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Showing content with the highest reputation on 06/24/2009 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    As I have posted elsewhere, I take a dim view of pharmaceuticals in general because of their over marketing and overprescription to serve "big pharma's" profit margins. That being said, back in 2002 when I was at the height of my gambling behavior, I was prescribed naltrexone by a psychiatrist to try to reduce the pleasure associated with gambling and thereby to diminish the gambling urge. I took it exactly as prescribed and it made no difference: I gambled just as much as before. Naltrexone blocks opiate receptors in the brain and I had the misfortune to be in a bad car accident during the time I was taking it. I broke my femur in several places as well as my sternum (ribcage). The pain was excruciating and I was on a drug that would prevent any painkillers from working! Eventually, painkillers worked, my leg was operated on and I walk normally now after much physical therapy, etc. My point is twofold: 1) The idea that a drug that blocks one kind of neurotransmitter will stop gambling is enormously simpleminded. This is because there is a whole cascade of chemical reactions that occur in the addicted brain as a result of (and as a cause of) compulsive gambling and opiates are one small aspect of it. My second point is more important and echoes what Allen has said: A pill is not the sole answer to the severe social, emotional, and behavioral problems of addiction. My recovery from compulsive gambling has enabled me to have a decent, orderly life for the first time in my memory. The recovery came from therapy and my using the rational, conscious thought process to deliberately make changes in my behavior. No pill can substitute for the hard emotional work that this has required. I also agree that recovery from addiction is about relationships and rebuilding interpersonal ties that are strained or even severed by the addictive process. Good food for though JR and Allen!
  2. 1 point
    Hi John As a Secular person I find that a Secular person is first faced with the out right derogatory statements by AA Literature toward Secular people. Then there is the smaller passive-aggressive AA Literature anti Secular Statements. For example the Literature makes blanket statements about Secular people such as we are doing things alone or do not believe in anything bigger than we are. Then there is the AA Promise that we can use a God of our understanding. Now if AA Literature was a legal contract I would sue for the right to use anything or nothing as the God of my understanding. I would love for the image of AA to finally degrade to the point where the membership will finally be moved to fix all the mistakes in AA that hurt and even kill some people. That being said I do go to meetings for the goodness of the AA members, not that the Literature or Foundation merit attendance. AA is like a necessary evil for me. Abbadun
  3. 1 point
    I've been in AA for some years and the only rules I've identified are to do with anonymity, confidentiality, and avoiding bringing AA into disrepute. We have guidelines for how groups are run, but these are not rules. They are disregarded when it is seen fit by the group's conscience. There are no rules regarding recovery. Some people choose to study and follow the 12 step program. Some do not. In the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" it says "These are the steps we (the early members) took which are suggested as a program of recovery". It is just a suggestion. In my experience those who do the steps live more contented lives than those who don't. No one tried to force me to do the 12 steps, that was my own choice. The 12 step program is "spiritual". What does that mean? According to one of my dictionaries spiritual means "highly refined in thought and feeling". I think of it as "pertaining to the higher emotions". Some find this through religion but in my experience most do not. They find it, as I did, through practising the 12 steps. There are good things and bad things going on in my life. I deal with the bad things when I need to but I cherish the good things. Before I came to AA I dwelt on the bad things and forgot about the good. Now I do the opposite. That has taken away one very powerful excuse to drink. Most drinking alcoholics feel an enormous amount of guilt and shame when they've not consumed enough alcohol to anaesthetise themselves. When we get sober that doesn't go away, at first it may intensify. AA does not make us do this. It happens naturally. We need to deal with these feelings or they will never go away. People who practise the 12 steps find out how to deal with these feelings. In step four, our voyage of self-discovery, we find out what is good and what is bad about ourselves. It is the only opportunity most AA members get to see themselves as others see them. Being aware of our faults may help us to eradicate them, or we hand them over to our "higher powers" or even our subconscious if we can not. It allows us to come to terms with ourselves as we really are. Later steps deal with making amends to people we have wronged. Whether they forgive us or not it does free us from this burden of guilt, and it leaves us with a free conscience. We no longer need to look over our shoulders as we walk down the street. The skeletons in the cupboard have gone. Far from making us feel shame and guilt, AA program frees us from it. John D.
  4. 1 point
    To me, spirituallity is not something that can be forced into one's life. Introduced...yes, but many people that come to A.A ,N.A. etc. try too hard to get the spirituallity part and end up frustrated and upset with themselve's when they can't get it. Addicts want a quick fix and a greater power does not usually work that way. A.A. should welcome anyone for what they believe in and some groups have problems with people who don't want to totally work the program in the way Bill W. did it. The twelve steps make sense for everyone's life, alcoholic or not. Spirituality comes when there is no choice but to deal with your pain and the need to feel a purpose in life. We are here to make mistakes,to feel pain, and to find spirituallity in our own ways, at our own times,and at our own pace. If the meetings help you in any way, than keep going, because there will alway's be other people there who rely on you for coming!
