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Joined: 11/11/2009
Msg: 1
Alternate to AAPage 1 of 2    (1, 2)
I have a friend who is an alcoholic. They want to quit and in researching and whatnot, it seems everything is based on the 12 steps. The issue with this is, the person needing help is not really into "God" or faith or a higher power. Are there other programs that don't rely on a "higher power"?
Joined: 8/4/2007
Msg: 2
view profile
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 1:14:05 PM
I don't know of anything to recommend, but I do recall a friend looking for exactly the type of thing you are talking about...not sure what he ended up with...just knew that he didn't want to substitute the "crutch" of AA for the booze.

I just typed "alcoholics anonymous alternatives" in google - and it came back with 86,300 results. Give it a shot!
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 3
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 3:05:58 PM
If you want to try something different, I know this program works because two family members were able to quit drinking many years ago, and have stayed quit, following it:

"Alcoholism - The Biochemical Connection; A Biomedical Regimen for Recovery with a Proven 75% Success Rate"

and "Seven Weeks To Sobriety; The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism Through Nutrition,"

by Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D., Director of Health Recovery Center

These two books are available used on the internet for just a few dollars.

I still recommend AA in addition to this, because addiction is such a difficult thing to change. Very few people can change it on their own.

The definition of addiction is that someone has much less ability or willingness to choose.

It is a usurping of the will...

and so the drug or whatever the person is addicted to doing/ingesting takes over the will.

Its like the person's ability to take initiative, to have an intent that does not involve the reassurance of acting on the addiction is down the end of a very loonngg tunnel. They become hard to reach, and they themselves can't reach themselves, and find their true will.

A person is not free unless they have the freedom to choose to act without the influence of an addiction. Addiction takes that ability away. So most of the time they need an outside influence to help them break free, and then they can choose.

Unfortunately, all those who try to help can sometimes get caught in the trap of the addiction by becoming codependent, which is: assisting the person to deal with life while still under the addiction. This usually fails in "curing" the addiction because it just delays the consequences of it, allowing the person to appear to function when really they cannot.

Those who can see this dilemma and not get caught in this trap are people who have been there and know all the potholes to avoid on the way to sober living. That's really all AA is. Its not a religion. It accepts all religions, even those who have no religion. Those folks are encouraged to temporarily make their sponsor their "Higher Power" until they can make it on their own. The key is that the drug has become that person's "higher power" and that is why so many fail to improve no matter what method is used. (All treatments have a more than 70% relapse rate or more.)

But no one is totally alone. No one is totally independent of others. We just can make better choices of how we are interdependent and who we are interdependent with.

Alcoholics are very vulnerable underneath. They are in the grip of something they don't understand and have no real control of, although they all believe they are still in control, they are usually the last to figure out that they are not in control of themselves. And so, they often fear any other form of control, because then they would seem to be just trading one form of control for another. And in their inebriated state they can't really choose a set of beliefs that they can trust, and so believe in nothing but the predictable treadmill of addiction.

So at some point they have to believe in something other than addiction, and because they haven't got any framework for anything else, this feels like falling off a cliff without any thing to catch them. Belief in something is a bit like flying, at some point you just have to jump off the cliff and see if your wings work. Just like taking that first drink...
Joined: 7/5/2008
Msg: 4
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 3:32:55 PM
I attended a memorial service for an 82 yr old friend this afternoon who had lost his battle with cancer. This past July he celebrated 50 years of sobriety being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. There was a worldwide conference in San Antonio, TX this past July with over 50,000 attending. That's a whole lot of people living a sober life one day at a time. July 3, 2007 I got my daughter back because of AA and she hasn't had a slip in her sobriety since. Does it work for everyone? No, it only works for those who want it bad enough. I have many friends with over 20 years sobriety thanks to AA that would laugh at the brainwashed theory. It works if you work it.
Joined: 5/19/2009
Msg: 5
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 4:56:38 PM
AA works for many people. I know someone who's been "dry" for over 25 years. He is not overly religious but he still attends the meetings and helps the newcomers. He said he almost died a few times from booze and drugs, when he was young.
I'm sure there are lots of alternatives, medications, psychotherapy, other support groups, etc.. But AA has been around for a long time and has helped a lot of people who cannot afford fancy therapies.

