Archive for August, 2009


“The roots of addiction remain a dark tangle of factors”. – Newsweek

August 16, 2009

debateWow, what great imagery.

I read a post recently that referred to a Newsweek article containing the above quote.  It has been bouncing around my head all day.

If this description of addiction were accurate, would it not indicate why there is so much debate on…

  • why it happens?
  • what causes it?
  • what effective treatments are and are not?
  • why treatment programs yield such low results?
  • why addicts can’t ‘just quit’?
  • whether or not addiction is a disease?
  • whether it is an emotional problem, chemical problem, biochemical problem, physical problem, societal problem, spiritual problem?
  • and a thousand other contentious issues around addiction, alcoholism, and receovery?

While the battle for doctrinal and theoretical supremacy rage on, addiction rates are rising, more people are dying, and more children and families are left devastated.

My point?  This is serious stuff!  This is huge stuff!  Yet somehow, many of us sit around pouring our energy into picking the fly shit out of the pepper on the micro issues of whose idea of recovery is more valid? 

  • We get some militant 12 steppers who say their way is the only way and practice AA with cult-like narrow-mindedness.
  • We get religious zealots (aka: heretic hunters and modern-day pharisees) arguing that in spite of the fact that many of us have found reprieve from our alcoholism via the 12 steps or other methods, that none of these are gifts of God as they see them and are wrong/evil/of the devil.
  • We get anti-AA and anti-God people saying that those who believe addiction has a spiritual component are weirdos and in spite of widespread results, claim that AA is ineffective.
  • We get the Mega Pharma industry telling us that we will eventually have a medication that will cure us.
  • We get as many theories as there are theorists…. and so many sitting around debating whose ideas are right and why the ideas of others are wrong.

What good does all this do?

I just spent the weekend with my young teenage son.  My son who now has a sober and recovering Dad in his life.  A boy who has a Dad who has come back to being a role model, mentor, and coach to him.

He doesn’t care if I am a 12 stepper, a harm-reductioner, a rational-recoveryer, or if the Reverend Ernest Angely prayed over me and miracle working power of Jesus zapped me straight from heaven! 

Or would it matter if I had shoved the all new Recovery Suppository from Pfizer up my ass and rebalanced my body chemistry to the point where I never wanted or needed another drink or drug?

No, he is just happy to have his Dad back!

I understand that we all come from different background and circumstances.  Our perceptions, experiences and conditionings are all different.  Can we not all see that addiction and alcoholism is so freakin complex, that maybe some of us need one method of treatement while others need something different?

Is it not possible that my ‘dark tangle’ is made up of different components and in different measures than yours?

Can we not see that if we do not have some sobriety through whatever means works for us, that we stand no chance at all of finding a way to stay that way and recover to a better life for us and our families?  If we don’t start by getting sober by whatever means is availabe to us,  that surely we or others will end up dead or disabled before long.

Having just spent one of the most awesome weekends with my son, my heart goes out to those still stuck in active addiction and confused by the debate over theory or doctrine on how to get and stay sober… leaving their families, and kids in particular, to suffer.

My suggestion…. set all of the debates aside, grab ahold of what is readily available to you and appears reasonably safe to get sober/clean, pour yourself wholeheartedly into it for a prolonged period, then take a breath, look around, and re-evaluate if this is the right thing for you long term.  Is it safe?  Is it wise? Is it getting results?  Does it fit with your values and beliefs?  If yes, continue.  If no, move to something else.  There are lots of options.

 At least you stand a chance of recovery by getting clean/sober and hopefully you will minimize the hurt and danger to others.  Especially your kids.




“You are no longer the sickest one in the room”

August 2, 2009

single white femail briget fondaSicker than an alcoholic? Yes, some of our friends and families are.

Ever see Single White Female with Bridget Fonda?  I met the woman this weekend who could have been the role model for the codependent roommate.

A family friend (aka Superfriend) was present as my wife and I visited family who had had just had a baby.  Superfriend in the creepiest way acted at times as if the baby was hers.

I later learned that Superfriend had grown up in a severely dysfunctional alcoholic home.  Her behaviour was quite typical of adult children of alcoholics in that she needed desperately to be needed.  She was care-taking the whole situation so much that she was over-taking.

I further learned that Superfriend has been inordinately clingy to my wife’s family member for many years.  The odd thing is that Superfriend is functioning and successful in other areas of her life.  But in interpersonal relationships, she is a clingy disaster.

A trusted person in my program of recovery once told me, “You may get to a point where you as the alcoholic are no longer the sickest one in the room”. Meaning the codependents in our lives can be just as sick or sicker and as we recover and they don’t, the gap becomes apparent.

This is what I believe I experienced this weekend.  Someone every bit as sick or even sicker than the alcoholics in her life.  She appeared so desperate, she was downright delusional.

In this sense, I feel grateful to be an alcoholic.  At least my core problem was much clearer to identify.