Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

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If you go to meetings for support and an option of maintaining your recovery, “sitting in the rooms” you begin to realize many will turn to other forms of addictions from their main or real addiction due to our REAL problem is just not cutting it for us any longer. I did while deep into my gambling addiction as I was spiraling deeper and deeper into a dark hole, I began to abuse alcohol toward the last several months before my first and thankfully a failed suicide attempt.

Not trying to shock or scare anyone, I’m just keeping it real and to share that dual or cross addictions do and can happen. Sadly we may get to a point where our real addiction problems will stop working …And why I do share about alcohol abuse and addiction. Since we have read many times in mainstream media about several high profile people who had relapsed after long-term sobriety and just could not cope with the fact that it happened.

Even having depression and drinking can be a deadly combination that may NOT end well. Most of my recovery friends who visit here know I feel strongly and have shared many times the 12-step program model is not the only option for those to maintain and reach long-term recovery. No, I am not downplaying the importance of the 12-steps, what I am urging is that you find all and anything to help you gain a long-term rest of your life path from addiction.

And as usual, I came across an article that leans toward my experiences with my alcohol use and overall recovery path. As we always say; “work your treatment choices and recovery path in what works for you and take what you need and leave the rest”…

I hope you may do that with this Guest Article Share From “The Fix Mag” written by, Jowita Bydlowska …  ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate/Author

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Happy Destiny or a Life Sentence: Thoughts on Leaving AA …


“If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings.”

I don’t know if I’ve left Alcoholics Anonymous for good, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meeting. In the past, I’ve left for long periods of time and then come back. I’d come back because I missed the people, yet the “simple” program confused me more and more. Still, I loved making connections. Even though I’m not a group-type of person, it was obvious to me that the “magic” of the whole thing was being able to relate to people with a similar problem and helping one another. 

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I’ve had slips while very much in as well as while out of the program. I’ve slipped after months of not going to meetings, but I’ve also taken a drink right after an AA retreat. There were years where I did the steps and stayed sober and years when I didn’t do the steps and stayed sober. For those reasons, I might not be the best judge of the effectiveness or the harm of AA. I know of many people who stayed in and flourished, many who stayed and relapsed and came back, and many who have left and are still sober despite keeping their distance.
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AA has always been controversial. It keeps even the most hopeless drunks abstinent, but it’s known for its dogma and ritualistic—some say cult-like—practices. It has saved many people (although there are no reliable statistics) from death from substance use disorder, and it’s helped to mend many families and relationships. Attending AA is also frequently court-mandated for those charged with Driving Under the Influence and other alcohol-related convictions, including domestic violence. For many years AA seemed to be the only effective solution for those who wanted to keep abstinent from alcohol or other drugs. 
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But I’ve noticed a shift, and it’s been happening for a while. As new programs and methods of getting clean and sober pop up on the horizon, some AA members choose to leave despite the ominous farewells of members who believe that leaving AA always equals a relapse. It’s no accident that one of AA’s most popular slogans is “Keep Coming Back!” The way I used to interpret it was that the AA’s door was always open but later, as I became a little disillusioned, it read as if I was doomed to rely solely on AA as a place to recover. I was terrified to leave. Often it felt as if I was nailed to those plastic chairs by fear. 

“So I stayed. It started to feel like a life sentence.”

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Ego Deflation

David D. Bohl, addictions specialist and author of the acclaimed memoir Parallel Universes, left AA recently. He says, “I went to a hospital to check in because they told me I was going to have seizures if I didn’t. I had medically monitored and supervised detox. That was the beginning of my stabilization. And then they sent me to an inpatient or a residential treatment facility that included 12-step facilitation. So I stabilized in treatment and through the 12 steps.” Bohl got sober in AA but it took a long time before he was able to address other issues, such as his trauma due to adoption. 

Today, Bohl believes he would have healed faster if he’d had more access to other resources—such as ongoing therapy—on top of having to go to meetings. For him, the side effect of being in AA was “ego deflation.” 