Joined: 12/9/2008
Msg: 6
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 6:39:10 PM
Finally Loving,

I would like to suggest that your friend might not really be ready to quit and is using the fact that you have to believe in a higher power through AA as an excuse so that they can continue as is.

If someone really wants to quit doing drugs/drinking they will be willing to try many different avenues to quit. Just attending an AA meeting might give your friend enough information about what is available to get them on the right track to quitting. Drinking can be hard to quit. It is a very strong addiction for some people. They have also lived with their booze for such a long time that they almost feel that is what makes them who they are and are somewhat afraid of who they might be without the booze.

If your friend is giving you this as their reasoning and you are believing it but no real action is being taken to quit then I would suggest that you stop believing your friend. If your friend actually moves forward and tries to stop then be there for them but do not take their excuses and sympathize with them as that is just acceptance of their continuing to drink. Others call that enabling.

I hope your friend means it. Just remember that they should be doing some researching on the matter instead of you doing all the work for them.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 7
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/10/2010 10:50:57 PM
^^^^^ LOL!

I forgot to mention the newer detox treatments. I don't have any direct experience with these, but there is a good description of them at this website:

One of the main hurdles to quitting an addiction is the often very painful discomfort of withdrawal symptoms from the alcohol or drugs. If your friend has the money, he/she can be put into a coma and go through a painless detox. This might help with the extreme avoidance behaviors that happen after someone has already been through withdrawal once. For very serious drinkers, this might be a very attractive way to begin the process of dealing with their addiction. However, the likelihood of them drinking again is quite high if all they do is the detox part.

The hardest part of all is learning to cope with life without the alcohol or drug crutches.
The person has often built their entire life around the addiction, getting access to the drug, hiding the drug, paying for the drug, remembering multiple lies to cover up the consequences of the addiction, developing special relationships with people who are tolerant of addiction. Sometimes everything needs to change, where they spend their free time (away from bars/clubs/surfing, ect...) who they spend time with, and what they do with their time. Sometimes their profession is a risky one for someone who has an addiction (like bartender.)
This is where it gets very tricky, and it helps to have lots of backup and support and people who have done it before so that you can navigate through.

There is also the issue that being addicted causes changes in the person's body, and so they will be deficient in many vitamins and in generally poor health, because of the strain on their body. All these changes combined with poor health and the person's inability to manage their moods without mood-altering drugs can lead to depression even after they are clean and sober. Be on the lookout for depression that might arise, and sometimes depression existed before the addiction, so don't be surprised if the person drying out still has emotional issues to deal with that the addiction was covering up. Some people who have other health issues use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. For instance, a person with ADD might be used to using alcohol to settle down, and then develop insomnia after quitting.

People who don't cope well with change in general are going to be reluctant to face all these changes and issues all at once. That is why a treatment center helps, because they can help someone through everything all at once.
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 8
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 1:02:44 AM
Bill W.

Yeah, the guy who co-wrote the whole scam, ...he took part in a very successful psychotropic trial in the '50s that had the best cure rate ever, ....scum bag.
Joined: 2/26/2010
Msg: 9
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 5:22:11 AM

Bill Wilson cheated on his wife Lois with many different women, both before and after sobriety. He even cheated on her while she worked in Loesser's department store to support him. "I'm going to a meeting" was often a double-entendre when Bill Wilson said it. Bill actually invented the old A.A. tradition of Thirteenth Stepping the pretty women who come to A.A. meetings seeking help for alcoholism. (First you teach them the Twelve Steps, and then you take them to the bedroom and teach them the Thirteenth Step....)

Even worse, Bill Wilson's treatment of his wife Lois can only be described as "cold, cruel, vindictive, and heartless".

Do not put people on pedestals - they don't belong there.
Joined: 4/26/2006
Msg: 10
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 9:14:33 AM

Well of course they would laugh -- they're all brainwashed.
Seriously, think about this: Everytime an AA member relapses, what will AA members say? It isn't the AA program's fault. They say things like, "Well, I guess he didn't reach his bottom yet." Or, "Well, I guess he wasn't working the program." They NEVER say that it was the program's fault. NEVER! It's always something else's fault.

