Alcoholism-Recovery-Radio-Podcasts
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I have not had much of a chance to do any podcasts for the past few months due to being really busy but I hope to do a few more  soon. This is the first podcast for a while and we decided to do one about “the good things in AA”. This may surprise some people, as I have been quite critical of aspects of AA in the past, and left the fellowship over 8 years ago. However, I still feel that there were parts of AA membership that helped me, even though I was not a fan of everything there including the 12 steps, and the concept of “Higher Powers”.

I find quite a lot that is written about AA these days by the “anti AA” brigade rather embarrassing these days. I would call myself “pro choice” and I am not a fan of protest movements. I rather prefer to support people who are actually doing something positive and helping others by forming new groups and promoting good medical solutions.

Anyway here are the points that Jon came up with that were good about AA and which we talk about in the podcast.

Good things about AA:

(1) It exists, the singleness of purpose works, few organisations survive so long
(2) It works. Probably 10+ millions people have been helped
(3) It’s simple. Anyone willing to try it can get it.
(4) It’s a broad church. You meet all types. It’s very inclusive.
(5) It’s free.
(6) It’s anonymous, so no medical records to worry about
(7) It’s everywhere. You can go to meetings all over the world.
(8) It has a good self development programme. Encourages people to take a good honest look at their attitudes and behaviours.
(9) It’s friendly and welcoming, and a great place to meet people.
(10) It’s altruistic. You have to help others for it to work for you.
(11) It’s non-judgemental. You can share whatever you like and get things off your chest
(12) It’s flexible, and has spawned other groups that help people with all kinds of problems.
Did I miss anything? What else is worth celebrating about AA..?

Another Sinclair Method Podcast.

Here is the latest podcast on www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovery.com about The Sinclair Method and it features Ben who has used the method to beat his alcoholism for about a year now and has improved his life as result. We we discuss his background and how he tried many solutions before finding out about the Sinclair Method which uses Naltrexone or another opioid blocker to chemically extinguish the cravings for alcohol online.

Successfully using The Sinclair Method for a year.

It is great to hear from somebody who has used this excellent method to beat alcohol problems and compare it to my own and other people’s experience. It does seem that people who comply with the Sinclair Method and take their tablet one hour before drinking alcohol do really well compared to people using traditional faith-based solutions such as AA. Many people in AA who are about a year into their recovery are still stressed by the thought of drinking and are still craving alcohol badly. This does not seem to be the case with those who make use of the medication in the Sinclair Method.

 

 

Medication for the Sinclair Method.

We discuss how hard it was for Ben to get hold of the tablets, which seems to be a common problem with using the Sinclair Method. We also talk about the book “A cure for Alcoholism” by Dr Roy Eskapa which has helped so many people understand the research done by Dr David Sinclair, after whom this method is named. We also mention some of the minor side effects that Ben has experienced.

The Sinclair Method Tablets

Sinclair Method Online.

We dicuss how to find out information about using the Sinclair Method online, which seems to be where most people find out about the solution, and mention some online communities that are worth looking at. We also talk a bit about my own recovery and how I beat my own issues with alcoholism. I sadly did not use the Sinclair Method because I had not heard of it and as a result spent 10 difficult years stopping and starting which I believe could have been avoided. This is something I regret.

Here are some useful links about The Sinclair Method.

http://www.cthreefoundation.org/about-the-sinclair-method.html#.VzLtBGMRVEs

www.cthreeeurope.com

http://www.the-sinclair-method.com

Here is the most accurate forum for the Sinclair Method http://optionssavelives.freeforums.net/

There is also a category on www.recoveringfromrecovery.com site about The Sinclair Method http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/category/sinclair-method/

Starting using the Sinclair Method to beat alcoholism.

This weeks podcast on www.recoveringfromrecovery.com and www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com features a conversation with Jo, who lives in the UK and who has decided to start the Sinclair Method. She is really very positive about using medication to help beat a her problems with alcohol,and has made use of many online resources to find out about this underused solution. I was pleased to find out she had listened to some of the podcasts here!

Like many people she has tried to stop drinking a few times, and went to AA and in fact still attends meetings to be part of a sober community. She has managed a period of abstinence but found some of the ideas in AA did not really help. She has also made use of counselling services to deal with problem issues from the past which is something that really helped me. I was not comfortable with talking about all my issues with a sponsor in AA and felt it was better to deal with those types of problems in a controlled environment, especially as I had experienced issues with confidentiality in the AA world.

We talk about what Jo hopes to gain from the Sinclair method and why she chose it over other solutions such as AA. We discuss how it feels to start the treatment and the effects of the medication. Jo seems to be doing well straight away with this solution, which does not normally work instantly for many people. For most heavy drinkers the effects of extinction are felt after a few months and they often taper off to complete abstinence.

I have certainly seen The Sinclair Method work well for many different people who comply with taking their tablet one hour before drinking alcohol. Some people do have problems getting hold of the medication, despite it being available on the NHS. Not all GP’s are willing to prescribe Nalmefene, and some health authorities insist that people go to a specialist alcohol clinic before being treated this way. This prevents some from getting the help they need and is a great shame, especially as the tablets are available over the counter in many other countries.

I really enjoyed chatting to Jo who I met in an online recovery group on Facebook and I hope to do more podcasts with her in the future to see how she is getting on in a few months. I think it will be interesting to see how things have changed for her, and how the solution is helping her.

