Wednesday 10 December 2014

Unity or Uniformity

     Twelve step programs-- although very much retaining the monopoly on what the majority of American treatment and rehabs offer in terms of how to maintain abstinence-- may not be the best fit for every patient or client or participant seeking to get free from addiction. This is something that we often ignore while bemoaning those who have darkened the doorways of 'our' meetings [and 'our' treatment facilities, if we happen to be staff at one of them] who went back out or continued to use. We are so fond of claiming that various addictions are now a disease of some sort. 

     What kind of people are we when we blame the patient for failing to gain or regain health after one or more bouts with a disease?

     When a cancer patient gets sicker and dies in spite of the chemo or radiation, do we blame the patient?

     When someone gripped in the natural course of a non-reversible dementia progresses and dies in spite of medical interventions, do we blame the patient?

     And yet, the addict seeking help is blamed for his or her return to active addiction. [I use addict to also include those who are addicted to alcohol]. What gives? Maybe we don't really believe in the disease concept. [Okay, I don't. I don't claim acceptance of the disease concept which seems to have swept the addiction treatment industry by storm].

     The problem does not lay in how we define addiction. Whether it is a medical condition with multiple etiologies and a disease-like progression, an actual disease, something else entirely, or a combination of these things is not something that I am taking issue with in this particular blog post. 

     While how we define addiction certainly does determine whether or not insurance companies will pay for treatment, it is not really at the crux of the problem. The problem is the low success rate ascribed to addicts seeking recovery. When making a decision related to my health, I seek out more than one option. And when the success rate for an option presented to me is described as anywhere from ten percent to just under thirty-four percent, I certainly do my research. I want the odds to be in my favor. In cases of severe and/or chronic and/or terminal diseases or conditions, there may not be better odds or very many viable options. Science offers us the opportunity to discover and describe best practices in medicine.

     In the United States, I think what we are suffering from is a lack of rigorous research into the multiple causes of addiction, treatment options, and how to determine the best fit for each client or patient. Twelve step programs have aided many of us in changing our lives thereby enabling us to become and remain abstinent. Yet, some percentage of people fail out of meetings with or without adjunct professional help. Not every human being is able to find a new way of life within the current structure of treatment and maintenance of abstinence. 

     There is no one way to recover. Yet, one way to recover utilizing the twelve steps of various Anonymous programs is what is pushed by the addictions treatment industry.

     We have today other ways to develop social support systems-- there is Celebrate Recovery [for Christians], Secular Organizations for Sobriety [or s.o.s. for non-theists, and for those who may be religious but wish to separate their religious practices from their recovery program], the Red Road [for Native Americans], Women For Sobriety [for women], Double Trouble and Dual Recovery Anonymous [both organizations are for those who also have mental health diagnoses], Rational Recovery [for rational people], Drug Courts [for non-violent offenders-- which include may include attendance at support groups and rehabs and/or a residential program] and more. Some of the programs utilize re-written forms of the twelve steps. Others do not. And some people do maintain abstinence via their religious practices and no attendance at any sort of program.

     Some of us discover that a twelve step program is the only program available to us. Even if we are able to travel some distance to attend a meeting that is not X.A., non-X.A. meetings may not be held as often as we may like.  And yet, there are a number of people for whom a twelve step program is not sufficient, adequate, or appropriate. Fortunately, within the Interwebz, we can find others who are thriving outside of the 12 step rooms.

     The sorry state of treatment programs today does not allow for options other than the twelve steps. People are not told that there are other options or ways to recover. And as far as truly personalizing treatment to the individual addict, that does not usually exist. A few addicts may be lucky enough to land in a program that recognizes that medication-assisted recovery, concurrent mental health treatment, or harm-reduction strategies may be better suited for certain patients but that is not, generally speaking, the experience of many addicts who have sought treatment. And we just don't know enough of how to figure out which addicts will do best in which options. We need more research and more development of alternate resources for those seeking recovery today.

     The thing is, none of us practice recovery in the specific ways it was described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are scattered groups of individuals who are attempting a return to A.A.'s early times. And that's cool.

     For some of us, that sort of thing is not appropriate or useful. We don't fit. We need the stuff that we resonate with, whether it is participation in X.A. as it has evolved in these times or some other form of social supports. And some addicts do not resonate with X.A. 

     We do not have to be addicts kept in uniforms lined up against the wall waiting for lunch to begin, as if we were still in a regimented high school. The unity of a healthy twelve step meeting is truly a wonder to behold. A healthy group acknowledges that we can practice our unity in spite of our differences.

     We are not all the same. Some addicts need something else in order to recover. So let's quit blaming them for failing out of what we have to offer. Treatment providers need to learn how to fit treatment to each individual addict rather than fitting each addict to their brand of treatment.

     I envision a place where the characteristics of each individual patient is respected and where patients are offered more than one way to recover. Someday, we will know enough to stop blaming those who fail out of the system and instead invest in research that will truly illuminate best practices in addiction treatment. Until then, more of us will die. 

sapphoq badly needing a coffee says: I count myself fortunate that I have been able to make a life for myself within the recovery landscape as it exists today in my geographical location. My hope is that all of us who seek a way out will indeed be able to discover a way out. But that isn't the way it is YET.

For information on how an atheist can remain abstinent in a twelve-step program, buy my e-book "Another Atheist in Recovery." If you aren't an atheist, then buy my e-book "Up the Rebels" which is a hacker/slacker kind of a novel.
Neither e-book has DRM. They are written in ePub format which can be read on many readers and also on your computer via Calibre or other reading program [but not Adobe tm].
I support the torrents so if someone wants to make my e-books available to others for free, that would be really cool-- and supported by the Creative Commons license that I used.

