SteveH

"12-Steps" - What is your opinion/critique?

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The 12-Steps seem to be a foundation for any addiction program. Unfortunately, they incorporate "God" or a "higher power". I have been interested in analyzing these Steps for a couple of reasons. First, my mother is an alcoholic and she has used AA to stay sober for a number of years. Second, I heard or read Ayn Rand discuss the Serenity Prayer. She agreed with the premise of the prayer but objected to the reference to God. That got me interested in pulling apart the 12-Steps and seeing what was worthwhile and what was worthless.

Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over <insert favorite addiction> - that our lives had become unmanageable.

- I don't like the 'we'. I don't like the powerless. But in essence, I believe this has merit. I believe this is a recognition that some aspect of your life is irrational. But how would you formulate this in an Objective manner? I believe that you do have power to change the behavior.

Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

- I believe you can restore yourself to sanity, but what would you use to replace "power greater than me"?

Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

- I believe the essence of this Step is making a conscience decision to change. But do you turn your life over to God? No. What are you turning your life over to? Logic?

Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

- I can't find any fault with this. I believe it is just another phrasing of Judge and prepare to be judged. Objectivism teaches that you should always evaluate yourself.

Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

- Apart from the God statement, this seems pretty good too. To me it is an exercise in honesty, a natural extension of Step 4. While it may not be essential, I think it could have benefits.

Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

- Too mystical in formulation, but again there has to be a personal commitment to change behavior.

Step 7 - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

- Worthless. Can anyone else see merit in this?

Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

- In the case of addiction, I think this is very important. Again, I see it as an exercise in honesty. Admit that you tried to fake reality and take responsibility for your error.

Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

- same comment as Step 8

Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

- very worthwhile. same comment as Step 4

Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

- again too mystical. But there is an element of concentration. If this were reformulated to say something like "concentrate on reality and act accordingly" it would seem worthwhile.

Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

- Too mystical in its phrasing. Perhaps "Having come to conscientious awareness of reality, I have decided to practice these principles in all my affairs." I don't like that formulation either. It seems the idea is to carry out the principles of Objectivism in all your affairs.

I just wanted to get a discussion on this topic and see what others thought.

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The failure rate of AA and it's 12 step system is somewhere around 95% which I think actually speaks for what I think of it. From my research of AA I have come to the conclusion that it is close to being a cult of religious fanatics. I also offer that you might want to read Dr. Jeffrey Schaler's book Addiction is a Choice where he does a very good job of destroying the fallacious ideas on addiciton.

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Ray, I am quite interested in what Dr. Schaler has to say about addiction - in which way is it a choice? Do you mean, you need the moral strength to get through cold turkey? Addiction is very physical - crack or heroin addicts undergo violent cold turkey. I've experienced milder cold turkey myself due to caffeine addiction - I drink large amounts of coffee and if I forget just one day, I will get debilitating headaches whose only solution is anything containing caffeine... there's definitely a very physical aspect to it.

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The failure rate of AA and it's 12 step system is somewhere around 95% which I think actually speaks for what I think of it.

I am not sure how this statistic was derived. If it includes relapses, I would believe it. But I also know many who have been able to quit their addiction and lead relatively healthy lives.

From my research of AA I have come to the conclusion that it is close to being a cult of religious fanatics.

As with any group, there are the fanatics. I have also come to the conclusion that these people are the ones most likely to fall off the wagon. The recovering addicts that impress me the most are those that are serene and quiet about their recovery.

Also, I did not start this thread to defend AA or any 12-Step program. I am just curious how an Objectivist program for addiction might look. I started with the 12-Steps, but perhaps that is the wrong place. I will definitely look up Dr. Schaler's book. You gave me exactly what I was looking for - alternative sources.

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Rtg24, addiction is defined as having a commitment, dedication, devotion, inclination, bent, or attachment. Are you willing to state that you were born with an addiciton to caffeine (even before you had a first sip of coffee) or is it something that you choose to take large amounts of on your own? It seems that you might be reversing the cause effect relationship, that is, it is your choice to drink large amounts of caffeine filled coffee that has forced your body to make adaptations to a certain drug/chemical. Addictions can be good or bad, but that which one is addicted to holds no desire as it is only man that can desire an inanimate object or substance to be committed to.

