Addiction is a Myth (ex_opiferum) wrote in recovery_debate,
Addiction is a Myth

x-posted harm_reduction

if abstenteeism is the benchmark for treatment then relapse must be its ultimate failure or would this be too simplistic. I personally think, the prolific and wide spread use/saturation of the 12 steps treatments and total abstinance are the laziest forms of para-therapies. Its making money from a system which was never designed to be implimented in such a form. I get the
zig when considering the billions of people dependant on pharmacological prescriptions, which are viewed as acceptable as the political and societal fingers are pointed at the 'addicts', the people of choice. You get enough christians too say 'what we are missing and need is god and Jesus in our lifes and they will be followed to the ends of earth, the same seems to ring true, for the spiritual parade of the 12 steppers terrorised by one drug is too many and a thousand never enough. Living without drugs is like giving up woman or men because we got hurt or into trouble, is love that dangerous. what do i know ime just a serial failure

- quoted with permission from person undergoing 12-Step treatment

The above is, in my opinion, a provocatively honest and courageous admission of the counter-productive internal state of confusion and uncertainty following exposure to 12-Step addiction treatment. 

12-Step treatment is abstinance based, there is no mid-ground between abstinence and habitual drug use, except for the act of "relapse", an ambiguous term with as many ambiguous embedded values.  As there is no middle-ground in 12-Step treatment, it inevitably creates an invisible, albeit operative, dualism that ultimately results in the risk of a person adopting the moral values ascribed to addiction and drug use behaviors that are socially biased and bound by conventional and unchallenged, not to forget out-moded, labels denoting negative social behaviors that are anti-social in their inherently unchallenged immorality.  Whilst 12-Step theories may not crudely admit to the use of moral value judgments, it is a common occurrence in their literature and meeting formats.  eg. the key tag is a tool to separate members into a hierarchy of clean time.  An applause is received upon the presentation of the key tag; the "ultimate" key-tag status is furthermore hierarchichal and adops value based notiong in the very material they are made of, ie. gold is worth more than silver.  That 12-Step groups adopt unconsciously accepted positive reactions in order to acknowledge an individuals "clean time" is suggestive that "clean time" is synonymous with "good behavior".  In short, this gives rise to contexts that spiral into a chain-effect of positve/negative re-enforcements, ie. good/bad, abstinent/clean, recovery/addiction, serene/sick, winners/losers.  Because 12-step theories leave no room for a mid-ground, it forms a dualistic linguistic system of postive/negative groupings.  Negative and disempowering personal labels are abundant in the nature of 12-Step literature. eg. the "inability" to remain abstinent is a defect of the character, a powerlessness over one's free will, a weakness, a surrender that wasn't surrendering enough.  In other words, shortfall after shortcoming that separate him/her from the "winners" (thus suggesting the logic of "I am not a winner, I am the opposite").

It disgusts me that 12-Step groups continue to operate despite the fact they fulfil every critera of what constitutes a "cult", all at the expense of an addict seeking help and guidance, not a mandatory adoption of 12-Step concepts and ideologies.  Whilst i'ts no longer in bad taste to condemn or make fun of Scientology as a "cult religion", it is still exceptionally taboo to pigeon-hole 12-groups into the same category.  It makes no difference that 12-Step groups operate similarly, yet they are spared negative criticism and public ridicule so often slapped in the face of Scientology. 

If addiction is treatable and it's taken for granted that it's a social 'problem' in desperate need of a solution, why are addiction treatment based services still (for the most part) married to the rhetorical and dogmatic ideas belonging to 12-Step theories, when there are other methods and concepts of addiction treatment similarly available?  Perhaps it's because 12-Step groups and rehabilitation units are far too subjective and self-interested, afraid that their promise that the prgram works without fail (only for those that accept to live by the ideologies that lead to a life in "recovery') will be threatened by the alternative lifestyle choices afforded by other addiction treatment theories that do not make abstinence the end goal, or a goal with any moral or social significance.  That lessens the necessity for re-treatment and lessens the dependance of the addict on social services. 

