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A Peculiar Tale of Alcoholism, and Various Advisory Commentary

Last updated on 28 August 2016

As I write this, I am at almost 3 years and 9 months of sobriety from alcohol. This aspect of my being has had a tremendous level of influence on my life in both positive and negative ways, and it has caused a tremendous level of introspection and contemplation about my history and the various aspects and factors of my alcoholism and the general topic of addiction. I'm sure some people will believe I am discussing this matter as a form of exhibitionism. While I naturally have the compulsion to speak candidly and in depth on a very wide variety of matters, I am sure that my written commentary on my life and this general matter will be extremely beneficial and enlightening for some people who are either suffering from similar problems or who are in a position/scenario which makes this relevant and useful to them. Very few people discuss this general topic, and few of them who have discussed it have any special circumstances and factors. I don't even remember the last time I came across a journal or article online from someone who was both an alcoholic and autist, and I suspect that's because I couldn't find any. I might be the one someone in that position comes across and has a revolutionary experience as a result! (Oh, by the way, if you aren't a furry and found your way here: welcome to furrydom! Feel free to peruse the artwork and stories our highly creative and tolerant subculture has produced! If you like erotic stuff, we have lots of that as well, though on here and many other places you'll need an account with the NSFW filter deactivated.)

If something I have written is erroneous, if you have a question for me, or even if you wish to criticize me for something I have asserted, feel free to relay what you have to say here or privately. If you're suffering from this or something else I have experience in, you're welcome to ask for my counsel and support here or in PMs, or even over Skype. I do come across as a misanthropic prick who is prone to malevolence, but I also view helping within reason suffering alcoholics as a sort of sacred duty if they come to me, regardless of differences in ideology and the like. If I didn't, how could I justify asking for help from strangers in 2012?

What is Alcoholism/Addiction, Versus Abuse/Overuse?

There are exact clinical definitions for chemical dependency in general, and they're rather complicated IIRC. So, I'm going to condense the meaning into a couple of concepts. There are people who discover alcohol or some other substance, get carried away with it and cause various problems, and they eventually moderate or stop their usage. You know how someone might spend too much time on a new video game which has captivated them, maybe miss or be late for work a couple of times or let some aspect of their home life deteriorate for a while, but they eventually become tired of the game or satisfied and return to normal? Or how a college student who turns 21 might get drunk and party to the point of interfering with their studies somewhat, and quickly grow up and stop partying and bar-hopping as much? That's what abuse or overindulgence is rather than actual addiction. There is the capacity to moderate their intake, and the onset of negative consequences will sooner or later cause them to normalize and mature.

Those who are full-fledged alcoholics or addicts (and this includes behavioral addictions as well) are not capable of moderation. The chapter More About Alcoholism in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (usually referred to by those within AA as "the Big Book") describes the process and state of alcoholism very well. There are two hallmarks of actual addiction I can identify which seem to be universal. Firstly, the person increases their consumption over time in spite of mounting expenses and difficulties. Negative consequences will continue to increase and they may even be aware they are being caused by their usage, but their usage continues to increase and they find themselves incapable of stopping for long or at all. Secondly, no matter how long they have abstained from something, immediately or very quickly after they resume usage, their compulsion and level of usage returns to what it was. Even if I drank 40 years later, I would be drunk 24/7 pretty much immediately, and it would also be similarly useless and unenjoyable compared to when I stopped. The rate at which this disease worsens varies very wildly, but eventually, no matter how aware they are of the catastrophic consequences drinking or using is causing, once they have resumed it they are unable to stop. Untreated addiction is a horrible and self-destructive cycle of two phenomena called the "allergy" and "obsession" in AA: when abstinent they crave and obsess over alcohol, and once drunk their mind and body makes voluntary cessation impossible.

The AA literature and many people in AA are horrifyingly ignorant on the matter of alcoholism remission/arrestment. There is this idea that virtually everyone who is a full-fledged alcoholic must enter a 12 Step program and seek a "spiritual" (I think most AA members' definition is God-reliance and awareness; mine and some others define it differently) solution. The reality is many who are probably or definitely alcoholics are insightful and self-protective enough to see their drinking for what it is and stop on their own, without ANY treatment. Many of those who do seek treatment benefit from the professional psychological aspect of rehabilitation enough to not need to go to and remain in AA. Most people who need to go to self-help/peer-to-peer resources such as AA are for various reasons more difficult cases, I have noticed. They need more direction or at least more emotional and spiritual support and thus will benefit from this sort of permanent routine. I don't intend to assert the 12 Steps and their programs are meritless and for losers. I state this because their collective experience is they need more direction and guidance to attain happiness and sobriety, and thus they create a sort of echo chamber where they just assume everyone else must go there to successfully recover. In AA especially, there is a tremendous level of arrogance, particularly towards those who do not believe in God. 12 Step programs are because of various customs and principles magnificent organizations, but they sabotage themselves with this unwarranted arrogance and a refusal to adapt to reality so that non-deists aren't repulsed whenever the 12 Steps are read.

Wonder Why I Espouse Eugenics Laws? Have a Story!

I was pretty much fucked from the start with regards to inheriting disorders. My biological mother drank and smoked while she was pregnant with me, and probably was on other things as well. My biological father wasn't addicted to anything but he was generally a useless human being and thus was not fit to have children, and he also apparently became batshit crazy later in life. Having both parents be mentally ill in some way and my mother abusing substances before I was even born, it is not surprising in the slightest that I was born with addictive tendencies to substances and what would be known as autism. I also remember I was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. So, my parents were not genetically, mentally, financially, or environmentally fit to have or raise a child, but they did so anyway, and everyone had to contend with the current and future consequences. I would have become a ward of the state had my paternal grandparents not adopted me, and there is no telling whether I would have been better or worse off in life had that happened, though foster care at least here in America is pretty notorious.

There have been permanent consequences to society as a whole and to me as a result of all of that, and they're primarily negative. I cannot function as a productive member of society, and I need to be supported by the general population via entitlements to survive and to maintain emotional balance (or at least try to). I'm actually one of the better cases for someone in my general psychological/neurological situation, because I recovered from alcoholism, and I can live not only independently but also in a healthy and productive manner. There are many people who are much worse off, who are not intelligent, who will continue to drink and use without seeking help even after becoming homeless and seem to be heedless of negative consequences. Our penal system is serving as basically inpatient housing for many people because we have so many very sick people and don't invest enough to adequately treat them. I am extremely fortunate relative to most people who are permanently disabled.

I don't want this to turn into a series of lengthy and bitter ideological rants, so this will be the last paragraph I discuss this or any other contentious issue here. That being said, if you're someone who find my advocation of eugenics revolting, I hope this will instill in you some empathy for my situation. We could drastically reduce the number of addicts and mentally ill people we have if we would just set standards for reproduction, and this would drastically reduce the demand on resources to address this matter. We're financially and otherwise very inefficient as a society because we have to care for so many people like me, many of whom will persist until they die and cause a great deal of destruction along the way. Eugenics is not something only the Nazis conceived and promulgated. This isn't a racially motivated thing, and I'm not demanding everyone who fails some theoretical test be sterilized. I just want cases like mine to not happen nearly as much, and this is why I will never have children. If this wish to usher in progress and alleviate suffering makes me a bad person to you, then I would say you're the bad person rather than me.