I would offer that as long as the caffeine holds no long-term ill effects, which I have never seen any documentation that it does when taken in rational amounts, then I would enjoy your cups of coffee. If you choose to give it up then I offer that you slowly reduce the amount of caffeine filled coffee that you drink until you no longer have headaches.

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I'm glad you brought this subject up, Steve. I've always had ambivalent feelings about the "Twelve Steps", and I think the arbitrary and mystical aspects of many of them are bound to lead to failure to implement them (if anything in the Steps could be "implemented"). And the essay where you read Ayn Rand's comment on the Serenity Prayer--"The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made", in Philosophy: Who Needs It--is something I always recommend to anyone who has concerns in their life addressed by the prayer (unfortunately, those same people say they're interesting in reading it, but when I loan them PWNI, they never do, and I never get the book back. I've had to buy that volume again a number of times. When will I ever learn? :D ).

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Ray, I am quite interested in what Dr. Schaler has to say about addiction - in which way is it a choice? Do you mean, you need the moral strength to get through cold turkey? Addiction is very physical - crack or heroin addicts undergo violent cold turkey. I've experienced milder cold turkey myself due to caffeine addiction - I drink large amounts of coffee and if I forget just one day, I will get debilitating headaches whose only solution is anything containing caffeine... there's definitely a very physical aspect to it.

That's a problem I had with caffeine. Took me years to figure out the cause of the headaches. Now, I just avoid all caffeine. No more headaches. But I had no uncontrollable urge to take caffeine when I was drinking it.

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Ray, I am quite interested in what Dr. Schaler has to say about addiction - in which way is it a choice? Do you mean, you need the moral strength to get through cold turkey? Addiction is very physical - crack or heroin addicts undergo violent cold turkey. I've experienced milder cold turkey myself due to caffeine addiction - I drink large amounts of coffee and if I forget just one day, I will get debilitating headaches whose only solution is anything containing caffeine... there's definitely a very physical aspect to it.

That's a problem I had with caffeine. Took me years to figure out the cause of the headaches. Now, I just avoid all caffeine. No more headaches. But I had no uncontrollable urge to take caffeine when I was drinking it.

True. It's more to do with withdrawal symptoms. The explanation is pretty simple - it attaches to reprogrammed receptors in your brain. Solution also pretty simple - have caffeine. Even in small doses, a cup of green tea does the trick. Although I usually have 2-3 in those situations. You can get the timing right.

I love coffee - getting freshly roasted single origin beans, grinding them myself, etc. - and I love the productivity enhancement it gives me. Absolutely worth the risk esp. when caffeine is so readily available in today's society.

I wonder if there IS such a thing as addiction after all, other than not wanting to go cold turkey acting as a deterrent to stopping.

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Ray, I am quite interested in what Dr. Schaler has to say about addiction - in which way is it a choice? Do you mean, you need the moral strength to get through cold turkey? Addiction is very physical - crack or heroin addicts undergo violent cold turkey. I've experienced milder cold turkey myself due to caffeine addiction - I drink large amounts of coffee and if I forget just one day, I will get debilitating headaches whose only solution is anything containing caffeine... there's definitely a very physical aspect to it.

That's a problem I had with caffeine. Took me years to figure out the cause of the headaches. Now, I just avoid all caffeine. No more headaches. But I had no uncontrollable urge to take caffeine when I was drinking it.

True. It's more to do with withdrawal symptoms. The explanation is pretty simple - it attaches to reprogrammed receptors in your brain. Solution also pretty simple - have caffeine. Even in small doses, a cup of green tea does the trick. Although I usually have 2-3 in those situations. You can get the timing right.

I love coffee - getting freshly roasted single origin beans, grinding them myself, etc. - and I love the productivity enhancement it gives me. Absolutely worth the risk esp. when caffeine is so readily available in today's society.

I wonder if there IS such a thing as addiction after all, other than not wanting to go cold turkey acting as a deterrent to stopping.

I do drink decaf coffee and soda, if that matters. But I don't get headaches when I stop those.

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Problem I have with decaf is the method, which takes away (in my opinion) a lot of the flavour. Plus, the best beans are caffeinated (Hawaiian Kona, etc.)...

The productivity improvement is worth it - I can't take a short haul flight (e.g. Zurich-London) without a diet coke, otherwise I find sleeping on the plane too tempting (instead of putting in an hour's work).

