Friday, September 19, 2014

Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

I'm right in the middle of a move so I don't have a lot of time to write lately! But looking forward to settling back down once ... well, we've settled down!

I've got a cleanse coming up next month. I haven't decided on the day yet, but it'll probably start sometime in the second week of October. I'm glad of the timing - I really didn't want to be moving on a cleanse. I've already mentioned that trying to do toooooo much (anything too demanding or strenuous) can make a cleanse more challenging. You really miss that relaxing/rush you get from a tipple when the day is done. What's even better :) because you don't have to take cleanse days in the two weeks leading up to a cleanse, I won't have to think about that during the move. It'll be non-stop party nights. (Uh-huh. Yeah right.)

Get this ... one of my guilty pleasures in life (which actually doesn't leave me guilty) is this: if I can't sleep and I've been lying awake for hours, which obviously happens when you have lots to think about - like before a move - I just give up and get out of bed.

I pour a small glass of wine - usually red, though last night it was white because we were out of rosso - and have a snack of some kind. I just can't sleep on an empty stomach. Seriously. Once 'Lono' starts grumbling (nicknamed after the Hawaiian god of thunder I thought. Though I just checked and Lono is the actually Hawaiian god of peace, making this a total misnomer, at least until I've made a sacrifice to him), I will not be able to sleep without eating.

So last night I grabbed some raspberries and leftover spaghetti. Raspberries first. Spaghetti second. Not together! I cracked open a bottle of white chilling on the fridge door and poured a teensy glass, like 3 ounces maybe. Usually I flip through something I'm reading or just listen to late night radio. I don't watch TV because apparently the blue light affects your circadian rhythm, stimulating your brain rather than relaxing it, which makes falling asleep harder (read more).

ANYWAY - last night I took my wine and snack into the living room and turned on a single lamp in the darkness. I cuddled up with what I'm reading - The Sober Truth by Dr. Lance Dodes. What a fascinating book.

So there I am in the middle of the night, by myself, reading a book about addiction and how 12-step programs and traditional rehab fail people ... while I'm sipping a glass of wine.  I gotta say, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Because the more I learn about classic addiction treatment, the more confident I feel that what I'm doing is right for me.  So I read a chapter or two, sipped my wine, ate my nibbles and crawled back into bed. Slept like a baby and even had a nice dream. Plus I feel great this morning, too.

btw - I don't make a habit of doing this - having a late nightcap when I can't sleep. And I NEVER do it on a cleanse day. If the clock has already struck midnight and it's a cleanse day, I forgo any wine at all and stick to the food and the book. Though ... it really doesn't work as well. Still, that's just how important I think it is to respect the two cleanse days a week.

btw - MORE controversy about drinking during pregnancy. If you live in Ontario, you've probably seen the LCBO posters warning women to "Love Your Body/Love Your Baby" and not to drink while pregnant. The campaign is in partnership with FASworld Canada, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Incidentally, the research continues to swing wildly between 'yes, light drinking is okay' and 'no, any drinking at all harms your baby.' I don't know how women deal with the situation today. It seems there's a new study contradicting the last new study every other month.  Anyway - here's an article about a woman who's taking the LCBO to task on what she feels is a condescending and misleading campaign.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Sober Truth

I promised myself to read a new book before the end of the summer - The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry by Dr. Lance Dodes. Dr. Dodes's CV is a long and impressive one. From Harvard University to the Boston Psychoanalytic Society to decades as a practicing therapist specializing in addiction, Dr. Dodes knows what he's talking about.

And what's he's talking about is this: 12-step programs don't work for the vast majority of people who use them. According to his book - and most published statistics - only 1 in 15 people who join A.A. will remain with the program. Everyone else will drop out. Some of them will return after a relapse - and most of  them will drop out again.

If these people go to their doctor for help - or are seen before a judge for some unfortunate reason - they will automatically be prescribed A.A. or another 12-step program based on the A.A. model. If they fail in that program, they will be prescribed the same program again. And again. And again. Despite the fact there is no scientific evidence 12-step models work in a consistent way. And lots of empirical evidence that they don't (i.e. the overwhelming failure rate).

I'm only partway through the book, but I find it riveting. Right now, Dodes's is chronicling Bill Wilson's early life. "Bill W" as he's known was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. A very religious man from a very religious background, he also suffered from other addictions. Including nicotine, which eventually took his life. And sex (his extramarital affairs are well documented). He was also part of hospital-supervised LSD experiments during the 50s. Fascinating stuff.

But I'm not passing judgment here. I know Bill W's faith-based philosophy still helps many people cope with alcoholism. And as I've said many times, I celebrate their success. But Dodes's point - and mine - is that 12-step programs shouldn't be treated as the only solution to addiction. Because there just isn't enough evidence that they work for everyone.

As for myself, I feel so lucky that I haven't had to go to A.A. or rehab. That I've been able to reverse my own problem naturally, simply - and cheaply! Because as Dr. Dodes points out, some rehab centers charge as much as $90,000 a month! Even without a consistent success record.

Time to put up a shingle!


Sorta! ;)

But we really do need alternative methods for treating addiction. We can't just brush the condition under the rug by continuing to view 12-step programs as the only answer. We must keep searching for new alternatives. In the end, that's all cleansing is. An alternative. One of many that I hope will evolve as we learn more about addiction and how to help the people affected by it. But the only way these methods will see the light of day is if we accept that the present model is not perfect. We must find other ways. At least twenty other ways! Because if each of those helps just 5-10% of the people - the way 12-step programs do - then we'll basically have kicked addiction in the butt!