We surely wouldn't want to blame the one who relapsed, now would we?
Joined: 12/9/2008
Msg: 11
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 9:45:18 AM
People who do not quit are those who have chosen to use their vices for a wall. The wall goes up and they are not willing to tear it down or let it be torn down. This in itself causes them to have to build more and more walls till their world comes crumbling down. It's a shame that people do not realize that if they would just handle their problems from the beginning of realization and go through the grief process as it comes that they would be a lot happier and could move forward. But heaven forbid that they might have to realize their mistakes along with the other parties mistakes. Can't be saying I made a mistake now can we? Get over it!!!!! Move forward. Apologize where necessary and move on. Too little time left on this earth to be hiding in a bottle of booze or drug of your unfortunate choice. Now that I've vented. I guess I will go relay this message to my actual victimized

Have a great day everyone!!!!
Joined: 7/3/2010
Msg: 12
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 9:54:34 AM
The physiology of alcoholism is well understood to be about chemical addiction. The brain simply needs the substance once it has discovered the effect of using it. That need will persist and so when people can maintain sobriety it is a constant struggle against a ubiquitous drug. To do that, it does help to have some way of thinking about the problem. One of the better ways of thinking about it is to understand the biological reality of being predisposed to an unusual craving for alcohol. The moralizing and criticism of character do not help. The view of oneself as being weak, bad, immoral, etc. actually provides a perfect escape from being able to manage the addiction. To tell people they need to get their mind right and think right is counterproductive. The medical model is much more effective and is accurate. An alcoholic is someone who happens to respond to alcohol by needing it, not just liking some of its effect. Knowing they have this different chemical affinity for that particular substance can make it easier to understand that for them, unlike others who can drink without problems, drinking is just off limits. It's like people who have allergies must avoid the allergens that cause lethal reactions. Their character has nothing at all to do with it. Leave the psychobabble alone and just know about alcohol that it's not for you because your brain likes it too much to use it at all.
Joined: 12/9/2008
Msg: 13
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 10:53:18 AM
While it is true that people can become physically addicted to the substances that they partake in the facts are that many people use those vices as a crutch, self medication runs rampant in those with mental disorders and those with ADHD. Self medication is used by many people for many reasons such as low self-esteem, chronic pain, feelings of inadequacy, etc.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 14
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 11:44:58 AM
"It's like people who have allergies must avoid the allergens that cause lethal reactions. Their character has nothing at all to do with it. Leave the psychobabble alone and just know about alcohol that it's not for you because your brain likes it too much to use it at all."

Because a brain is chemically addicted, it is unable to heal itself. That brain isn't thinking clearly. The main evidence of this, after some time of being addicted, is a life that is hurting themselves and others around them.

There are a variety of ways that people have successfully quit drinking and doing drugs, gambling, and other kinds of addictions. It helps to have choices. Find the ones who have done it and listen to their advice. If one method doesn't work, try another.

Because chemical addiction has such a poor recovery rate, it is good to take all the help that is offered. AA is unique in that it is not for profit. These people have nothing to gain but to try to stay sober themselves by focusing on helping others who are trapped by an addiction. All other kinds of treatments are selling something to very vulnerable people and their desperate families.

Don't give up on anything before you have even begun. There is hope and there is healing, and sometimes the spirit has been damaged by the problems the addicted brain has had.

We aren't just a body. We aren't just a brain with a mind inside it. We aren't just a person with a personality, and hopes and dreams. We are mind/body/spirit. Any challenge that is so all-encompassing and difficult to deal with as addiction needs to address the issues of damage and healing in all these areas. Often the family needs help too, even though they are not addicted, they have been shaped by living with a person with a chemically addicted brain and body, who hasn't been thinking clearly for a long time, and who hasn't been feeling well for a long time, and who has lost hope and has shattered dreams.

All the alcoholics I have met have been very intelligent, sensitive, successful people. The ones I met and spoke with were all health care professionals with addictions. Doctors, veterinarians, nurses. This was through the agency my Father developed that dealt exclusively with them because of some of the unique issues they face (including a workplace with access to drugs.) These people were in the helping professions, they all worked helping others, and as far as I could tell, had no character flaws that the addiction itself didn't cause...

