Sunday, 20 March 2011

Is Charlie Sheen Talking Sense?

Odd questio, I know. But bear with me. According to Catherine Townsend, he might be:
…some of his angriest rants were reserved for what he referred to as the "troll hole" of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In one interview, he tore up the pages of the AA handbook, which he's called "a silly book written by a broken-down fool who is a plagiarist".
According to Charlie, alcoholism isn't a disease.
According to a lot of vested interests, that’s heresy!
He may have referred to himself as a "rock star from Mars", but saying that an addict is NOT helpless in the face of his brain chemistry is probably the most lucid thing he's said in weeks.
And it’s probably going to draw him more criticism than any of his film career choices to date…
Now I feel like I'm the crazy one, because Charlie Sheen is starting to make sense. Because contrary to what the talking-head television therapists have been saying, addiction doesn't have to end in rehab or death. In fact, some figures show that most drug addicts stop doing drugs without help.
That’s rather inconvenient evidence, if you make your living pushing therapy or drugs.
Pax Prentiss, co-founder of the Passages Addiction Cure Centre in Malibu, California, says: "He did pee clean. He may have stopped and he may stay stopped. But if you take Charlie out of the picture, there are people who just stop using. In those cases, what happened to the disease?"
Prentiss and his father have been called the "Holocaust deniers of the addiction-recovery movement", because they believe that alcoholism and drug addiction can be cured.
You can safely ignore people who use that sort of hysterical and emotive imagery, I’d have thought…
If AA defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again – and Sheen has been going to rehab for more than two decades – it may be time to try another tactic. But anything other than admitting that you are powerless over your addiction is referred to in AA-speak as being "in denial".
They get you going, and coming back…
Maybe people are fascinated with Sheen because he's putting two fingers up to a touchy-feely therapeutic industry that says that in order to kick drugs, we have to surrender to a higher power and be humble.
It does sound a wee bit religious, doesn’t it?
Prentiss believes that fighting alcoholism involves: 1) Giving people their power back, 2) showing them that it's a choice, and 3) identifying the "underlying causes", which he labels as trauma, depression, low self-esteem, or chemical imbalances such as bipolar disorder or attention deficit disorder, among others.
Whereas that sounds quite balanced and rational.

11 comments:

Trooper Thompson said...

He's definitely talking sense on AA, and he's certainly in a position to judge. I listened to the interview which kicked off the sh*tstorm, and yes, he's going off in all directions and full of himself, not giving a damn what anyone thinks about him, but the whole point of AA is to say there is no cure to being alcoholic, and it does have a cult-like mentality.

Quiet_Man said...

Even a stopped clock etc.
David Icke sounds pretty sane in some of the stuff he says, at least till you get to the bit about lizard people :D

Gordo said...

Enormous amount of evidence for this; that addiction to drugs is a minor psychological issue. Read Theodore Dalrymple in 'Romancing Opiates'. Very informative.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's behavioral and not biological. yes, we can get addicted, but it's a choice. we can stop as well. we are not powerless awaiting some god of our understanding to miraculously rescue us. AA is such tripe.

JuliaM said...

"...but the whole point of AA is to say there is no cure to being alcoholic, and it does have a cult-like mentality."

It's a self-perpetuating business, rather like 'anti-racism', etc..

"David Icke sounds pretty sane in some of the stuff he says, at least till you get to the bit about lizard people :D"

And that's sounding saner and saner by the minute, in comparison to real life! :D

"Read Theodore Dalrymple in 'Romancing Opiates'. Very informative."

I do enjoy his writing. I've not read that one though, will look it up...

"I agree, it's behavioral and not biological."

Indeed.

AndrewWS said...

I know from experience that AA can be a great place to go if you're struggling with an addiction, have lost a lot and are isolated - it gives you somewhere to go, things to do, and people to meet and get to know. Many of them are very helpful and interesting - I met the sort of people I could never have met in the ordinary course of events, although I also met the sort of people I want to spend the rest of my life avoiding.

Seven years was enough for me. I got out after my sponsor (=mentor) tried to cadge £1000 "to pay the rent" while she was (allegedly) on holiday in Switzerland. Completely delusional, not to be trusted with money or much else, incapable of holding down a job for longer than a month before flouncing out of it. But fun.