“No one gave me informed consent that if you don’t have ego strength, this could destroy you. You come to AA and don’t know where to go from there. No one explained that to me. So, had I known that there were (other resources) out there and offer other forms of support, knowing that I had no ego strength, I would’ve gone another route. I would have opted for something else, no doubt about it. The message that I was hearing–whether it’s an AA message or not–is that because of my lack of ego strength, AA was the only safe place for me. And my experience was: ‘if you fail at this, David, you failed at everything. Even not just sobriety. You failed at connecting with people. You failed at life.’

Alternatives to AA

If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings. Currently, I’m attending a group that applies Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and offers trauma therapy among its methods. The members are free to respectfully comment on each other’s shares (this is discouraged in AA).

In SMART Recovery, which is commonly suggested as an alternative to AA, there is sharing and a sense of community, but there is an official facilitator and you graduate when you’ve completed the program. There is also Refuge Recovery, which uses some Buddhist teachings and meditation, as well as sharing. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a network of groups devoted to sobriety and abstinence.

And there are brand-new programs like She Recovers (founded in 2017) that just deal with recovery in general, be it from trauma, an eating disorder, or addiction. Google “leaving AA” and you’ll get hundreds of happily-ever-after accounts, as well as resources devoted to helping you find an alternative method of obtaining and sustaining recovery and making connections with other sober people.

I haven’t closed the door on the 12-step program yet. I will still go to meetings and I will keep the friendships I’ve made. But I’m also surrounding myself with other programs, groups, and methods because I need some extra mental-health padding to feel fully realized and like I can rejoin the world, sober.

I’ve realized that Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only road to recovery.


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Jowita Bydlowska is a copywriter and author living in Toronto. She is the author of Drunk Mom: A Memoir. You can find her on Linkedin.

 

Nothing Is Wrong With You If a 12-Step Program Does Not Work For You. It’s Why We Have “Choices Of What Works For Us”… Power To Choose

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“Those of us recovering know there is nothing wrong with you if for some reason a 12-Step program or meetings that are not enough to help you recover from any ADDICTION from Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, any addictions.”

And there has been a lot of “Debate” about this for a long time by many groups and die-hard 12-steppers in my 12-years of maintaining recovery and I been to many AA and GA, Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

 

Especially when I had a negative experience a few times in a GA meeting where a few long-timers got in an actual “Shouting Match” in front of attendees, as some just happen to be newcomers! Very wrong to DO and THAT was not following the by-laws of how a 12-step meeting should be … So when I came across this new article in one of my favorite Recovery Magazines called The Fix and this  article about “There is nothing wrong with YOU if AA, and I’ll include NA and GA, 12-step program doesn’t WORK for you.”

Look, it’s OK to choose the recovery path YOU WANT and WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. And even though I had a BAD experience with my Gamblers Anonymous meeting? I still went back and used it as a form of SUPPORT and to be like-minded recovering gamblers, BUT? Knew it wasn’t going to BE the only help and treatment option I needed for my addictions to gambling and alcohol abuse. Here is what The Fix Article says about a 12-step program and if it works or not works for you …  ~Catherine Lyon

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There is hope

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There’s Nothing Wrong With You If AA Doesn’t Work

By Olivia Pennelle 

“It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone.”

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I spoke to a friend, Damien, last week. He was devastated at losing someone close to him to an alcohol disorder. What is particularly harrowing about this person’s passing is that it might have been prevented. Damien’s friend was repeatedly pushed toward Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), even though it clearly wasn’t the right fit for him. Just like many others, instead of being supported by peers and professionals and given alternative options, this friend was left feeling that the problem was him.

“It’s really frustrating to see friends die because the default treatment option doesn’t work for them,” Damien says. “We are losing far too many people with substance use disorder who find 12-step incompatible with their life experiences and belief systems.”

He goes on to say, “It’s not because they aren’t willing. It’s not because they can’t ‘get it.’ It’s because, for many people, treating addiction requires more than hope, spirituality, and fellowship. And yet, the only option most are presented with is founded on those three pillars. If the recommended treatment for bacterial infections had the same success rate as the 12 steps, then antibiotics would not be our go-to treatment plan for staph infections.”

