TKP Rehab – Rant

TPK Rehab now has its own site:

3 thoughts on “TKP Rehab – Rant

  1. Alcoholism is a very interesting area of study and can be approached in many different ways. The body has a preference for it over oxygen in the blood stream. This is part of the physical addiction side of alcohol. And like tobacco and opium and other drugs, that physical addiction takes several applications before the habitation begins. I think habituation a better description that addiction, one that is more complete.

    Alcohol can be addicting and yet in itself it is not very powerful as an addictive substance. Billions of individuals consume beer, wine, and grain alcohols on a daily basis without suffering from some form of addiction. Consumption of some form of alcohol on a regular basis is a set of behaviors that are called habits. A glass of wine with a meal on a daily basis is a habit just as the eating of that meal at a certain time of day is a habit. Very often habits are intertwined.

    Now one of the more surprising discoveries about alcoholism came through brain scans. Not surprising is that the brain scan of an alcohol looks very similar to that brain of an individual with OCD. The real surprise came when when that same individual had a brain scan about seven years later, then the brain appeared normal. Ah yes, the lights, bells, and whistles go off. Alcoholism results in obsessive behavior that has become compulsion. But unlike those individuals who are diagnosed as OCD, their brains return to normal after a sufficient period of absence.

    Of course in your friend’s case of being clean and sober for 25 years only the physical need for alcohol was treated. Th psychological reasons for his compulsive drinking were never addressed. If you are old enough you may recall a psychiatrist by the name of Berne. He developed the theory of transaction analysis in human behavior and went on to write a best selling book, Games People Play. As I said, there is more than one way to look at alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous and most other medical programs only focus on stopping individuals from drinking alcohol and never really deal with the underlying psychological problems. This is why your friend, who was clean and sober for 25 years, when he returned to drinking returned to alcoholism.

    Of course individual differences also help determine things like sensitivity to alcohol and other addictions. Some, such as gambling are learned behaviors that have little to do with any substance and yet act in a similar manner. But in my experiences of working with or for individuals who had become alcoholics and then reformed I noticed a very strange uniformity among them. Now this is not very scientific, but when these individuals were drinking they were rather pleasant personalities. Once they went sober they tended to become , for lack of a better personality description, ass holes, almost control freaks. And none seemed the happier for being clean and sober. As the King of Siam would have said, it’s a puzzlement.


    • Okay so, I have other blog categories to address. However I will make a final post on this issue for now.

      First I suppose I should state my credentials on this topic.

      First the personal expertise:

      I grew up with alcoholism (family, neighbours and friends). I have known them stoned, not recovering and into recovery. I have known some to drug themselves to death.

      I am a child of the sixties so I have used a number of substances.

      I made a conscious decision to live my life without alcohol once my children were born and have only had a few drinks in the past thirty years or so (a toast at the turn of the millennium, a pina collada while vacationing in Cuba, that sort of thing.) So I know what it is like to be sober in a drinking culture.

      Now one experience which I don’t have is the actual experience of being addicted.

      Fortunately for me, I had something that prevented me from developing this. It may have been physical or psychological or a combination.

      For what it is to be an addict, I defer to the people who do have an addiction.

      And they tell a story that the researchers just don’t seem to grasp, that doesn’t show up with their scientific mechanisms. (unless of course they accept participant observation as the legitimate form of research that it is and which much of counselling has been based.):

      Here’s the “research”. I call it the allergy analogy.

      A man who seemed to have a problem with alcohol asked another man who didn’t seem to have a problem “How do you manage to drink and not have the problems that I do?”

      The second gentleman said he didn’t think that he did anything in particular. He said, “You know, if I have more than a couple, I get an uncomfortable, out of control feeling and I don’t like that feeling. So I am not looking to have that feeling. Besides, I know what being drunk can cost me, the way it interferes with the next day, some of the trouble I could get into, and I just don’t want to pay the price. So most of the time, I just don’t want to drink that much.”

      “Bingo!” the first gentleman thought. “That’s the problem. I’m different. When I get that slightly out of control, nauseated feeling, that buzz, my system doesn’t say stop, it says keep going. When I think about the trouble that drinking causes, I don’t think, don’t do it, – I think, how am I going to get away with it?”

      When the first gentleman accepted that fact that he reacted to mood-altering substances differently, regardless of how others might experience it, he accepted that he couldn’t use safely. So the simplest and safest solution was not to use at all. And he started using a program to get and stay sober. And his life improved.

      Now recovering alcoholics have been desperately trying to help researcher understand this for ages. However, it seems that because this is outside of the researchers experience, they reject it.

      Berne is interesting and some of his insights are really useful today, though some might see them as outdated. However, he too was unable to appreciate that alcoholism is not a game in his parlance.

      Oh, so this comes to my professional expertise.

      I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology, specifically the Interactionist paradigm from which comes the seminal works of Erving Goffman and the power of definition of self.

      I also have a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

      I have worked in just about every field a Social Worker can ply his or her trade.

      This includes 15 years working for an addiction treatment program.

      This was not a Twelve Step program. However, we saw AA as partners and worked co-operatively with them to good effect.

      And I saw lots of really decent people who were “assholes” when they were drinking put their lives together and become as happy and content as any others. I also saw some who remained bitter about having to give up drinking and were just as miserable sober as they were drunk.

      Now that individual with the 25 years sobriety.

      He actually had been through treatment and dealt with his psychological stressors. So no he hadn’t just dealt with the physical aspect.

      I not only used the post-modern techniques that today’s counsellor’s espouse. I was a College Instructor for about 7 years at the end of my career teaching these techniques.

      Given all this, I feel confident in expressing my opinion on the place of alcohol in our society, the dynamics of addiction and the problematic behaviour of certain counsellors.

      And I will close with one more “anecdotal” story.

      As the medicalization folks were finalizing their dismantling of the abstinence-based treatment centres, I had the opportunity to listen to the new head of the soon to be medication based detox centre.

      This gentleman stated that he was going to scream if he heard one more recovering addict say “I am really struggling, I am unhappy and my life is really hard but at least I’m sober.”

      He said that if life is that bad, you may as well drink.

      And I thought, you really don’t get it.

      He didn’t understand that this person was saying that regardless of how his life was going, he had one thing that he could hold onto to salvage his self-esteem. And that Detox worker was prepared to talk him out of it.

      There’s lots more that I could say.

      However, it’s time to move onto my other interests.

      Thanks for your comments.


      • I have a couple of degrees in psychology, a most dangerous field for theories. Mostly my research was on the cognitive side. My day job was communications engineer. Top it off with a wife with major mental problems whom I had to divorce after fourteen years to save my own sanity.
        Yes, I agree, the medical profession has always made addiction an illness, a disease, something best treated as if one had a broken leg. Clinical psychology has made some strides but I would agree with you that they just don’t get it. Thanks for your comments, I like your perspective.


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