In AA, one is always told that everyone who leaves goes back on the sauce and suffers horribly, and you meet lots of people who have done just that. But one never hears about the people who take what they need, leave, and don't go back to the bottle. Why? Because AA members aren't likely to meet any; they're too busy going to umpteen meetings, while the people who leave are too busy getting on with life, working and doing things that are more fun and rational - like reading blogs and commenting on them, for example.

There are people in the UK who are aware of AA's cult tendency and who want to combat it (google "AA Cult Watch") and the great American overview of what's wrong with AA is the "Orange Papers" compiled by "Agent Orange".

There are also various online discussion groups devoted to the subject. One is on yahoo with the name of "without_aa"

Apologies for what appears to be advertising (it's not for me) and thanks for a wonderful blog.

Andrew

Angry Exile said...

It does sound a wee bit religious, doesn’t it?

If Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is right then that's probably because it is.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX identifying the "underlying causes", which he labels as trauma, depression, low self-esteem, or chemical imbalances such as bipolar disorder or attention deficit disorder, among others. XX

The "cause" could not possibly be "just because I LIKE beer/wine/whiskey," could it?

Why doe everything have to have a reason, besides the bleeding OBVIOUS these days?

David Gillies said...

I prefer Alcoholics Unanimous.

kc said...

I wholeheartly agree with AndrewWS' comment...though with reservations...i was in aa 7 yrs too.

I would be very cautious if i were a female going to AA for the first time...there are predators. I have 3 daughters and well i would at the very least caution them and be sure they have spoken with a medical health professionals BEFORE going. I would also advise them to take a friend or relative with them and get a non-addicts take. Also, don't buy into everything because at first we are very vulnerable getting clean.

Also, I'd be sure to know all the options...rational recovery, smart recovery, REBT etc and all the downsides to AA participation...powerless and ego-deflation can be a KILLER, suicide and bindging come to mind.

I say the above because I now regard aa/na attendance as tacit approval of a supernatural cure. Also, aa/na and the fellowship (in public places such as judges and medical people) often exercise forms of coercion to attend the very religious organization o AA/NA, or die or institutionalize or on-going drunkenness.
In short be informed and take active participation in ones own recovery. Also, stack the odds in favor of getting better whether your intent is cutting back or tea-totaling. ok?
Also, my intent is neither to inflame nor cause polemics nor am i attemting to cherry pick an old article (it just summarizes nicely), as citation - i include an opinion and an article (google Cain and sat evening post, 1964) excerpt:
Saturday Evening Post, September 19, 1964
Alcoholics Can Be Cured--Despite A.A.
by Dr. Arthur H. Cain

SNIP
. Unfortunately, A.A. has become a dogmatic cult whose chapters too often turn sobriety into slavery to A.A. Because of its narrow outlook, Alcoholics Anonymous prevents thousands from ever being cured. Moreover A.A. has retarded scientific research into one of America's most serious health problems.
SNIP
At first I was tremendously impressed with A.A.'s altruistic efforts in alcoholics' behalf. Its members would perform prodigies of selfless service, no matter what the hour, by meeting the helpless and sodden in hospitals, flophouses and homes, and offering their sympathy, a helping hand,
SNIP
As an increasing number of alcoholics joined A.A. chapters, many turned out to be misfits who had rejected Christianity, Judaism or the Kiwanis Club. Dogmatic and opinionated in their nonbeliefs, they found in A.A. an instrument for a new kind of bigotry. Their only meaning in life was that they had heroically become "arrested" alcoholics. Arrogant egoists, they soon dominated many of A.A.'s 10,000 chapters. Weekly meetings, once spontaneous and exciting, became formalized and ritualistic. Anyone who questioned A.A.'s principles or even expressed curiosity was handed the slogan, UTILIZE, DON'T ANALYZE, and told to sit down.
SNIP
According to -the AA litany, alcoholism is a physical disease which can never be cured: "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." The corollary is: "A reformed alcoholic must live A.A. from day to day and never leave A.A."
Actually, there is no scientific evidence that alcoholism is an incurable, physical disease.

Longrider said...

I know an addict who used AA then left and remained sober. At the time, this person was told that remaining in and attending meetings was the only way to stay sober.

This isn't true. However, for some, the attendance at meetings is an addiction that replaces the drink. If it's a choice between the two addictions, AA is the lesser evil.

Addicts seeking to get off the booze need to go with what works for them. If AA works, then fine. You don't have to go along with the religious stuff if you don't want to.