Saturday 22 November 2014

A missed #AddictionChat

@LEAFcouncil from Wednesday night's 9 P.M. (E.S.T.) #AddictionChat on Twitter (tm) asked me to answer some of the questions from this past Wednesday. I had no time to go. I was teaching myself how to format so I could get my two e-books published. Ten hours later... I did!

Okay, here goes then:
1. Introduce yourself, what brings you to #AddictionChat and where you're from.
SpikedUpFrog, my computer brings me here and I'm from the Interwebz.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of spirituality in a person's recovery?
I don't know. I know what awe is but the concept of spirituality has not been personally useful to me.
I don't accept supernatural or preternatural claims at this time because good-enough evidence for these claims are lacking. Unfortunately, for those not affiliated with a religion, "spirituality" can lend itself to New Age beliefs and mysticism.
I understand something about belief, which is why I don't much argue with those who find comfort in faith. I have witnessed the harm that New Ageism can do and am much against that sort of thing.

3. Must a person be connected to a formal faith community to have long-term recovery?
I've been continually clean since September 8, 1980.

4. Some believe that 12-step programs are cult-like. Do they require a belief in God?
Thinking that a 12-step program is cult-like or has some characteristics of a cult is a separate question from the requirement to believe in God.
Alcoholics Anonymous shares a few characteristics with "cults" but also has some differences from a "cult." There is a newer word for "cult" but I can never remember it. It is actually a phrase. Not "newer religious movements" either. Something else referencing the manipulative nature of cults.

Bill W. was raised as a Methodist. He joined the Oxford group which was an evangelical Christian sort of outfit. The recovering alcoholics chose to separate from the Oxford group because Roman Catholics were threatened with ex-communication if they retained their association with the Oxford group.
The Big Book was set up with the idea that an A.A. member would believe in a God or would come to believe in one. This is most evident in the chapter to the agnostics.
Having a door knob as one's higher power does not work any longer when Bill W. went on to mention that the higher power that one chooses must be personal and loving. A door knob cannot love you. Neither can nature.

@SeanStOnge has the right of it when he talks about the Big Book and what it says about a belief in God. 
According to the Big Book, belief in God is absolutely necessary. The phrase "as we understood him" was added due to the intervention of an atheist in the rooms. The man called "Ed the salesman" was an atheist and in spite of what Bill W. wrote about him, he remained an atheist. It is reported that he penned a book about being an atheist in long-term recovery but I haven't located a copy yet.

For those of us who have a sincerely held non-belief, we have to do something else.

5. What about atheists? Does "spirituality" in recovery apply? How do they adapt 12-step programs?
I don't use the word "spirituality" or the phrase "spiritual but not religious." I had to re-write the steps so that way I could work them and remain in recovery.

6. How does spirituality enhance a person's recovery? This question applies to those with faith, agnostics, and atheists.
I don't do spirituality because I have not found it a meaningful term in my life.

7. When new to recovery, the "Higher Power" thing is a mystery. How does one figure that out?
I came in believing but as I progressed through my recovery, I found it more intellectually honest for me to be an atheist.

8. What are some ways that a person can nurture their spirit and enhance their recovery?
I don't recognize spirit as being something real. There are things that human beings in general can do and do do in order to nurture themselves and make a better life for themselves. People in recovery are not so different from other people.

9. When it comes to holidays, how does a person in recovery navigate faith if it is different from their family's?
I live in a country where right now it is not dangerous to self-identify as an atheist. My family situation is such that I am out to them as a non-theist. I eat Thanksgiving with them. I give presents to the nieces and nephews for Christmas. There is nothing that I have to do unless I choose to.

10. Finally, if someone has questions about faith/spirituality and recovery, what resources would you suggest?
If they are believers or they want to believe, I refer them to members who do believe. If they are atheists, agnostics, free-thinkers, secular humanists, or nones, they can go to the aa agnostica website or some of atheist forums which do offer support to those of us who are clean. There are also other means of recovery which are not 12-step oriented such as S.O.S.-- James Christopher's program Secular Organizations for Sobriety or Save Our Selves-- Women for Sobriety, and a few others.
I've covered the resources for folks like me in my newly published e-book called "Another Atheist in Recovery" up at Barnes & Nobel. It is an ePub so it can be read on any reader. It is also free from D.R.M. because I hate the D.R.M. You can buy the book if you are really interested in one example of how an atheist might work recovery at:

Monday 10 November 2014

Holidays and Holidaze

     Since I first got clean, people have been complaining and whining about "the holidays." I did too. At some point, I got over it but a few others perhaps did not. Recovery is as easy or as hard as we make it. 

     Here are some things you can do in order to not have meltdowns over a time of year that can be enjoyed or ignored rather than feared:

1. If you don't like a holiday or don't think you can manage to stay abstinent/ clean/ dry/ sober, then cancel it.
     * Not recommended if you have children. *
You can always visit the relatives the day after for leftovers.

My best Thanksgiving was the one I spent in the woods with my dogs and a couple of hiking buddies. For a meal, we heated up cans of turkey vegetable soup in a fire that we built in the snow.

2. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or other place that is serving meals to those who need one. This just may get you out of yourself long enough to understand that not everything ought to be about you now that you are in recovery. You can take a newcomer with you to volunteer.

My elderly father volunteered in a soup kitchen on Christmas one year. He has Lewy Body Dementia but at that time he was able to manage being a volunteer for the day. He enjoyed himself immensely.