My Weird Case of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

Most people in general start drinking alcohol in their teens or early 20's. A few people started before 13 or well after they can legally buy and drink alcohol, but virtually every time I've heard someone describe that aspect in AA their first buzz or drunk was as a child or young adult. I was 27 or 28 when I first got drunk, mainly because I lived with my parents and they were very much against the idea. I didn't pursue it strongly enough until then, when they were on vacation one time. I realized I really liked getting drunk, and quickly used my limited resources to become drunk as often as possible. I actually made very crude batches of sugar wine, and drank it usually without flavoring (my body and stomach grew intolerant of that and even flavored sugar wine rather quickly; I'm slightly nauseous just contemplating it). Something that is nearly universal with substance addicts I've observed is people immediately very much liked their drug of choice and wanted more of it. Of course, I was no exception.

I actually had substance abuse issues before then, in the form of prescription medication. I was on ADD medication from 18 to my late 20's, and I figured out very belatedly in my early 20's that if I took more of what I was on, I would be even more energetic and stimulated. I have always had a naturally high tolerance to addictive substances (something that seems to be common amongst us), and what I took would wear off in a few hours. If I kept taking pills as the previous ones wore off, I could plow right through whatever video game I wanted to play, and video games were about the only thing I spent my free time doing (though I'd occasionally chat and RP online). The level of abuse of the ADD medications was very severe and it was almost instantaneous after that realization. I don't know how much of that was an addict's natural addictive reaction to Schedule II drugs (they're the most heavily controlled drugs which are legal to take), and how much was attributable to my extreme immaturity in general and my general lack of productive activities. I now use the far less addictive stimulants caffeine and ephedrine to try to keep energy and concentration levels stable over periods I need to conduct much research and writing. The level of usage has been consistent for quite a while now, and I tend to do productive things like research and writing rather than fucking play EVE Online and other games. I wish I could reinvest the energy I gained from the ADD drugs last decade into this literary offensive...

Anyway, in retrospect, the alarmingly compulsive behavior with prescription medication and the somewhat less severe (at first) usage patterns of alcohol were very compelling signs of addiction, and if I saw someone else with those same patterns I would implore them to stop what they were doing before they killed themselves or caused great self-destruction of some sort. Of course, I did not understand any of this and I was only pissed off with my parents for daring to intrude into my rampant substance abuse. I have an ambivalent view of this period, especially the drinking just before I moved out. While this would cause great destruction in my life not long after leaving, the drinking and the desire to carry on with it without interference was the catalyst for leaving. I have come to understand leaving my parents was one of the critical steps to beginning a period of more rapid general development. My evolution was painfully slow while with them and remaining there would have only continued that trend. As ridiculous as the reason was for my departure, it still caused my departure and my exposure to more information and experience. I discussed this more at length here, if you wish to read my thoughts on personal development and the like.

The other characteristic of my alcoholism which is very unusual is just how rapidly it progressed. My recovery was very rapid relative to the average person in AA, but the degeneration was just as swift. Most alcoholics get to the point at which they entered AA or attained sobriety after a decade or more of drinking, and much later in life. I became fully an alcoholic within a year of leaving to live with other people in another state, and entered recovery sincerely at 32, which was about a year after the onset of 24/7 drinking. I can remember only one or two times where someone's descent into alcoholism was approximately as rapid as mine, though I'm sure more exist. My penchant for drinking used to be a running joke in the household, but on my 31st birthday I was in the ER for alcohol and benzodiazepine poisoning, and before then it had ceased being funny to the other housemates. I was so ignorant and unaware in general that I didn't at all suspect the cause of my anxiety and insomnia was being in a state constant alcohol withdrawal and poisoning, and went to ER doctors asking for help and for medication for some disease that must be developing.

So, I have to leave there and flee back to my parents, and actually managed to make it back there barely. To make a long story short, I did not achieve much of anything between then and early 2012. The simplest explanation is I simply wanted to keep drinking rather than not drink, because I was simply too underdeveloped and too childish for this to have been successful. I did not have much independent living skill and knowledge, was plagued by anxiety I didn't well understand, and was expected to suddenly navigate very social and interpersonal environments such as PHP/IOP (those are what people frequently refer to as 'rehab'; attendance of various meetings and sessions at a day facility for a period of time) and AA after a life of isolation and solitude. I was too stupid to pursue intelligent options and to see a way out, and my lifestyle and outlook had to undergo extremely massive changes to make this whole general recovery thing work and that was just too much to ask from me. My mother also wasn't helpful, as she was (perhaps rightfully) opposed to my return, and she was so paranoid she wouldn't have even wanted people from AA picking me up or dropping me off because she suspected we all would just get drunk together. The very few meetings I went to at the behest of my father did not trigger anything or resonate, and at one in particular I had a very grinding and persistent sort of anxiety, which just further disincentivized me from going to meetings. I reverted to a state of excessive isolation and lethargy and would not pursue anything with regards to recovery even online. Eventually my father grew exasperated with my inexcusable inaction and kicked me out actually twice, and my attempts at independent living and functioning outside of those intervals were downright catastrophic and pathetic.

The Revolution Begins, Despite the Psych Profession

There is a concept in recovery of "hitting bottom", when us addicts and alcoholics have caused such a massive amount of self-destruction and anguish that we decide to at least attempt recovery sincerely. There has to be sufficient enlightenment and motivation through negative stimuli and experience to get to that point. I am very thankful that despite such a great weight of negative factors and adversity, it required only 10 months from my return to my former home to reach that point, and another 8 to permanently attain sobriety. For me, this was the end of a financially catastrophic 45-day binge at an extended stay motel, when I had once again planned to attempt moderation even harder and only celebrate leaving my parents again for a day or two. So, after I think my 8th time entering a psychiatric hospital for detox at the end of February 2012, I actually wanted to be given assistance and tools to enable me to stop drinking. Unfortunately, I had to fight my own doctor to achieve this.

I explained extensively in my autism journal how the profession in general failed me at every stage of my life, and this included substance abuse recovery. There never was any capacity for flexibility or insight regarding my needs during all the times I was hospitalized, and during the entire time subsequent to this pivotal period. They had absolutely nothing to offer me that was different from what they by default offered everyone else, and thus they didn't work or I resisted and declined. At this particular occasion, I was trying to find recovery housing which was within my means and which allowed me to retain my laptop and access to the internet for various things. As I explained in the other journal, the internet is of incalculable importance to society and people anyway, and I was going to be suddenly thrown into a communal environment after a prolonged period of isolation with little experience as living as an independent adult. I could not and would not be cut off from my friends, my music, furrydom, and the great repositories of knowledge, and this was not something negatively relevant to my alcoholism anyway. It's a stupid default approach for alcoholics in recovery in general, and it's certainly a stupid approach for me. I also find it highly detrimental to hospital inpatients to not allow any access to the internet at all since they cannot retrieve any information that might be useful or informative. My doctor kept recommending only the option with that ban on electronics, something called a halfway house. He never mentioned a 3/4 house, and no one else did either. I had to discover this myself with enough phone calls.

