Are 12-step programs the only way to recover from drugs and alcohol? (part 1)

This commentary was inspired by a comment on a Facebook post by The Addict’s Mom asking the question “Do you believe that recovery can only happen in a 12 step program?” My response got so long, that I decided to post it to my blog instead.

There is no one “right” thing that works for everyone. There needs to be more attention paid to alternatives. One reason 12-step is “pushed” is because it is free. Treatment plans, motivated by $$, include connection clients with community (read free) resources for post treatment support. Insurance has shaped the current treatment models, and even the legal system has bought into this notion that 12 step is the answer.  It is good that the legal system is recognizing that treatment is essential, but again, 12-step and 12-step based program as not the only effective treatment modalities. [Read more…]

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Great excuse

Maybe not. I always end up reading a few stories when I go to download the LA Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. Today I was gobsmacked. I can’t think of another word to describe the story about Charlie Sheen and morals.

Basically, the story says that there was a time when stars would be dropped by the studios if they did not abide by morals clauses, that in the day, included out of control drug use. OK, I can understand the need for balance between the studios owning a person, and good judgement.  Alcoholism and drug addiction are now classified as diseases, but there is treatment. Although there are many ways to get there, the treatment, the cure is abstinence. And that starts with mindset. Oh, and consequences.

Many recovering, abstinent and sober folks might admit that if there no consequences, they might pick up their drug of choice again. Consequences is a whole other post, an article, an e-book even.  Maybe I don’t know the whole story with Charlie Sheen, but I’ve been working with addicts and alcoholics for over 25 years, so I have an idea of the patterns and excuses.  I just heard (read) a new one: he says he was sober 5 years and bored out of his mind. He’s a partying kind of guy (paraphrasing here), so sobriety isn’t authentic.

After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I busted out laughing. I guess the public displays of the legal consequences of his drinking and drugging are authentic. Hmmm, might just be me, but I don’t think I’d want to admit that kind of spectacular behavior is my authentic self.  Just saying.

and returning to the scene of the crime several weeks later……

So it got even more spectacular, as I, and I’m guessing many of you, watched the Charlie Sheen train hurdling out of control. Really, it was like passing a bad accident: I didn’t want to look, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Then I saw a wonderful and compassionate commentary about the whole thing.  I wish I could remember the bloggers name, I’d share it in a minute. He even posted a clip from Craig Ferguson’s show about not getting on the bandwagon with Charlie Sheen jokes. The blogger also reminded readers that Charlie has a family that is suffering.  And I’m paraphrasing, but he asked readers to think how much it would mean to them to have helping, compassionate hands reaching out to them if they were in trouble.  Kind of like holding the healing space when the addict or mentally ill person is ready to accept it.

May compassion and healing guide you to be strong when you need to be and loving always.

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Just can’t stay mute on this one

Okay, that’s it! I have spent my entire professional career as an addictions counselor and therapist being very politically neutral in public.  I just can’t do it anymore. Maybe I will change the name of the blog to Rouge Therapist Conversations, or The Politically Incorrect Counselor.

Here’s what got me fired up enough to run to the computer with my hair still in a towel from the shower. I have been, like most of us, listening to the debates and reports and evaluations of the Health Care Bill and Reforms with interest and usually, confusion. What the Hell is it really? How will it affect me personally, as a direct purchaser of my own health insurance? How will it affect my clients? How will it affect my business?  How is Mental Health coverage affected? And what idiot thinks that Medicare actually works so well that we should model everyone’s coverage after it?

Ok, quick digression: I heard a program on NPR that talked about Medicare fraud. I was shocked and appalled. I suspect if they could manage the $64 BILLION in fraud yearly, of which last year ONLY  $4 Billion was recovered, I’m thinking they could pay the providers a living reimbursement. Here is an opportunity to develop a program of client advocacy, to help those covered by medicare who are most susceptible to fraudulent use of their information to understand what it means.  To help clients take an active interest in their health care and really know what is happening to and for them. To help them monitor their care and navigate the Medicare and Health Care System maze.  How about that for a good use of AARP lobbying and money. I think I will suggest it to them, as a members (you get your invitation at age 50, but that is another digression).

Ok, back to today. I am listening to NPR’s program “Tell Me More.”  Yet another discussion about Health Care Reform and how it is and could play out in the Senate is the late Ted Kennedy’s seat is not won by a democrat. And here’s what blew me away: the abortion coverage issue.   Clearly I need to read up some more on this , but apparently some anti-abortion senator from  somewhere in the mid-west wants to separate out the abortion coverage. In other words, if you want the abortion coverage, you have to write a separate check for it. HUH????????

Who the heck thinks a woman PLANS to have an unplanned  pregnancy and get an abortion. What misogynist thought that one up? That has got to be one of the most absurd things I have ever heard.

Oh, I’d better pay for this coverage just in case  I need it?  Better to use your money to pay your bills, or save it , or purchase birth control. Better to put the government money toward compassionate education about sex, sexuality, family planning and birth control.

I would truly hope this absurdity doesn’t actually pass; I’m just floored that a discussion like this would actually come up.

All righty then, my blood pressure is back to normal, and the hair dryer is plugged in.

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