3. You can ask to work so that some other co-worker can have the day off.

I have specifically asked to work holidays and I enjoy doing it. This is another way of giving.

4. You can go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood or sign up to visit a nursing home or hospital on a holiday. Bringing in a simple program-- story-telling or singing-- is much appreciated there. You can take a newcomer with you.

A bunch of acquaintances and I did this one year in several neighborhoods. We had loads of fun. No one turned us away.

5. If someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas" and you celebrate something else or nothing, it really does not hurt you to wish them a "Merry Christmas." Same goes for Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, and Saturnalia. Recognizing people in the ways that they wish to be recognized does not diminish you as a human being.

I am an atheist and I do this. (I understand that some people will boycott stores whose employees are required to say "Merry Christmas." That is a matter of choice). Not everything that people say to each other has to be perceived of or ought to be perceived of as a personal affront.

6. You can go to a meeting if that is something you do for your recovery. You can take a newcomer with you. 

For those who attend meetings, why not? 

7. You can go to a clubhouse or other place that has an alkathon or narathon. You will find meetings there. Maybe even some food, games, and friendly faces. You can take a newcomer with you.

I've spent several Thanksgivings and Christmases doing this and I had a blast.

8. Instead of worrying that your Thanksgiving or Christmas will not be perfect, you can participate in a food or clothing or toy drive in your neighborhood. Instead of buying presents for other adults, you can give stuff away to the less fortunate. If you have your own computer, you probably have an extra coat or sweater kicking around in your closet. Or you can host your own dinner and invite people who don't have a place to go for the day.

Dad taught me early on to pick out gently used toys for the kids in a local orphanage. Yes, it is wonderful to be able to give to others instead of focusing on my hang-ups or have nervous attacks over something that is supposed to be fun.

9. If you decide to brave being with family or friends who are not in recovery, you can grab a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate or a combination of cranberry and orange juice warmed up in a microwave) instead of relapsing. You can also make an excuse and leave if you really must. You can call your sponsor or someone else in the rooms.

A cup of coffee reminds me of my recovery because I first started drinking coffee in recovery.

10. You can start your own traditions.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: At all times, it helps me to remember why I am doing whatever I am doing. This includes family gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other times of the year. When I get self-absorbed, I forget that not everything is "all about me." Because it really isn't. Just saying.

Thanks to #AddictionChat on Twitter for an excellent discussion about the holidays last Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Atheists in Recovery and the Fundy Factor

N.B. Absolutely no disrespect is intended to those of my close friends who identify as Christian, born-again Christian, fundamentalist Christian, or literal Christian. This piece is more a reflection on discrimination in the rooms of recovery directed at non-believers on the part of the more radical fundamentalist Christians who disrupt meetings with preaching and exhortation.
     I love my conservative Christian friends. Period.

     Yes, we do exist. Maybe we never believed in any gods and came in not believing. Maybe we decided we didn't believe during adulthood and also came in not believing. Maybe we came in believing but in the course of our recovery embraced atheism. [I fit into the third category].

     Some newcomers are mad at their god or gods. They usually calm down after a bit and manage to forgive their deity or deities. They are not seeking information about atheism and that is their right. Some newcomers may have never been exposed to any teachings about divinity. Upon discovering that sort of thing, they become believers. That is also their right.

      I am an atheist. I have thirty-four years of continuous clean time. The myth that "You must have a capital H Higher capital P Power" is a myth. There are more of us. I am not alone.

     The steps were written to be suggestions only. Check the writings of Bill W. as expressed in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous if you don't believe me. Bill W. also gave permission for the first Buddhist group to change the word "God" in the twelve steps to the word "good." See page 81.

     I don't pray. I don't meditate. I am not spiritual. I don't do woo woo. I had to rewrite the steps in order to be able to remain in recovery. And yes, I am very much in recovery.

     Meetings vary according to geography. That is to be expected. In our area, there has been an increase in the expression of fundamentalist Christianity. I went to an A.A. meeting yesterday where an outspoken fundy got a few friends to chant "May you find Him now" and "God could and would if He were sought" during the reading of How It Works. Annoying? Well, yes. Also annoying is when the fundy chairs and absolutely refuses to call on me. For my part, I choose my battles today. Being ignored at a meeting by the chair is not such a big deal. The funny thing is, the fundy is an excellent chair who keeps the meeting moving and on track.

     N.A. meetings here are traditionally more free-wheeling. But even there, I have been told things like "You're not a true atheist. You believe in the woods." [Huh?]

     Alanon and Overeaters Anonymous have also fallen to the fundy factor round here. CoDA is a bit more lax. I haven't been to Gamblers Anonymous or to NicA. [No, I don't qualify for every XA program. They do have open meetings]. ACOA and ACA meetings are too full of pain and anguish for me to even consider going to them. Dual Recovery Anonymous has substituted "God of our understanding" but that program too has more religious members than not. I've been to meetings across the country and the fundy factor is not as evident in some of those. 

     It has never been my intention to convert people to atheism. And I refuse to do that now. The problem is when there is an overmuch of fundy talk, some new people are driven away. I do believe in equal time. At meetings when the fundy factor gets out of control, when it is my turn to talk [if I am not ignored by the one fundy chair] I let people know that belief is not required in order to work a solid program. Yes, sincere atheists in the rooms do tend to seek me out.

     I read a joke on-line recently while doing research for a small e-book I am writing about being an atheist in recovery. 

Question: If you object to all of the God talk, why do you attend meetings?
Answer: I am part of the Newcomer Rescue Squad.

sapphoq needing coffee says: I don't exactly feel that way but there are days when I am getting closer.

