Friday, 31 July 2009

Abstinence is not a cure

Not in and of itself. Seeing a professional in the field speaking of addicts as 'terminally ill', just goes to show the abject failure of the abstinence industry and it's attendant ideology which is stopping something you're physiologically dependent on=cure. When are we going to see it for the nothing that it is? This is not healing, it's just wrestling with symptoms.

If that's all that can be done, that's one thing, but to pretend it is all that can possibly be done, enough to describe the essential truth of physical dependence/addiction is false.

The emphasis should fall on seeking to remove or resolve that underlying dependency, restoring the body to normal, stopping the addiction where it starts, not after the fact.

I used to say about diets, why would they work? They also are nothing in particular, just eat less.

Abstinence is, stop doing what you are finding impossible to stop or keep stopping doing, it's like some weird shamanistic ritual instead of the smoke and chants there is the psycho babble, which is supposed to reroute the the shape of the brain and or nervous system and free you of your addiction. There's nothing wrong with healing through resolving your emotional/historical baggage, but that is not a wonder cure nor a magic bullet type deal and that should not be implied. If just stopping behaviour or habit, cured addiciton why would it be classed as addiction, which is by nature, directly unstoppable? You can stop the behaviour, but that is an expression of the physiological condition, even if that is the start of it, reversal does not necessarily reverse that effect.

Like dieting would not be required if eating less was the answer.

What might be better than 'identifying addicts' at five- a likely story- would be to deal with children who are grieving. If help was routinely offered to children who've lost a parent through bereavement or relationship breakdown, even if it was just those who are showing the most extreme signs of distress or acting out, offering counselling to support the processing of events, perhaps we'd prevent a lot of what is known as substance abuse, as well as actually doing something that should be done anyway.

How long is it going to take for us to realise blithely claiming that 'children are resilient' is just leaving them to find out. And in people like Gary Reinbach's case, what can result is absolute horror. I remember a pilot programme to help children who'd lost a parent and the results were encouraging, it doesn't seem to have become widespread, provision is still patchy.

Nobody knows how the brain and nervous system can alter under massive stress, at any age. Yes, it can spontaneously fix itself partially or completely, but what if it doesn't?

That all this is not the understanding its presented as is shown by the confused rhetoric around alcohol mis-use.

I wish everyone could understand that alcohol misusers rarely get better on their own, and that stopping drinking without medical supervision is itself very dangerous; it can often lead to seizures. One of the certainties around addiction is that it normally gets worse, not better. Addicts and alcoholics need professional inpatient help; it is not a question of willpower, or a lack of determination.


An alcoholic is on a train journey to premature death. He can get off at any station along the way to get into rehab, but too often he will choose to stay on, to the terminus.
So which is it?

There it is again, that refusal to accept lack of answers, leaving open a get out clause that points the finger at those being drawn helplessly into an increasingly reductive vortex of a physiological imperative drifting more and more outside their will.

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