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Life Process Program Blog

Articles relating to Alcohol Addiction.

Two People who are Nearly “Immune” to Addiction (and how they do it)

Nobody is actually immune to addiction, despite what you may read about brain surgeries, medicines, or other “magical” addiction cures. The best any of us can do to prevent and beat addiction is to live a balanced life, which...

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What Killed Anthony Bourdain?

Love addiction is worse the second time around. This article, written by Dr. Peele, was originally published in Psychology Today Anthony Bourdain hanged himself on June 8, 2018, at Le Chambard Hotel in Alsace, France. He was on location...

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Why Addiction Can Be Difficult to Overcome (and why you will still succeed)

It can be difficult for some people to hear about how so many people drink or take drugs without problems, or becoming addicted. Or, on the other hand, to learn how many overcome addiction in the course of time,...

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Why Shouldn’t you be Punished for Smoking Cannabis?

Why relying on disease or trauma in order not to punish people harms more than it helps  In an international cause celebre, Sha’Carri Richardson, perhaps the fastest woman in the world, tested positive for marijuana, upsetting her participation in...

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Sobriety is Modern Temperance

The new cudgel against drinking and drug use Move over racism, sexism and age-ism. We have a new label to shame the majority of people who choose to drink and use recreational drugs. They aren’t “sober.” Medium ran a...

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Why Do So Many Have to be Forced Into Treatment? (And how to make help more attractive and effective.)

Stanton Peele and Zach Rhoads  There’s benefit to seeking life help in the form of therapy, counseling, coaching and mutual-aid groups. But most of that which is available for addiction doesn’t provide essential benefits.  The Life Process Program operates...

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Super Bowl Special: Britt Reid and Addiction Treatment Mythology

How are we doing at solving our alcohol and drug problems? A dark event has occurred to cloud the Super Bowl. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s son Britt, the Chief’s outside linebackers coach, ran into the back...

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Nine Easy and Effective Addiction Problem-Solving Steps That You Can Do ANYWHERE

Stressful situations or problems can be major addiction-triggers (even when stress is unrelated to addictions past or present). Thus, developing effective problem-solving skills– better ways of coping with such situations– is essential to breaking an addictive cycle. Here are...

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SMART Recovery and the Life Process Program: Major Differences and Welcome Similarities

12-step groups like AA are largely ineffective at curbing drug and alcohol addiction. Happily, SMART Recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is another lay-led support group and that honors the principles of personal agency and development that we talk...

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5 Mindfulness Strategies To Help Beat Addiction

With Contributions From Ilse Thompson Mindfulness is the antidote for addiction. Happily, living mindfully is simple with practice, and getting started doesn’t necessarily require meditation or intense practice. In this article, you will learn five tools for living more...

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Stanton Peele & Jim Breslo (Hidden Truth Podcast): How to Fight Forced Participation in AA and NA

Stanton Peele: Author of Resisting 12-Step Coercion: How to Fight Forced Participation in AA and NA. One of the country’s foremost experts on addiction joins Jim Breslo (Hidden Truth Podcast) to explain that we focus too much on the...

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I read your book and quit drinking, then became a social drinker!

Dear Dr. Peele, I went through a somewhat nasty divorce in 1990, along with getting laid off from my job. I realized that I had a drinking problem, and I attempted to moderate my drinking. I was somewhat successful,...

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Anthony Bourdain’s Updated Addiction Report Card

He may smoke, he certainly drinks and, good God, that 60-year-old is trim!   This post is in response to Anthony Bourdain’s Addiction Report Card by Stanton Peele Anthony Bourdain is the worldly gastronomical traveler with an addictive past. ...

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I’m Sorry If You Can’t Drink Alcohol

It’s a regrettable loss to your life, which you may find necessary. I have an older friend (even older than me!) who can no longer drink alcohol or coffee. She has had an unusual drinking career. She came from a...

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Are Addiction and Mental Illness Really Brain Diseases?

The two primary (New York) intellectual organs, the New York Review of Books and The New York Times, have recently featured two powerful cultural icons saying exactly opposite things. Marcia Angell, the first woman editor-in-chief of the New England...

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The Health Care Crisis and the Addiction Crisis Are the Same

Donald Trump was elected by a white underclass that is resentful, suicidal, and addictive, and whose existence is declining rapidly. The most noted element in the current health-care debate is how the Republicans’ White House champion, along with the...