Monday 20 October 2014

Dear Sis: to a family member new to recovery

I made this. Download and save it somewhere on your computer if you wish to. Use it on the Internet if you wish to. Credit and link backs totally unnecessary. Screw the DMCA, copyright trolls, copyright monopolists and others of that ilk.

Dear Sis,

     We've hardly talked in the past decade or two. It seems that you deal with me only when you have to. I don't know why that is. Any guesses would be mental masturbation. Maybe someday you will tell me what I did. Maybe you never will. 

     Yes, I've found your identities on the Internet. Yes, I've looked up anything you've made public in order to have a bit of a feeling for where your passions have led you. I am thrilled by your recent successes.

     I was disheartened to find that in your college years you were drinking and shoplifting. By your own account, you were buying from several liquor stores so that way "they wouldn't think [you were] an alcoholic." You organized shoplifting parties among your friends on weekends. I held my breath, hoping for some indication that you grew out of these things.

     By your recent report, you are feeling much better than you used to. You've quit drinking and smoking. [Was it cigarettes? Or weed? Or?]. You've shaped up and started taking better care of yourself. I feel both happy and sad at this news.

     Pictures of wedding dressings and nurseries. A sense that I have been disposed of along with your ex and your bad habits. It's alright I guess. 

     Dad is getting closer to the end. You've already moved on in ways that I cannot understand. I too had a stepfather that I loved. [He died awhile back]. We are so different-- you and I-- yet something in you and something in me we both got from Dad. Please don't forget him as you continue on your orbit to the sun.

     Even if we never connect, I wish you the very best in your life. I hope that you will find more of what you are seeking. Most of all, I wish you peace.

               ~ the forgotten one ~


Sunday 19 October 2014

Follow Program Etiquette

      I walk into the room. The floor is already a mess even though the linoleum is less than two months old. The new paint is peeling where someone had ripped a taped sign off the wall. Dead mouse smell hits my nostrils. On the wax board in front of the room [a thirty two dollar wax board, conscience] someone had scrawled the words Follow Program Edecate. I put my stuff down on the couch. I approach the wax board. The eraser has long ago disappeared. I wipe off the offensive words with a sleeve.

     Several years ago, some of the bleeding deacons decided that the new people who were now infiltrating the rooms in droves needed to be taught about what they referred to as "program etiquette." I thought that was a lousy idea. We already had chair people announcing things like don't cuss and turn off the cell phones [group conscience] at the beginning of each meeting. How many rules did we need here?

     Not to be denied, some of the folks from the district got together and began going around to different places and holding "workshops" on "etiquette." Yes, I went to one. One was enough. There was a slew of things that were offensive to the bleeding deacons:
          New people got up and down too much.

          They went to the bathrooms too much.

          They dared to leave the meeting to take smoke breaks.

          New people talked too much to each other during the meetings.

          They talked about day treatment, drug court, and other addictions when it was their turn to share.

          Some of them even left the meeting before the final prayer at the end.

          New people didn't understand anonymity.

          They talked about the meeting in the parking lot.

          They ratted on people to their counselors or to drug court.

     If these workshops had been renamed "Traditions Workshops" and the trads were presented as ideals to follow, I would not have had a problem. But the etiquette workshops were simply bitchfests with lecturers. Nothing good came out of them far as I could tell.

     I have a lot of time in. I've been abstinent for more than half my life. When I get up during a meeting to use the bathroom, I don't get the stares from the bleeding deacons. Kids have to ask to be excused from the room or from the dinner table. Adults at a recovery meeting do at times have to use the bathroom during the meeting. This should not be a big deal people.

     Yes, some of us are easily distracted. It ain't just the newcomers, folks. Yes, sometimes the room is too bright or too noisy or too smelly. Yeah, sometimes we need to stand up or stretch our legs a bit. If an adult wishes to leave a room for any reason, why is that anyone's business? Sometimes, a topic is hitting close to home and someone may need a break for that reason. Tobacco is an addiction, we are now told. If you don't smoke or if your smoking allows you to sit still for an hour without a cigarette, count yourself lucky.

     Is there a list of acceptable topics floating around that I haven't been told about? If I am worried or angry or think I will relapse over some person, place, thing, situation, organization, or other entity, isn't that fair game for bringing up at a meeting? "Hardly any recovery in this room," you say. I was told that if I thought something was going to cause me to mess up, that I could talk about it in the rooms. Whatever.

     There are a few more non-theists in the rooms than there used to be. The growing trend of young people who are un-churched is also reflected in the composition of people in recovery. Some of us choose to sit or stand during the final prayer. We don't want to be fake and say words that do not hold any meaning to us. Folks leaving before the final "amen" disconcerts me too at times. Bottom line: We don't have (all that much, if any) control over the behavior of others. I don't have to die on that particular mountain. Neither do you. A few people will leave before the end of meetings. Suck it up and deal with it. 

     Breaching of anonymity is a problem but it is not only the newcomers who do it. Some people who should know better call up drug court personnel and rat out the mandated people. This one goes to the bathroom too much. That one comes a few minutes late. The other one is sleeping. These two are seeing each other secretly on the side. And so on. The professional staff at drug court are at fault for listening. So maybe new folks in treatment are in the parking lot talking about what happened at the meetings. Is that any worse than those of us who know better going home and telling our spouses who was there or what was said? Different from a gang of recovering people in a restaurant talking about other recovering people? More terrible than the rumors going around concerning who picked up again, who slept with who, or who is getting a divorce? Awful-er than snitching to drug court? We who have been there have a responsibility to follow the spirit of tradition twelve as well as the letter.

