Category Archives: Information

Obamacare has Much to Offer Addicts

obamacare2You may be tired of hearing about Obamacare (properly known as the Affordable Care Act), but there are some important provisions that will have a major impact on the treatment of addiction. For example, federal law requires, starting with 2014, that health insurance treat mental health and addiction treatment in the same way it treats physical problems and their treatment — no more arbitrary limits allowed on the number of visits to a therapist, for example.

Of course, the law also makes health insurance far more affordable and accessible for many and greatly boosts the availability of Medicaid in states that have accepted the changes.

The Fix, a news website covering addiction issues, has an article dealing with the changes. See it Here.

Does AA Have a Problem? An Article Says Yes

AAAn interesting article entitled “After 75 Years of AA, It’s Time to Admit We Have a Problem” appears in the current issue of Pacific Standard magazine (original title, “Kicking the Habit”). The article points to what appear to be unbridgeable gaps between AA doctrine and reality. For example, AA holds that recovery requires reliance on a “Higher Power” facilitated by attendance at AA meetings. LifeRing obviously disagrees with that and offers meetings that have nothing to do with Higher Powers. But beyond that, the article asserts:

Contrary to popular belief, most people recover from their addictions without any treatment—professional or self-help—regardless of whether the drug involved is alcohol, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, or cigarettes. One of the largest studies of recovery ever conducted found that, of those who had qualified for a diagnosis of alcoholism in the past year, only 25 percent still met the criteria for the disorder a year later. Despite this 75 percent recovery rate, only a quarter had gotten any type of help, including AA, and as many were now drinking in a low-risk manner as were abstinent.

Of course, many people do need help in overcoming their addictions, but as the article points out:

This is not to say that there is no benefit at all to 12-step programs: It’s clear from studies of recovery, with or without treatment, that some of the most important factors in success are having social support and a sense of meaning and purpose. Both of those can be provided by AA—at least to those who find its approach amenable. Rather than treating AA as one potentially excellent resource out of many, though, all too many people still regard 12-step programs as the only true way.

And that is where LifeRing stands: “one potentially excellent resource out of many …” The article contains much more — see it Here.



Dr. B.J. Davis Talk on “What is Recovery?”

A few years ago, Dr. B.J. Davis, clinical director of Strategies for Change, a Sacramento, CA, treatment facility, gave a talk to a LifeRing gathering. Davis is a fine motivational speaker among other accomplishments and has some important things to say about recovery. I’ve placed the talk on our video page, but thought I’d share it here, as well:

The Role of Abstinence in Treating Addiction

abstinenceLifeRing believes strongly that abstinence from all alcohol and other non-medically indicated drugs is the only acceptable goal once addiction has occurred. All of our members accept that as the goal of our approach, and many of our members have years of successful abstinence to point to along with a vastly improved quality of life. I’m one of those and I completely endorse the abstinence approach – I’m convinced that even one drink could lead to a resumption of my addicted life.

But there are other points of view. Phillip H., a LifeRing Convenor of long standing in Northern Ireland, recently shared an article that takes a slightly different view. The article is very much worth reading for it’s clear and compelling view of the problems created by a focus on “moral failing” in treatment programs based on the 12-Step program and the so-called Minnesota Model still very widely used in the professional treatment system. Throughout the article the author takes a caustic view of an emphasis on total abstinence, although it appears by the end of the lengthy article that his position is one of viewing zero-tolerance policies in treatment facilities as punitive and counter-productive. “Discharging an alcoholic for relapsing” he suggests, “is like discharging a schizophrenic for relapsing: it is not a reason for discharge but a reason to work with the client.”

This compassionate view of relapse is very much what LifeRing tries to practice. We view relapse as a setback, not some sort of moral failing. A favorite image I’ve heard in LifeRing meetings is that “if you’re driving from New York to Seattle and your car has a problem in Chicago, you don’t have to start the trip over in New York if you can fix the car in Chicago.”

The author of the article goes on to suggest that, for some people, continued but reduced use of drugs can lead to an improved life. On this point, LifeRing parts company – too often, “harm reduction” leads eventually to a resumption of full-blown addictive usage. It’s not worth the gamble.

But the article – see it Here – has much to offer.

– Craig Whalley

Searching For Obamacare

HealthcareThe following is Part 1 in a series of posts regarding one slightly middle-aged, uninsured gal’s search for affordable, quality health care coverage in the age of Obamacare.

In spite of the current battle in Washington, where the immediate toll for Congress’s feckless legislative filibustering will injure all but those who’ve waged it (their toll, depending on who “wins” in this latest of fiscal folderols, comes due only in the next election cycle and not a minute sooner – and for some, not even then), I have decided to simply pretend like it’s not happening and go ahead and try to sign up for Obamacare anyway, because this law was made for you and me.

Really, it was! You see, in spite of being a good patient with a history of alcoholism (emphasis on the word history) managing my diabetes fairly well, I nevertheless belong squarely in the “Pre-Existing Condition” category of patient, and therefore (in the great state of California, at least), just by those very facts am rendered what’s lovingly known by insurers everywhere as “uninsurable”. Obamacare is supposed to render that point moot – now they have to cover me anyway. HA!

And yet, I still find myself skeptical as to whether it can actually come to pass. Even though October 1 was the day for everyone who needs coverage to begin shopping via what are being called “Exchanges” (which are, essentially, health insurance carrier marketplaces where one finds a plan that will work for them based on their healthcare and financial needs in exchange for coverage. Handy, no?), I still wonder if any of it’s actually possible, let alone actually going to happen.

See, in addition to various and sundry glitches  in the sign-up process reported throughout the week, there’s also been rumor and rumors of rumors that, in order to avoid covering folks like me, a lot of carriers have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and simply opted out of the private insurance racket altogether, so…I don’t even know what companies are still left to choose from.

And I wonder how much of my past and current medical history, supposedly rendered moot, will still come back to bite me in the pocketbook: OK, so, they can’t hold my alcoholism, diabetes or any other of my multiple and sundry diseases/disorders/conditions/skin tags against me coverage-wise. Sweet! But…will they make up for it by gouging me good and plenty where it counts?

Then there’s the small matter of figuring out who “they” are. …. Read More

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