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When I was doing my pre-doctoral internship, we had a mini-seminar in addictions taught by a psychologist who specialized in it and really seemed to know his stuff. We talked about the research examining the effectiveness of various addiction programs.

To my surprise, research on AA indicated it was the most effective program. (If I still have the notebook of articles we were given, it's likely buried somewhere, so I apologize that I can't cite articles at present). I was surprised for the same reasons others have given. Also, although I couldn't say this for certain, I had a strong impression that the psychologist teaching the seminar was somewhat loath to admit that AA had the best research support (I don't think he was particularly religious and preferred some other approaches to treatment).

That being said, effectiveness in terms of percent "cured" is probably quite low. Indeed, relapse is "built-in" to addictions treatments. That is, it's assumed that most people will relapse during the course of treatment, so part of treatment is dealing with relapses.

Steve, if you have access via local colleges or universities to a database called PsycInfo you can find research articles related to these programs. I know your main focus is defining a program based in Objectivism, but my educated guess is that research has pulled apart various elements of these programs to determine which factors relate to clinical success. This might help identify concretes related to successful outcomes that you could then tie to more abstract philosophical principles.

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When I was doing my pre-doctoral internship, we had a mini-seminar in addictions taught by a psychologist who specialized in it and really seemed to know his stuff. We talked about the research examining the effectiveness of various addiction programs.

To my surprise, research on AA indicated it was the most effective program. (If I still have the notebook of articles we were given, it's likely buried somewhere, so I apologize that I can't cite articles at present). I was surprised for the same reasons others have given. Also, although I couldn't say this for certain, I had a strong impression that the psychologist teaching the seminar was somewhat loath to admit that AA had the best research support (I don't think he was particularly religious and preferred some other approaches to treatment).

That being said, effectiveness in terms of percent "cured" is probably quite low. Indeed, relapse is "built-in" to addictions treatments. That is, it's assumed that most people will relapse during the course of treatment, so part of treatment is dealing with relapses.

Steve, if you have access via local colleges or universities to a database called PsycInfo you can find research articles related to these programs. I know your main focus is defining a program based in Objectivism, but my educated guess is that research has pulled apart various elements of these programs to determine which factors relate to clinical success. This might help identify concretes related to successful outcomes that you could then tie to more abstract philosophical principles.

Scott: if the AA program works at all, in some cases at least - what would you say is the mechanism by which it works?

It cannot be that the program "makes" the alchoholic give up on alchohol, since no one can force another man´s consciousness. So it has to be that the AA program helps to motivate the alchoholic to choose to stop drinking. But *how* does the AA program motivate the alchoholic? Do they expose the alchoholic to certain ideas that help him to stop drinking? Or is it just "peer pressure", i.e. sheer second-handedness? Or is there some other mechanism by which the AA helps the alchoholic to stop drinking?

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When I was doing my pre-doctoral internship, we had a mini-seminar in addictions taught by a psychologist who specialized in it and really seemed to know his stuff. We talked about the research examining the effectiveness of various addiction programs.

To my surprise, research on AA indicated it was the most effective program. (If I still have the notebook of articles we were given, it's likely buried somewhere, so I apologize that I can't cite articles at present). I was surprised for the same reasons others have given. Also, although I couldn't say this for certain, I had a strong impression that the psychologist teaching the seminar was somewhat loath to admit that AA had the best research support (I don't think he was particularly religious and preferred some other approaches to treatment).

That being said, effectiveness in terms of percent "cured" is probably quite low. Indeed, relapse is "built-in" to addictions treatments. That is, it's assumed that most people will relapse during the course of treatment, so part of treatment is dealing with relapses.

Steve, if you have access via local colleges or universities to a database called PsycInfo you can find research articles related to these programs. I know your main focus is defining a program based in Objectivism, but my educated guess is that research has pulled apart various elements of these programs to determine which factors relate to clinical success. This might help identify concretes related to successful outcomes that you could then tie to more abstract philosophical principles.

Scott: if the AA program works at all, in some cases at least - what would you say is the mechanism by which it works?

It cannot be that the program "makes" the alchoholic give up on alchohol, since no one can force another man´s consciousness. So it has to be that the AA program helps to motivate the alchoholic to choose to stop drinking. But *how* does the AA program motivate the alchoholic? Do they expose the alchoholic to certain ideas that help him to stop drinking? Or is it just "peer pressure", i.e. sheer second-handedness? Or is there some other mechanism by which the AA helps the alchoholic to stop drinking?

