Why Trying To Beat Addiction Might Not Be A Great Idea

Let's make some computer and video games!

Moderator: Ice Cream Jonsey

Post Reply
User avatar
pinback
Posts: 13343
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Why Trying To Beat Addiction Might Not Be A Great Idea

Post by pinback » Mon May 18, 2015 2:35 pm

There are many programs, AA the most prevalent among them, and including actual hospitalized in- and out-patient programs (one of which I was involved in for about a week before I went to Scotland) which seem to be effective, to varying levels, methods of "beating your addiction". Of "dealing with the problem." Of "coping with the struggle".

To the extent they help folks to achieve the sobriety and life they want, I cannot say there's anything wrong with that approach. However, given my own experience within the last month, I believe there is another, possibly more effective approach to consider.

In many cases (including my own), the addiction can be traced back to what I'd call a deep sense of unease, of inadequacy, of incompleteness. There was no one thing or situation in particular you could point to as being the cause of that feeling, but there is a constant, lurking sense that something is not okay. Something with me, or my life, or "the world", or whatever. Some profound error is eating away at me, killing me from the inside, slowly, cancerous.

That's all a bit dramatic, but it gets the point across. Something is not okay, and I can't seem to arrange my life in a way where it feels okay and stays there. Sure, a fun new house or new car or new sex or accomplishment makes everything okay for a bit, but then the not-okay-ness comes back, and eventually the entirety of life feels like a struggle because nothing works.

Except alcohol works. Maybe only for a few hours, and I know I'll pay for it in the morning, but goddammit, right now, I want to feel complete and okay, at least long enough to get to bed.

And there's your addiction, right there.

And you can read all about methods of fighting it, and work with an AA sponsor, and go to therapy, and do all of the work you can do to somehow cope with the issue. As I said, however well that works, great.

With me, however, when the root of the problem was removed, the addiction vanished. Completely. I drank nothing for three weeks, with no desire, and even on vacation, if I had a beer with dinner, I rarely had a second, and on most of those rare occasions, I left it without finishing it. The compulsion to drink, the need to set everything right, the incompleteness was just not there anymore.

The danger, I think, with something like AA, is that it implies (and even explicitly states, in some cases), that addiction is a solid thing, a problem that you will need to fight against your whole life (you know, "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic", and the like), which, Catch-22, ensures that the problem will be there your whole life. The struggle against the problem, in fact, maintains the appearance that there is a problem to struggle against.

All of this precludes the possibility that the root of the addiction itself can dissolve, and with it, the addiction.

...

At the beginning of every outpatient session I went to, we were asked to fill out a sheet describing what coping mechanisms we'd used in the past 24 hours.

I had to lie every time, and make something up.

The truth was, I had used zero coping mechanisms, because there was no longer anything to cope with.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Tue May 19, 2015 5:27 am

For the next episode of the Don Rogers Show, you should get anyone from any recovery program ever to dial in, explain this theory to them and see what they say. I'd tune in for that.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
pinback
Posts: 13343
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Post by pinback » Tue May 19, 2015 7:54 am

Flack wrote:For the next episode of the Don Rogers Show, you should get anyone from any recovery program ever to dial in, explain this theory to them and see what they say. I'd tune in for that.
If there was any chance my producer would get off his ass and do anything, I'd ask him to book someone like that.

Unfortunately, the only person I know who was in any recovery programs is dead from a heroin overdose.

User avatar
Ice Cream Jonsey
Posts: 21882
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:44 pm
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Tue May 19, 2015 11:13 am

pinback wrote:
Flack wrote:For the next episode of the Don Rogers Show, you should get anyone from any recovery program ever to dial in, explain this theory to them and see what they say. I'd tune in for that.
If there was any chance my producer would get off his ass and do anything, I'd ask him to book someone like that.
I need another month and then I'll have free time for outside projects.

Unfortunately, the only person I know who was in any recovery programs is dead from a heroin overdose.
People are really taking extraordinary steps to avoid being asked onto your show.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Tue May 19, 2015 12:31 pm

I was thinking more along the lines of someone who actually works as a therapist. Like, they could some on the show and explain the tried and true methods of recovery that have worked for hundreds of thousands of people over the past hundred years or so, and then Don Rogers could explain how that's all bullshit and spend time trying to convince them that there is no spoon.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
pinback
Posts: 13343
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Post by pinback » Tue May 19, 2015 12:45 pm

Flack wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of someone who actually works as a therapist. Like, they could some on the show and explain the tried and true methods of recovery that have worked for hundreds of thousands of people over the past hundred years or so, and then Don Rogers could explain how that's all bullshit and spend time trying to convince them that there is no spoon.
I tried to make clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with these programs, if they are helpful, and as you say, they have been very helpful to many, many people.

New (I say "new", even though they have their roots in age-old wisdom, but they're "new" now because now they have acronyms and authors with "PhD" next to their names) therapies like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and the like, go a long way to digging at the core. From what I've seen, though, they are used generally as a way of "dealing with" or "getting rid of" addiction, with that as the primary stated goal.

I am suggesting that attacking the problem head-on like this may in some cases have the undesired effect of strengthening the illusion that there is a solid, persistent problem to attack, when in fact it is possible to do an "end-around", approach it from a radically different perspective, and have the addiction dissolve on its own, leaving nothing left to attack.

I say that it is possible, because it is what happened to me, and it is amazing and wonderful.

Were a therapist to come on and talk with me about it, I would hope they would be inquisitive and open to hearing about my experience, rather than defensive of currently established techniques (which, I'll say again, are very helpful for many, many people, and thus need not be defended, at least from me.)