     This is not an us versus them thing. This is not a newcomers against bleeding deacons recovery. We have a responsibility at meetings. We are the ones who can gently take people aside and explain some aspect of a tradition. We are the ones who can help a chairperson out by asking for quiet. We are the ones who can practice celebrating the new people instead of verbally attacking them for not "following program etiquette."

     Cell phones are an annoyance everywhere. The abrupt ringing is a problem in movie theaters and classrooms as well as in meetings. Cursing is something that may offend some of the older folks. As for the rest of your shitty rules, stuff them.

     We have no business directing when someone may take care of their bodily functions, take a cigarette break, or leave a room. We are not prison guards. We are not the be all and end all. When we fail to be polite and respectful of newcomers, we add another notch to the belt of problem behaviors in the rooms. One of these days, most of us will wake up and find ourselves dead. Those newcomers that you deplore will be left to carry on the message. What legacy are you leaving them?

sapphoq itching for a coffee and more



Saturday 11 October 2014


Things recovering people have said:

"And there is this meeting, called the ___________ meeting..." [eyes roll].  ~ heard at a district meeting ~

"Once they get over their individual problem..." [about a glbtiq meeting].  ~ heard at a regional meeting ~

"_____________ is d a n g e r o u s."

"You won't recover if you don't believe in [a god]."

"They're always talking about ____________ . That's not recovery."

"___________ will never make it."

Things professional helpers have said:

"You've been over-emo at meetings, yelling about people breaking anonymity because you think they tell us-- your drug court overseers-- what you are talking about at meetings."  [drug court staff do not attend any meetings that the drug court participants attend]   ~ paraphrased ~

"Don't use __________ as a sponsor."  ~ verbatim ~

"If you sleep with me, then _______ will stop."  [to a patient]

Thursday 2 October 2014

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You attend a 12 step meeting. There are many folks there who are involved in the legal system. The group conscience is that problems they face dealing with legal personnel is okay to discuss there.
     After the meeting, you comment that there isn't much recovery going on at the meeting.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You tell atheists at meetings things like "god believes in you even if you don't believe in him" and "without god, you will not recover."

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You no longer bring up problems or issues that you are having. Nor do you bring up topics that you wish to hear about. You only bring up topics that you think someone you are "concerned about" needs to" hear.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

     You study various people at the meeting and you decide who will and who will not return to active addiction.

Who Are YOU to Decide That?

      You write snarky things on your blog about the bad behaviors of people at recovery meetings. Because you know what works and what doesn't. For the entire fricking universe.
Who Are YOU to Decide That?

Saturday 13 September 2014

34 Years of Freedom

     I hit 34 years of freedom from active addiction this past Monday at 10:18 a.m. Hooray for me!

     This past year has been intense. It's been good and bad and annoying and happy and sad and peaceful and everything in waves. 

     Losing a parent is not an easy thing to go through. Dementia seems to involve little losses. At first, it was increasingly difficult for me to find remnants of my father's old personality in his Lewy Bodies. But I did find them. He is the bravest man I know.

     This year I participated in #AddictionChat on Twitter [tm]-- no copyright infringement intended. I quickly found that the focus there is chiefly on what can be done for the addict in treatment rather than on what we as recovering addicts can do for our families, our communities, and our worlds. The interesting thing is that the professionals seem to collectively think that working steps in any sort of program ought to take lots of time. Conversely, the folks in recovery who aren't professional took the opposite tact: Get 'em done. And get 'em done again. And again...

     Much to my unhappiness, I found that at least one rep of Scientology [yeah they got into the drug "rehab" biz too] became an active participant. Hearing about L. Ron and how "all drugs" retain traces in the system and can create flashbacks [patently not true b.t.w.] was not a high point for me. 

     Disagreeing with L. Ron I suppose might make me an S.P. in some circles. In actuality, it marks me as someone who merely disagrees vehemently with a hack sci-fi writer who started his own religion. L. Ron knew nothing about recovery from addiction, period.

     I also disagree with the professionals. For one, I do not perceive of addiction as a "disease." Here is the definition of addiction that I've cobbled together from various schools of thought and un-thought:

I made it myself and it is copyleft. Take it, download to your "My Computer" and do whatever with it. No hot-linking please, and as usual copyright trolls go away.

     I've read lots of books, tramped through lots of fields and woods with the old dog, and went to lots of meetings. I picked up a coffee commitment. I am writing. I continue to strive for a better life on a daily basis.

                      ~ sapphoq itching for yet another coffee

Saturday 6 September 2014


     There appears to be people in recovery who "hate" religion far more than the strictest atheist. Religion is a special sort of bogeyman. It's fake. It's phony. It's organized and abstinent people truly cannot stand anything that imposes order upon chaos. Somehow, "spirituality" is supposed by some percentage of people in the rooms to be superior to "religion." But is it?

              "Pure religion and undefiled before                God and the Father is this, To visit                the fatherless and widows in their               affliction, and to keep himself                unspotted from the world."

                               - King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition

I took the picture of the cat and altered it myself with my legally obtained copy of photo manipulation software. If you want the pic, right-click and save to "My Computer."  If you are a copyright troll, just go away. You are not welcome here.

     The etymology of the word "religion" is a matter of some dispute. Some say it derives from the Latin verb religare which is translated as to tie or to bind. Others say it is actually from the Latin verb relegere which is translated as to read over again.[].

     There is some sense about the word religion as having a relationship to or a belief in the supernatural-- or possibly the preternatural-- rather than natural explanations for events. Religion can also denote organized religion as in a particular sect which then indicates certain ways of recognition and worship of one or more divine beings or powers. From an evolution standpoint, rituals bind people into a cohesive unit of society. Religion offers connection to something bigger than oneself as well as an interconnection with other beings and a shared moral code.