  5. 1 point
    I am a qualified psychodynamic counsellor and thought that perhaps this following article might be useful in the course of this discussion. I also spent over 5 years in AA. My experiences have been both positive and negative. I do believe that the following article reflects my views. AA certainly has the potential to damage people. The whole article cannot be posted here in full, but can be found on- http://www.unhooked.com/sep/aacouns.htm - where it examines each of the 12 steps and its conflicts with a range of theoretical principles inherent in various counselling and psychoanalytic orientations. Alcoholics Anonymous and the Counseling Profession: Philosophies in conflict By Christine Le, Erik P. Ingvarson, and Richard C. Page From: Journal of Counseling & Development, 07-01-1995, p. 603. This article describes the contribution of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to drug and alcohol treatment. The potential for AA 's steps to encourage growth is discussed, and their consistency with counseling philosophy examined. To stimulate constructive discussion, 12 new steps based on counseling theory are proposed and contrasted with AA 's steps. The need for counselors to be aware of these differences is emphasized and the move toward more solid boundaries between AA and the counseling profession is advocated. AA has also been instrumental in bringing about the acceptance of the disease model of alcoholism (Kurtz, 1988). It supports the idea that some people may be "allergic" to alcohol and unable to use it in any form (AAWS, 1976a), and presents alcoholism as a progressive illness that can be arrested but not cured (AAWS, 1984). Although AA's explanation of alcoholism as a disease is supported by the American Medical Association, its validity continues to be debated in the literature (Erickson, 1992; Miller, 1991; Peele, 1990, 1992). Some of the controversy concerning the disease model has arisen due to a lack of scientific evidence, and from differing definitions of disease (Fingarette, 1988). It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss this debate in detail; however, it should be noted that for many individuals AA's view has reduced feelings of guilt and shame, clarified the cause of their desire to drink, and removed much of the stigma associated with treatment. As research has failed to assess the effectiveness of AA, counseling theory may be a more appropriate standard of measurement. Through a comparison of AA and counseling philosophy, counselors can have the opportunity to decide for themselves if the AA program is consistent with their counseling values and potentially helpful for their clients. This decision is similar to the numerous choices that counselors must make concerning the use of different treatment methods, models, techniques, and schools of thought. Becoming well acquainted with the AA program will help to make this choice easier and will allow counselors to be clearer on the extent to which they wish to integrate AA into their work. AA's 12 steps are especially relevant as they represent the AA program and are the member's main guide to sobriety. Because the counseling profession advocates the use of these steps with a wide variety of clients (Chappel, 1992; Polcin, 1992; Ratner, 1988), it is desirable that counselors be knowledgeable about the steps and aware of any differences between them and their own counseling philosophy. AA's 12 steps are therefore examined and their consistency with counseling philosophy discussed. Because of the diversity of philosophies that exist within the counseling field, the AA steps will be looked at in relation to the theories of selected writers including Rogers (1961, 1980); Maslow (1968); Jung (1933); Homey (1950); Frankl (1959); Perls, Hefferline, and Goodman (1951); Ellis (1989); and Bandura (1982). This selection represents a variety of counseling theories and includes the person-centered, humanistic, analytical, neo-Freudian, existential, Gestalt, rational-emotive, and cognitive approaches to counseling. As there is no single inclusive theory of counseling, our choice will necessarily be both subjective and limited. Nevertheless, as the theories chosen place emphasis on change, growth, and the development of the individual, they are representative of the values held by many professionals in the field, and are consistent with what is taught in most graduate programs in counseling. To help stimulate constructive thought and discussion, 12 new steps will be proposed. AA's steps have been rewritten by several professionals, including B. F. Skinner (1987), who wished to provide an alternative program for the nonreligious. The goal of this article is not to provide an alternative program, but to offer the reader the chance to compare AA's steps with steps containing principles drawn from counseling theory. Inconsistencies between AA philosophies and counseling values will be clarified and the possible consequences for the client examined. THE 12 STEPS Step 1 AA Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable. Proposed Step 1: I realize that I am not in control of my use of alcohol. AA views the admission of powerlessness as the first step toward sobriety. Here, individuals learn that they are passive victims, resting at the mercy of the greater power of alcohol. Admitting powerlessness has the potential of guiding the individual in one of two directions. The first leads toward the AA program and Step 2. The second, and more dangerous, encourages the individual to view himself or herself as a helpless alcoholic who accepts the futility of trying to stop drinking. In a profession where empowerment is a widely accepted goal, it seems strange that powerlessness should be the primary focus of