I moved into the house that I managed to find on my own on 1 March 2012, and this date is the start of Kantaria's Revolution in my Takomenian Great War universe because this was the first day I really started trying to stop drinking. Even making the attempts in housing and AA membership was an extremely great difference from the past. The environment combined with my willingness to at least try to remedy my alcoholism was quite helpful to me and facilitated as much as could be expected both my general development and the laying of alcoholism recovery foundations. I met my sponsor and home group during the first month or so. I took a leap of faith to further my recovery in that regard as AA suggested because I was upset and felt I had to act or I might relapse. During my medallion speeches there, I state I don't remember what he said, but he seemed like the least risky option that afternoon and I went with him, which amuses everyone of course. This was also a very difficult period for a few reasons. One was I was actually having to interact with people on a full-time basis now, and I was actually quite different from them in many ways despite not having started to feminize during that time. I was bisexual, furry, in a pre-existing long-distance gay relationship which actually would end while I was there, autistic, and also an atheist. I suppose I'm very fortunate I was as accepted as I was. Wow, I don't think I could have lived there or in most other houses if I was crossdressing, as even people in recovery have limits to tolerance and probably none of them would have ever encountered a femboy. And women probably would have been similarly uncomfortable.

There were three main things from the period of 1 March to November that come to mind. The first is, this was a period where I gained critical experience in general life functions as an independent adult, and I would gain more of that basic knowledge afterwards into 2013. The second is I became much more acclimated to people in general and to AA, and that experience and acclimation would be used to facilitate more of the same in subsequent years. The third is, I was lacking a critical component of recovery, and I very strongly suspect that people need this component to dispel their obsession: I had not lost all hope of ever utilizing alcohol successfully. This caused my recovery efforts, as sincere as they were, to become a sort of attrition warfare where my urge to drink never dissipated. My departure from the house, my emotional implosion caused by the first breakup (there were actually two that year), and my huge overuse of benzos prescribed to deal with the crippling anxiety which no other drug ameliorated at all, all caused me to immediately relapse on alcohol the day I left the house and moved into a cheaper place within walking distance of my home group. These urges to drink did not dissipate until a critical realization was made upon another relapse in October: this would never, ever, EVER work no matter how ideal the conditions were. Even my worst days sober would be less horrible than the best I could ever hope for drunk. All of its allure abruptly vanished. I did not wish to drink anymore. This general experience is analogous to AA's Step 1.

I drank again after that realization, and it was indubitably a result of temporary insanity. The second and final dissolution of my mateship even after making so much progress on the thing which threatened our relationship was extremely hurtful emotionally, and in fact I was emotionally unstable and volatile for 30-45 days afterwards. When he told me this on 19 November, there was a period of about 48 hours where I was in a depressive and emotionally listless state, something I have experienced extremely rarely in my life. I had an early Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, and I'm sure my mood and company was poor at best. After I returned on the evening of the 21st, I decided it would be a spectacular idea to go nuclear on myself and harm my ex and another person with the fallout by getting drunk again. And that's exactly what I did, with no expectation of it resulting in anything besides my rehospitalization. I knew what the end result would be and I gleefully did it anyway, because I had just gone crazy at that point. Even the medication nurse in the hospital after I came back to (I wonder if they ever just stop admitting people, or Medicare decides the person is hopeless and denies another stay) was shocked I did this with such prescience. I left there on 30 November 2012, and I chose that as my sobriety date because that was the first sober day I had any choice in the matter.

Increasingly Accelerated Evolution

The period between my sobriety date and approximately the beginning of 2016 was one of increasingly rapid self-improvement and evolution. There was this sensation and perception that my rate of advancement was accelerating, that it was this self-reinforcing phenomenon which was fueled by utilizing the data and experience I had acquired to facilitate the acquisition of more. I sense now that the rate of discovery, advancement, and empowerment has stabilized after maxing out. Interestingly, the emergence and increasing severity of one disorder necessitated various reforms and extroversions which would so very greatly ameliorate that and the other disorders. Attaining more wisdom, making decisions which had beneficial effects on my life, and quickly making corrections to my behavior and attitudes when they caused me unwarranted discomfort and disorder, engendered a feeling of empowerment and increasing confidence in my ability to cause more happiness and growth, which lessened my anxiety overall. However, it's also had a very negative effect on me emotionally, as I have come to realize I could have done and attained so very much more a decade or more ago than I did, and I lost my best years in a state of stagnation due to poor decisions and a poor series of events. I've also consequently been playing catch-up at a breakneck speed on the various fronts whenever possible, and a chronic sense of urgency, haste, and encumbrance has set in.

Because of my set of circumstances, I have a very unique experience with and perspective of AA and alcoholism. Most who remain with AA (and the vast majority don't, and AA even knows this and they still don't undertake reforms) and find it beneficial will attribute their recovery and their attainment of happiness to AA and its program. I don't consciously apply the program to my life because my idiosyncratic one is much harder and more complicated and is the only thing that would work for me in any regard. I haven't even attended an AA meeting in months because of the season (I never leave the house during warmer weather except for critical functions like grocery shopping or urgent medical issues and the like). AA for me was a safe place I could rally to after yet another fuckup or during distress, somewhere I could more safely acquire additional social experience and training. Because of my alcoholism and the existence of AA, I had to venture outside and interact with the world both "within the rooms" and outside on my way to and from. This rather mundane process actually provided a great deal of sensorial data, observations, and experience which helped to hasten development and realizations. AA didn't directly cause my recovery, but rather the entire process in general. Eventually my attendance dropped as I focused more on internal needs and deficiencies which were made apparent to me, things which AA's program and literature don't address.

I had a few important realizations about recovery and proper living in general. There is a concept in 12 Step recovery of a "higher power", something that a person identifies as being stronger and larger than them which will lead them to recovery and general happiness. Usually this means God, and in our core textbook this is an expectation that is very arrogantly and obnoxiously promulgated in the chapter We Agnostics (interestingly, Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA and author of most of the Big Book, would go on to repudiate his own intolerance and surely would have re-written that had he been afforded the chance). For most non-deists, this HP is AA or the group, and this was what I had professed as mine for a while. It then evolved to multiple HPs in the forms of the recovery and furry subcultures and then-unwritten sets of concepts and ideals. I finally just dropped people and subcultures from what I called my HP because I realized that above all else I was operating on ideas and doctrines that coalesced from my collection of experiences and observations, and so I stuck with them. I eventually wrote them down and gave them a concrete form. I felt it was conveying the wrong idea to people to disclose I created my own HP (I remember derisive chuckling from some in one group; their group name and single-gender affiliation definitely conveys arrogance and exclusionism) and I felt like a hyper-arrogant loudmouth saying that. Eventually, I realized that ultimately my guiding virtues and doctrines have the goal of progress, and achieving that is done through correctly understanding and recognizing reality. Thus, currently I summarize it as 'progress' and 'reality' ordinarily within AA and in short conversations with people.