They all used AA as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that included lifestyle changes, nutrition therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, detox, certain medications, and mutual accountability.

Not everyone can afford an expensive treatment center and can do the extended stay that is really required to minimize relapse. Often it takes 6 months or more to solidify these changes and realize the physical and mental benefits that will help to stabilize the person when they go back into their lives.

And so, AA is free, it is non-profit, non-political, non-denominational, and from my experience, non-judgemental of each other. I can't speak as a person with a history of addiction, but I have a lifetime of witnessing intelligent, ambitious, fastidious, fascinating and talented people go through the often grueling work that is required to become clean and sober. (By "clean" it isn't meant to mean that anyone was "dirty" by implication. This is just the term that is used with reference to the people who are addicted to drugs and then stop, as opposed to the ones who were primarily using alcohol and stopped, whom we call "sober.")

Because of the huge variety of people in AA, not all remember the stated goals of AA; to not become involved in for-profit, political or religious actions inside the group. But when AA is done the way it states itself to do, one of the best things about it is that it is not blaming the character of the addict for the addiction. But AA also faces honestly the reality that it is impossible for a person to consistently express their true character while addicted, and so I admire and respect all the people who are trying to face their addictions, because it takes real character and persistence and commitment to do that.
Joined: 5/10/2009
Msg: 15
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 11:55:04 AM
I'm not religious. I quit on my own. I didn't need a "program". I know many people don't like to listen to advice/suggestions especially if the advice involves great effort so forgive my apathy but it's there for a reason. If someone thinks they can get out 'easy' they are wrong. But here's one thing I will mention for you to tell him (her) which just might scare them shitless enough to motivate them. Tell them about pancreatitis which is a common result of years of alcoholism. Once your pancreas is shot to hell you are in some shit. And I think it can act as a catalyst to pancreatic cancer which if you get that you are in a world of shit with nary a happy ending to it. Either endure the necessary pain to quit or arrange for a horrible ending to life. Really simple.
Joined: 4/26/2009
Msg: 16
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 3:46:13 PM
^^^WRONG! The contradiction is that the mentally-sickest *in* AA, not AA itself, sometimes say (to anyone listening) that everyone gets a "free pass" for their criminality or moral decrepitude.

AA does not care that it's members are or were losers. We learn to love each other, instead.

However, "Better that another alcoholic/addict relapses, than me." is one of our many mantras.

Also, "Get the f out of AA if you aren't there for your OWN sobriety!"

AA: One sick f'ck talking to another. And It works! (In other words, AA didn't fix me, I fixed me with the help of the actual AA process.)
Joined: 4/9/2009
Msg: 17
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 5:26:11 PM

Sell all his or her family's possessions? Steal to support a habit? Lie to friends and family? Destroy relationships? Kill someone? Seriously injure someone? Put family through emotional hell? Hey, no problem. The alcoholic/addict goes to a meeting and the user has a whole entire group going, "It wasn't your fault; it was the alcohol. It was the drugs." The user, then, can go, "Oh, cool. It wasn't me after all; it was the alcohol. It was the drugs."

This is a very uneducated position. If you knew anything about the steps you would not present such a scenerio; if you do know anything about the steps, you're being intellectually dishonest.

Addiction is a complex thing. Different supports are effective for different people. There is not one thing that works for everyone, and there is no one person that would be helped by each and every support.

It's a shame to discourage a person from exploring specific supports. One's issues are their own; if it didn't work for you or a loved one, that won't necessarily apply to the OP's friend.

As far as this 2.5% nonsense, that is completely unverifiable, given the nature of the program. But even if it were accurate, what if the OP's friend is one of that 2.5%?

OP, I agree with several posters above who 1) urge you not to try to do the work for your friend, because it won't work; and 2) note that a current lack of a "higher power" used as a reason not to check out AA is, in fact, a cop-out.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 18
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/11/2010 10:27:26 PM
Zebra Circle: "The alcoholic/addict goes to a meeting and the user has a whole entire group going, "It wasn't your fault; it was the alcohol. It was the drugs." The user, then, can go, "Oh, cool. It wasn't me after all; it was the alcohol. It was the drugs.""