User avatar
pinback
Posts: 13343
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Post by pinback » Tue May 19, 2015 12:57 pm

pinback wrote:I am suggesting that attacking the problem head-on like this may in some cases have the undesired effect of strengthening the illusion that there is a solid, persistent problem to attack, when in fact it is possible to do an "end-around", approach it from a radically different perspective, and have the addiction dissolve on its own, leaving nothing left to attack.
Amusingly, at least to me, I am now reminded of this thing I wrote about ten years ago, which offers a metaphor for this very thing, with "the game" standing in for whatever it is you're fighting in your life. In the context of this thread, "the game" is "addiction".

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Tue May 19, 2015 12:59 pm

I've got no dog in this fight -- more power to ya! I hope you're able to bottle whatever you've got and sell it to the world.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
The Happiness Engine
Posts: 499
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:16 pm

Post by The Happiness Engine » Tue May 19, 2015 6:35 pm

Flack wrote:For the next episode of the Don Rogers Show, you should get anyone from any recovery program ever to dial in, explain this theory to them and see what they say. I'd tune in for that.
As someone currently in an outpatient abstinence program, this is far more sensible than half the bullshit I have to sit there and listen to every other day. (The other half is guided group discussion, which is far more interesting and effective at getting at least me to consider conscious and unconscious choices in a new light.)

Also, pissing in those fucking cups non-stop. It's a pain in the bladder, man.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Wed May 20, 2015 8:55 am

I'm familiar with that, but for different reasons. Due to security clearances and such, I occasionally get called to "perform on demand." A 32oz Big Gulp full of water before making the walk of shame tends to help.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Garth's Equipment Shop
Posts: 638
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:55 pm
Location: Festering Foothills
Contact:

Post by Garth's Equipment Shop » Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:02 pm

Wow excellent opening post Ben. I related to all of it and have had the same beef with "programs" like AA. They really seem too much like cults to me. Just like any cult they have a kind of circular logic that entraps already vulnerable people in their web of slogans and preprogrammed responses to every thing. And like the best cults do they give you a new family and tell you to get rid of old people places and things and lure you in with free coffee and donuts and welcoming smiles and hugs.
Which of you is interested in my fine wares?

User avatar
The Happiness Engine
Posts: 499
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:16 pm

Post by The Happiness Engine » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:15 pm

AA is a broad category and there is no overall central leadership, so things are arranged how any individual group of people sees fit. That said, it is definitely an ends-justify-the-means cult.

Now is that really such a bad thing? These are people who have by definition no other way of controlling their destructive impulses, so something like AA indoctrinates them to not use anymore. Seems on a different class than "indoctrinate you so I can rape your daughters." spiel one gets from a standard cult. Can a lot of AA people be insufferable bores? Sure, just like Jesus freaks, vegans, athiests, people who have no man to go, etc. People change their life in a huge and fundamental way and want to tell people all about it. Fuck, I KNOW it is boring as shit and I still want to tell people all about it.

I've been meaning to get my ass to http://www.smartrecovery.org/ which seems to be all the sober support with less of the Abstinent Jesus come to Judge The Right and the Wrong, but I'd have to actually go outside to see if it's just a different set of pseudo-technical jargon or not.

User avatar
Garth's Equipment Shop
Posts: 638
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:55 pm
Location: Festering Foothills
Contact:

Post by Garth's Equipment Shop » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:07 pm

Indeed there are far worse cults.
Which of you is interested in my fine wares?

Donald Ebinsen
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:31 pm

Post by Donald Ebinsen » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:38 pm

I hate AA. It's just a thinly disguised religious program where you admit you are a piece of garbage and you need to ask an invisible man for help.

But it's definitely a cult. L. Sprague deCamp, who wrote "Conan the Barbarian," defined a cult. "A religion that isn't old enough to have members who raised their children in it." Since AA only has adults and occasionally kids with addiction problems and no infants, it's a cult.

Fortunately I've never had to deal with it or else I'd probably have burned down the building for hypocricy.

User avatar
Ice Cream Jonsey
Posts: 21882
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:44 pm
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:22 pm

Donald Ebinsen wrote:But it's definitely a cult. L. Sprague deCamp, who wrote "Conan the Barbarian," defined a cult.
I seem to recall a feller by the name of Robert E. Howard being the creator of Conan.... was deCamp one of the many writers?
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:37 pm

L. Sprague deCamp phoned in the Commodore 64 port.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

Donald Ebinsen
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:31 pm

Post by Donald Ebinsen » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:11 pm

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Donald Ebinsen wrote:But it's definitely a cult. L. Sprague deCamp, who wrote "Conan the Barbarian," defined a cult.
I seem to recall a feller by the name of Robert E. Howard being the creator of Conan.... was deCamp one of the many writers?
DeCamp made the observation that a cult was a religion that was too new to have members born into it. As for Conan it might be he wrote one of the novels rather than the screenplay. I just remember he had something to do with it.

i just looked it up on Amazon, he wrote Sagas of Conan and Conan the Swordsman. Okay I was wrong, he wrote books in the Conan universe, not specifically that book or the screenplay. And he co-wrote Conan The Adventurer (volume 5) with Howard. Actually he co-wrote 12 of the Conan books with Howard, so I understand how I made the mistake.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 6092
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by Flack » Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:30 am

It is a mistake you shall only make once!

Image
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

Donald Ebinsen
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:31 pm

Post by Donald Ebinsen » Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:25 am

"I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman."
- Governator Ahhohld
"Turn left at Greenland"
- Ringo Starr on how he found America, The Beatles Press Conferemce, 1964

Post Reply