One of the very few words or labels which would accurately describe my political orientation overall is "utilitarian". It means basing stances and policies on what will bring society the most happiness, which is ultimately what causes me to hold my various political beliefs. What will bring happiness to society and to people individually is ushering in progress, and progress is something that takes many forms and is viewed in innumerable ways by people. As I brought more and more progress into my life in areas ranging from aesthetical to recovery, in ways ranging from buying skirts to completing stepwork, my happiness and level of empowerment rose. I realized that the chief motivation in my life- establishing a maximal level of happiness/decrease of anxiety at a maximal pace- would be achieved through evolution and progress. Sometimes personal progress is also achieved through progress on a group level (this is more or less one of the paramount tenets and observations of AA and recovery: helping others helps ourselves), but these days especially I tend to focus on progress on an individual self level since people rarely can fuck that up somehow. This is why progress is my Higher Power, because it is the best route to less suffering and more happiness.

The second realization is, the 12 Steps exhort people to undertake progress and personal development, and thus "progress" best summarizes them and their optimal interpretation. The Big Book and all the other core literature don't define it quite like that and seem to get excessively caught up in semantics and the whole God thing. It also speaks of "spiritual" progress and this generally means God-awareness and reliance when that and other literature use the word, and the books don't discuss any other form of progress. I think this is very unfortunate, because personal development in general is critical to attaining happiness, and the 12 Steps incite people to continually monitor themselves and improve. Usually people imagine these as being moralistic and spiritual, but people ought to be interpreting them, especially 10-12, as an exhortation to grow and strengthen and adapt in general. Especially if someone has a non-deistic HP and uses something akin to mine or another fellow's in my home group, Step 11 would mean seeking to better understand reality or the meaning and method of achieving progress. I more or less live Steps 10-12 without deliberately attempting to. I constantly assess and re-assess myself and deeds and events (10), contemplate what would constitute realistic progress and the optimal manner of achieving it (11), and draw up and then execute strategic plans, and generally live my life in accordance with my ideals and virtues and doctrines (12). If people want to have a deity as their HP I'm not going to argue with them, but they should at least assume their deity wants them to generally improve as well rather than fixate on one aspect or one demographic.

The third is, AA and similar programs is a fantastic way to serve other people and be useful, which is especially important for those who wouldn't have another means of doing this ordinarily. AA is a very participatory environment, one in which it wouldn't be seen as improper at all for someone who's never been to a clubhouse before to make coffee or engage in cleaning. You can't just show up at any other volunteer organization and start doing things to contribute. The only other setting one can just show up at unannounced and start helping would be some conventions, if you wanted to be a lowly volunteer and sign up to help on the spot, and even then you have to be approved and to be sent somewhere. Even sharing at meetings is seen as a sort of service to the organization, because what a person says could resonate with someone in the room and be a critical moment in their recovery. I generally try to do some cleaning and straightening if I'm at a clubhouse and nothing would make that infeasible, and I used to contribute in that way to the clubhouse which hosts my home group before our meeting started even before my sobriety date. Contributing to the process one derives benefit from when capable reciprocally assists other people and is a moral obligation, but it also contributes to one's own welfare through satisfaction and increased experience. Being able to readily help out was a really important thing for someone who was pathologically isolated and had no other place to go for either socialization or volunteer work. It's very hard to overstate the importance of this characteristic of 12 Step recovery organizations.

Unfortunately, this period of accelerated development and exploration also led to an increased number of conflicts with people and organizations, and to more mistakes of mine in general which caused more suffering than I would have incurred otherwise. Error and blundering are inevitable and are invaluable opportunities for development if someone actually sees them this way and appropriately responds. Fortunately, I have proven repeatedly to be very introspective, and receptive to admitting fault and changing tactics and behavior. I was far less mature in 2013 or even 2015 than I am now, and some of the conflicts I unnecessarily either precipitated or made worse. Unfortunately, most often these collisions and adverse actions were primarily or exclusively the fault of other people. I've had two 3/4 house landlords behave stupidly (each of those are long stories). Multiple staff in the leading secular recovery organization have been immature, petulant, unprofessional, and overly aggressive with me, and thus there is only one meeting I might ever go to from there in either medium. I've had people from AA cut me off while speaking probably because of my heterodoxical manner of recovery and dress rather than me violating decorum, and others in AA have spoken badly of atheism and those who do not embrace God as their higher power. These and other occasions were very unpleasant experiences for me, and they were made even more painful when I realized I caused or exacerbated them.

They were also opportunities for improvement and enlightenment even when I was blameless, and this is another major realization I have had with regards to recovery. Most negative things have educational value and utility which can be extracted, if people are wise and perceptive enough. This even includes the attempted eviction by a landlady for my refusal to stop crossdressing, because I acquired (and will acquire more regardless of how it turns out) so much information which I then have and will impart to other people, and it forced development on my housing front. While I pride myself as a tactician and strategist, I also have proven to very readily admit I fucked something up of that nature and applied the lessons to future occasions and to doctrine and theory.

I also learned eventually that my anxiety issues would subside due to intelligent living and appropriate outlook, and medication was a waste of time as well as anything else that wasn't conceived and executed by me. Medication is indispensable and invaluable to many people and I'm not suggesting everyone on medication immediately give their psychiatrist the middle finger and stop taking them. However, we are severely overmedicated in this country, and psychotherapy and appropriate life coaching are not offered and practiced nearly enough. I was never offered any sort of psychotherapy outside of the groups that were done in rehab, but there was always a psychiatrist who would throw some sort of substance at my anxiety issues. All of these medications failed, and usually they either directly made my anxiety worse or they caused symptoms which caused more anxiety. The only thing they offered which could be considered any form of therapy was something they called their Peer Program. I'd have to be stuck in a van with other clients (many of whom were much lower functioning than me; people talking to themselves and the like unsettles me) for an hour or two each way, deal with a bunch of people I'd rather not deal with, and be encouraged or made to do things which did not appeal to me at all. And, I couldn't usually get away from people when I needed to, and the fucking Prozac I was on just made my uneasiness from the stimuli and environment even worse. After a week or two of that I withdrew from the program, and told them as much as they were hoping I would contribute, I couldn't fucking take it on or off medication. Most progress in general that I made was caused by me intelligently interacting with AA and other entities, and my own strategies and methods of insulating myself from stress. Self-reliance and autonomy were of extremely critical importance then and now.

A Short Primer For Those Wanting Help

My somewhat wide variety of experiences with recovery programs, my naturally high intelligence, and a variety of other characteristics, make me comparatively well qualified as a non-professional to speak on these matters. If you are someone who is contemplating attempting recovery, have already entered recovery but want my advice on various things, are close to someone who is or will be in recovery, or otherwise are in a position where this information is needed or wanted, this section is for you.