the most referred-to substance abuse treatment program. Stensrud and Stensrud (1981) wrote that the helping process can even be dangerous if feelings of powerlessness are increased. It is therefore advisable that, although the first step recognizes that the individual is not in control of his or her use of alcohol, it also has as an underlying rationale the belief that people are capable of self-direction and self-responsibility regardless of their level of alcohol dependence. Egan (1990) pointed out that "if clients are not urged to explore and assume self-responsibility, they may not do the things needed to manage their lives better, or they may do things that aggravate the problem they have" (p. 73). This belief in self-direction and self, responsibility is echoed in the writings of Rogers (1961), Maslow (1968), and Peris et al. (1951). The AA steps all begin with the plural "we," which may cause individuals to simply identify with the group as a whole without internalizing the steps for themselves, thus further reducing the need for self- responsibility. Having the steps in the first person (using "I" as opposed to "we") helps to emphasize the need for individual decision making and responsibility within the group atmosphere. According to Jung, the need to separate oneself from the collective and find one' s own way is essential for self-realization (Kaufmann, 1989). Because the AA steps are written in the past tense, they tend to imply that once a step has been achieved work in that area has been completed. The use of the present tense in the proposed steps may encourage continuous work on the steps and self in the here and now. Step 2 AA Step 2: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Proposed Step 2: I acknowledge that a spiritual awakening can help me to find a new direction. Having accepted powerlessness, AA's Step 2 reinforces the idea that change is only possible if a power outside of oneself can come to the rescue. The theme of greater forces saving powerless individuals reminds one more of ancient myths than modern day realities, and for many the promised happy ending never arrives. The goal of being restored to sanity also raises concerns. Even though some individuals in the AA community might have unique interpretations for certain words, for many clients and counselors it is unacceptable to label all problem drinkers as insane. Bufe (1991) pointed out that this step promotes the idea of individual helplessness and encourages dependency, which is directly contrary to the usual therapeutic goals of self-direction and independence. Although individuals in crisis may need direction from outside forces to help restore equilibrium, too much reliance on external powers may prevent the development of internal resources (Gorton & Partridge, 1982). Theorists like Rogers (1961, 1980), along with many professional counselors, place faith in the individual's ability to grow. For some counselors, the emphasis on outside forces and greater powers may be attributed to the recognition that a sense of spirituality is one of the factors that correlates with positive treatment outcomes (Ludwig, 1985; Rogers, 1980). Carl Jung expressed his belief in spirituality as an aid to recovery from alcoholism when writing to Bill Wilson (Adler & Jaffe, 1963). Wilson placed less emphasis, however, on recognizing the spirituality that lies within the individual and on helping people to awaken their own spiritual strength. Although some clients are comfortable with the idea of a "power greater than ourselves" coming to rescue them, others might feel this aspect of spirituality is foreign and alienating. Thus, rather than prescribing the type of spiritual assistance needed for the client, the focus could be changed to developing an individual spiritual awakening. This awakening could lead the client in a new, personal direction developed from within.
  6. 1 point
    I first attended AA in 1982. Been off alcohol and drugs since 1984. I was a true believer for my first 4 years. The next four I was on the edge. Still in AA but not as fervent. After 8 years I did not buy the miracle thing anymore. I did not buy "The Chosen Few" BS anymore. I believed I was clean because I was taken away from the life long enough to be able to see past it. I saw that it was possible to live without booze. I have since atended meetings sporadicly. For the most part keeping to myself my thoughts about god and aa. I did not feel that my agtheistic leanings where appropriate in AA. I did not want to pollute the stream. New people and all people deserved the right to practice as they saw fit. I was also afraid of rejection and the looks that would come from someone who dared to not buy the hype. I am still not comfortable sharing my disbelief with old friends who are still true believers.
  7. 1 point
    Indeed interesting discussion. Should this topic be named: The Effectiveness of Placebo Effect? In this case should we broad this topic to 12 step placebo effect vs Pastoral counseling vs Professional counseling? Most of the time when MentalHelp.Net makes a referral to 12 steps mutual help groups, a few reasons are given: 1. Cost effective. 12 steps are free (donation based) to attend. Pastoral counseling, some self help peer groups are also free (donation based). 2.12 steps groups are wide available. Pastoral counseling is also wide available. Self help groups have web based network which is accessible if person has a computer and Internet access. (all public libraries have computers and Internet access). Religious aspect is not the one, that degrades the placebo effect of 12 steps. Contrary, the rest of mambo-jumbo is a determining factor of low effectiveness of 12 steps.
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