AA was developed by recovering alcoholics to support other recovering alcoholics. Crack use is so much harder to give up than alcohol. I don't know of any who haven't needed a comprehensive in-patient treatment program to get "clean." I personally think that for people addicted to cocaine, opiates and other hard drugs, AA is not enough by itself. There is a version of AA for drug users, and I attended some one time with a friend, it seems like a very different program in a lot of ways. It would have to be, because the issues are much more severe and the addiction so much more intense and brain-damaging.

Unfortunately, addicts learn all kinds of language and ideas from the other people in meetings to use to "sound" like they are in recovery, when really they are just in a period of temporary abstinence designed to "prove" they can live without the drug for a while. So perhaps some people will use and manipulate the very programs and people who are trying to help them. This is par for the course with addicted people, since they have learned to do this already with family and friends.

The people you know who say they are in AA probably haven't actually gotten through the 12 Steps yet. Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to just get to the first step; admitting their responsibility and addiction. I give them credit for at least attending a meeting.

However, so many people go to AA only by a court order, and so never really listen to anything they have to say because it was forced on them. AA should be entirely voluntary.

It certainly won't work if a person doesn't want to do the steps. You can't make someone become moral, you can only hold them accountable for their actions. People in AA know all the BS that an alcoholic says and can see through it. They hold a mirror up to each other. Sometimes the best thing an alcoholic gets out of a meeting is seeing all the BS in others who aren't recovered, and learning what NOT to do from those who keep falling off the wagon.

AA is based on the 12 Steps. Steps 8, 9, and 10 are all about honesty and accepting responsibility for wrongs committed. Blaming the drugs/alcohol is not the result of doing a "fearless moral inventory" as in Step 4. Step 5 is all about honesty about wrongs committed.

The 12 Steps:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I have never been addicted to anything, but years ago, I did the 12 steps myself. In fact, anyone can do them. It is a healthy way to live. Stay honest, know yourself, admit when your wrong, apologize and make amends, stay current with your honesty, take responsibility for your actions, and try to help others. Live as if its not "all about me." This is good stuff.

My interpretation of Step 1: "I am not all-powerful. The world doesn't -- and shouldn't be required to -- revolve around me. I am not God. Its not all about ME." Just this step alone would help your friend get more "real" about living in this universe. This step is basically saying, grow up, you aren't a kid any more; manipulating all the authority figures and having tantrums will not get you out of your consequences for behaving badly.

Doing the 12 Steps is not easy. I challenge anyone to do all of them and see what it is like.
Joined: 7/5/2008
Msg: 19
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/12/2010 6:26:57 AM
The link that Zebra Circle provided is very informative and, since I am all for free enterprise, don’t mind that she is cashing in on her alcoholism. If you read her personal journey to sobriety, she says this:

My Personal Journey to Sobriety
“At this point you may be thinking, wow, this woman is totally against Alcoholics Anonymous, but that is not the case at all. I would just like to help you see the limits that it holds and point out how you can achieve sobriety more successfully, with or without AA.
I was a chronic, falling off my barstool, disastrous drunk and drug addict when I found Alcoholics Anonymous and traditional rehab and it saved my life. I will be forever grateful to my rehab counselor and the people of AA who loved me back to life.”

Since most people can’t afford to lock themselves away in rehab for over a year they need some type of support to continue their sobriety and, just as this lady says, finding a good AA group can provide this at no monetary cost. I disagree with her when she says:

“Putting all statistics aside, one only needs to ask around any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to clearly see what the statistics are. At any given meeting at any given time most people that are present are newcomers. Membership usually consists of people who have only a day sober or a few days or weeks. There are a few people who have 90 days or 120 and maybe 1 or 2 people with 6 months or one year. Depending on the size of the meeting, there may be one, or if you're really lucky two old timers, someone with more than 5 years. Old timers are far and few between.”

The Old Timers are meeting regularly you just have to find them. Not every AA meeting is of equal quality so if someone is serious about maintaining their sobriety they may have to keep searching until they find out where the Old Timers are. I know of a group in my area that meets five times a week where you can find a minimum of ten to sometimes forty people with many years in AA and they love to welcome newcomers, sponsor them, and show them how to live a sober, successful life.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 20
view profile
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/12/2010 1:39:09 PM
Zebra: "The focus of AA is that the drugs and alcohol are the culprits, when what they should be preaching is that drugs and alcohol are the tools that these people, who need emotional and mental help, are using to numb themselves. It's a huge reason why its success rate is only 2.5%."

