Tag Archives: addiction

Will effective treatment for addiction ever become the norm?

Addiction is complex, yet simple. Addiction enables you to avoid uncomfortable feelings by escaping, not accepting, one’s reality. Addiction lives in the subconscious and mask’s one’s soul. It is fueled by denial.

The Atlantic’s The Irrationality of AA” reveals seldom talked about treatment options for addiction, but it’s title is curious.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and all the 12-step programs are spiritual programs. Spirituality, faith, is the opposite of rationality. Faith is based on believing in that which cannot be proven or seen, whereas rationality is based on facts, the tangible.

The article quotes AA as having a success rate of seven to eight percent. Good luck applying conventional statistics to 12-step programs. Anyone who has spent any amount of time hanging around addicts knows that someone trying to get clean or sober or cease any type of compulsive behavior, such as overeating or gambling, can try and fail 365 times in one year alone. If each time counts as a failure, then the statistics would be royally skewed.

Rip-off rehab
The Atlantic article tells the story of an attorney, J. G., who started drinking at 15:

He spent a month at a center where the treatment consisted of little more than attending AA meetings. J. G.’s rehab was a rip-off. The documentary The Business of Recovery documents the abundance of flawed rehab facilities throughout the U.S.

Offering only a spiritual remedy to a complex, insidious, and potentially terminal affliction would be akin to firing every medical doctor in every hospital and replacing them with shamans, ministers, and priests.

Addiction is complex, because it often masks many other issues such as mental illness, learning disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, poverty, toxic family and/or marital dynamics, consequences from a lack of nurturing or effective education during childhood, and disastrous career choices.

Neurobiology
Except behind the walls of most rehabs, it is no secret that neurobiology often plays a role in addiction ­— some of us are wired to respond dramatically to various drugs such as stimulants, opiates, and sugar. The Atlantic article points out that countries such as Finland routinely assess neurobiological factors in their addiction treatment facilities. The New York Times “The Sober Truth: Seeing Bad Science in Rehab” discusses the relationship between neurobiology and addiction.

Responsible rehab
Whatever brain genetics make someone more likely to be an addict, substances such as opiates further disrupt brain function and create overpowering cravings. Effective rehabs would offer addicts a systematic approach for rewiring their brains so that they don’t crave their fix and would teach how to develop positive habits to counteract occasional cravings. This could involve personality tests and interest surveys, goal setting, and work with addiction specialists, life coaches, and vocational counselors. You have to want something more than getting high, and you have to build support systems and take inventory of every individual in your life and every aspect of yourself.

Change is tough.

Working a program
Attending 12-step meetings can be inspirational, boring, annoying, or a waste of time. However, those motivated to “work a 12-step program” can learn effective life skills for free such as goal setting, practicing gratitude, introspection, accountability, and building a supportive network. For example, practicing gratitude, functions somewhat like cognitive behavioral therapy.

12-step programs are free
Although addiction is often the result of a tangled web of adversities/challenges, our mental health system is its own tangled web. Although 12-step programs are often not enough to address every aspect that led one to addiction, they are free and accessible.

Higher power
J.G. mastered the art of blame that is essential for every addict. He blamed AA for his relapses. J.G. says it was this message—that there were no small missteps, and one drink might as well be 100—that set him on a cycle of bingeing and abstinence.

The use of the word God also hung up J.G.— he must moonlight splitting hairs.

The concept of God baffles me too. However, I do understand the simple concept of higher power — there is something out there more important than myself. I do believe in the spiritual energy of the universe that is manifested in nature. The ocean. The sky.

Related links
Many others were taken aback by The Atlantic article. Here are a number of related links:

Psychology Today, Irrationality of AA? A critique of the article
Huffington Post, Spirituality vs. Science? A Rebuttal to The Atlantic Article, ‘The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous’
Addiction.com, The Irrationality of The Atlantic’s piece on AA (paste link
https://www.addiction.com/8449/the-irrationality-of-the-atlantics-piece-on-aa/)
New York, Why Alcoholics Anonymous Works
If You Work It, It Works!: The Science Behind 12-Step Recovery, a book by Joseph Nowinski, PhD

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Demi Lovato Scholarship

Mental illness and addiction are so often intertwined and seldom effectively treated together. One has to redesign one’s entire lifestyle to achieve mental health and serenity. Sometimes careers have to change. Often relationships have to change — negative individuals have to be weeded out.

Becoming a productive member of society and restoring one’s broken spirit is a process. Meaningful work and positive relationships are what keep someone fighting for their health.

Demi Lovato created The Lovato Scholarship, which covers holistic treatment and transitional living expenses for individuals struggling with mental health and/or addiction issues. CAST Recovery Services, one of the organizations who administers The Lovato Scholarship, offers:

  • Educational and career support including internships
  • Intensive outpatient services
  • Interventions
  • Legal assistance
  • Lifestyle coaching
  • Neurofeedback
  • Services for families
  • Sober companions

Twenty percent of the proceeds from Dream Walking will be donated to The Lovato Scholarship as the novel’s main character eventually overcomes her struggles with addiction and mental illness albeit with a lot of help.

 

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Crash Course in Bipolar Disorder

What is it like to experience manic or depressive episodes?  Read on…

  1. BP magazine at www.bphope.com
  2. Dr. Jay Carter and Bobbi Dempsey’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.
  3. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir An Unquiet Mind offers the unique perspective of a clinical psychologist, scholar, and author who has treated bipolar patients and who has been one herself.
  4. www.mcmanweb.com, “Recovery starts with knowledge… My name is John McManamy. I am an award-winning mental health journalist and author… Here, you will find 200 articles (plus videos) that will give you greater insight into your thoughts and feelings and behaviors and help you make your own choices in getting well and staying well.”
  5. Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar portrays the progressive negative thinking and alienation of a young woman slipping deeper and deeper into depression and eventually psychosis. At times darkly humorous, the protagonist’s case for attempting suicide seems almost logical.
  6. Dr. Sarah Russell’s A Lifelong Journey: Staying Well with Manic Depression / Bipolar Disorder, is authored by and contains interviews from healthy, productive individuals who have achieved long-term remission. Most pursue a holistic approach to treatment that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual remedies.

Often those who experience chronic depression or bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction whether it is food, drugs, alcohol, sex, unhealthy relationships, electronics, or whatever. Although neither of the following memoirs of addiction discusses bipolar disorder, they offer tremendous insight into the mind and soul of an addict and into the recovery process.

Many of the tools of recovery can be applied to maintaining remission from bipolar disorder.

  1. Cupcake Brown’s A Piece of Cake. Sixth-grade dropout, drug addict, sometime prostitute, and graduate of juvenile hall and several gangs, Cupcake Brown begrudgingly finds recovery and eventually embraces the process and ever so slowly transforms herself into a prominent attorney.
  2. Mark Gavreau Judge’s Wasted:  Tales of A Gen X Drunk is a fun read that offers the wisdom of someone who has been through recovery and some solid research on the biochemistry of alcoholism (as does www.radiantrecovery.com).

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