12 Step Programs

The overwhelming majority of my experience is with AA rather than the other substance abuse ones, so I will be speaking from that experience generally. 12 Step programs are fairly and unfairly maligned because of the language used in their steps and the literature, particularly AA's. AA is indisputably the largest of the 12 Step ones, and it was the first one to be established in the mid-late 30's. All future fellowships came after them as a result, and they thus tend to inherit the same strengths and weaknesses AA as a whole possesses.

12 Step fellowships have a set of overarching guidelines called the 12 Traditions. These traditions I have observed have an extremely beneficial and regulatory effect on these programs, and they are in my experience rational for a recovery organization. I'll just use AA as the example. The 3rd one states the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to stop drinking. This protects people from being expelled because they're not sincere enough or because they're an atheist. While so many are quite condescending, there overall is an ingrained ethos of never excluding someone from an AA venue unless it is absolutely and utterly necessary, such as if a person is dangerous or predatory. The 4th protects the autonomy of the groups, and thus groups are extremely varied in purpose, personality, and rules. There can literally be a furry AA group, so long as it adheres to the 12 Steps and Traditions and calls itself an AA group. The ones relating to money protect it from needless internecine conflict and impropriety, the 10th prevents AA from getting involved in anything not pertaining to its program. The 2nd dictates groups be managed by group consensus, and another one specifies there should be no autocrats and power be centralized as little as is practicable. There are also the 12 Concepts and IIRC 6 Warranties, but for simplicity I won't delve into them. What all of this means is, AA and probably most of the other programs protect the autonomy of people and groups, has little chance of being caught up in conflicts over funding, and overall are sheltered and safe places to be in. I find the Traditions to be more important than the Steps because the former protects the fellowships from both the outside and themselves.

A custom in 12 Step programs which I feel can be either horrible or miraculous for one's recovery is that of 'sponsorship'. A sponsor is one's mentor in 12 Step recovery. They are called 'sponsor' because apparently around the time AA came into existence, hospitals who were treating alcoholics (apparently we were a highly pathetic and untreatable class back then) wanted someone to vouch for the patient and oversee them after being discharged, someone who would "sponsor" this person. This is a tradition unique to 12 Step recovery, and I overall find it extremely attractive and beneficial but not without peril. If the two are incompatible it can be disastrous for someone's recovery efforts, or at least greatly retard their settling into AA in general. Sponsors range from the drill sergeants who feel they're qualified to run their sponsees' lives and demand daily calls, to those laidback ones who give advice and friendly chat whenever their sponsee happens to get around to calling them. Some people honestly are low-functioning enough to need a drill sergeant, while people like me would be horrified and intimidated if we got someone like that. Thus, I advise caution and for someone to attend a variety of meetings before they choose someone to be a sponsor. Sponsors and sponsees also tend to have the same home group, which makes such a relationship especially beneficial for someone in recovery. I was lucky to have chosen a laidback and very bright sponsor with a welcoming and laidback home group, and I could always return to them even after one of my several great failures in 2012. They were a stabilizing rallying point for me and I'm grateful to have had them and still have them.

While the Traditions and certain customs make AA comparatively a very decentralized place where everyone can seek help no matter how awful they are at recovery or in general, and no matter how antithetical their beliefs are to those of the group and the general literature/fellowship, AA and many or most of the subsequent organizations fuck themselves over due to the wording of the steps and the way the literature talks about atheists and other things. This causes AA to be made up largely of people who are sanctimonious and rigid, and in the worst cases regional AA organizations have expelled agnostic/atheist AA groups and disregarded their own 4th Tradition. Group practices such as reading a section of the Big Book chapter How it Works (fortunately this doesn't seem to be done much or at all outside of the USA) just further reinforces this aura of Christian deism that so greatly repels so many people. They could have been more inclusive when they wrote the Big Book and the Steps, and they could have at least changed the wording and texts later to be more inclusive. However, they have consistently refused to do that, and have only authorized a few pamphlets which reassure non-deists, pamphlets which are very much counteracted by the core literature and the resulting attitude of many in AA. If it does not stop this elitist bullshit soon, it will rapidly fade into irrelevance as other resources supersede it. I don't want to see that happen because it is in other ways a magnificently meritorious concept and society.

However, that being said, its detractors sometimes go too far in maligning and demonizing AA. Some people portray AA as a whole as a cult that tries to eradicate any free will and independent thought in its members. While the literature and many members are very off-putting, and many members are bewildering and/or infuriating to listen to (some assert that God did everything in their recovery, and if they mean it as it comes across that is insane), neither AA in general nor the vast majority of its groups operate as a cult. The liberty of people and groups are protected through Traditions and other customs, and at the end of the day these people generally realize they do make their own decisions and God will not do everything for them. People usually are more rational and realistic than the literature and even their own sharing make them seem to be to the average observer. I was openly a non-deist, then openly a furry non-deist, and then openly a furry femboy non-deist. I have generally felt more at ease and comfortable in AA than the secular alternative SMART, and the same compared to society in general. AA is not a cult despite how much it contributes to that perception with its stupidity, and if a group or clubhouse was to behave in such a way it would be met with disapproval from AA members as a whole. They're too rigid and they're obnoxious many times, and many will quietly stay away from heterodoxical types like mine, but they generally don't demand your soul.

No organization is monolithic, and that most definitely includes AA. Meetings and clubhouses have extremely varied personalities and customs. There is a clubhouse in one of my hometowns that seems to attract the hardcore and belligerent fundamentalist sorts, and also the off-balance mentally ill types (it is so awful when someone's both!). A few miles away in the same town, there's a clubhouse which is in recovery ideology and in general much more liberal, and dominated by those under 30. In the closest major city, there's one clubhouse which goes out of its way to cater only to alcoholics and alcoholism, treating those with dual addictions and primary issues with drugs as if they're a separate species with no commonalities to themselves. Less than 6 miles away, there's an LGBT-centered clubhouse which welcomes all fellowships and all addictions, and the AA meetings are not strict about how people identify or whether drugs are mentioned. There can be stark differences in meetings within the same clubhouse and program! If you have been to one or several which were dogmatic and exclusionary or otherwise objectionable, that is NOT all there is to AA. We even have so-called We Agnostic meetings in AA now (those are secular AA meetings), meetings which are generally recognized by the world-level echelon in New York and the more local Intergroup and State levels. Non-We Agnostic meetings can be quite accepting of heterodoxical recovery. Ask around if you need to find somewhere more conducive to your recovery and general well-being, rather than assume that's all there is in AA or whatever organization you're in. If you live in an urban or even a decently sized suburban area, you should have a wide variety of choices.

Oh, speaking of that, I have one more thing for my fellow non-deists and non-conformists in AA. Especially if you are interested in meditation as well, look around your area to see if there are any 11th Step/Meditation meetings at Buddhist centers, or even in general. There is a decent sub-section of the AA population which are Buddhist-aligned because they are Buddhists and/or value their innovations in and practices of meditation. Buddhism in general is an atheistic religion based on Buddha's teachings rather than his perceived divinity, and my limited education on Buddhism gives me the impression the faith is more rational, liberal, and adaptive than the others. If there are no We Agnostic meetings in your area, this is a solid secondary choice if you want 12 Step meetings without the God bullshit.