The treatment centers tend to focus on the chemical addiction, and theraputic intervention. AA tends to focus on the healing of relationships with self and others that needs to also happen so that the person doesn't go back out into the world and become despondent, isolated and when the next craving hits, they succumb to temptation to go back to what they knew before. Treatment centers often employ ex-alcoholics, but many times it is people who haven't been addicted trying to help people who have. Alcoholics have learned to manipulate this very kind of person, the helping kind, who think rationally...

AA members have been there and know each other and so can help with this issue. Sometimes the smartest alcoholics are the ones who have the hardest time because they know how to work the system too well.

"People in AA/NA are focused on the drug of choice as the No. 1 culprit in the user's horrendous and destructive behavior. Everything else is secondary."

I think that it is only natural that someone in the middle of dealing with withdrawal symptoms, dealing with constant cravings, and tons of stress from the consequences of an addiction would tend to focus a lot on the drug of choice. It's probably already all that they are thinking about anyway. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The people with more sobriety behind them will try to re-focus a group to talk less about the drug of choice and more about coping with life and relationships without it.

There are many reasons people become addicted, but in the end, addiction starts to look the same, it takes the same toll, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Some people use a drug to numb physical pain and become addicted to the numbing. The body adjusts to the pain-killer and then pain is worse than before without it. These people might just need to detox, and find a suitable replacement or to find a medical cure for their pain, along with some therapy to help deal with the change, if needed. Some people use a drug to deal with insomnia, and this usually makes the insomnia much worse, not better, even if they are still using. These people will need better ways to deal with insomnia, and often alternative medicine approaches, along with a change in diet and more exercise will help. AA might not be needed, in this case.

Some people use a drug to numb emotional pain or to help with emotional problems like depression, moodiness, shyness, social anxiety. When they get sober, all these will remain to still be dealt with, and if they are not, the person will want to reach for the old "solution" which becomes less able to "work" for them as time goes by. These people will need therapy and a more appropriate medication for these emotional/physical brain issues. They might not need AA in addition to that if they already have a strong social support system of family and friends in place.

Some people use a drug to deal with a lack of meaning and purpose in their lives, and so the social aspects of using the drug becomes the person's meaning in life.
No drug is free, except to newbies. Lonely stressed people get initial attention from all those who make money off of selling drugs and alcohol to vulnerable people. They create cozy places where everyone who enters is already using the drug and so no one is judged there while they are using it. This place can become a second home (or only home) to those people, and the others who are there, their only friends. Without the drug to be the commonality, these people probably would have not much else in common. And without the drug to share, they will have to somehow re-create a sense of meaning and community in their lives. AA could help with this, helping someone searching for meaning, providing support and a community to keep them going while they figure things out.
The challenge in a spiritual sense is that all spiritual journeys are voluntary. You can't force someone to believe in something. You can only attract, not direct. Because to find meaning, the motivation or impulse has to come from within or it is not genuine.

There is another group of people who use drugs and alcohol, and that is those who are second and third generation alcoholics. These people never learned what normal social lives were like without drugs or alcohol as children. They have inherited a drug or alcohol culture, a drug or alcohol lifestyle, and may have only learned that community is formed around people who have access to drugs to help them socialize. AA can and does help these people by showing them a way out, but also they can be helped by the additional 12 step programs of Alanon and ACOA, and there are other non-religious groups that someone can join or form that can help to deal with how to form community and family and deal with relationships post-addiction.

Many of these groups have to deal with the fundamental issue of trust. Because trust has been broken many times for them, they don't know who to trust, and have learned that trust is dangerous. But relationships have to have at least some trust to be real, or it is just two people in masks with heavy armour on, trying to really reach each other. And so the problem becomes; which treatment to trust? Which groups to trust? Can I trust anyone who is giving me advice? They believe, and rightly so, that everyone has "an angle." And so just walking through the door of any type of program is a scary and difficult thing.
A good book on this subject is "Don't Talk, Don't Trust, Don't Feel."
Joined: 2/8/2004
Msg: 21
Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/12/2010 1:51:27 PM

AA works for many people.