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Subject: INSPIRED. A plea from a dissident

Subject: INSPIRED. A plea from a dissident Dear Dr. Stanton Peele, I am in much need of your advice. I am nervous sending this to you because, 1: I am anxious and have been most of my life; 2:...

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The Good and the Bad of Trauma Theory in Addiction

Why the Life Process Program doesn’t focus on trauma—it doesn’t work! Trauma theory has come to dominate addiction practice.  It is commonplace to hear assertions that all addiction is due to trauma, or the converse—no one can escape the...

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That Time When a Devastating Attack on a Seminal Controlled Drinking Study Set Us Back Decades

Recent reports on the harm reduction movement portray its rude health—yet simultaneously, a catastrophic event could at any point challenge its growing acceptance. To me, the situation recalls a disastrous confrontation that long negated a hugely promising development, before...

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Like Bad Drug Laws, the Disease Theory of Addiction Ruins Lives: We Must Target Both

Disease Theory of Addiction The disease theory of addiction underpins punitive and abhorrent drug policies—but in fact, its negative impact is evenworse than this. Recently, two notables on an addiction theory list to which I used to belong debated...

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Anyone Can Escape Addiction

Earlier this year, Maia Szalavitz, my fellow Influence columnist and an old comrade-in-arms, released her masterful book, Unbroken Brain, one that displays skills I only wish I had, and that I try to emulate. In it, she’s kind enough...

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In Addiction, We Must Constantly Reassert That Research Beats Experience

A piece on The Influence last week by Patrick Hilsman, a member of this publication’s editorial team, strikingly recounted his experiences—both pleasurable and harrowing—with heroin, to which he was once addicted. He contrasted these personal experiences with some received...

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Seven Things We Must Understand About Addiction to Undo the Mistakes of the Past 40 Years

When Archie Brodsky and I were writing Love and Addiction in the early 1970s, a medical resident told us, “Oh, we’ve established what addiction was long ago.” It turns out, that wasn’t true. In 2013, DSM-5, the most recent...

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Sometimes I Worry That AA’s Media Fan Club Won’t Be Enough to Secure Our Addiction-Free Future

We heard last week how Arianna Huffington, running her eponymous publication, bravely fought against criticism of 12-step programs in a report on heroin addiction in Kentucky that was eventually nominated for a Pulitzer. Should that surprise us? Of course...

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Addiction Is Always There – How To Keep From Drowning In It

We are recognizing that addiction is a regular part of life, and it scares the hell out of us. When I published Love and Addiction with Archie Brodsky in 1975, we received catcalls from my fellow faculty members at...

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Chronic Brain Disease and Addiction

Abstract The world, led by the United States, is hell bent on establishing the absence of choice in addiction, as expressed by the defining statement that addiction is a “chronic relapsingbrain disease” (my emphasis). The figure most associated with...

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Does the Word Addict Cause Harm?

This week on Talk Recovery, Dr. Stanton Peele discusses: ‘Does the word addict cause harm?’ Listen to his response.

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People Conquer Addiction With Their Minds

Americans are dead set on finding a magic-bullet solution for thier addictions. Experts in the field, including pharmacologists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists—adding their voices to the 12-step movement—are all clamoring to be recognized as the true messiahs leading us...

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Addiction will always be there – But there IS a way out

We are recognizing that addiction is a regular part of life, and it scares the hell out of us. When I published Love and Addiction with Archie Brodsky in 1975, we received catcalls from my fellow faculty members at...

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I Don’t Want You to Drink!

People know alcohol’s a poison, so I don’t want them to drink—let them die early with dementia! I’ve given up telling people that alcohol makes you live longer, about which I first wrote for the American Journal of Public...

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After 75 Years of Alcoholics Anonymous, It’s Time to Admit We Have a Problem

For much of the past 50 years or so, voicing any serious skepticism toward Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step program was sacrilege—the equivalent, in polite company, of questioning the virtue of American mothers or the patriotism of our...

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Overcoming disease treatment for addiction: A first person account

Dr. Peele: I stumbled across your web site, but I was familiar with your work already. I wanted to write you a letter and let you know that your book, The Truth About Addiction and Recovery was a great relief to...

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Resuming Social Drinking and Drug Use – Ask Stanton

How do you define relapse? Is taking cocaine every every now then less dangerous than using it on a daily basis? Is my moderate drinking okay or was AA right? Can I go back to AA after being a...

