Hard truth about addiction/recovery culture.
For Some in A.A. and Other Addiction Recovery Groups, the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman Hits Home.
In the first hours and days that followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an apparent overdose of heroin, there was an outpouring of grief on Facebook, on Twitter and in columns by recovering addicts and alcoholics like the journalist Seth Mnookin and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin about their own struggles with sobriety and the rarely distant fear of relapsing back into the throes of active addiction.
There was also a palpably visceral reaction in the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, where, according to some in attendance, many discussions since last Sunday quickly turned from the death of a great actor to the precariousness of sobriety, and the fears of many sober people that they could easily slip back into their old ways, no matter how many years they have been clean.
AA and NA have created a cadre of the living dead.
This is the opposite of the approach Ilse Thompson and I adopt in Recover! where we see that “all addicts have some kind of alternative, non-addicted identity waiting to surface,” which our book works to have people first, belief, and then to materialize.
When people overcome their addictions, they are not transforming into completely different people. They are merely surfacing another side of themselves, an alternative persona, one that has been hidden and yet that represents their true, abiding self.
Being addicted means that you identify so strongly with your addiction, you are so consumed with the never-ending task of patching that flimsy screen that keeps your true self from emerging, that you have forgotten how to imagine yourself living without it. You would be empty inside or a complete stranger to yourself, someone without an identity or soul, you may now believe. Recover! and The PERFECT Program tells you: This is not true. The real you is, in fact, able to reassert itself and to take charge.
So, take your pick — the AA, NA and brain disease model, or the one predicated on the fact that most addicts recover, far and away most often without treatment.
This simply is not making proponents of the various, “A’s,” happy, but it’s the truth — and more and more therapists are finally breaking ranks and calling out the fictions of this 1930’s based thinking.
They are looking at, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” “Once you start, you can’t stop,” and, “All it takes is one to fall off the wagon,” and finally realizing they simply do not want to inflict humiliation and guilt-based treatment on themselves/their clients anymore. They are looking at the abstinence model and all of the deaths such has created and realizing that what was cutting edge thought over 80 years ago simply can not stand up to credible research in 2014.
And, for a change, they are seeing the human heart under the addictive behaviour — and honouring such.