February 2013 News: Hello! Some good items on the site since we last updated this front page last December . As always, if you're new to the site, there's a list of drop-down menus on the bottom of this page for hundreds of entertaining documents.
When the vast majority of Americans hear the words “drinking problem” the first and only thought which pops into their minds is AA. Whereas it is true that AA has helped a large number of people become abstinent from alcohol, it has also become quite clear that AA is not a good fit for all problem drinkers. Brandsma (1980) has reported that forced AA attendance leads to increased binge drinking in a sample population. AA’s own “Triennial Surveys” (1990) report that only 5% of new AA members are still attending meetings at the end of one year.
' When I go to meetings and I introduce myself, I say, "My name is David and I am an addict.' I go to four groups - AA, NA and SA - because I've been addicted to painkillers and alcohol and sex, but my primary addiction is to helping people, so I go to Helpers Anonymous because I'm a compulsive helper... ' David, 36, addict Addiction used to live on the fringes, the periphery of society, but has spent the last 20 years worming its way into the everyday, the commonplace even.
When I was 18 my best friend told me I had a drink problem. By the time I checked into rehab five years later, there was no degrading situation I had yet to experience. I had been jolted out of a blackout on Clapham Common, London, to find a knife at my throat and a man helping himself to my purse and the gold watch my parents bought me for my 21st birthday. I had been banned from more pubs and restaurants than I care to remember and had also suffered the toe-curling shame of wetting myself without warning as my bladder threw in the towel. From my first blackout at the age of 15, drinking has been a lifelong love affair. My friend Sue's parents had a party and we had sneaked as many drinks as we could.
David Gilliver SMART Recovery is an abstinence program established in the US in the 1990s, using tools and techniques based on cognitive-behavioral principles. Alcohol Concern has helped set up SMART Recovery projects in six pilot areas across England with Department of Health funding, and earlier this month mounted a conference to provide guidance for organizations that want to expand peer-support options in their area. Keynote speaker was SMART Recovery founding president, Dr Joe Gerstein.
It was drink or not drink time. And the next drink, I feared, would be decisive. A one-way ticket into the dark - goodbye high-functioning; hello dumpster diving. I was very frightened. After a riffle through the Yellow Pages, I phoned up Alcoholics Anonymous - some forgotten Samaritan had once told me about the helpline. I was not, as I expected, put on hold.
I touched bottom, as alcoholics like to say, on February 12 1983 (the date is slightly fuzzy). I had just taken up a position as professor of literature at the California Institute of Technology. Caltech, as it is popularly known, is a small, excessively well-endowed science institution in Pasadena. Pasadena itself is a small, genteel western town, seven minutes away, by freeway, from downtown Los Angeles. LA is neither small nor genteel.
Vulnerable alcoholics seeking help for their addiction are being subjected to sexual and other abuse at the hands of long-serving volunteers from the world's largest alcohol support group. An internal memorandum circulated to every Alcoholics Anonymous group in the country reveals that volunteer members are increasingly being investigated by police forces examining allegations of sexual abuse. It is impossible to quantify the allegations since AA is committed to anonymity and will not be drawn on any aspect of its work. But the document makes it clear the group's general service board has known of the problem for some time and feels it must be tackled at a national level. According to the memo, leaked to the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper, within AA "there is a small minority of men and women who operate with sick but hidden agendas, and, no matter what they may say, they seek self-gratification often at the expense of other members or potential members".
Ed Halliwell: Alcoholics Anonymous works for some, but left me feeling more depressed than when I started | Comment is freeThis month marks 70 years since the bible of Alcoholics Anonymous – The Big Book - was first published. The AA movement boasts 2 million members worldwide – there are 3,400 meetings every week in the UK, freely available to people willing to admit that their drinking has got the better of them. The AA programme has also been adapted for a range of emotional problems, from drug abuse and co-dependency to eating disorders, sexual compulsions, gambling and workaholism. It sounds laudable, and in many ways it is. There's no question that AA and its related fellowships have helped turn lives around, offering an alternative to people who have "hit bottom" thanks to their previous lifestyle choices. The patterns of behaviour that lead to self-destruction through drink, drugs or depression are powerful and persistent, and have to be challenged with robust new structures that promote healthier ways of being.
September 12, 2007 Today the American Humanist Association notified its members, local chapters, and allies nationwide that there is now a well-established legal precedent that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are "pervasively religious" recovery programs. Moreover, government officials shouldn't specifically promote religious programs to the public, may not coerce incarcerated individuals into them, and may not sentence people to attend their meetings without offering a secular alternative. This action by the American Humanist Association comes in the wake of the September 7 decision by the Ninth U.S.