How can I perform the Stanton Peele act in front of treatment personnel?
Hi Mr. Wonderful:
Thank you for your meticulous work. I’ve just begun the first Rational Recovery group on the mainland of British Columbia and have been requested by the A&D central clinic to speak to their counselors about RR. They are apparently “keen” to hear more about it following my fax of “RR in a nutshell”. My question is how do I avoid the main pitfalls in dealing with those committed to the treatment model without alienating them and losing referrals. What questions might I expect and, from your vast experience, what information would you deem most important to get across during this unique opportunity? Thanks for taking the time to respond through you or your associates. You are the best and I am thankful that you are courageous enough to continue breaking through the lies. Have a beautiful day.
Sincerely, Carol F.
Dear Carol F.:
You really know how to get on my good side.
Please keep the following in mind:
- For starters, the Canadian situation is 50 percent better than the U.S., as I can attest from my visits to our great Northern neighbor. AA is a minority (although certainly not an invisible) voice in the spectrum of opinion. But community treatment models are standard practice and widely available, while private treatment is relatively undeveloped compared with the U.S., so that famous alcohol/drug abusers frequently travel south of the border for treatment. This is due in good part to the salutary influence of the national Addiction Research Foundation. While certainly subject to political and bureaucratic influences like the U.S.’s NIDA, the ARF (led by fearless researchers such as Helen Annis and Martha Sanchez-Craig) nonetheless manages to bring to bear solid empirical information in crucial treatment issues, such as the cost effectiveness of hospital treatment of alcoholism (it is not) and the role of controlled-drinking therapy.
- When speaking to treatment types, who have bet their bacon on personal testimony about the efficacy of treatment and AA, offer them some personal testimony of a different type. There is much of this available at my site: See Violation of self in AA treatment and Notes from Counselors/Alcoholics/Addicts. This personal testimony proves that some people do not respond to AA. Of course, even before turning to my material, you can ask counselors, “In your experience, what percentage of people exposed to AA respond well to it and continue to improve through AA?” No one will say 100 percent; many true believers will even acknowledge figures as low as 5-10 percent. Essentially, you’ve made your whole point there.
- The idea is diversity of individual needs and preferences. No one approach reaches everybody. Simply establishing this in the United States marks a remarkable advance (although perhaps less so in Canada). Nonetheless, your point is, you are simply striving to provide alternatives for those who are not responding to current options. You only want to offer what some individuals with problems want, need, and can benefit from, just the way AA responded to alcoholic individuals previously ignored by the medical and treatment establishment. In this sense, you’re just like them!
- Having established your market niche, go ahead emphasizing (a) the motivational impact of allowing people to pursue their own inclinations, values, and choices; (b) the need to train addicts/alcoholics in alternative coping responses; (c) the need to reintegrate people into their ordinary working/living (as opposed to therapy/support group) environments. These are key elements in my whole therapeutic approach. See How do I quit crack addiction without AA/NA? for a common-sense list of the “Life-Process” program I develop in my book (with Archie Brodsky and Mary Arnold), The Truth About Addiction and Recovery.
- Just to drive home the point that treatment itself isn’t necessary — and that people are generally the main engines for their cure — ask the assembled, “What is the hardest drug addiction to quit?” Every time I have asked this, the overwhelming answer is “cigarettes/nicotine!” Then ask, “How many of you have licked a cigarette addiction?” Then ask that group, “And how many quit through therapy or a support group?” I have never had more than 5 people raise their hands, even in audiences where hundreds of people have quit smoking.
That’s a start, then use your cool intellect and clever audience sensitivty (the same things that make you admire me so) to wow them. Go get ’em Carol F.
Very best, Stanton
Hi, Mr. Sunshine:
Wow! Fantastic! You personally answered my mail! I pause to be dumbfounded. But, not for too long. Thank you so much, Stanton, for your magnanimous response. All your comments and cross references clarified the questions I was weighing and with me having only asked one question. How did you do that? Oh, and I love your web site. Very cool. What a find you are. An aside: I found 2 copies of Love and Addiction smouldering away in a basement. I supposed you must be old by now. Anyway, you’re young and I can look forward to getting immersed in new information and your continuing work for a long time. Since you wrote I am looking forward to the professional development meeting with the Central A&D crowd.
Goodbye, Carol F