Pretty much ANY support group with a big name could work for "many people". Better than nothing for the masses? Yes, of course. The question is, is it truly effective? Does it aim to hit everyone? No. It enforces religious overtones... and it has a take-it-dont-dare-leave-it method, too. Tsk tsk. But again, that's not to say ANY method can't work for some people. Heck, there are different angles/methods/schools of thought on picking up or approaching women. Some are bad. But there'll always be guys dedicated to it in any method that will see results.

But AA has been around for a long time and has helped a lot of people who cannot afford fancy therapies.

I think that's the problem, though -- "been around for a long time" gives a false implication that it's good because it has. Second, fancy therapies wouldn't be necessary. Just a better approach for some people, or people all around. Playing a god-card doesn't fly with a good portion of the population, and even tho we tend to cherish things older or traditional, it doesn't mean old methods work for eternity as society evolves.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 22
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/12/2010 2:48:31 PM

"So the users think that by staying off drugs that they're doing their part, when all along, they should be working on their character, their internal short-comings. They should be changing their diets, rather than drowning in a sea of cigarette smoke, strong coffee, and doughnuts (the three food groups to a large hunk of AA members)."

^^^^ I so agree with "the three food groups of AA = cigarettes, coffee and doughnuts!!" That describes every meeting I have been to. I haven't been to any since our city became smoke-free, and I wonder what they are like now...

I so agree with this statement, that people who are addicted need to work on their character and their diets. However, often they are so busy dealing with just staying sober for one more day that is character-building enough. I have noticed that the alcoholic tends to be frozen in time in their level of maturity as an adult to the developmental stage that he/she was in when they began using. Often this is in their teens and so it seems like a lot of the attendees talk like teenagers -- blaming everything else and everyone else but their own choices. I think this is the action of the remove the pain of character development. To ease growing pains.

I dislike generalizing too much, but I have noticed that a lot of alcoholics have the diets of teenagers. And I have often wondered which came first; the poor diet, nicotine, caffeine and sugar -- or the addiction. Its probably both.

As for the alternatives to AA, I first mentioned two books that really address the chemical imbalances associated with addiction and how to deal with any coexisting depression resulting from it in my first post.

I think AA is a good program, and so I have talked about that, but in my opinion, addiction has a huge physical component that can and should be dealt with, and you don't always have to use prescription drugs (long-term, at least) and expensive therapy and mercurial support groups. No program is going to work long-term if the person needing help ends up feeling worn out, judged/brainwashed, depressed and physically lousy.

I think a huge part of the addiction process has to do with the body's immune system, and if a person has such a difficult issue as addiction, of course there will be lots of fall-out socially and personally for that person. Particularly with regard to others blaming them, shaming them, and generally just pointing the finger at addicted people but not really offering anything that works to help them with the addiction, ("Just stop, already!" being a favorite, for some reason.)

People have tried emptying bottles in the sink, yelling and screaming, too. Locking them up is also something that people say works. But usually only works as long as they are locked up.

Well, anyway, I think that if you don't deal with the physical way the brain works, both normally and as an addicted brain, you won't get very good results because you will have a brain that is adapted to having an environment of alcohol or drugs, and is not well-adapted to thinking without them, and that brain is going to try really hard to go back to what it was used to. You also have a brain short on certain necessary components to a healthy brain. There are certain vitamins (B vitamins, in particular) that get depleted over time by the way the body metabolizes alcohol, that need to be replaced/supplemented to normal levels for the brain to function properly and to stop cravings.

For non-religious help for addiction, in addition to the other two books I mentioned, and the treatment center that works with the Doctor that wrote them, I also recommend the book: "The Detox Diet: A How-To & When-To Guide for Cleansing the Body" by Elson M. Haas. Haas has a chapter for dealing with all the things that you see at meetings -- detoxing from sugar addiction, nicotine addiction, caffeine addiction, as well as alcohol and drug addiction. I think it is no coincidence that they appear together at meetings, as I think they are all related.