My overarching message is: There is nothing wrong with you if AA doesn’t work. It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone. You simply haven’t found the right pathway for you.

These kinds of beliefs stem from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” [emphasis added]

During my five years of attending countless AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, I have heard many members criticize those who come in and out of the rooms but return to using in between, categorizing them as unwilling, or incapable of being honest.“They just need to surrender to the program and work it like their life depends on it,” was the kind of statement I heard over and over again.

I threw myself into the program because there were no other options for me in the northwest of England. I was so desperate to find something that would help me that I believed anything members said, even if there was no evidence to back it up.

I did a fair amount of perpetuating these myths too. I was instructed to ignore my instincts and critical mind (because that was my “disease talking”), and do what I was told. Giving away my free will to a person in the sky or a church basement seemed weird, but I went with it for several years. After all, it had worked for many other members.

With a period of sobriety under my belt, I couldn’t ignore my inner doubts any longer. They became louder. It was as though, even after years in recovery, I suddenly woke up. And I started to slowly unpack all the myths I’d been told.

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REVIVE DETOX  – Shares: 

“I think you’ll agree with us when we say:

Times have changed and not all addiction cases should be treated the same way.

Traditional 12 Step Programs are based on a relationship with a higher power, an external higher power.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Medications should be combined with behavioral counseling for a “whole patient” approach, known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).” and is an effective treatment for addiction.

Personality, personal values, history, underlying conditions, and other factors dictate what type of recovery program works best for an individual.

We empower clients to invest in their own recovery which aids each individual in taking responsibility for their behaviors and breeds self-reliance.”

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In particular, I tried to unpack “it works if you work it.” There is substantial evidence that shows there’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to recovery. If this program were suitable for everyone with substance use disorders, its success rate would be much higher. The fact is that success rates of 12-step programs vary wildly, from as low as 5 to 8 percent, with dropout rates from 69 to 86 percent … to as high as 42 percent after four years.

I should point out that these dropout rates are a reflection of the attrition rates of addiction treatment generally. This underscores the point that the way we treat addiction isn’t appropriate for everyone and we need to get better at personalizing care based on individual circumstances.

When I moved to the U.S., it was like my world opened up. I saw that despite what I’d been told in AA — that it was the only method for successful recovery — there was actually an open landscape of diverse recovery pathways.

A leading study shows that tens of millions of Americans have successfully resolved an alcohol or drug problem through a variety of traditional and nontraditional methods. That means:

  • 9 percent recovered with “assisted pathway use” that consisted of mutual-aid groups (45.1 percent), treatment (27.6 percent), and emerging recovery support services (21.8 percent). 95.8 percent of those who used mutual-aid groups attended 12-step mutual aid meetings.
  • Just under half of those who did not report using an assisted pathway recovered without the use of formal treatment and recovery supports.
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I’m aware that an ideal model of treatment, individualized based on the person’s particular medical and psychological needs, is not always available to most people. Not all of us have the luxury of therapeutic treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is another reason mutual-aid groups are the most accessible form of recovery pathway — they’re free!

We’re fortunate in the U.S. to have plenty of other support groups that are not all based on religion, and some have a solid evidence-based program.

They include Refuge RecoveryLifeRing Secular RecoverySMART RecoveryModeration ManagementWellbriety — among many others listed here — and they have been shown to be equally as successful as 12-step groups.

study comparing 12-step groups to alternative mutual aid groups found that LifeRing, SMART, and Women for Sobriety were just as effective as 12-step groups. Study author Dr. Sarah Zemore and her team reported that “findings for high levels of participation, satisfaction, and cohesion among members of the mutual help alternatives suggest promise for these groups in addressing addiction problems.”

Despite my reporting about AA’s success rate and some of the myths perpetuated by the fellowship, I’m not here to bash AA. I’m here to shine a light on the false statement that it is the only successful way. There are many others.

For those AA does work for, I respect your path. We just need to have a clearer picture of what recovery looks like so when someone is suffering, instead of saying they are the problem, we can be better informed to direct them to what may be a more suitable pathway.

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After all, we all have the same goal: Recovery! ~Cat Lyon, Advocate

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