Thursday, 31 July 2014

"I can't possibly show up for life. I'm in recovery!"

     Bunches of people these days-- healthy and able-bodied people-- are [apparently] being told by addiction treatment professionals not to work, or not to return to work "just yet." After all, the real world requires that most adults support ourselves financially. Having become freeloaders in our active addiction, the addiction treatment industry tells us to continue to live off the system. The memo is out, folks. People in early recovery are frail and vulnerable beings who are not capable of handling the stress of employment. Some percentage of our co-workers may not be abstinent. 

     To be sure, there are notable consequences of our addictions. For the sake of brevity, we can call them F-SPIES. Financial, social, physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual. [Those of a more mystical vein can add an extra S on the end to denote "spiritual."].

     A few of us sought help for our addictions when the landscape of recovery was different. There were very few in-patient rehab centers. There were few if any out-patient day treatment places specifically for addiction. Sobering up stations and crises centers existed only in the poorer neighborhoods. Folks went to hospitals to detox. We did not have a "disease" which required "treatment." Almost all of us kept right on working. We didn't have a choice. And some percentage of us also did volunteer work to fill up the suddenly empty hours that we used to dedicate to getting blasted.

     Alcoholism was first to be declared a "disease." Selling insurance companies on the notion that addiction to other drugs was a problem which also deserved "treatment" was out of the question. Gambling was a problem but not a "disease." Obesity was suspected to be self-inflicted with [perhaps] glandular or genetic involvement. Then the United States exploded with the addictions treatment industry and everyone wanted in on the act-- even Scientologists.
Rehabs, out-patient day programs specific to addictions [or addictions plus mental health disorders later on], detoxes, sobering up, halfway houses, community residences for those who have both addiction and mental health diagnoses, drug courts, family treatment courts, supportive apartments, and so on and so forth proliferated.

     People are being exposed to all of this stuff at younger ages these days. In 1980, someone under the age of thirty attending a recovery meeting for the first time was a rarity. The pendulum has swung the opposite way. These days it is rare to see someone over the age of thirty come into the rooms for the first time.

     Don't misunderstand me. I like the young people coming in. I celebrate them. I know that someday I will be dead and the young folks will have to carry on. Hopefully by then, the professional community will begin to get a collective clue about this work thing.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: People, stop using your recovery as an excuse for not showing up for life. Learning how to live off of the system or becoming a better freeloader is not the "treat" part of treatment. If you are able to work, you probably should be working. 

     I am grateful that some percentage of drug courts will insist that their participant-defendants take jobs before being released from supervision. That so many others involved in the addictions treatment industry hand out excuses to their clientele is un-good. 

     To addictions treatment professionals everywhere: Working can be a part of early recovery. The idea that we can work together at work and then go home without buying drugs off of Jo co-worker or stopping off at the bar with the gang is a healthy one. Why do you want to strip self-determination from people in early recovery? Endeavor to show your patients that excuses are lame. If something is worth having, then it is worth working for. And I don't mean beginning of the month checks from our social welfare system. 


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Is This a Meeting or a Revival?

     Now look it here, I understand that your capital H Higher capital P Power is Jesus Christ. I'm glad you found him wherever it was that you found him. I'm glad that you are no longer getting high or drunk. I even will support you when you specify who your Higher Power is at a meeting of recovery. You want to say, "My Higher Power who is Jesus Christ." I'm good with that. No problem. And yes, I will wish you a Merry Christmas during that time of the year even though I celebrate the winter solstice instead.

     When a recovery type meeting turns into testimony time of how much [most of] you really love Jesus, that becomes a problem. You are not at church. A meeting is not your preaching platform. Telling us [non-believers] over and over again how you got saved is not conductive to us wanting to get saved.

     I respect your right to believe as you wish to. I don't make it my personal mission to declare my atheism at meetings. Nor do I want to convert you to my way of thinking. I have never said to you, "Oh keep coming. And one day you will give up your silly superstitions and become like me." I have never told you the process that I went through that brought me to this place of contented atheism. Please respect my right to conduct my life and my recovery as I see fit, without any capital H higher capital P powers in my life. Atheism is the absence of belief. Got that?

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: People from many other cultural backgrounds and even non-christian religious affiliations have had experiences which have changed their lives. You christians do not have the monopoly on that. These emotional and spiritual rearrangements make recovery possible to people all over the world and not just christians. 
     Hey, I had a near death experience once [induced by fear, not because I was near death because I wasn't]. These sorts of events are caused by the firing of multiple neurons in the brain and not by religious [non] realities. Even so, my NDE changed my life.
     I prefer natural explanations to supernatural explanations even when dealing with the recovery process.


Monday, 14 July 2014


     Yes, I have an elderly parent in hospice. He has been dying in pieces for over a decade. Now, it seems death is closing in on him.

          Hospice prevents religious nutcases working in the healthcare field from keeping terminal people alive long after natural death would have occurred. 

     Yes, I am an atheist with long-term abstinence from my addiction. I came into the rooms of recovery believing. Investigating creation myths from around the world for a Spanish class report got me thinking. I discarded the dregs of my past fundamentalism at last. I was free. Atheism has granted me a peace that I had never experienced. Thinking and evaluating were no longer enemies. Logic became a friend.

          Learning how to construct rational arguments and how to avoid cognitive errors are worthwhile endeavors.

     Yes, I am angry. I reject the twelve step idea that anger is somehow worse than any other emotion and should be stifled. There are no gods big enough to rearrange the anger that is inherent in human experience. Nor do I want that anger to be surgically removed. Anger has become my truest friend.

          Anger is my truest friend but not my only friend. My anger informs me that there is an opportunity for change within my community and the world. Why are you so afraid of your anger?

     Yes, I have been grieving my parent and his many loses which his neurological condition has taken. And the things that family members have robbed him of. No one deserves what he went through.

          When you inform me that you cannot possibly help out in any way because you are "too busy" to talk on the phone or to answer e-mail, that is not a conversation. Financial affairs really can be managed from a distance. Dialogue is needed, not monologue interrupted by occasional demands from you to send you some paperwork. Piss off.

     Yes, I reject the notion of the "disease concept" of addictions. Addiction is a condition with multiple etiologies which is treated by quasi-religion and pop psychology. Step right this way folks. Some [usually male and monotheistic] god of your understanding will fix it for you as long as you are willing to be fixed. And allow the good professionals enveloping you to "counsel" you on how to be compliant. You will be grateful. Deviance is suspect.

          Compliance is not an indicator of successful recovery. Cookie-cutter recovery has nothing to recommend for it. If I wanted pop psychology, I'd read a pop psychology magazine. Much cheaper than engaging in what passes for treatment these days.          

     Yes, I have re-written the twelve steps so that I can remain in recovery. My life is worth far more than the words of a dead man. That's just how it is. 

          I reject the notion that your god believes in me in spite of my unbelief. That's silly. We need more scientific research in addiction and in truly individualized treatment of folks seeking recovery. As atheism expands, more options will become available to those of us for whom pseudo-religious programs do not fit.

     Yes, there are thirty three medical causes of dementia. Some of them are reversible. Others are not. When your elderly parent is receiving hospice services, it is a pretty clear indication that recovery is not in the offing. 

          Offering me your hope that we will all be united in a fantasy heaven does not alleviate the reality that I am dealing with. Telling me that he may miraculously not die quite yet is cruel. Asserting that your god has a divine plan is bullshit.

          Lewy Body Dementia is terminal. Period.