Saying When: How to quit drinking or cut down

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My favorite-


Wow I feel everything with a noticeable heightened sensitivity.  This includes emotions, muscle pain, sense of smell, hearing, and taste.  My nose is so sensitive to smells I am ALWAYS saying “it smells like ___ in here”, or whoa, it smells SO strong.  My emotions are crazy,




Alchohol Free Girl

Sober TruthI wish AA worked, it just doesn’t, despite being mimicked as the way to recover from every malady and bad habit you can think of. If it truly was the way to a new lifestyle America would look like a very different place. A new book by Lance Dodes, MD, “The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry”  takes a close look at the science and statistics and shows the dismally low success rate-only 5-10%. Sadly, when it doesn’t work for the remaining 90-95% of people that try it, they are the ones blamed, not the program.

Thank goodness the facts about AA are being made more public. It will open doors for more research and exploration of alternate ways besides the mainstream assumption that AA is The Way.

Read an excerpt




Tsunami I grew up in the Caribbean, so weekends were spent at the beach. During hurricane season the waves were extra big. Sometimes we’d be swimming and see a big, big swell, a way far out, on its way towards land and we’d try as hard as we could to get to safety on the shore, but the undertow would already be grabbing us and sucking us down like the strongest vacuum cleaner ever and we couldn’t escape from it until we were sucked down and our faces were smashed into the sand way beneath it and we couldn’t breathe. Finally, when we thought for sure we were going to die, the wave would tumble us out on the shore and we would look up at our mothers with sand up our noses and they would still be laughing and talking away. I had nightmares for years, feeling the suction pulling me down, no matter how hard I tried to pull away.

As I was awakening this morning I had the old familiar sickening feeling in my whole body, my whole being. This time I’m trying to pull away from the clutching, clawing grasp of alcohol. I’m not sure I can escape. I’ve been trying for 40 years. This time though, someone is watching. My love is standing on the shore yelling, “I love you, I love you.” He’s desperately wanting to save me but he can’t swim. He knows it’s all up to me. He’s waving something up high for me to see. I catch a glimpse of the photo of my boys. Now, he’s pointing to his heart and gesturing as if to open it to let the love flow out to me. I can’t leave their love. I have to make it to the shore.

David Colman wrote a fascinating article last week , in the New York Times, Challenging the Second A in A.A., discussing the opposing, strong opinions about AA’s insistence on maintaining member anonymity.  Below are some of the highlights.

The timing is interesting, at a time when defenders of abortion rights are wearing T-shirts in an effort to reduce the stigma of obtaining an abortion. Their concept is that as long as the popular perception of a social/health problem is hidden, it is easy to believe that it is only individuals very different from ourselves that have it.

It is much easier to rail against a benefit for “deviants”, if one thinks that it is only strange, immoral people with lack of will-power that have unwanted pregnancies or drink too much or even suffer from mental illness.  Catherine Zeta-Jones came out publicly last month, acknowledging her treatment for bipolar disorder in a similar move.

Susan Cheever, in an essay  “Is It Time to Take the Anonymous Out of A.A.?”, states that since a recent SAMHSA survey shows that a majority of Americans have a positive attitude about people in recovery “the argument that anonymity protects people from being stigmatized seems less and less germane.” She continued-“We are in the midst of a public health crisis when it comes to understanding and treating addiction. A.A.’s principle of anonymity may only be contributing to general confusion and prejudice.”

The editor of the new recovery Web magazine The Fix, Maer Roshan, says that “Having to deny your own participation in a program that is helping your life doesn’t make sense to me.” He also commented on the similarities between the gay/lesbian world and the AA model, in regards to anonymity. Remember the bumper stickers promoting the reality check-“SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS GAY”?

“The recovery world is now where the gay world was then. Back then, there was a still a stigma to saying you were gay. There was a community, but it was mired in self-doubt and self-hatred, and it’s changed considerably. Not just gay people, but the perception of gay people has changed. There’s a lot of secretiveness and shame in the recovery world, too, but that’s changing.”

Coleman states, “More and more, anonymity is seeming like an anachronistic vestige of the Great Depression, when A.A. got its start and when alcoholism was seen as not just a weakness but a disgrace.”

Novelist Molly Jong-Fast,  said “I don’t want to have to hide my sobriety; it’s the best thing about me.”

Another comment-

 I am 25 years in recovery, and have been out there fighting for the rights of people in recovery, and I’m sick and tired of people in A.A. meetings not lifting a finger to do anything about it. They hide behind anonymity — if you don’t tell anyone else that recovery works, that’s what you’re doing. That’s not how A.A. got to be where it was.

-Very provocative and challenging statements. Should we start wearing T-shirts, too?

Go to the NYTimes For the complete article.

Do you find yourself assuring yourself that you will never allow yourself to feel so miserable again. You realize fully that last night, once again, you seem to have forgotten how lousy overdrinking makes you feel. You well know your limit, but somehow, when the number of drinks is getting close to it, you are feeling so good that it doesn’t seem to matter for the moment.

Some evidence , discussed in Willpower and Reward Myopia, shows that exercising  our short-term memories might help with our frequent short-sightedness.

The researchers call the problem “delay discounting,” that is, devaluing future rewards and punishments. The research was conducted with adults addicted to stimulants. The result was an improvement of 50% in reducing this problem, simply through neurocognitive training, that is, memory exercises.

Take a look at a short video by Dr. Marc Kern that compares the life of substance abuse to a carousel. We may have the sensation of going somewhere, but it’s only up and down movement-getting high or a buzz and then going down again into depression and remorse, over and over and over again-finding ourselves right back where we started. It sure isn’t “merry.”

Watching it made me look at my header above. The title for my blog is “She’s on the Way Back,” and I had imagined my journey as linear. Now, as I look at the car, I’m noticing that the tunnel is circular.  Hmmm.


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