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Category Archives: Media

Stigma and the Language we Use

Here’s an interesting article about stigma and the language often used when talking about addiction. Gil Kerlikowske is the U.S. “Drug Czar” (director of the office of National Drug Control Policy). He has generally been seen as a breath of fresh air in that role, dispensing with the “War on Drugs” outlook, viewing addictive behavior as a public health issue rather than just a criminal justice issue.

The article probes the issue of stigma and Kerlikowske points out that “The degree of stigma is influenced by two main factors: cause — ‘Did they cause it?’ — and controllability — ‘Can they control it?’ We now know that about half the risk of addiction is conferred by genetics – what you’re born with. On controllability, neuroscience has also taught us that alcohol and other drugs cause profound changes in the structure and function of the brain that radically impair individuals’ ability to stop, despite often severe consequences.”

He goes on to say, “Addiction is like many other medical illnesses, in that there’s an interaction between the genetics and the environment. This makes some people more susceptible. For example, a lot of people are exposed to alcohol in our culture, but not everybody becomes addicted to alcohol. The genes may mediate the liking and wanting of that particular substance. For some people, alcohol is aversive for others, it’s kind of okay; for other people, it becomes everything.”

The whole article is worth a read — see it Here.

 

Predicting the Chances of Relapse

Dick Sprague, a Colorado LifeRinger, forwards an interesting article that deals with predicting relapse. The academic article stems from the distressing fact that more than one-third of liver transplant recipients — most of whom, presumably, need the transplant because of damage from drinking — relapse after the transplant. Pause and think about that — you’ve damaged your liver to the point where it’s function is so compromised that you need a transplant. You convince the doctors that you won’t waste their time, energy and money by resuming drinking; you go through the wait for a donor liver and the trauma of the surgery and recovery … and then you go back to drinking. What an example of the power of addiction!

The article (actually the abstract of the article) offers a list of nine factors that predict the risk of relapse, and most of them certainly don’t just apply to transplant recipients:

Nine of 25 hypothesized risk factors were predictive of alcohol relapse after liver transplant: absence of hepatocellular carcinoma, tobacco dependence, continued alcohol use after liver disease diagnosis, low motivation for alcohol treatment, poor stress management skills, no rehabilitation relationship, limited social support, lack of nonmedical behavioral consequences, and continued engagement in social activities with alcohol present.

Read the abstract Here.

— Craig Whalley

 

Choice in Recovery — Two Articles From Opposite Directions; Similar Conclusions

We often think of AA as being monolithic, speaking in one voice. In fact, AA has members who deviate sharply from the “established” principles. There are “Agnostic” AA groups which try to shed the religious element from the program. Since “religious elements” are central to much of AA’s approach, this is a difficult task, to say the least. A group and website called “AA Agnostica” defines itself as “a space for Agnostics, Atheists and Free Thinkers Worldwide.” A recent article posted on that website tackles the problem of the U.S. court system declaring any number of times that AA is religious and therefore cannot be mandated by a branch of the government due to the First Amendment. The article contends that the Twelve Traditions, which are much less explicitly religious than the Twelve Steps, should be placed at the heart of AA in place of the Twelve Steps. Some would argue that even the Traditions contain religious elements, including references to “a loving God.” Still, the article is an interesting read, not least because it explicitly accepts the Court’s view of AA as being legally a religiously-based organization. See the article Here

One person who never has had any problem seeing AA as religious is LifeRing’s founding leader Martin Nicolaus. He recently had an article published in Counselor: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. That article, which can be viewed Here, gives details about a court ruling, a decision in the case of Hazle vs. Crofoot, which provides the most recent reinforcement of an earlier case (2009) that clearly required government at all levels to offer choice in recovery rather than mandating Twelve Step programs exclusively.

Both articles make for very interesting reading.

— Craig Whalley

 

Court Mandated Referrals to Support Groups Highlighted in Two Articles

Here are a couple of links to articles dealing with “choice in recovery” and court-mandated attendance at support meetings. One deals with a LifeRing member’s effort to ensure that people referred to treatment by the courts and other public agencies in Sonoma County, California, are told of all recovery support groups available on an equal basis. LifeRing itself has not been involved in such efforts, but we watch them closely and many of our members are strong supporters of the principle that those mandated to support meetings should have a clear say in which organization they must attend. Read about the changes brought about by the persistence of one person by clicking Here .

And read a more general discussion of court-mandated referrals to AA in this article from the newly revived website The Fix.com, a site devoted to news and articles of interest to all involved in recovery.

— Craig Whalley

‘Drinking mommy’ still real, still not cute

The mother, especially the stay-at-home, mother who drinks away her afternoons, isn’t just a 1960s stereotype. It’s still real, and apparently being even more glamorized than before.

But, not only is it still real, the fact that in many cases, there’s an alcoholic mom that that drinking mommy becomes, is also still real. And here is a realistic look at that.