Tuesday 27 January 2015

An Indictment

     Recently, several of my close associates have gone back out. People with time measured in years, not months. People who were doing all the stuff that people in recovery are told that we must do in order to keep on keeping on. People who were working steps, had service commitments, went to meetings, used their sponsors, read the literature, took care of themselves, lived up to their responsibilities, had deeply held religious beliefs and practices to match.

     So far, they were all lucky enough to make it back into the rooms of recovery. So far, they are all staying in. So far, so good. 

     They all have said it is a struggle to remain clean now. More of a struggle than before. They have had various consequences for their relapses. What those consequences are is of no importance to anyone reading this blog post. None of them "got away with it."

     I had my lapsing and relapsing during the first nine months of my attendance at x.a. meetings. Then I began to understand that I had to quit all of it and not just the drugs that I perceived of as having been or helped to create the biggest problems in my life. So I did. I got honest. [Unlike my buddies, I was not honest about what drugs I was still taking during those first nine months]. I started over.  Starting over was tough. Staying away from all of the drugs was much more difficult for me than staying away from some drugs.

     There is something here I've been thinking about a lot. We-- at least here in the United States-- really do not know enough about how to treat addicts in the throes of their addiction. Most of the addiction treatment industry organizations here are heavily dominated by twelve step approaches and philosophy with bits of pop psychology and pseudo-religion thrown in.

     The stats from the rehabs that are honest about the results of treatment via long-term follow-up are dismal. I've heard various percentages ranging from ten percent on up through thirty-three percent. One in three down to one in ten will remain abstinent. The other figure I've heard tossed around is one in four will relapse some percentage of the time and therefore are declared to be "improved."

     These figures ought to be unacceptable. They certainly are unacceptable to me.

     The best that professionals in our country can offer is "Well, some of you will be dead. Some will bounce in and out. A very few of you will remain clean." 

     But meanwhile

...if you relapsed, then your program or the way that you worked the program sucked or wasn't good enough.

...if you relapsed, then you quit going to meetings or didn't go to enough meetings or got disconnected from meetings even if you were going to meetings.

...if you relapsed and killed yourself, then you weren't working the program and forget all the foolishness about whether or not you had a separate disorder that has suicidal ideation as a prominent feature.

     Furthermore, your relapse had nothing to do with 

...our treatment protocol, 

...our failure to give you culturally competent treatment, 

...our failure to screen you for other disorders, 

...our failure to help you determine what support systems you want to use in order to not use again after you leave us, 

...our failure to recognize that x.a. programs may not be the best way to go for everyone,

...our failure to lobby for more research into the best ways to treat people with addiction, especially if some of those ways just might include stuff other than a twelve step philosophy.

     Beside that,

...One quasi-religious group is heavily involved in the addictions treatment industry for adults as well as in prevention programs for school kids. The adults are treated with mega-doses of certain vitamins and exposure to the group's ideology. The kids pledge not to use drugs and are also given links to certain websites where they too will be exposed to the group's ideology.

...a certain troubled teen industry group whose founder and staff are predominantly of a certain religion are heavily involved in the addictions treatment industry for teens. Those teens are lumped in with all the other "troubled teens" in their residential schools hell pits of torture.

I am not a fan of the quasi-religious group nor am I a fan of those places where staff go beating on kids and throwing them into extended periods of isolation and otherwise severely mistreating them.

     We are at a crossroads and we don't even know it.

sapphoq itching for another coffee says: People are complex. The etiologies behind addictions are multi-factorial. By subscribing to total immersion into the twelve steps and x.a. culture, the majority of the organizations involved in the addictions treatment industry are failing to recognize that more ways of treating addicts seeking relief from active addiction need to be researched and developed.
     By failing to do so, other organizations which are not noted for their honesty or humane practices will step in to fill the void. These other organizations claim to have better outcomes. We don't call them on their dishonest stats for fear of litigation or because we figure they are the experts or perhaps we've learned we ought not to criticize those agencies which are religious in nature.
     Because we fail to broaden our scope and we fail to demand ethical research into other more efficient ways to treat addicts in order to yield more successful outcomes, addicts will die. Addicts who could have been saved if only we knew more about how to treat them. Period.



Saturday 3 January 2015

Dealing with Death in Recovery

     Dad died on Christmas Eve holding my hand. I am truly at peace with his passing. He was sick for a very long time.  Some folks in the rooms have asked me, usually before a meeting, "How's your father?"

