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?”

AA’s Concept of Alcoholism

“AAs characteristically believe that alcoholism is an unabating, chronic biopsychospiritual illness which can be arrested, but never be cured.”

I’ve never heard anybody who successfully quit smoking refer to him/herself as a smoker, a recovering smoker, a recovered smoker, or a smoker in recovery. Yet attend any AA meeting, and substitute ‘alcoholic’ for ‘smoker,’ and you will hear just that. It doesn’t matter whether a member has been sober for five days, five years, or fifty years. This is because the overwhelming majority of AAs embrace a unique disease model of alcoholism. Continue reading “AA’s Concept of Alcoholism”