If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

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If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

So religion can be a "lesser evil" than alchoholism, so to speak? Well, it is obviously true that many religious persons, as long as they to not take their religion *too seriously* live far better lives than dipsomaniacs.

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If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

Brian, you hit the nail right on the head. It seems that most irrational addicitons are just replaced with other irrational addictions. In the case under discussion the people go from drinking to escape reality to religion to escape reality.

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If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

Brian, you hit the nail right on the head. It seems that most irrational addicitons are just replaced with other irrational addictions. In the case under discussion the people go from drinking to escape reality to religion to escape reality.

Push comes to shove it is better to be addicted to meetings, cookies and bad coffee than to booze. With the meeting, cookies and bad coffee it is possible to hold onto a job and earn one's living. Addiction is not a good thing, but some addictions are worse than others.

Bob Kolker

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Push comes to shove it is better to be addicted to meetings, cookies and bad coffee than to booze. With the meeting, cookies and bad coffee it is possible to hold onto a job and earn one's living. Addiction is not a good thing, but some addictions are worse than others.

First off, I disagree with you on whether or not all addictions are a bad thing as some (the rational ones) are not. To be committed to something does not automatically make that which one is committed to evil or bad. But, to attempt to escape reality is bad for all humans on an individual level as it takes them away from learning about the nature of the universe and how to live in accordance to the it and the nature of man and enjoy life.

On a personal note I do not care to stop most people's irrational addictions as long as they are not harming (using force) against another. And I have found that a lot of drunks (not all) are much more enjoyful to be around than the person full of religious fervor.

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---------

On a personal note I do not care to stop most people's irrational addictions as long as they are not harming (using force) against another. And I have found that a lot of drunks (not all) are much more enjoyful to be around than the person full of religious fervor.

Another round on me!! :D

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Brian: you are so right about the "why"--and nobody ever bothers to ask about that, do they?!

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On a personal note I do not care to stop most people's irrational addictions as long as they are not harming (using force) against another. And I have found that a lot of drunks (not all) are much more enjoyful to be around than the person full of religious fervor.

Another round on me!! :D

I am not saying that I agree with a person's choice to get drunk. I am just saying that I have spent time around both types and that if I had to choose one I would rather be around a person that drinks than a person that is extremely religious.

For the most part Marines drink quite a bit when the opportunity arises, or at least they did during my time. From my experience I do not think that most Marines drink to escape reality, but more as a celebration of the day's, week's or month's preceding efforts. When I was with an infantry unit we would go to the field for weeks at a time and the only thing that would be available to drink would be water. At the end of these exercises Marines usually march back to the garrison area from the field. As a matter of fact one battalion commander that I knew while I was at 1st Marine Division made his troops march from 29 Palms to Camp Pendleton at the end of a winter training exercise, look that up on your GPS. When these people return from difficult and demanding things they like to celebrate their achievements with a drink, or two or ten. And because most Marines, while I was in, usually work an immense amount of hours they believe in working hard and doing the same in their time away from work. And it is that type of character that I would take over the religious person that wants to go spend time in the chapel after work praying for his god to save his wicked soul, blah, blah, blah.

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Scott: if the AA program works at all, in some cases at least - what would you say is the mechanism by which it works?

It cannot be that the program "makes" the alchoholic give up on alchohol, since no one can force another man´s consciousness. So it has to be that the AA program helps to motivate the alchoholic to choose to stop drinking. But *how* does the AA program motivate the alchoholic? Do they expose the alchoholic to certain ideas that help him to stop drinking? Or is it just "peer pressure", i.e. sheer second-handedness? Or is there some other mechanism by which the AA helps the alchoholic to stop drinking?

If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

Good question, Henrik. Offhand I'm really not sure. As I wrote to Steve, I believe there is research that attempts to "pull apart" various treatment programs to determine what factors are clinically effective. Also, there "cumulative effects" in which individual factors contribute only modestly to effectiveness, but when put together yield a greater effect. Unfortunately I just don't have time to look into it right now.

