attend a discussion which hits home to the very thing that I have dedicated the last 2 years of my life. It’s one thing to discuss these ideas on-line on multitudes of forums and another to be among live, breathing human beings doing the same.
So as not to go into the presentation totally clueless, I picked up Stanton’s book, 7 Tools to Beat addiction, the day before to give me some insight into his ideas. While I’m a voracious reader, I resisted reading books by him and others of the same ilk previously because I didn’t want to be influenced in the writing
of “The Freedom to Recover”. I wanted the ideas to be a reflection of the transformation that I went through. I’ll write another post at a later date as to my feelings on “7 Tools” but for the time being, I’m happy to report that based on what I’ve read so far and his presentation, we are on the same page in
Of course the most important area of agreement lies in the fact that we both don’t accept the disease theory of addiction. That right there puts us in an extremely small minority of dissenters of what is, today anyway, the accepted view on the subject.
Now being that the event was sponsored by The Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, he did spend a considerable amount of time on that angle.
He often cited a survey conducted by the US Government’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. I’m always a bit wary of surveys in general, particularly those conducted by the government.
Anyway, one of the conclusions that they surmised was that 58% of untreated alcoholics and 28% of treated alcoholics resumed normal responsible drinking at some point. Obviously a lot depends on your definition of an alcoholic. Someone is classified as “alcohol dependent” if at some time in their lives, according to the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV), they suffered from chronic
alcohol-related problems (family, legal, work and health-including increasing use and withdrawal) that they were unable to curtail. That sounds reasonable but what is missing is for HOW LONG they had those problems. Some might have gone through a rough spell and only been dependent for a period of a few months and then were able to get back on track, and were therefore able to resume normal responsible drinking. I believe, anyway, that for those of us who were alcohol dependent for years and years, that returning to “normal” drinking is a pretty daunting if not impossible task. As I’ve written about in a recent post, I’m not going to try and find out. Abstinence seems to be my best solution even though I
may very well be able to do the moderation thing. My take, why bother, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life these past 3+ years without it, so for me anyway, why take the chance.
Also in attendance at the presentation was Kenneth Anderson who formed HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support)
HAMS reduction is fine because it simply states the obvious-You have 3 choices. 1-Continue drinking like a reckless idiot that doesn't give a darn if he or she hurts him or herself and those around them (dwi, accidents, etc...) 2-Try to moderate your drinking to responsible and acceptable levels 3-abstain.
Well, maybe I would add a 4THchoice -Abstain and be HAPPY about it. I don't drink anymore and am SO Ok with that. I'm a better athlete, thinker, lover, guitar player, etc...... I actually remember stuff. Sober life,
for me anyway, is more fun than f'd up living ever was.
As far as abstinence goes, HAMS lists some of its own ideas and also recommends SMART recovery as a valuable resource. SMART’S president Tom Horvath was also in attendance.
What was most encouraging as far as I was concerned was that you had all of these leaders from different organizations in attendance who all shared what I already mentioned was the one most fundamental belief towards this whole conversation that matters; that addiction is NOT a disease and that it must be approached with that in mind.
Oh, so what was the answer as to “What will replace the 12-Steps?”
Even Stanton admits that the jury is still out on that. Unfortunately the pharmaceutical industry has billions of dollars to advance miracle pills and cures and is going to be a force to reckon with. I agree with Dr. Peele’s assertion from page 15 of “7 Tools” that “addiction will never be cured by a pill. Indeed, when you understand addiction, the idea of a pill for curing it makes no sense. That is because addiction results when people’s lives are unbalanced. It cannot be remedied by a pill, just as a pill cannot balance people’s lives. But people, including you, can achieve remission by creating the fundamental building blocks that form nonaddicted lives.
That is essence is where I believe the solutions reside. Within us all lays the capability to create our own reality, to be the authors of our life story. The universe provided us with freewill to make choices!
Again, my philosophy in a nutshell….
I call it existential presence. We create our own reality. To love or to hate, to suffer or to thrive are all ultimately choices that we make. When do we make them? We do it now, with an eye towards the future, without getting too wound up about it. If you're always "worrying" about what the next minute, hour, day
will bring....then you're not here and that's not good. Sure we have to have goals and make plans; lists etc.... to reach them, but it should have a kind of flow to it. Living in the past incessantly and beating yourself up over it (the AA way) is not good. Neither is reminiscing constantly and living in yesterday's glories. It's great if you have happy memories but life is today. Live in the present with intent and a lot of that other stuff has no room to infiltrate your world.