March 25, 2014
I 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 at-Salon.com
March 21, 2014
Posted by shesonthewayback under AA
, Cravings for a Drink
, Journal to Recovery
| Tags: addiction
, alcohol abuse
, alcohol addiction
, alcohol cravings
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.
May 20, 2011
Posted by shesonthewayback under AA
| Tags: AA anonymity
, alcohol abuse
, on the wagon
, recovery stigma
, stigma of alcoholism
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.”
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.
March 6, 2011
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.
March 5, 2011
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.
March 3, 2011
While a lot of recovery programs emphasize rational thinking, a new approach similar to a video game focuses on impulses. As with any addiction, like smoking or overeating, we can know all the reasons in the world why we should not be reaching for that cigarette or third serving or drink. It can even feel like it’s another person inside us with impulses beyond our (the conscious mind’s) control.
In a recent study at the University of Amsterdam patients engaged in “video-game-like ‘approach-avoidance tasks’; pushing or pulling a joystick in response to images on a screen.” After 4 short sessions the patients were assessed for their craving for alcohol. The participants “approach bias for alcohol had changed to an avoidance bias,” while the control group showed no changes. Three months of cognitive behavior therapy followed.
A year later 59% of the control group had relapsed, compared to 46% of the joystick players. It isn’t an amazing success rate, but the method shows promise.
Maybe someone creative will develop a version for avoidance strengthening at home.
February 28, 2011
Choose your movies carefully, a new study published in theThe Journal of Neuroscience shows that
“in addition to activating brain areas linked to addiction, watching movies in which people smoke activates brain areas that drive the body movements a smoker makes hundreds of times a day while puffing on a cigarette. The physical habit of reaching for a cigarette and moving it up for a drag is learned so well that watching people smoke in the movies makes brain areas responsible for those movements more active, which could contribute to relapse.” (via Huffington Post)
They found that smokers leaving movies where actors were shown smoking were more likely to crave a cigarette. “Smokers trying to quit are frequently advised to avoid other smokers and remove smoking paraphernalia from their homes, but they might not think to avoid a movie with smoking content.”
The American Lung Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have tried to prohibit smoking in movies for years. What about drinking?