You can’t “Go” there.

December 4, 2008

Hat Tip and thanks to TDA researcher AnnaZ for the heads up on this one!Original photo by Jason Rogers now at The Discovering Alcoholic
Jane Hoffman told authorities that she had a relapse after becoming frustrated because she couldn’t find the location of an AA meeting. She had stopped a short ways from home (400 yards), bought and drained two bottles of wine, and became so intoxicated that she arrested before she could drive the rest of the way. The police said she was one of the
drunkest drivers that they had ever seen; she passed out before they made it to the station.

Now there are several things that bother me about this story, not the least is blaming a relapse on an elusive AA meeting. But there is something else, it’s in the text. The picture is a hint, just as alcoholics discover that they cannot go to the bottle to find their answers- there is another place they can never go.

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TDA in the News

December 1, 2008

TDA in the News at The Discovering Alcoholic

“Our society considers prescription drugs safe as opposed to snorting cocaine or shooting heroin,” DeFreese said. “That acceptance makes it very easy for young people to say it’s no big deal. Both parents and young people need to realize the dangers.”

Yeah I’m tooting my own horn, but it’s for a good cause! See the whole story at the Shelby County Reporter.

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Medically Assisted Recovery: No Meth Around

November 14, 2008

photo by pescatello at The Discovering AlcoholicI had lunch today with a very smart and successful person that asked about my volunteer work at the “meth clinic”. As an advocate for medically assisted recovery, I was facing double trouble; he was obviously confused and really didn’t know much about it, but that hadn’t stopped him from having a low opinion of such establishments.

It’s a common misconception for the general public to confuse methadone with methamphetamines, but when people abbreviate the words down to “meth” even I get confused. I give credit where it’s due though, once this individual was made aware of the differences between the two and the benefits of medically assisted recovery he did express his support.

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Help is a Four Letter Word

October 31, 2008

Help is a Four Letter Word by The Discovering Alcoholic

I was recently asked by a reader about what they could do to help a family member with a substance abuse problem. Well, when it comes to aiding and providing support to a loved one with an addiction, help can become a four letter word with some very negative connotations.

For the caregiver, the real meat of the problem is trying to decide whether or not someone wants help with their addiction (as in feeding it), or if they are really seriously looking for recovery. Considering the dynamic mind set of an addict and the chronic nature of the disease, the same support that has been aiding in recovery for weeks can slip into addiction enabling almost overnight. Practical cynicism and honesty are critical here, and at all times the caregiver should make sure that their own health, security, and sanity remain a priority above all else.

If help turns into enablement, if it is taken for granted, if it is wasted… if help does become a four letter word then use another- stop.

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Hard Wired to Drink

October 14, 2008

photo by Darin Barry”I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” It was a valid statement for Jessica Rabbit and in a similar manner, it may hold true for alcoholics and addicts that are hard wired for addiction. More and more research is indicating that there is a percentage of the population that has a genetic proclivity to being susceptible to drugs and alcohol with the risk substantially higher for those that begin using at an early age.

Other factors no doubt play into the addiction equation including education, environment, and support, but for many the odds are stacked against them long before they take their first drink regardless of their situation. According to Dr. Charles O’Brien, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, “For example, if 100 children are exposed to cocaine and they try it, 16 percent will become addicted, but the rest won’t.”

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The Saying Goodbye to Addiction Tour

September 7, 2008

The Saying Goodbye to Addiction TourRecently I was given the 4-disc set of the award winning HBO documentary Addiction and the accompanying book during a function I attended as a substance abuse and recovery advocate.

Having already seen the series I figured I would just pass along this extremely worthy work on addiction to someone or a group that would benefit from its message. Well today I am saying goodbye to Addiction and sending the set of DVD’s along with a logbook to one of my favorite recovery bloggers and treatment centers, Brandywine Counseling. When finished, I am sure Matt and his group know of many others who would be interested in seeing the documentary and passing it on to other like individuals or groups.

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An Elephant on MARS

September 4, 2008

original picture by oddsock

The elephant was not on the red planet, but rather on (M)edically (A)ssisted (R)ecovery (S)upport. Taking five times the regular dosage for a human, Xiguang the Asian elephant received daily injections of methadone while in treatment for heroin addiction he developed after being captured by smugglers. This is not the first time I have seen this type of story, apparently the smugglers drug the animals to make them work longer and keep them controlled. Much like human addicts, this system works fine until either the dope or the body gives out.

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Recovery Happens. Not.

August 16, 2008

photo by layne mikesellRecovery doesn’t just happen because one stops drinking and using drugs; especially in the beginning, it takes diligent hard work and sacrifice. I think this may be the hardest lesson we have to learn as alcoholics and addicts new to sobriety, that even though now sober we continue to think function, and make decisions with a “diseased” brain. Quitting is the easy part, it’s staying sober that is the real trick.

