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12 step programs and powerlessness

I keep falling down the 12 steps!

I was reading an article on stigma today when I started to think about why I keep struggling with people calling addiction a disease.  I simply prefer substance misuse!  I prefer this because I do not think it is healthy to tell myself I am powerless over anything.  I am the ONLY PERSON WITH THE POWER…….so, I better harness that shit! 12 step programs don’t work.

Stigma is one of the most deadly difficulties that someone who is struggling with substance misuse is faced with.  By the time people who are struggling with substance use get help,the stigma that has been imposed upon them is so great that it is often difficult for them to understand or even assess what their situation is.  Everything about addiction is stigmatized from the drug use to the treatment ….. First, there is a great debate about whether addiction is a disease? Here is my answer to this question. I have never, the entire time I have struggled with substance misuse been treated as if I had a disease, therefore, it does not matter what we call it…..we don’t treat addiction like a disease, so its irrelevant….potatoes potatoes …to this. The main problem with the disease theory / or 12 step programs that I see is when we tell people they are powerless, they believe it, and they stop trying to control it at all.  The drug treatment industry which utilize the 12 steps like its a drug treatment say things like this:  as long as you are using you are headed for jails, institutions and death.  – They even say 1/2 measures avail us nothing!!!!  THIS IS A TERRIBLE MESSAGE TO SEND TO PEOPLE.  That is like saying well you made a 80/C on your test, you might as well of failed because 1/2 measures avail us nothing.  Why would we tell people to stop trying, or to not even try.  If you don’t do it all the way then just quit.  GOD GOD MAN.

Substance misuse in my life is caused by mental illness.  When I was growing up my emotions were everywhere, I was unable to cope with all of the feelings I had.  I believe with all my heart if I had not have found drugs I would have killed myself.  Drugs kept me alive until I got older and my mental illness calmed down a bit and I was able to regulate myself and exercise some amount of self control.

We have turned rehabilitation into subsidiaries of the criminal justice system and so many organizations are bottom feeding off the backs of people struggling with substances.  When we tell someone they need to go to treatment, they often protest!  Then we say something stupid like, well, if you are serious then you will do what you don’t want to do, or you might as well quit school, anything you put before your recovery you are going to loose.  So, drop out of life, just quit all of your responsibilities and go to a rehab that is paid for by the county.  ANYONE WHO DOES THIS  is making a mistake —-if they have not thought it through.  First, there is nothing magical about 2 weeks of inpatient treatment.  In fact, you dry out, that is probably the only thing they do for you, which I think can be done easier at home with a loving friend or family member.  At least in the comfort of your own home you will not be treated as if you have  a conduct order.  I believe that shedding yourself of all responsibilities is the last thing you should do.  This is one of the main problems I see when I am working with people who are trying to quit using…..often they are unable to procure work, they have very little to do, and they are bored.  Drugs are the ultimate time passer.  When your life feels empty nothing like an eightball and 5th of vodka to pass some time.  When I feel like I am contributing something to my life and to this world it reinforces a positive.

We tell people that addiction gets progressively worse and this is actually not true.  Most people get better over time.  I used to use cocaine chaotically.  I used to drink in ways that looked alcoholic, now I don’t.   I used to inject cocaine, now that seems quite scary.  I used to use all drugs chaotically now I smoke pot and use drugs here and there but never instead of doing whats important.  These are true narratives that people who use drugs actually report.  This is contrary to what we hear about the progressive nature of addiction.   WHY …..WHY …..WHY do we keep denying science, telling people untruths, and saying things that keep people stuck in the mud.

The effects of stigma can be seen in the eyes of every person who has ever struggled with substance use.  We usually have spent years hating ourselves, believing we are not worth a fuck.  We even have told ourselves foolish untruths like prison was good for us, and thank god for  my parents disowning me.  This is all bullshit.  Now, I will say that sometimes people are so sick, with their troubles that family members have to step back, that’s what good harm reduction agencies should do…..we should pick up where friends and family are not able to go forward.  NO ONE should be left to suffer…that does not help anyone get better.  Great suffering does not lead to healing, it leads to more suffering.  People who use drugs often have terrible struggles, mental health issues and much more….Don’t leave them to suffer alone, call a harm reduction organization.



Feb 10, 2016 … LSD therapy can support the fundamental goals of AA, embodied in the Serenity Prayer depicted on their sobriety medallions | Image Source: …

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