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We Need a Conceptual Breakthrough in the War on Drugs

Among the misconceptions fostered by AA and the disease theory of addiction is the idea of “hitting bottom” — that there is some objective state beneath which no human being will go. The same is true in our misconceptions...

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Mindfulness and Harm Reduction in Addiction—The Caffeine Example

This post is a response to What Caffeine Really Does to Your Brain by David DiSalvo Whenever people can be shown how any mood-affecting substance affects their brains, it becomes easier for them to comprehend the thing can be addictive. Which...

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If Gambling, Games, and Sex are Addictive, What is Addiction?

Gambling Addiction DSM 5’s announcement that the psychiatric diagnostic manual will, for the first time, call something addictive that doesn’t involve substance abuse — gambling — has opened the floodgates. It is intriguing to consider how gambling was placed in this...

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Are a “Sensible” and a “Scientific” View of Addiction the Same?

Calling gambling and game addictions brain diseases is a stretch. DSM-V’s announcement that the psychiatric diagnostic manual will, for the first time, call something addictive that doesn’t involve substance abuse—gambling—has opened the floodgates. It is intriguing to consider how gambling was placed...

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Is “Almost Alcoholic” a Useful Concept?

Lowering the threshold for alcoholism can make us mindful, or hobble us Based on a post in The Atlantic—“Are You Almost Alcoholic? Taking a New Look at an Old Problem”—Gizmodo has helpfully(?) declared: “Is Everyone You Know an Alcoholic?”  These posts...

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Addiction Is All in the Delivery

That the DSM-5 substance-use-disorders committee has decided one thing that doesn’t involve a psychoactive substance — gambling — can be addictive has set off a debate about what is the most addictive non-drug experience of all. Leading candidates are love/sex/porn/Internet/food —...

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Why People Get Better

Novelty-seeking used to make people alcoholic, now it makes them creative. The large population studies from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (called NLAES and NESARC) that have found three quarters of ever-alcoholic people become stably sober, and a majority of those...

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The War of the Addiction Worlds – Four incompatible views of addiction

Four incompatible views of addiction fight to capture America’s consciousness This post is going to be unusually brilliant, even for me. In it, I review four factions warring against one another for our consciousness about addiction. “Chronic Brain Disease” = the dominant view...

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The Opposite of Mental “Disease”

People outgrow and control mental illness, the opposite of a disease I often write about how — as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has only recently rediscovered – most alcohol and drug dependent people recover on their own. (See my...

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The Benefits of Addiction: Why Alcoholics Drink

How to think about the plusses alcoholics are pursuing People who believe in the disease theory are dumb. They can’t help it, so we shouldn’t mock them. You see, they don’t have enough human insight to answer the question,...

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Saved or Lost? AA and American Perfectionism

AA’s perfectionism prevents people from attaining their perfect selves. Alcoholics Anonymous grew out of the temperance and Protestant revival traditions in America.  The first installment of the Ken Burns documentary, Prohibition, described the Washingtonians, a group of what we would...

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This is How People Quit Addictions

Our fellow HuffPost blogger, Laura Harvey, has written “How I Broke All the Rules — But Still Quit Smoking.” “I was a smoker for 28 years. This month I celebrated one year smoke free. Even though I tried to quit...

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Drinking Lowers the Risk of Dementia About One-Fourth

From time to time, researchers send me their latest results when they are controversial. Recently Dr. Michael Collins, of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics of Loyola University’s School of Medicine, sent me a copy of a just-published...

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Why Medicine for Addiction Will Make Our Problems Worse

The New York Times last week announced a new medical approach to addiction taking hold in America’s medical schools, where addiction medicine is becoming a recognized specialty. Although the Times welcomes this development (it was inevitable), it is doubtful it will improve America’s addictive...

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The Meaning of Addiction: Is Eating Addictive?

This blog post originally appeared on Stanton’s blog at The Huffington Post website.   That idea that addiction has a “meaning” seems strange — haven’t they discovered “addiction” in a PET scan in a laboratory at the National Institute on Drug...

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The Top Ten Problems with the “New” Medical Approach to Addiction

The New York Times announced on Sunday the new medical approach to addictiontaking hold in America’s medical schools, where addiction medicine is becoming a recognized specialty. Although the Times welcomes this development (it was inevitable), it is doubtful it will improve America’s addictive...

