The OP writes;

What does everyone think to this grassroots movement that seems to be happening in US to make people aware of as someone coined it 'the dark underbelly of AA' or as i would like to see it rougue individuals.

Does this flyer/poster seem alarmist and frighten people away, or does it raise important issues for newcomers as well as reminding longer term folk as well?

I know some groups have introduced wording into the start of the meeting about 13 stepping etc because people are worried about some of the things that have happened.

What are people's experiences in the past, is this new or has this been tried before? Have people seen other things happen on the ground or are there changes they would like to see?

So... a seemingly level-headed but proA.A.er says this,

Yeah I don't see any problem with individual meetings making a statement such as this. I can see why it has not been accepted by the GSO though, there is no message of recovery there, and it has nothing at all to do with AA as a program.

As far as 13th stepping... I don't get it, people get all up in arms about "Ohhh (s)he only has however much time, (s)he shouldn't be talking to them...." I've never understood this putting an arbitrary time stamp on new people, like after a year they are magically functional, after a year god suddenly removes the obsession? I had always been taught that I am only a newcomer until I've done the work and had a spiritual awakening. Sometimes this may occur in a week, sometimes in a year.

Also, why is the assumption that there is always distinct "victim" in these situations? Does this behavior not speak volumes to the state of both parties, that both are so desperate for a distraction, both more than willing to wrongly place their reliance upon another human that they mutually make the decision to do whatever feels good at the moment. Just because one hasn't had a drink for a while does not mean that they are healthy. And, to that end, the book is pretty clear on how to handle such people-as any other sick person.

In my experience, at least with the dudes, I pull them aside and pose this that type of question to them, especially if I notice that its a cyclic kinda behavior. Offer to help them do the work, again if necessary. Beyond that, its not my job to make sure these people are "safe". Its simply my job to carry a message to them, and yes, part of that message is that you cannot transmit something you haven't got, soooo if you haven't got it.... then stay away from the ladies.

Then the anti/XAers come back with allegations of the Midtown Group and Carol comes back with an admittedly nice take,

The MidTown allegations were investigated by the D.C. police
who declined to make arrest due to lack of evidence.

so please let's not get all tangled up with that.

The proAAer was given the final word before Dee boarded the thread up and sent the posters back up to bed without any porridge...

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, it sounds like you were in a really ****** position that never should have happened. Also sorry to hear you harbor such anger against a fellowship of people that had nothing to do with whatever happened instead of the individuals involved. If you were that 15 year old then police action hopefully was taken and you got your day in court. That kind of behavior should be stopped.

As far as being a dumping ground, you're right there are people in the rooms who likely are not alcoholics but get court ordered there. The unfortunate thing is, as you've seen on other threads here, there is no sure fire way to challenge these people and ask them to leave on that basis. Alcoholism is essentially a self diagnosis for the purposes of AA.

However, there are many who truly are alcoholics who happen to be sex offenders or other "low lifes" and there is no way we can or should prohibit these people from attending meetings. They are there for the same solution as the rest of us, they deserve the same shot at this thing as that "innocent" person walking in with a clean record.

Oh, and when it gets into breaking the law, then that is another issue. Then, there is something tangible where we as a society, outside and including the fellowship have come together to agree on a norm. And as such authorities should be contacted and people should be reported, just as if it was a youth sports league, school, etc.

But, the stereotypic "low life" "preying" on a new girl... sorry, he deserves his seat as much as she does if they are both alcoholic.


So, what's my take on the deal?

In A.A., we are a bunch of wretched sinners!  I personally would like to encourage any lurker, AAer, potential AAer, etc. to go to an A.A. meeting and just observe.  Before you judge your bretheren... which Jesus says you must do... but to do so carefully... look first at your own motive... your own life.

Judge not lest you be judged... but woe unto you hippocrite... that spites thy brother for the splinter in his eye... whilst not first removing the mote in thine own eye! ... or some such thing.  I paraphrase!