Brian makes a great point, too. There is actually some very good research that looked at the development of problem drinking for people in rural areas. It looks at family dynamics and the extent to which alcohol abuse is an "acceptable" part of a given family's life, larger patterns of alcohol use in a given place in terms of norms and acceptability, economic issues, and so on. A fairly clear pattern emerges that underlies the development of drinking problems.

However, it is always the case that every individual has a choice of behavior--no one is pointing a gun to another's head and demanding that he constantly drink. It is the choice NOT to drink in the face of all these factors that probably has not been given enough research focus. However, there is some research on the concept of "resiliency" that looks at factors that help a person overcome adversity or stay rational in the face of risk factors. I'm not as familiar with that literature, but it has been on my "to read" list for some time.

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I will put in a word for Alanon, which is a support group for friends and family members of alcoholic persons. I gained some help from going to meetings of this organization. The idea is to talk to others about being involved with an alcoholic person with other people who share your experiences. My first husband was severly alcoholic, often becoming verbally abusive and physically aggressive while drunk. When he sobered up, he acted as if he did not even remember all that had taken place during his episode. It was maddening to have someone act that way and then not feel like you could hold them accountable because they refused to even admit to doing anything at all.

Going to Alanon meetings helped me talk about things that were embarassing to discuss with my "real life" friends. It allowed me to say, out loud, things I was trying to live in denial about. Eventually, when our child's life was endangered by his drinking I was emboldened to leave the situation. But to this day, when I have to interact with him, I use strategies and techniques that I learned from my time at Alanon meetings and reading their publications.

The main focus in Alanon is maintaining control over one's own life and letting the natural consequences of the drinker's behavior have their full impact by not protecting them, or striving to not protect them.

As far as AA and other 12 step programs, I think they can work, if the person actually wants them to work. They say they are submitting to a "higher power", but all that higher power is is their own will. I think it is so important that the loved ones of alcoholics not enable them (protecting them from the natural consequences of drinking). It's very hard not to take someone in who has lost their appartment or to bail someone out of jail, etc. When we love people, we want to help them avoid these difficulties, but the more of these consequences they face, the better chance they actually have of taking responsibility for their actions.

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However, it is always the case that every individual has a choice of behavior--no one is pointing a gun to another's head and demanding that he constantly drink. It is the choice NOT to drink in the face of all these factors that probably has not been given enough research focus.

I was a highly functional alcoholic for about twenty years, including all those that anyone has known me here until January 25th of 09'. It was not something I even viewed as a problem until it escalated to a certain point that its effects could not be denied. I could drink anyone I knew under the table and converse calmly on Plato's Theory of Forms all the while, so what was the problem, right?

That is, until a humiliating experience of being pulled over. I stopped on that day. I went directly to AA (my wife talked the officer out of arresting me, and over the phone no less, I kid you not) that very morning without going to sleep. The people I saw there were ruled, defined, broken already by alcohol, and bowed fealty to hopelessness in the face of what they called a disease.

I recoiled out of there in a hurry and didn't dream of going back. They had exactly the wrong answer. Whatever problems "pushes" one to want to seek drink (or anything else) it is still a choice. You either decide to, or you decide not to.

Once I saw it for what it was, I had not the slightest problem walking away. "No", and meaning it is all that is required.

I leave out such psychological examples as people suffering from severe trauma from childhood or from other causes. I had none of these things.

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Once I saw it for what it was, I had not the slightest problem walking away. "No", and meaning it is all that is required.

I leave out such psychological examples as people suffering from severe trauma from childhood or from other causes. I had none of these things.

My personal experience is that even recovering from a psychosis (I was once a schizophrenic, or at least diagnosed as one) is largely a question of volition. If I had not *chosen* to put forth a peristent effort to think, for example in order to read magazines and books, I might very well still today, roughly 35 years after my psychosis, still be lost in the daydream world of the fantasies that I lived in when I was schizophrenic. And also, I would not have discovered Objectivism.

However, to be fair, I have to say that volition was probably not enough for me to be able to recover from my psychosis. I doubt that my mind would have "calmed down" enough for me to be *able* to choose to think for protracted time intervals, without the help of chlorpromazine (a classic anti-psychotic drug which I took regularly until 3 years ago, when another drug was substituted for it).