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Harm Reduction: The Only Realistic Approach to Substance Use and Recovery

Psychoactive substance use — certainly including alcohol and psychiatric medications, on top of illicit drug use — is nearly universal in Western societies. It is becoming more, not less, so, and it’s beginning at younger ages. American public policy...

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Are Addiction and Mental Illness Really Brain Diseases?

The two primary (New York) intellectual organs, the New York Review of Books andThe New York Times, have recently featured two powerful cultural icons saying exactly opposite things. Marcia Angell, the first woman editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and now...

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The Best Prevention Research Tells Us Harm Reduction Is the Best We Can Hope For

Following are five key points about addiction prevention programs and the current research, the best ever conducted on the question, and the three key results of the research and three conclusions from this (see Effectiveness Bank Bulletin , February 25, 2011):...

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Why We Should Give Serious Thought to Wet Shelters for Homeless Alcoholics

On the one hand, young people shouldn’t act addicted — because it can become a lifelong habit. On the other, we shouldn’t regard young people as lifetime addicts due to their current situations (think Drew Barrymore); this is a horrible mistake...

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People Should Quit Drinking and Smoking – But Can They?

You Shouldn’t Smoke Or Drink Allen Carr is an Englishman who wrote bestsellers about quitting things (he died in 2006). Most famously, he wrote the all-time bestselling book about quitting smoking, “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.” Carr later...

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Drinking for Health

Abstinence from alcohol (no, you’re not misreading this) is the second greatest cause (after smoking, and more than being overweight) of heart disease, the greatest killer of Americans – particularly middle-aged and older men (and almost as much so...

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Is Marijuana Addictive? Does It Matter?

As the effort by drug policy reform advocates to achieve their holy grail — the legalization of a formerly illegal substance (marijuana) in a leading-edge state (California) — was within reach, former Clinton Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey, bad-mouthed...

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Alcohol as evil – Temperance and policy

Abstract Alcohol has developed indelibly different footprints in different cultures. Research shows that how a culture views and appreciates alcohol impacts people’s very likelihood of being addicted to it. In this context, the US and other Protestant English-speaking nations,...

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Alcohol — The Good Side

Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2010, A17. As California contemplates legalizing the sale of marijuana, the real war over intoxicants in this country is, as always, over alcohol. Since Prohibition ended in 1933 with the 21st Amendment to the...

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AA Isn’t the Best Solution: Alternatives for Alcoholics

Building on an essay in Wired magazine by Brendan Koerner, New York Timesconservative columnist David Brooks lauds to the sky AA and its founder, Bill Wilson. Both Brooks and Koerner point out the worldwide spread of AA (although it is limited mainly to the...

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The Good and Evil of Alcohol

“If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m against it. But if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against winter chill, the taxable...

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Tell children the truth about drinking

Los Angeles Times, Friday, March 1, 1996 After years of debate, the U.S. government has finally decided that alcohol can be beneficial. Federal dietary recommendations, revised every five years, now indicate that moderate drinking lowers the risk of heart...

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Why Controlled Drinking Never Dies

In response to howls of outrage that some professionals (few enough) continue to talk about controlled drinking, Stanton points out that the result that many people reduce their drinking healthfully is an ever-present research finding, even among the most...

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The Genetic Model of Alcoholism and Other Addictions

Abstract The kind of clear-cut model of the genetic sources of alcoholism perceived by the public and presented in popular tracts does not accurately reflect the state of knowledge in this area. No persuasive genetic mechanism has been proposed...

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Is alcoholism a disease? We don’t believe so!

AA, treatment centers and alcohol counseling are the only known successful methods of arresting the compulsion to drink or take drugs. Alcoholism was totally untreatable and fatal until 1935, when A.A. was founded. —Ruth Harris, WomenSpace Shelter Project, Cleveland...

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History of Alcohol in America

WOMAN IN THE BALCONY: Is there much drinking in Grover’s Corners? MR. WEBB: Well, ma’am, I wouldn’t know what you’d call much. Sattidy nights the farmhands meet down in Ellery Greenough’s stable and holler some. Fourth of July I’ve been known...

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Will Sex Addiction Be in DSM-V?

The fight over the new psychiatric manual, DSM-V, has escalated. The conflict is due to an underlying flaw in the manual’s conception. Rather than tracing human activity in terms of its impact for people’s lives, it instead attempts to...

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What’s the Most Dangerous Addiction?

I previously answered the question, “What’s the hardest addiction to quit?” It turns out that the same addiction is the most dangerous. Michael Jackson died at age 50, and long term prescription drug abuse is suspected. In other words, it often takes...