My experience with the organizations which deal with drugs is highly limited, but here is what I know and have observed. They started coming into existence decades after AA did, which might be a major factor in them seeming to not be as concerned with whether people believe in God. I remember hearing that the one which specializes in crystal meth, CMA, changed the wording of their steps to be less discriminatory, but later voted to revert back to the obnoxious original version. NA was borne from the frustration addicts in AA were having over being treated disrespectfully or as others, and at least some of the meetings seem to reciprocate that sentiment towards alcoholics who come to their meetings rather than not engage in it at all. The NA meetings around here seem to be very prone to dysfunction and in-fighting, though someone told me this is not the norm in NA. AA officially concerns itself with abstinence from alcohol but advises caution about prescription medication, and the vast majority of AA's members consider those who use other drugs outside of a prescribed regimen to not really be sober. All of the drug-oriented fellowships (at least NA, CA, and CMA, and I assume the others) officially define sobriety as abstinence from both alcohol and drugs in general outside the obvious exceptions like caffeine and non-addictive prescribed medications. In theory, an upstanding member of each fellowship qualifies for membership in the others because they do not wish to use any of the substances defined as problematic by them. The one CMA and CA meeting I went to seemed to not mind someone whose DoC was alcohol being there with them, though this was the aforementioned young people's clubhouse.

There is a general purpose fellowship called Recovery in the Lifestyle. It is advertised as being for those in the BDSM lifestyle, but it honestly is welcoming to those of any alternative sexual lifestyle or affiliation, including furries. It is quite small and most cities don't have a meeting at all outside of a convention or two. My city has a weekly face-to-face one at the LGBT clubhouse and multiple meetings at one of the conventions, and there is one Skype and one phone meeting for everyone weekly. In my experience, while the wording of the steps save for affiliation and purpose is the same as AA's, they are highly accepting of non-deists. In their meetings, people introduce themselves by stating their name, primary fellowship, and lifestyle affiliation. For my introduction, I identify as Roketsune rather than my RL name, identify AA as my primary program, and state I'm a dominant furry femboy ageplayer. Sexuality and sexual lifestyles are frequent topics of discussion. For those who are like me in this regard, this is a very appealing option where people can be open even about cub and ageplay, though one does need to use their judgement and not divulge sexual acts in graphic detail and the like.

Non-12 Step/Secular Programs

There are several of these with varying characteristics and personalities. Even combined, they are still dwarfed by AA alone, and probably even by one of the other major 12 Step programs. Despite the rapidly rising population of non-deists and the advance of the field of psychology/psychiatry, these just haven't taken off like one might expect. Their reach is very limited, and this is especially bad for people who might need more than one meeting a week (if they can get to one at all). However, if 12 Step venues in the area are just too revolting to a person, or if they want to supplement their recovery routines with a secular component, these are invaluable. Be sure you attend the organization which is the most compatible with you, though, because they vary wildly.

SMART is the one which is the best known and largest of all the alternative programs. I don't currently know how many meetings worldwide they have, but I'll use our state's face-to-face meetings as an example to demonstrate how utterly dwarfed even SMART is by 12 Step fellowships overall. I see 15 meetings in my entire state, 3 of which are in the capital, and about 5 are within feasible driving distance from it. 6 of these 15 meetings are restricted either to a specific gender or to students/patients. So, effectively, if you were willing to drive to anywhere in the whole state, there are 10 meetings you would be allowed in, 8 of which are held once a week. An average 12 Step clubhouse (and there are several) in the largest city has more meetings than that PER DAY. One in the suburban fringes of the Metro area has 6 AA meetings PER DAY. Across the entire Metro area, there's something like 1,100 meetings JUST for AA last I heard. If you stayed within the Metro area, you would have two SMART meetings per week to attend, and sucks to be you if you can't make either one. Remember that SMART is the largest of the alternatives. While there is a very robust online contingent and the online meetings tend to last 90 mins, a problem which seems to be very long-standing and chronic is people flood into the limited-capacity room once it opens, so people needing a meeting can't get in if they arrive even 5 minutes or so after the room opens. I heard of this last year when I was there, it was a problem when I was there in 2013, and has been a problem apparently forever, and thus I have no reason to assume the issue has been much remedied. They do have a forum and a 24/7 general chat room, so if all else fails someone can still converse with SMART participants about serious recovery matters outside meetings.

SMART's recovery orientation and doctrine is REBT, which is some derivative of CBT. I don't really know what the difference is and I wouldn't elaborate much even if I did. However, SMART does have literature and doctrine based on various principles and theories, just like AA has. Also just like AA, SMART at least to me comes across as dogmatic and rigid, and some of the ideas espoused are particularly offensive and absurd. I just feel that SMART tends to fault people for experiencing indignation and upset with various commandments like discouraging people from thinking or saying people "should/should not" behave a certain way. A particular abhorrent example is a saying the director of the online component (and I think SMART's written program IIRC) used to repeat. "There is no law of the universe saying people should or should not do this.", and thus being angry with the person is wrong. It's fucking exactly as bad as some of the shit AA people repeat regarding being upset with people, only it comes from a psychological rather than religious/deistic orientation. In AA, you're wrong because being upset over someone's behavior is being upset with God because God controls everything. In SMART, you're wrong because there's no law of the universe and it's thus irrational to be angry. It fucking pisses me off when people pull this crap regardless of whether they're an atheist or a Christian lunatic, because it treats people as if they're Vulcans rather than humans. It ignores people's automatic emotional responsiveness and reactivity and faults them for even feeling it, rather than focusing on their subsequent behavior. My behavior and tactics are entirely voluntary and on me, but fuck you if you say I'm wrong JUST for being angry over being mistreated.

SMART is very different with regards to servicework. Oh, wow, SMART added another type of meeting and complicated my discussion on this... Okay, I was GOING to say, one has to be a facilitator to lead a meeting, and this is still true for the more complicated standard meetings requiring more adaptability by the leader. There are also 'discussion' meetings, which are meetings which are less complicated and are very much scripted, and these can be led by 'hosts' who don't need the more intensive training online that facilitators do. In either case, in the physical meetings, there isn't anything else for anyone there to do. In online meetings, there are a couple of tasks by 'helpers' which are available, and one or two other roles people can serve in the general chat room and forum. There's a very limited opportunity for average people to contribute to the process beyond donating and speaking as a regular member. In contrast, in 12 Step fellowships meeting leaders vary greatly and are chosen often at the monthly business meetings, and generally require nothing more than a set sobriety length and maybe membership in that group. And 12 Step meetings are very often held in special clubhouses, so people are free to mop the floors or wipe the tables or whatever while they're there. You just don't have those opportunities for spontaneous or untrained participation and servicework in SMART or non-12 Step programs in general, and even if you're just a SMART 'host' you still need to work with a mentor and carry the burden of that meeting alone if there are no other hosts or facilitators involved.