I think the Carpenter rocks!  I'm going to go to a meeting tonight and recite the Lord's Prayer extra loudly in His honor!  I'm gonna say "Evil" extra fucking loudly for the pussy-fuck new-ageys who say "ego" or "self" or some such bullshit.

We humans are evil!  We're evil every fucking time we avoid pain and suffering of looking at our own mortality and pathetic petty fucking lives and when we use our own mental abnormalities or whatever is handy to cast our guilt or pain out on another to avoid our own quest to not be uncomfortable.

If somebody propositions you and it's not welcomed, kick them in the fucking balls and scream "RAPE!"

What the fuck is so hard about that?  If you don't want to be 13th Stepped , quit spreading your legs!

How fucking simple is this?

Same thing goes with your money.  If someone tries to con you, walk away and or say "No!" or scream "Beggar Beggar Beggar!" and point to the offender!

I empower you, with my pompus arrogance.  Or you can hang up the sign, but you need to first post the sign to your own fucking head!  Your own motives start with you. 

Do you want to go to this A.A. meeting or not?  If so, why?  Is it to preach your anti-Christian agenda?  Is it to score?  Are you lonely?  Or is it because you might have "it" and want to help your fellow people?  Or might it be because you're a real alky who doesn't know what you're gonna do to stay sober and you are honestly afraid to drink again because you don't yet have "it" and you might be vaguely aware that you cannot not drink booze left to your own devices?



Mopar tuneup pics

Some update pics on my Chryler.  It's going back under the knife.  Take note of the exhaust (front) valve for cylinder #5... how it sticks up a bit.  Yup.  Valve seat is shot and I'm getting a new valve job.  This is why I was driving around on 7 cylinders.  Not too shabby, but I'm looking forward to getting all 8 up and running again.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The Puzzling Role of Religion in Recovery

Alcoholics who report “spiritual experiences” do better at the 9-month mark. God might be optional, but so-called spiritual experiences—and an increased attitude of forgiveness—seem to give alcoholics an edge during the first year of recovery, say psychiatric workers at the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center. Like it or not, AA and most other 12-Step programs have a “God as you understand it” clause. Sometimes the emotional impulse that kicks off a successful recovery comes in a form identified as “spiritual.” Recent arguments over the issue have threatened to split Alcoholics Anonymous into warring camps. While AA diehards battle with secular 12-Steppers over the issue of spirituality and religion, Elizabeth Robinson and coworkers at the University of Michigan have been trying to look at the picture apart from the AA universe. As Robinson puts it, “prior studies have been limited to treatment-seeking and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) samples.” So the Michigan group recruited 364 volunteers from abstinence-based treatment centers, a moderation drinking program, and untreated individuals from the local communityThe researchers measured the spiritual and religious belief structure of the alcoholics at the beginning of the survey period, and again at six months. They collected reports of spiritual and religious experiences during that time, and used this data to predict who would show a “good drinking outcome” at nine months. Robinson says that participants who reported “increases in day-to-day spiritual experiences” were the most likely to be free of heavy drinking episodes 3 months later. The definitions are vague, and the study is fraught with “confounding variables,” as the researchers like to say, but Robinson and her co-workers say that the best outcomes were found in volunteers who had daily spiritual experiences, and who showed increases in psychological measures of “forgiveness” and “purpose in life.” The three-year study suggested to Robinson that spirituality, so called, “was not necessarily a matter of believing in one interpretation of God, or even belief in a God of any kind…. The relationship between spirituality and likelihood of recovery was unrelated to whether a person took part in AA or not.”


I ran across this at "The Fix" web site and thought it was sort of interesting. I wonder why the "9 month" mark keeps popping up. This seems to be a hurdle for us alcoholics - GSO reports that the 9 month chip is the least given out. My personal experience is that it was always between 8 and 9 months that I went back out again. Maybe the spiritual experience was something I was missing at the time. Dunno.