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Can love be addictive? Ask Mark Sanford – or his wife

Mark Sanford’s wife has made clear just how far “gone” her husband, the governor of South Carolina, was over his affair with his Argentinean lover.  Vice President Biden should consider appointing Jenny Sanford director of the new National Institute...

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Real Recovery Requires Life-Building

Addiction is like the tail wagging the dog, or person, with the tail being a habit that dominates the person’s whole life. Addiction therapy concentrates on the tail – cutting it off in abstinence therapy, making it smaller in...

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AA’s declining dogmatism

Although it might seem surprising to say so, responses to my post “Addiction Myth #4: moments of clarity lead ONLY to AA” actually indicate a decline in the dominance and dogmatism of AA in the 21st Century. When I entered...

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Progressives War over Drug Czar

Some progressives want to change our approach to drugs to recognize that there will be continuing use, and to accept the need to protect users through providing them with clean needles, non-injectible drugs taken orally, medical care, good diets...

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Addiction Myth #4 — Moments of clarity lead only to AA

Recovered addicts often describe their escape from addition in terms of a moment of truth when they see clearly how their addiction violates their most basic values. Such moments inspired Christopher Lawford to write about famous addicts in recovery, like himself,...

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Readers Quiz: Why Are Americans So Kooky About Drugs, Sex, and Rock & Roll?

I asked a British man what struck him about the United States. The thing he found most amazing about America was how many towns didn’t allow restaurants to sell alcohol, and that some towns allowed no alcohol sales at...

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Ohmigod! Drinkers Think Better for Longer! Hide This From Children AND Adults!

A paper to be published in America’s leading alcoholism journal compiled the results of studies of mental functioning in relation to drinking. The research repeatedly finds moderate drinkers have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and are mentally sharper in...

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Addiction Myth #3 — addiction is a treatable disease

It is not that addicts don’t get better – the vast majority do. But the disease theory actually does damage by conveying the image of addiction as an alien force that medical experts can remove. In fact, recovery is...

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Addiction Myth #2 — alcoholics are addiction experts

Addiction differs from such DSM-IV disorders as, say, schizophrenia, in that having the condition qualifies a person as an expert. “What alcohol does to me is reality,” alcoholics believe, “and so I know all about alcoholism.” Susan Cheever, who added her...

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Why Harm Reduction Makes Sense: These Three Things I Know are True

Harm reduction is the concept of reducing the dangers of drug and other substance use, including the damage due to addiction. While this seems perilously radical — opponents claim it encourages drug use by “sending the wrong message” —...

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The 7 hardest addictions to quit – love is the worst!

Here are – in reverse order of difficulty – the seven addictions people find hardest to quit. Cocaine. Cocaine is an episodic-use drug. It is one moreover associated with certain lifestyles – at one time (if not now) people...

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The Disease of Having Too Much Sex — Addiction is real, it’s just not a disease

Dr. Joseph Beck, psychiatrist and addiction specialist, wrote an article for the Sun-Times News Group titled, “Addiction doesn’t always involve drugs, alcohol.” I confess to thinking, as the author (in 1975) of Love and Addiction, “I’m glad someone got psychiatry...

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Drinking around the world

This spring, I have had a chance to observe alcohol consumption in three very distinctive cultural settings – First Nation (Canada), Irish, and Iberian (Portugal/Spain). Alcohol use – and consequences – could not have been more different in these...

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How to analyze a drinking problem

  Further Reading I have always been aware that my boyfriend of 5 years has “a problem with alcohol.” I have put the previous phrase in quotes because I am having a tough time classifying his problem. He does...

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Should people be allowed to be marijuana addicts?

  Further Reading Hello, The main concern I have regarding marijuana addiction is loss of productivity. It seems like if people weren’t wasting all their time smoking (and “waste of time” behaviors while high) people could improve their life...

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Hillary Enters Rehab!

Hillary Clinton created a firestorm when she downed a shot and followed it with a beer chaser (called a “boilermaker” in local parlance) while “campaigning” in a bar in Indiana. Reaction reverberated across the country.  One woman wrote: “Do...

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Open letter to Nora Volkow

(Nora Volkow is the neuroscientist who directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse) Dearest Nora (and thanks for the Passover card), My last two posts at my blog for Psychology Today – “The End of Addiction” and “End Alcoholism – Bomb Spain” — have...

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