     In the United States, some percentage of people define themselves as "spiritual but not religious." Some attend services which are part of a particular religion but make this claim in spite of that. Others reject out of hand all organized religions, becoming personal mystics in the process. These others may embrace anything related to the New Age without any recognition that there is good to be found in organized religions.

     Those who identify as "spiritual but not religious" are subject to the pitfall of black and white thinking. The notion that anything of a personal spiritual nature is "good" and that anything deriving from an organized religion is "bad" is a form of dualism. 

GNUatheist2 by sputnik.

     The etymology of the word spiritual is from the Latin, meaning wind or breath. []. From that working backwards in time, we find the Old French esperituel rendered as that which pertains to spirit, or that which pertains to breath. []. There is some suggestion of the words wind, breath, mind, soul, and spirit all referring to the same concept-- something inside a human which is divinely placed, capable of a relationship with the sacred, and tangled up with life itself. [].

     The word "spiritual" is akin to the word "religious"-- with or without the inclusion of organized religion-- in that people are looking to some transcendent being for explanations of their special purposes here on earth and, usually, an unknowable capital P plan. Although some naturalists cultivate what can be referred to as "spiritual experiences" within the realm of the here and now, others prefer that the natural world remain good enough.

     Whether one is a congregational participant in a particular religion or religious group or a homegrown mystic, the pull of superstitious explanations over scientific ones is the same. Science is hard work. Having to formulate questions, evaluate evidence, test and test again, and then subject the results to peer review is a process rather than a set of quick "answers."

     At this time, I don't recognize the concepts of "spirituality" and being "spiritual but not religious" as having validity. When "spiritual progress" or "spiritual but not religious" or "spirituality" or a similar topic comes up at meetings, I substitute words. Being an authentic human being without the masks afforded by active addiction is certainly something worth striving for. I seek out how to be the best humane human being that I possibly can be. 

I took the picture of the dog and altered it myself with my legally obtained copy of photo manipulation software. If you want the pic, right-click and save to "My Computer."  If you are a copyright troll, just go away. You are not welcome here.

     I can be good enough without any deities. I strive to be the human being that my dog thinks I am. The fruits of the spirit [] referred to in Galatians 5:22-23 are available to all of us, although atheists recognize that practice is involved with character-building rather than some sort of divine rendering. Being an authentic human being means knowing who I am and what my values are. Neither members of a religious sect nor those who count themselves as spiritual-- with or without such membership-- holds the monopoly on morality. Atheists have moral standards also. 

     As an atheist, I favor natural explanations over supernatural or preternatural ones. As an atheist, the marvels in the world as exposed to me by science [and mathematics] are wondrous. No gods are needed to explain the stuff of life. 

This has the look to me of Fibonacci.

     Very soon, I will be celebrating thirty four years of freedom from active addiction. There are no gods in my recovery. I have no capital H higher capital P powers. And I'm cool with that.

                ~sapphoq itching for several more coffees

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Some Days are for Screaming

I made it with my legally obtained art-ware. If you want to use it for some reason or other, right-click to save to your computer. If you are the copyright monopoly nazis, you are not welcome here. So go away. Far away. Scum.

     Yesterday, I listened to yet another person in recovery wax on about Robin Williams and his suicide. It has now come that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and that his sobriety was "intact." In other words, he did not relapse. That is to say: his suicide by belt hanging was not because he drank, used, got high, got blasted, lapsed, relapsed, slipped, or anything else related to addiction.

     What I listened to I found to be deplorable on so many levels. There was shrink crap in there about how "suicide is an irrational decision," some other crap in there about how "suicide is selfish," and some morose crap in there about "what about the children?". What about the children? Seriously? wtf.

     The particular children being referenced were all the kids who ever watched a Robin Williams movie and now the dude is splitsville, gone, not suffering anymore. The "children" will have to get over it and keep on living, just like the rest of us.

     I could not sit there and allow the person to spread false info without saying nothing. It is truly pathetic that some percentage of us who are in recovery [and long-term recovery at that, not newbies] relate every trouble known to human beings to addiction. Not everything is about addiction. Not everything is about us. 

     I wanted to scream. [See taggie above]. I wanted to scream because once again, part of the recovery ramble was about how addiction and relapse caused an actor's suicide. 

     One of today's gatherings featured talk about how a few people are faking it. They say they are abstinent but they are not. Oh really? I was one of those at one time, early on. I omitted talking  about how I was getting high on reefer a bunch of times and drunk or trying to get drunk a couple of times. I lived anyways. When I was ready, I stopped all of it. I cannot claim sobriety if I am high. I cannot claim clean time if I am drunk. I count my abstinence from the last time I had anything. Period.

     Yes, people do lie. People by and large do the best they can with what they got. When people get enough support to quit their self-destruction and enough willingness to do the work, they turn around. I am no one's goddess. I cannot "make" someone want to quit. 

     I am not their probation officer, their physician, their shrink. I don't have to become emotionally over-invested into who is faking the program and who isn't. Mental masturbation. Fun but doesn't really take any of us anywhere.

          sapphoq itching for some strong coffee-- black please. No sugar or cream or substitutes.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Let's Talk About Suicide

     The last post I threw up here about not co-signing the b.s. of others sucked. That is to say, I thought it was pretty bad. I realized that what I really want to talk about is suicide in the rooms of recovery. 