Just as harm reduction is a human right, so should the option of non-moral value aadiction treatment programs be a human-right.  What is more, 12-Step groups and rehabilitation facilities should not be made conditional in the sentencing of drug-related crimes, nor should attending a 12-Step program be used as a "reward" or an incentive to reduce a sentence.  It would be publicly slammed if attending church every Sunday was made a condition of one's parole.  However, one can safely guess that at least in this hypthetical situation, one would be able to choose their own choice of church.  Why? Because of the acceptance of an individual having the right to choose a belief system that corresponds with their own.  Why is the addict not allowed to choose a system that co-operates with their own set of beliefs without being forced to adopt concepts that are incongruous as well as difficult to comprehend? The treatment of addiction requires one to re-evaluate their own beliefs and life-style choices. Why complicate matters further by inducing a set of beliefs and theories that the individual may not relate to for whatever reasons, or to insist the individual finds an identity within the constructs because it is expected?

The treatment of psychological, psychiatric or mental health concerns are met by an evaluation and investigation with the emphasis on what will work for the individual considering the context of the situation.  The suitable treatment option for an individual presented with the aspects of addiction should be entitled to the same format.  As addiction concerns physical and psychological factors, the application of a "treatment" that accommodates the internal factors which are unique to the invidual's own socio-cultural experiences, rather than expect the individual to respond to the universal treatment of addiction adopted by 12-Step groups.

The 12-Step theory diagnoses each addict as suffering from the "disease of addiction".  It is not the individual's fault that they have been by a disease that can't be "cured".  The disease concept also encourages individuals not to think of themselves as the only one's, "we're not unique!" to "you're not alone!".  Not only is the individual with a current substance addiction possessed by the "disease" of addiction, so are those close to you! They are part of the disease and also require 12-Step therapy.  Hence, the addict will ask his closest kin to attend 12-Step groups designed to cater for those on the receiving end of addictive behavior.  These groups are available under the premise they're to help empower those living with the "disease of addiction".  In short, these groups bear every resemblance to the non-addict 12-Step group.  They are taylored for third persons that do not have an addiction problem, and although their purpose is to provide a safe and sound group environment where support is endless, their existence only further nourishes and makes more omnipresent the concept of addiction as an incurable disease that affects not just the addict, but the spouse or family (often labelled as "Co-Dependant" or enablers).  And so 12-Step groups are (without question) seen to be "the only way" and a successful means of treating addiction, because the overwhelming numbers at meetings are quickly translated into a success rate.  It is, afterall, an international fellowship.  It bears the sticker "it works" that misleads and misguides he person unfamiliar with the treatment of addiction into blindly accepting a quasi-monotheistic natured solution to a problem that may or may not respond to the application of "treatment".  Certainly, addiction leads to a variety of physical and psychological states of differing degrees, depending on a multitude of circumstances particular to the individual.  This is why I warn against the trick 12-Step groups employ, that of making addiction an universal set of truths that are confined by a formalist disease concept theory, accordingly treatable by the application of a universalised set of 12-Steps and the suggestion never to forget that "My name is... and I'm an addict/recovering addict", as if to make a special exception for a not especially exceptional reason.

Addiction is a serious problem that affects more than just the addicted individual.  For some, addiction is a way of life.  For others, it is a mode of behavior once engaged in for a period of time.   Must it be a label one continues to adopt in spite of the fact the individual is no longer in a state of addiction? Divorce is a very emotional process that changes one's marital status.  A divorced person will always carry that label wich provides a social detail of one's elegibility to marry.  Considering that addicts have such a negative reputation in society, should those no longer addicted be subjected to carrying a label that is embedded with prejudice and hate? Would not the individual benefit from finding their own voice in order to choose their own identity? That a person is engaged with a certain behavior should not condition that person to a life sentence of owning the behavior in the way of a label.  At the end of the day, the fact remains that 12-Step programs are an unscientific methodology in the treatment of addiction, constructed from a dialogue of rhetoric and dogma that induces fear and encourages a lack of self-responsibility.
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