Those in AA say to change people, places, and things. A therapist might say it also requires cognitive behavioral training. A pastor might say that it takes faith and finding one’s spirituality. And they would all be right. One has to proactively work a recovery program, consciously setting aside time and resources not only to stay clean and sober, but to maintain a healthy and progressive mindset.

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President Signs Second Chance Act

April 13, 2008

President Bush signed H.R. 1593, better known as the Second Chance Act of 2007, last week in Washington. The legislation is designed to facilitate a successful return to society and reduce recidivism for prisoners with a history of drug abuse and addiction. The bill includes such measures as treatment in prison, alternative sentencing, and aftercare services.

In America where only $.04 of every dollar spent on substance abuse is earmarked for treatment this type of legislation is heartening to see at least some focus is being orientated toward treatment and prevention. Although I remain an advocate for stiff penalties in drug and alcohol cases, I do realize the utter foolishness of disregarding the role that addiction plays in recidivism and not putting in place programs to break this vicious cycle.

Obviously this legislation is not a panacea to drug and alcohol related crime, but as the President mentioned upon signing at least those who have a willing spirit will be offered the opportunity of a new path. He also mentions that he was the product of a faith based program, a man who has dealt with this issue personally. That right there alone merits a TDA salute, thank you Mr. President.

Click “Read more” below to see some of the pictures taken at the signing itself that were generously passed on to me by members of the Alabama Substance Abuse Task Force and I have added a few of the President’s comments at signing I felt worthy of a highlighted mention.

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Prometa: Promising or Preposterous?

December 7, 2007

Is Prometa a promising miracle drug for the treatment of addiction or just another scam with preposterous claims. I am looking forward to watching 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley do a feature report on the controversial drug Prometa this Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. I just wish CBS would facilitate the embedding of their videos, I have posted a screenshot but you can go here to view it yourself.

Prometa is touted as new treatment for methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol addiction. It is a combination of three drugs already approved by the FDA. Mendelson says none has been proven effective individually against addiction. Could there be something special about taking them in combination? "So far, the evidence would suggest no," says Mendelson, who tests addiction treatments for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. What’s special, says Mendelsohn, is the way its marketers have sold Prometa. "Their pathway…has been to…open Prometa centers so they can…dose people in their special clinics," he tells Pelley, "and to stay completely outside the scientific and regulatory framework."~CBS News

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Update: Greased Wheels on a Slippery Slope

June 7, 2007

“What if addiction treatment programs gave out prizes to patients just for showing up to treatment? Some might call this a waste of money, or bribery, or counter-productive to addressing the underlying issues of addiction. Others say it actually helps patients succeed. Brandywine Counseling is studying this very question as part of the Advancing Recovery project.~ BCI Blog


A few months back I reviewed a program that our friends over at Brandywine Counseling were trying out that used prizes as incentives to increase treatment retention. The longer you stayed in treatment, the more chances you had to win prizes. “Greasing the Wheels of Recovery” was the name of my first review, so you can probably already guess at the results by the title of this update. After two months, how is it working? Well thanks to Matt and the Brandywine Blog you can go and read for yourself.

Click here for the Update on the Advancing Recovery Project

They are going to press forward with the project, and even though I am skeptical I applaud their efforts. Good luck Brandywine, hopefully time will show your numbers on retention trending back upward.

“(Recovery) has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons from coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. You can only embrace it when it arrives…” ~ Kent Nerburn quote with an obvious edit by yours truly

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Opium Pipe Monastery

May 15, 2007

The first time I heard of the Opium Pipe Monastery in Thailand I naively thought it must be something like the opium dens of the movies, full of deranged acolytes seeking some sort of drug induced solace or perverted spirituality. Wrong. In fact, I could not have been any further off base. It turns out the Opium Pipe Monastery is more of a slang name given by the backpacking budget travelers of Bangkok’s often traveled Khao San Road to a Buddhist temple complex that is properly named Wat Thamkrabok . Wat Thamkrabok, located about 100 miles north of Bangkok, got this moniker because they offer a unique treatment approach for opioid addiction although they also accept those battling problems with other drugs and alcohol.

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HBO Addiction: Cognitive Behavioral Training for Stimulant Addiction

March 24, 2007

" Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered the most effective treatment for stimulant addiction. No medical treatment currently exists for stimulant addiction, which include methamphetamine and cocaine. At the MATRIX Institute on Addictions in San Bernardino, CA, methamphetamine and cocaine addicts attend evidence-based (proven effective) behavioral therapy groups. The program includes participation in weekly recovery skills groups, individual and family counseling, drug testing and 12-step or other mutual support groups."

Read the review by clicking on the “Read More” below…

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