     Those of you 17 readers or so who don't live in a cave know by now that Robin Williams died. He committed suicide by hanging [with a belt]. Some people who are in recovery locally are claiming that his presence in the continuing sobriety program at Hazelden this summer indicates that (a). Robin Williams was in A.A. and (b). he relapsed.

     To the first assumption, Robin Williams was addicted to alcohol and to cocaine. He could have been attending Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Secular Sobriety-- Save Our Selves [non 12-step program], or a number of other meetings where recovering people gather or none of those things. He had twenty years of abstinence before checking into rehab in 2006 in order to become free again of active addiction to alcohol. 

     To the second assumption, Robin Williams checked into the continuing sobriety program at Hazelden earlier this summer in order to reinforce his sobriety and not because he relapsed in the year 2014. There is no indication that he relapsed in the year 2014.
Please see if you are interested.

     Some percentage of people in recovery have other medical problems besides addiction. Those who have asthma [ought to] take asthma medication in order to achieve and maintain non-constricted breathing. Those who have diabetes or high blood pressure have certain lifestyle changes along with meds that are required in order to continue living well. Those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression also should be followed by a healthcare professional so that way they don't kill themselves even though they are abstinent and working a program. Period.

     I don't know whether or not Robin Williams was being followed for his mental health stuff. I don't know what his diagnosis was. That is none of my business.

     Many years ago, a friend of mine with six years clean killed herself by jumping off of a bridge. She did not take a drink or other drugs or overdose on meds or anything in order to "give her the courage" to take her own life. She simply did it.

     Just before she suicided, she was calling some of her friends and telling them that she wanted to kill herself. Her lover attended a counseling session with her the day before she jumped off that bridge. The therapist-- I wasn't there so I don't really know what happened there. But the very next day she was gone. I suppose she was eligible for an eternity coin. [Some groups in some places give them to a dead person who died clean]. The bottom line is that she was dead. Not among the living. Kaput. Her ashes showed up at a [now former] friend's house. We went to the memorial. Life went on.

     I was glad that folks in recovery where I live didn't know my friend. [She was from another area]. I was glad that I didn't have to listen to people supposing that her program wasn't good enough or at fault somehow. Some folks in recovery did that to the two fellows here that committed suicide the same year that my friend did. None of the three people who killed themselves were failures. The fault was not in the way they "worked the program." I lay the fault at the feet of the mental health treatment industry. Period. All three of them-- my friend and the two guys-- were diagnosed with major depression. All three of them were being followed by mental health professionals. The two fellows got drunk [and one of them took too many of his diabetes meds as well] before shooting themselves with their guns. My friend jumped off the bridge sober.

     The common bond between the three of them was their major depression, their clinical depression. 

sapphoq itching for coffee says: If you want to kill yourself or hurt yourself-- regardless of whether or not you are in recovery-- please tell someone and get help. 

Not Co-Signing the B.S.

N.B. This post is poorly written. Mea culpa.

     Fact: There are people in recovery who are unlovely. Unlovely: not lovable, loud and verbally abusive to others or to at least one other individual, making a scene, erupting at a perceived slight or insult, puffed-up with resentments, unable to get along with others, unpredictable in mood and/or actions, bringing up thinly disguised character assassination as a "topic."

     There are people for whom I will never be good enough for. And there are people who I don't care to hang out with. That is my right and also yours.

     I don't hang out with people who expect me to co-sign their b.s. This sort of negative contracting is more forgivable in newcomers to recovery than in folks who been here for several years plus. If you announce that your recovery comes first and for that reason you chose not to show up for your responsibilities today, I will figure you for some sort of lout-- the same sort of lout that I used to be. If you are cursing excessively or once again announcing before a meeting how pissed off you are at [whoever it is this week], more than likely I will not deem to take sides in your controversy. If you bring up a "topic" which is actually a story of how you had it out with someone else sitting there in the meeting, I will not endorse you for doing that. I don't have to. 

     There is a problem when any one of us expects the world to conform to our own standards, disabilities, desires, lusts, ideas, or hot-headedness. We have a responsibility to allow ourselves to blend in a bit with regular society as well as with each other. When some recovering person proclaims his or her greatness, infallibility, foxiness, and talent, I know for sure that he or she is not a gift.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: I am very careful not to co-sign anyone's b.s. 

Tuesday 5 August 2014

The Care and Feeding of Drama Llamas

     The drama llama is a hybrid of human being crossed with the obnoxious kind of interwebz troll. Known to hang out in such venues as chat boards, social media blogs, high schools, and extended family holiday dinners, their numbers are spreading. Like mythical dragons scorching the populace with their fiery breath, drama llamas make their presence known by their highly volatile spittle. Chronometer results of their saliva indicate the exclusive presence of drama. Even in the test tube, this drama shrieks and has been known to pierce more than one scientist's eardrum. 

     Drama llamas have been recently making their presence known in twelve step rooms. They stand up during a meeting and begin to pontificate loudly about how the world has done them wrong. The world is usually given a specific name of a human being somewhere who may have not greeted them with the profound respect they deserve, looked at them cross-eyed, sneezed in their presence, or made a joke. Making a joke involving drama llamas is the most serious of offences.

     The hapless chairperson is unable to shut up a drama llama. Pounding a gavel feeds the fury.  People who wish to exit the rooms to the relative safety of the parking lots and streets find their way blocked by a pacing beastie and their admirers. The wrath of a drama llama is most serious business.

     While the drama llamas occur in all stages of recovery, their hapless admirers usually have less than a year in. The fans punctuate the performance of a drama llama in full regalia with shouts of "Amen," "Tell it," and "Free yourself." Once the fans begin to add to the ruckus, the atmosphere of recovery implodes.