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My personal experience is that even recovering from a psychosis (I was once a schizophrenic, or at least diagnosed as one) is largely a question of volition. If I had not *chosen* to put forth a peristent effort to think, for example in order to read magazines and books, I might very well still today, roughly 35 years after my psychosis, still be lost in the daydream world of the fantasies that I lived in when I was schizophrenic. And also, I would not have discovered Objectivism.

However, to be fair, I have to say that volition was probably not enough for me to be able to recover from my psychosis. I doubt that my mind would have "calmed down" enough for me to be *able* to choose to think for protracted time intervals, without the help of chlorpromazine (a classic anti-psychotic drug which I took regularly until 3 years ago, when another drug was substituted for it).

I think this is key, Henrik. I have had both a close relative and 2 close personal friends (ok, 1 a spouse) who had an alcohol drinking problem and went to AA to solve it. I attended several meetings to support them, and read the books, so I know what went on there. In 2 of the 3 cases, it had a strongly beneficial effect, in the short term. And I mean that 'short-term' pointedly. The intent of AA is to teach that you are an alcoholic for life and that you will need to be an active member of AA for life to cope with it.

As a former biologist by training, I acknowledge that the use of alcohol and certain drugs may make persistent changes in body chemistry and receptors that condition the brain and that may make a former abuser, an 'addict', quickly susceptible to a relapse and that such a person needs to be careful. Hence the idea in AA that 'once an alcoholic, forever an alcoholic'. But I agree with Thoyd Loki and Henrik Unné that volition has a lot to do with recovery and everything to do with a true and complete psychological recovery. And, in a very related sense, I agree with Henrik that one may have to find some 'crutch', some help, to reduce the debilitating symptoms to a manageable point, so that you can think clearly, focus, and exert the volition necessary to stop a destructive habit or condition. It varies by the individual, for many reasons, but I've certainly known individuals who stopped smoking and drinking cold turkey and didn't start again. It was not easy -- my ex told me that, 6 months after she stopped smoking, she was relaxing on the couch and was suddenly shocked by the realization that she was having a full-sensory hallucination of a lit cigarette between her fingers, for example -- but it was certainly possible. AA is such a crutch. They substitute a constant attention, an injunction that you must make the decision moment-by-moment, to not drink. They furnish you not only with the meetings and a room full of people who know what it feels like, the good and the bad, and a sponsor, who will keep on top of you, monitoring you, making sure that you don't lose focus and have 'just one'.

That said, AA goes further: It proposes to solve the problem of a lack of will to stop with the wills of a roomful of fellow addicts, who, repeating to you what they might not otherwise repeat to themselves, are getting "therapy" while dishing it out. AA insists that you are a permanent invalid, permanently weak and unable to 'fight' your own addiction. It takes for granted that you have no self-esteem and need to substitute the group's 'esteem' (or the mystical 'higher power').

In the short term, this approach can get you to a point where you are not drinking and are past the point of immediate physical cravings, which have a strong physiological component. Once you have gotten to that point, though, it continues to undercut the self-esteem that one would normally expect to build from having achieved such an accomplishment, at the very least, and continues to demand that you reiterate that "I am powerless over my addiction", the deference to a "higher power", and "I'm [blah blah] and I'm an Alcoholic!" etc. etc. The "powerless" mantra is its borrowing from Christianity, not just the "higher power". The two people in my life who successfully recovered both abandoned AA (something the organization insists is fatal to recovery) and substituted, instead, their own self-esteem, their pride in the life they have built for themselves, in which they've removed alcohol consumption, but which is otherwise quite full. I believe the argument that it is or isn't a religious creed may have to do with the two men who founded the movement, one a devout Christian, one not. But the root belief in the individual having somehow permanently lost their volition ('I'm powerless') and having to defer to a higher power, however the individual would like to interpret that higher power, is religious and is destructive in the way that religion is destructive to self-esteem.

Alcohol numbs the mind and prevents rational thought. Even a high-functioning individual like Thoyd is compromised. I remember a former alcoholic jazz musician, who played successfully for years while completely blitzed, who, when he was asked if he played better when drunk, said (from memory), 'hell no! I stunk. I just didn't know it and didn't care. I'm much better now'. It's amazing what we can do with half our brains tied behind our backs, but more amazing what we can do at full power. Once the individual experiences that, experiences the superiority of a life of reason and full awareness, it becomes much easier to abandon the things which prevent it.

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