Last Post

“I’m finally free of that little AA voice which had been cultivated during my eight-year membership – that voice that made me second guess myself, my decisions, and my beliefs. Well, no more!”

This may very well be my last post. I realised the other day, that I’m finally over AA, so-called alcoholism/addiction and ‘recovery’ – it’s boring!

I’d been listening to my favourite radio station, and one of the guests was a woman ‘in recovery,’ who had (of course) written a book about her ‘journey to sobriety.’ I experienced a revulsion, and muttered to myself, “For f***’s sake! Is there no end to this crap?!”

I realised that I’m finally free of that little AA voice which had been cultivated during my eight-year membership – that voice that made me second guess myself, my decisions, and my beliefs. Well, no more!

It’s about time I was true to myself. That means embracing the fact that I really don’t care much for other people. I hated sponsorship, I hated my job (mental health support worker). I don’t know whether a god exists or not, and what the hell does such a question have to do with somebody’s propensity to recover anyway? Personally, I think it’s hubris to claim the existence or the non-existence of a deity/higher power (more often than not backed with a ton of cognitive bias). I’ve also embraced the fact that I hold a nihilistic view of life. It’s all inconsequential. None of us matter, really. Anyway, I’ve never felt more like me.

Obviously, it’s taken me quite a while to get here. I’ve known deep down for over a year that I was over it all, but actually accepting it took a little longer. Truth be told, I’d dedicated the best part of twelve years to ‘recovery,’ so letting go of that identity has been a bit of a struggle.

Writing these posts has been the cathartic experience I had hoped it would be. Funnily, enough, the idea for my blog was born out of a last-ditch attempt to re-integrate myself into the world of recovery when I left my job (and the profession). I had been feeling somewhat lost, and so started searching the net. I even I joined a couple of recovery forums, but soon realised I had no desire to carry a message, nor could I tolerate all the recovery talk.

Eventually, I stumbled across AA Beyond Belief, a progressive AA movement that has steered away from traditional (and fundamental) AA. They run a stories section, and podcasts.

In my floundering, I was gripped with grandiose ideas, and sent in my ‘important’ story. I’d imagined that I might get on a podcast too. My imaginings were short-lived, however: although my story was printed, it didn’t really make much of an impact. No podcast for me!

Whilst, my ‘plan’ hadn’t worked out, however, I had noticed that just putting pen to paper had been incredibly therapeutic. I also realised that I had much more to say; hence this blog.

I feel as though I’ve finally got it all off my chest, and that I’m now free to move on. There’s really only one last thing for me to do: to dispose of all the Twelve Step literature I have accumulated. It’s all boxed-up and ready to go. Now all I have to decide is whether to bin it, burn it or give it to a charity shop. We shall see!

Sayonara!

Recovering from Recovery

“Thanks to REBT, my identity is no longer defined by a maladaptive behaviour, I once engaged in. I have ceased labelling myself an alcoholic, for labels are gross overgeneralisations and belong on jars, not on people.”

I was recently asked by an AA member how I used Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) to remain abstinent. “Simple,” I replied, “I choose not to drink.” Continue reading “Recovering from Recovery”

Expectations & Disappointment

“Despite my disenchantment, I have learned a very valuable lesson from my experiences: expectations propagate the seeds of disappointment. It’s not SP’s (or my former friend’s) fault that I feel the way I do. I was the one who put him on a pedestal, and I was the one who put my faith in a fallible human being.”

I got sober in Kyiv, Ukraine, using a Big Book study CD, a 1920s dictionary, and the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Meetings were thin on the ground in Kyiv, and there were often few or no members around. Continue reading “Expectations & Disappointment”

Humanness isn’t a Character Defect

“Since leaving Alcoholics Anonymous, and converting to Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT), this early lesson has been affirmed time and again. I no longer think of myself as inherently defective or as having shortcomings. I’m just a fallible human being.”

When I arrived at AA I had incredibly low self-esteem, and believed I was inherently inadequate. This belief plagued me the entirety of my AA membership. It didn’t matter how many times I worked the Steps, how many people I sponsored or how much service work I did, it was never good enough. As far as I was concerned, I was a walking character defect. Continue reading “Humanness isn’t a Character Defect”

A Magic Answer

“Eventually, after one ‘debate’ too many, the gentleman very patiently asked, “What do you want, Bob? A magic answer?!” I called him the c-word and hung up. It would be another ten years before I sought help again.”

I was just nineteen when I first sought help for my maladaptive drinking and substance misuse; I phoned an AOD helpline.  Continue reading “A Magic Answer”

Powerless No More

“Thanks to Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, I am truly empowered to change the things I can, and accept the things I can’t. Thankfully, maladaptive behaviours, belong firmly in the ‘can change’ category.”

Powerlessness

Pursuant to the AA Big Book, those who drink maladaptively are utterly powerless over alcohol: “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.” (4th Edition, p-45).

This admittance of powerlessness is, according to AA, the first Step in achieving sobriety. If a person were truly powerless over alcohol, however, how could he or she actually recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? Continue reading “Powerless No More”

Is Addiction a Brain Disease?

“The National Institutes for Drug Addiction describe addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” But a number of scholars, myself included, question the usefulness of the concept of addiction as a brain disease.”

The opioid abuse epidemic is a full-fledged item in the 2016 campaign, and with it questions about how to combat the problem and treat people who are addicted.

At a debate in December Bernie Sanders described addiction as a “disease, not a criminal activity.” And Hillary Clinton has laid out a plan on her website on how to fight the epidemic. There, substance use disorders are described as “chronic diseases that affect the brain.”

The National Institutes for Drug Addiction describe addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” But a number of scholars, myself included, question the usefulness of the concept of addiction as a brain disease. Continue reading “Is Addiction a Brain Disease?”