     Here are some suggestions for the involuntary audience of a drama llama:

1.  Don't make eye contact.

2.  Don't join the fans.

3.  Don't nod in agreement with any valid point.

4.  If you are able to exit safely, do so.

5.  Crowding into a locked bathroom or climbing out the window is permitted. 

6.  Restrain your impulses to curse out a drama llama.

7.  Killing or maiming a drama llama-- regardless of how justified such action may be-- will only result in you becoming their legal victim. Hands off!

     Once a drama llama has converted meeting space into a stage, it is too late to restore the atmosphere of recovery until the next meeting. The only piece of good news is that the drama llama is likely not to attend a meeting in the same place for several days, years, or lifetimes after his or her performance. For that, you can be grateful.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: Drama llamas are frustrated folks who have never been discovered and whisked away into stardom. Falling into the trap of believing that you are part drama llama yourself because you object to them holding a meeting hostage is not accurate thinking. Sometimes, people really do exhibit strange or injurious behaviors independent of your own personal flaws and liabilities.   



If that does not work, the direct link is:

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.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

When "Treatment" Goes Wrong

     In my unasked for opinion, blaming the client/ customer/ participant/ patient for a failure of the system to treat that human being competently-- or at least adequately-- sucks. I've been alive long enough to know that this cookie cutter treatment that almost all of the newer folks in recovery are being subjected to is a sham. It is more than unfortunate that twelve step philosophy in general and A.A. in general [with a passing nod to N.A.] is presently dominating the addictions treatment industry.

     Now that we've all been edumacated into the disease concept-- alcoholism is a disease, drug addiction is a disease, gambling addiction is a disease, internet addiction is a disease, obesity is a disease...-- it is obvious to those profiteers of the misfortune of the addicted that a "disease" requires "treatment" that insurance companies ought to pay for. The identified addict is shuffled into counseling, drug courts, mental hell courts, detox, in-patient, out-patient, halfway houses, houses for people who have been identified as having both a mental problem and an addiction problem world without end amen. The identified addict is subject to inspection, psycho-socials, team meetings, social workers, case managers, and fishbowl living. Add on to all of that feelings groups, employment groups, recreation groups, spirituality groups, house meetings, and group groups. 

     I have been witness to more than several rather dramatic "treatment failures" through the years. Three people I knew committed suicide. Two were drunk and one was not drunk at the time of the taking of their lives. Shotgun [drunk], overdose of prescribed meds [drunk], jumping off of a bridge on purpose [sober]. Not easy ways to die for sure. The common reaction to the news of a suicide is something along the lines of "He or she wasn't working THE program." Countless people have left rehabs and day programs and halfway houses and other residences early and against the advice of the professionals and para-professionals. A few have opted for serving prison time rather than completing drug court. Some have been kicked out when it was determined that their addiction was complicated by more serious issues such as a rampant eating disorder or sexual abuse trauma.

     The drug court folks complain of fishbowl living. And that seems to be accurate. Anyone from the community can call the drug court staff in order to rat out a drug court defendant [NOT participant] for things like giving someone a ride home from a bar, being near a bar, bowling with a bowling team [hey, there's booze at the bowling alleys Jack]. What's even worse are past graduates of drug courts who have the ears of drug court staff. They report that one woman "looked" upset before a [12 step] meeting or that a guy "is not paying attention" during a [12 step] meeting. They should know better. So should the drug court staff.

     Folks who live in a residence with staff oversight have complained that staff have stolen their property, held back their checks, insisted that they attend a dance or other social event put on by the agency that runs the residence, treats them like children. They too are under constant surveillance.

     Groups conducted at the residences and those conducted at treatment facilities sponsor the viewpoint that all of the attendees are "sick" people with a "disease" who must rely on a "Higher Power" [supposedly of their choosing but commonly referred to in the literature as male and monotheistic] in order to halt the progress of their "disease." Atheists are pressured to find a "Higher Power" regardless of how sincerely an unbelief may be held. At the very least, an atheist should be encouraged to re-write the steps into something that is pertinent to him or her. Even better is a system that offers alternatives to twelve step meetings as a means to facilitate abstinence. Also [usually] missing is the opportunity to engage in treatment geared toward harm reduction. Some folks can cut back. Others may find that they are unable to cut back and then opt to go for total abstinence. 

     Twelve step meetings have helped some [very low] percentage of people to abstain from their addictions. Other folks may do better in a secular group or in harm reduction or gasp! on their own. [According to Harvard studies, approximately 77% of those people who themselves choose to quit drinking do so without any formal treatment or attendance at 12-step groups]. Some folks may opt for opioid replacement therapies for a time. [Others may have this option forced on them]. More research is needed on issues such as when treatment is needed and what kind is optimal to the individual. It is far too easy to assume that all identified addicts should be steered to a twelve step program. The real work is in helping a patient to determine what resources he or she want to access in order to mitigate or stop a given self-destructive behavior.

     Professionals and para-professionals do a grave disservice to their patients and drug court defendants by assuming that they know better than the individual being subjected to their knowledge does about what might truly help and heal. Until the system changes its operating premises that all of the clients are sick and diseased and too stupid to figure out what they need, there will be treatment failures. And these "treatment failures" are human beings. 

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: It is past the time when the dominance of a twelve step approach should be acceptable in treatment protocols for all identified addicts. Blaming the customer is bad practice. While there certainly are very dedicated professionals and para-professionals working in the addiction treatment industry, the overbearing system inhibits their ability to shine and to put the needs of their patients and drug court defendants first.