SMART's administration's general attitude on recovery and governance, and that of the general community, are problematic. The fact servicework is so centralized and regulated only exacerbates the deficiencies and drawbacks and helps reinforce the aforementioned issues. The protective and benevolent guidelines and tenets that AA and the like enjoy such as the Traditions, SMART does not have. The facilitators in meetings in general, and facilitators and their superior administrators in the online component overall, decide on punitive measures for people who are perceived to be problematic, as well as other policies and other things. There are no written rules or guidelines to govern these people even through moral authority like we in AA have, so the only things influencing these people are their own senses of reason and ethics. In AA, it is usual practice to make every possible attempt to not undertake adverse action against an attendee, and if we do take such action it is to be the least severe appropriate for the situation. Expulsion is the very last resort, and there usually are plenty of other meetings to attend if that somehow were imposed on someone at a clubhouse or meeting anyway. I have observed that the administrators of SMART don't adhere to such a code of benevolence, and don't seem to even remember that their members are often very sick and unwell people mentally. If they tire of someone, they impose lengthy bans on people, and rather quickly resort to permanently banning someone, and they don't seem to do so with regret or trepidation. That is very extreme considering the various factors and circumstances at play here. That could possibly be catastrophic to a person's recovery since there's no real alternative online and online might be their only way of reaching SMART, but there is no perceivable cognizance or even concern about that from the senior echelon. I find this an appalling attitude to have from supposedly enlightened and rational people trying to help people get well.

A problem related to what I just described is the overall culture of the place, especially online. The online medium in general is more conducive to conflict since people are less inhibited and typing is easier, and I keep this in mind when I say this. However, I found the online community in the chat and meeting rooms to be needlessly combative, immature, and anti-AA. There were facilitators who were immature and petulant there. There were users who would say outlandish things about AA or become pissed off with another user for merely stating they attend or like AA. I actually felt more at home with the deists in AA meetings than with these secularists and atheists online, because the latter were more intrusive and combative. The face-to-face meetings were not nearly as bad, but there was still a facilitator here who made me feel highly unwelcome with a couple of his stupid and obnoxious comments. The toxic and unforgiving environment at the seat of power at SMART combined with its centralization of servicework really make me distrust this organization. There are some really great people there both online and F2F, and there are some really terrible and inept ones that sometimes ruin it even at the top. That is a fucking shame because some addicts could really use their help, but they retard their own organization's growth and outside perception.

There are advantages to going with SMART. If you need a path of recovery set out for you and can't deal with the 12 Step variety, this is about all there is. SMART has a very robust online presence, which is a capacity all other secular programs lack and this can be a godsend to people in a position similar to mine (disabled or otherwise isolated, and more at ease in written communications). If you get a facilitator with a good temperament, they have been formally trained in leading meetings and the REBT program, which does work out better than what one would get at an average AA gathering. SMART meetings are much more conversational and rapid, so if that is what you prefer, you will like those more than the series of monologues and musings one would encounter at AA meetings (I actually prefer the latter; I always struggled at SMART face-to-face meetings especially). SMART allows people to define what their problem substances and behaviors are at that particular moment, so the concept of sobriety is a self-defined one and thus is helpful to those with complicated cases (though they don't consider moderation to be a viable goal if one really is addicted to something, which is super-duper correct according to my observations). Also, SMART is the only place I know besides maybe RitL which is all-purpose. Any and all addictions and destructive compulsions are addressed by their program, which makes it uniquely inclusive and perhaps critically important for those with issues which extend beyond regular old substance abuse.

Rational Recovery was the organization SMART was spawned from, and it has a recovery methodology and dogma conceived by its founder, Trimpey, called AVRT. I know very little about it, and there might be really good stuff in that. They have a forum I believe, but I have no idea how large or active it is. However, the program and Trimpey have this expectation that people ought to never fail again once they commit to that method or to sobriety in general, and this is not realistic and just sets people up for more shame and guilt. Also, Trimpey is a bitter, crazy, and abrasive asshole, to be brutally honest. He has this fanatical hatred of 12 Step programs, seems to convey based on what little I know of him and RR that people who don't permanently make it after committing are immoral losers, and in his infinite wisdom he cancelled all face-to-face meetings in the late 90's since I guess his program and doctrine were more than enough to help people. He's also FAR too eager to monetize his program and his services for his own benefit (maybe that's why he abolished the group meetings), going so far as to sell 12 hours' worth of lectures and instructions on his program and doctrine in DVD form for $350. The RR store sells a bunch of other overpriced stuff, and I get the impression one can't get far in that program without paying a substantial amount. Total cost for SMART's program I believe is $10, if you elected to buy the handbook. This kind of profiteering for the field he is in is utterly repulsive, and exactly what I would expect from a self-aggrandizing twat such as him. He really come across as a guy who's at least as insufferable as the Big Book-thumping evangelists in AA meetings, and I wouldn't want to have to even speak to him in recovery settings (not like I ever would see him there; he's condemned all theories and organizations that aren't his).

LifeRing Secular Recovery seems to be the second most frequented and well organized of all the alternative organizations. They have all the features online that SMART does and they also have e-mail groups, but I'm sure they are not as heavily frequented. I have not used any of their online venues and thus have no direct observations to present, or even if the ordinary chat room always has at least a couple of active people in it. There are four online meetings per week there, which is in stark contrast to SMART which generally has ~4-5 meetings of various types online per DAY. They have woefully few face-to-face meetings, and it seems the one near me disbanded since I last visited that place for the SMART meeting run by the douchebag facilitator. This is another example of non-12 Step programs just not getting any real traction despite a strong and growing need and desire for it, and I don't really understand why this is happening. If I had to make a hypothesis, I'd say most addicts and alcoholics who do recover achieve this through professional treatment and self-direction, and most of the remainder will just eventually die in addiction because they're hopeless for whatever reasons.

A critical and basic difference between LifeRing and SMART is LifeRing has no recovery philosophy beyond very broad and vague ideals. They do not promulgate any recovery methodology at all. Meetings generally either have people check in about their week (HWYW; How Was Your Week) or discuss some topic that comes up or is otherwise of interest to the leader and/or the group. People are free to pursue whatever manner of recovery they see fit, and any numbers of resources and doctrines they see fit. It is absolutely spectacular for those people like me who have idiosyncratic and hybrid recovery systems. People are not expected to follow or adhere to anything beyond meeting decorum and sobriety. Their focus is on substance abuse in general, which is overall more inclusive than the standard 12 Step programs but about average or under for the non-12 Step alternatives. Sobriety is also defined by the organization as abstinence from drugs (save for the obvious exceptions) and alcohol, which means people are not welcome to tolerate one substance addiction while they address a more problematic one. People shouldn't be high during meetings or getting high if they have another addiction anyway, but in this respect they're less liberal than SMART. This shouldn't be a problem for most people who are serious and at least relatively rational about their own recovery, and it would be difficult for me to overstate how important it is to have a resource which caters to those with individualistic and composite methodologies. If you're like me, you may feel out of place or uneasy in SMART or AA, but here you shouldn't have that problem.