     "He's dead," I tell them. I don't know why that answer [seems to, an any rate] creates a bit of discomfort. Whether there is an afterlife or not [and I don't think there is one], my father is out of it now. He no longer has to force himself to function when it's easier to just allow the dementia to take over. He no longer has to deny arthritic pain or hide his ever-decreasing short term memory. He no longer has to fight to stay awake and interested in his surroundings.

     I've been at twelve step meetings where the topic was coping with the death of someone. When I experienced the loss of a grandfather three months into my own recovery [and was still a believer in divinity], I brought up that topic myself. The usual platitudes were offered to me. Y'll know the ones I mean...
          He's in a better place now.
          You'll see him again.
          Using won't fix the pain.
     and others which basically boil down to the same thing: The loss of someone near and dear to you is not permanent. It's a very long temporary, that's all.

I made this myself. You can save it to someplace in your computer and upload it to anywhere on the interwebz. I don't care. Credit and link back to here are not necessary. Copyright trolls are not welcome here. If you are one, go away now please.

     There is a hegemony of Christian cultures in the United States. That gets tiring to me at times yet quite frankly, I think there are worse kinds of religious cultures that could predominate. Yeah, modern Christianity has produced the Westboro crew and the fake healers [someone please explain to me though why it is that there aren't any modern verified reports of said televangelists via their g-d giving amputees new limbs. See: http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/  and
http://www.christianforums.com/t6986184/  and
http://rantsandrage.com/2011/05/01/god-hates-amputees/  and
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/why_wont_god_heal_amputees.html  and
https://twitter.com/hashtag/godhatesamputees?f=realtime  to get the gist of my question]. I understand that a large majority of modern day Christians do not stand with the Westboro folks or with those preachers who are frauds. I'm saying that for all the good that modern Christianity has done, there is also some not so good. There are degrees and percentages of good and bad in all social, political, economic, religious, and bowel movements. 

     When people wish me a Happy Christian Holiday, I warmly wish them the same. When people tell me that they are praying for me or my dad, I warmly thank them. My believer friends are not out to get me, convert me, or inflict massive butt-hurt upon me personally by wishing me a Happy Christian Holiday or by expressing their concerns by letting me know that they are remembering me in their prayers. If I sneeze, a polite "G-d bless you!" ought not be a reason for a war. I'm too fricking old to fight every battle that presents itself to me. Some of those battles are not worth fighting. I leave some of the ones that are worth fighting to the younger folks coming up behind me. Because you see, I am old. I have to conserve my strength and energy.

     I've gotten off the main point of this blog post already. Didn't take long at all. Okay then. Nuff.

     I came into the rooms believing. Through the years, I've lost my faith and had to grapple with the realization that I am ipso facto an atheist. I tried to disguise this particular turn of events for a long time by hiding under the umbrella of some sort of quasi-pantheism or quasi-animism. There are either bunches of spirits around who really aren't gods or perhaps there is divinity in everything from cancer cells to cockroaches and beyond. When those things became too intellectually discordant for me to bear, I gave up. 

     As a non-believer with quite a bit of time abstinent from active addiction, I chose not to bring up my dad's demise as a topic at any of the twelve step meetings I attend. Why?

          1. I don't want to use over it.
          2. I accept death as permanent.
          3. I lost one person. My dad lost everyone.

     Here are a couple other reasons why I didn't bring it up as a topic:

          1. I have the benefit of a huge support system: my actual friends [not the many acquaintances] both inside and outside of the rooms, professionals, a few selected relatives, and hospice.
          2. Some folks in the rooms [just like some folks who don't need to be in the rooms] tend to discount feelings or distance themselves from uncomfortability by remarking upon the supposed transient nature of loss and that's simply not where I'm at. 
          3. A few people in the rooms tend to feed on other peoples' stuff. I'm not into, "Oh you poor thing! How are you feeling? Are you alright?"  I'm way beyond that sort of thing.

I made this myself. You can save it to someplace in your computer and upload it to anywhere on the interwebz. I don't care. Credit and link back to here are not necessary. Copyright trolls are not welcome here. If you are one, go away now please.

     The facts are simple. My father is dead. Through my direct advocacy, the caring concern of various professionals and other helpers, and hospice, my dad had a good death. He was kept as comfortable and as free from pain and anxiety as possible. I was with him when he died. Dad died holding my hand and smiling. I miss my dad however there is no way that I would want him to live any longer than he did given his failing brain and progressive physical debilitation. Dad is gone, yes. He left a lot of love behind. And that is truly awesome.

I made this myself. You can save it to someplace in your computer and upload it to anywhere on the interwebz. I don't care. Credit and link back to here are not necessary. Copyright trolls are not welcome here. If you are one, go away now please.