There is a big immune system component, too. Many addicts are slightly allergic/intolerant of the foods that the alcohol was made from. Grains, and wheat. The immune response is part of the addiction, causing cravings. Eliminate the things that trigger the immune response will reduce the cravings. So doing what is called and elimination diet will help. This takes about a month, and doesn't cost anything but time and some persistence.
"The Elimination Diet Cookbook: A 28-Day Plan for Detecting Allergies" by Jill Carter is one book on the subject.

I am currently studying a type of dietary intervention for people who also have a brain reaction to foods, such as ADD, Autism, and other problems. It goes into a diet that works on the issues that result when someone has been on antibiotics, and relied on a diet that is too high in carbs and sugar.
"The Body Ecology Diet, Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity" by Donna Gates

The self-medicating that many people do to "feel better" usually stops at caffeine, sugar, nicotine, drinking and trying drugs, and not looking any further into why you suddenly started feeling lousy after making more of your own food choices as a teenager. I think there is a connection.

Everybody wants a quick fix. But just switching from an illegal or addicting substance to a legal, not-so-addicting substance (that usually have lots of side-effects -- that is why they aren't addicting) usually isn't going to be enough. And all of these quick "fixes" have serious long-term health implications, that just add on to the troubles the addicted person has to deal with. The addicted person doesn't have the wherewithal to deal with these health troubles, and so puts off dealing with them, and so they tend to get worse over time.

I found it surprising to listen to the stories of long-term older alcoholics in open AA meetings and therapy sessions, where they survived seemingly enormous physical danger -- I heard stories of surviving terrible car crashes, surviving head injuries, comas, DTs, and any number of harrowing and dangerous living situations, and over the years, what did the person die of? Lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke. They focused so much on giving up alcohol, they often forgot to go further to work on their health so that they could feel better. AA doesn't deal with this area at all, but they aren't really set up for that, unless it is word of mouth at meetings, or they share books on it at meetings.

For the recovering ones. The non-recovered die much younger of pancreatitis, liver disease, gunshots, suicide, and overdoses.
Joined: 9/23/2007
Msg: 23
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 9/12/2010 3:05:13 PM
"... We need bullet points, not an entire thesis..."

Well, after all, its only a bunch of one's and zero's on a hard drive somewhere. Its easy enough for someone to scroll down...take what you want, leave the rest. I think that's an AA slogan...

I read a lot, about a book a day, and so I think like a book. Sorry that my style is so pedantic and long-winded.

I studied this field for 20 years, I have all this in my head. I just type really fast. I think like I type. So it doesn't take much effort for me to write a lot on this subject. If it takes too much effort to read it, then it isn't meant for you. I take it you don't have an addiction or a loved one who has an addiction, and so what I write might not have any relevance for you.

As for problems with AA, true, it hasn't changed its style all that much. Some of the language could use a serious scrubbing and updating. Are you offering to do the editing?

The problem would be, which things about AA work and which don't? And which do you throw out, and what to you keep? Or do you just start over and become the next Bill W? Any takers?

I have talked to some old-timers, and they are reluctant to change what helped them, because even they don't know the entire recipe and why it worked. There is a bit of alchemy involved. When a person's life is at stake -- and a lot of people that drag themselves into AA have waited until the very last minute to do so -- it is difficult to change the antidote to a poison. Who wants to be the ones we try out the new antidote on?

Now we should both be out in the fresh air. Is the weather nice where you are?
Joined: 3/13/2008
Msg: 24
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Alternate to AA
Posted: 10/29/2010 7:57:10 PM
There are 12 step programs that accommodate atheists and agnostics but I don't know how common they are. Google "atheist 12 step programs" and you'll find some links. Good luck to your friend.
Joined: 2/8/2004
Msg: 25
Alternate to AA
Posted: 10/30/2010 3:16:06 AM

There are 12 step programs that accommodate atheists and agnostics but I don't know how common they are. Google "atheist 12 step programs" and you'll find some links. Good luck to your friend.

I think it'd be silly to focus on specifically non-religious-followers. Seriously. Say AA was founded by bigtime Nascar fans... and in AA, you basically had to more or less follow Nascar and the steps were wrapped up into it....

.... would the alternative be 12 steps that outwardly reject Nascar? That'd almost be as silly.

How about 10, 12, 8, or whatever-amount of steps that just aren't religious? Like math class.
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