The only other organization that I know of that caters to those of the aforementioned recovery paths is SOS, and they're pretty much dead and can't be recommended because of their apparent ineptitude. It was made and seems to be run ultimately by one guy who has an irrational hatred of 12 Step programs. They overhauled their site and these are no longer accessible, but before this, when I checked last year, many articles and rantings were hosted on a site which looked like it was designed in the mid-90's. Their website now is broken in several places and promulgates errors on several occasions. The link/button to the article where they state they also cater to those with eating disorders just takes you back to the main page, the News/Information page has zero entries in it, the link to their Facebook actually takes people to what looks like a black activism organization's page whose acronym is also SoS (I'm fucking serious; how do they fuck up that badly?), a graph which shows the level of food and substance abuse in America gives impossibly high numbers for addictions (it purports 70% of the American population are 'compulsive eaters'; lazy and overweight, maybe), and there's next to zero activity or interest on their Twitter account. The e-mail groups are dead, the forums I couldn't see as a non-member but I assume are also dead, and there are a handful of face-to-face meetings. The organization is a clusterfuck that has minimal influence and respect and probably is only still around as a sort of display of futile vanity by the owner. Unless you have no alternative, I don't suggest even trying to deal with them.

Finally, there's something called Moderation Management, and I am going to expend very little time here because their doctrine vis-a-vis true alcoholics has been thoroughly discredited by research and every single recovered alcoholic's and addict's observations. As the name suggests, their program has people reduce their drinking to sane levels. There's supposed to be 6 months of abstinence IIRC, then a resumption of drinking. Moderate and enjoyable drinking is IMPOSSIBLE if someone is an actual alcoholic. The only way something like this would ever work and would have any theoretical chance of success would be if someone overdrinks to medicate anxiety or some other symptom, and without that factor they would have no problem drinking normally. It would be difficult or impossible to differentiate between the two, and there is such a thing as acquired (rather than inherited) addiction/alcoholism. The chance of someone being firmly in the abuse rather than addiction category is probably quite low, and if the person wants to go this route they would be better off using the Sinclair Method I'll expound on below. If you can't stop drinking whenever you start up again regardless of mood, you're almost certainly an alcoholic and should not even contemplate MM.

Medication Therapy

There are a few medications used to address alcoholism. There is one which is used to preclude alcohol cravings, there is one used to very severely discourage drinking, and there are a variety of benzodiazepine types used to treat withdrawal symptoms. I'll mainly address the first two categories. Before I do, I will say that aside from being given sedatives temporarily for withdrawal symptoms, I feel it is better to cause one's desire for alcohol to subside with a change of outlook and mental realignments rather than medications, especially the second category. Medication is an inferior primary method of arresting alcoholism more often than not, because it is an external rather than internal measure that requires continued voluntary cooperation. If you have not made the sufficient mental reforms and realizations, nothing stops you from discontinuing the medication regimens and starting up with booze once again. That being said, I'm sure one method in particular would be optimal for some people while they pursue therapy and the like simultaneously.

The American psych community in general is kind of backwards on the matter of alcoholism treatment relative to Europe (we're backwards in general compared to Europe, but that's for a series of journal entries). We have not explored medication therapy much at all and usually refer people to AA after discharge from a hospital or rehab, which is what we did decades ago. There is a 50k-character article (this journal of mine is bigger, hahaha) on this subject and the general subject of AA which was published by The Atlantic which rather nicely describes the general problem. The extremely high failure rates asserted by that author are refuted by this and this and I tend to agree with their objections, but The Atlantic article overall seems rather solid to me. If you're an American, you probably will need to really work at finding a doctor who has heard of and utilizes the Sinclair Method.

This entails a person taking naltrexone before drinking over some period. This drug interferes with the process of alcoholism by blocking the stimulation of synapses or receptors which ordinarily are activated and continue to increase with more alcohol and causes the "allergy and obsession" components observed by Dr. Silkworth many decades ago. The compulsion to drink and the frequency of drinking thus are diminished over time, and apparently this blocking effect kicks in very strongly immediately. I suspect it doesn't make the receptors or whatever weaker over time, but rather just blocks them from reacting once alcohol is ingested. Either way, one does have to either take the pill before drinking or receive that longer-term injectable version mentioned in the article for this to be effective. There has to be internal work done such as psychotherapy and the like while this is being done, because if someone's using alcohol to medicate anxiety and other problems, alone all this does is terminate the effectiveness of their coping mechanism, and some become even worse to deal with as what AA sometimes calls "dry drunks". So, I'm ambivalent about this form of therapy. It should be available to everyone and promulgated here, but a lot of people will be sorely disappointed if that's the extent of their treatment, and it seems tantamount to abstinence if it works as intended anyway. Those who relapse due to impulses and mental fluctuations would be well served by getting the injectable version since that lasts a month or so, versus the few hours of the pill. And, obviously, those who are unwilling to give up alcohol as a tactic will have a zero percent chance of success barring involuntary treatment because they won't take the naltrexone. I think if we involuntarily treated severe alcoholics, this could be more effective than it is.

Some people have heard of the drug Antabuse/disulfiram. This works not by blocking the activation of synapses and receptors, but by causing extreme susceptibility to hangovers by magnifying several times the amount of acetaldehyde the body makes as it breaks down alcohol. If you take this and drink at all, you quickly will become very sick, and this both discourages lapses and makes those which do occur very short and painful. As with the Sinclair Method, this requires voluntarily compliance and commitment to combating alcoholism to be effective. The half-life on this is supposedly 60-120 hours, and thus I feel this is optimal for those who are ordinarily not compelled to drink, but might lapse due to some trigger or change of mood if there was nothing stopping them. One couldn't just not take it that day and get drunk without being sickened, so those who have short-lived impulses they ordinarily might not be able to resist would be saved from themselves. I actually was prescribed this in 2012 but never took it, and I believe the reason was fear of unwanted side effects. I think those side effects were likely and/or severe, but I don't remember specifics.

Benzodiazepines are classified as sedative-hypnotics, which is the same class alcohol is in. They work on the same receptors and this is a major reason they are used to treat withdrawals, which is also the same reason an alcoholic should not be taking benzos and the related sleep medications outside of such a supervised regimen. I had extremely addictive reactions to Ambien and Klonopin (the longer-acting benzo) when I had them in 2012, so this is personally confirmed by me. Benzos come in a variety of strengths and durations, and for withdrawals they tend to favor the milder types such as Tranzine, Valium, and some other name. Ativan might be given as well, which is in the middle in terms of strength and duration. These drugs may or may not actually do much for you if you're given them. I had no effect from them at all at the doses I was given, so my tolerance to them was also as high as it is to alcohol. Unless you have an addiction-specializing psychiatrist who says this is a wise idea for anxiety or something else that requires this, you really ought to stay far away from these if you're an alcoholic.
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