Here are some useful links about The Sinclair Method

http://www.cthreefoundation.org/about-the-sinclair-method.html#.VzLtBGMRVEs

www.cthreeeurope.com

http://www.the-sinclair-method.com

Discussing My “Online Recovery” from Alcoholism

Here is the latest Podcast that I have done for my podcast site www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com as well as www.recovering-from-recovery.com and it is about how being online has helped me beat alcoholism and other addictions. We talk about some of the sites that helped me when I was looking for information such as  http://stinkin-thinkin.com which was the first online recovery community that I took any notice of, and which I consider groundbreaking at the time. It was sadly spoilt by a few idiots, who tend to cause problems online in the recovery community.

 

We also discuss different ways to build a WordPress recovery blog and how to get it noticed. We explain the importance of choosing a good domain name, the various ways of hosting a blog and the pros and cons including the costs of the various approaches.

We also talk about meeting people online and this leads to a discussion about the recent impressive Ted Talk by Claudia Christian which I will post here when it becomes available as an individual talk.  At the moment it can be viewed here http://livestream.com/TEDx/events/5288559/videos/121386805 and Claudia’s section starts at about 02.51.00 and is well worth a look.

We talk about how blogs can help people find out about great methods such as The Sinclair Method and meeting other people in recovery online, and how this can add to your support.

The bad side of online alcoholism discussion – the trolls!

There is also a bad side to taking part in the online recovery world. There are those, who will behave in an aggressive way towards others in recovery, and be critical of the way they are trying to beat alcoholism. Some sites such as the Orange Papers Forum are poorly moderated and are simply venues for people to sling mud at each other, and this tends to spill onto other sites. A small number of people from this or similar “Anti AA sites” seem to feel they are fighting some kind of cause, and will attempt to take over any online comment section that is open to them. This can lead to more intelligent, moderate and sensible people withdrawing from discussions. I tend not to read any comment sections on Recovery magazine sites as a result of the poor behaviour, as they are usually full of the same few loudmouthed idiots having a go at each other. You do need to be a bit thick-skinned if you want to take part in some online discussions and this is obviously a shame, as normal boundaries are often not observed.

Anyway I hope some of you find the podcast helpful especially if you are thinking of producing your own blog, which can be very worthwhile, and I hope to be doing some more podcasts in the near future, including people who are at various stages of using The Sinclair Method and also discussing how meditation can help in recovery from addiction.

This weeks podcast on a casual approach to AA

Here is this weeks new podcast for www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovering.com . The alcoholism recovery podcasts have been doing well and I have had over 10 000 listens so far which is pretty good as I only started this site towards the end of last year.

This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual approach than many to AA membership. He still takes recovery seriously but his life does not revolve around meetings which is something we both did in our early days.

I found having this discussion really interesting as Adrian has made good use of being in the fellowship, but is certainly not a Big Book thumper and takes a more common sense approach to recovery than some people.

We discuss why we feel AA helps people but also mention things that we feel are out of date. We talk about the literature and why that puts some people off going to AA and miss out on recovery. People like Adrian were the ones that actually helped me in my days in the rooms of AA rather than the Big Book thumpers and members of the cult type meetings.

It is important that people are not put off recovery by people who are over zealous about wanting to sponsor them, or by an old fashioned approach to issues such as taking antidepressants. Some meetings are great and have broad minded members, while others are really more like a religious group where there is more talk about God and Higher Powers, than actual recovery.

I think it is important in recovery to try and get some independence and not simply rely on a sponsor for every big decision in your life. I am not saying you should take chances with recovery but at the same time I think it is a good idea to try and live a normal life that does not revolve around having a fear of drinking.

Does AA use thought control and fit the Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

During the latest podcast that I have done with Jon Stewart on www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com who blogs at https://jonsleeper.wordpress.com we discuss the idea of thought control being part of AA. Many people will be surprised by this. However, should you look at some of the things that are written about Alcoholics Anonymous on some “Anti – AA” sites you will discover that some critics of AA and the steps feel, AA is a religious cult that uses thought control.

I personally don’t think AA is a cult although I accept there are some cultish aspects to it, especially in some big city meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous does not attempt to take all your money and people can leave when they want, although they maybe discouraged from doing so by certain members unlike many cults. Nobody told me to come back when I left, they assumed I would relapse and return on my own, but thankfully this was not the case.

Podcast about Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

We decided to look at how AA compares to Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform. You read more about this  at http://www.exitsupportnetwork.com/artcls/mindctrl/lifton.htm

Here are the Eight criteria.

  1. Milieu (Environmental) Control – Control over the members’ flow of information and social interaction. In many groups, there is a “no gossip” rule that keeps people from expressing their doubts or misgivings about what is going on. Members are taught to report those that break the rule, a practice that increases dependence on the leadership. They are sometimes told not to believe anything they see or hear reported by the media.

2. Mystical Manipulation – The group attributes supernatural influences where none are present–attributing an accident to a member that left to be “God’s punishment”–or manipulates situations so they appear spontaneous–members believing that their new feelings and behavior has arisen spontaneously because of joining their new group. The effect is enhanced by the milieu control because dissenting or alternative ideas are not present.

3. Demand for Purity – Unreasonable rules and unreachable standards are imposed upon the members. The critical, shaming essence of the cult environment is gradually internalized by the members, which builds lots of guilt and shame, further magnifying their dependence on the group. Individuals easily feel inadequate, but are more willing to submit to this because the milieu control limits critical questioning, and the mystical manipulation validates the group’s rules.

4. Confession – Past and present behavior, undesirable feelings are to be confessed. However, the information gained about you can be used against you to make you feel more guilty, powerless, fearful and ultimately in need of the group and the leader’s goodness. This environment is set up by the unreasonable demand for purity.

5. Sacred Science – The teachings of the group are viewed as the ultimate, unquestionable truth. The leader of the group is likewise above criticism as the spokesperson for God on earth, whose Truth should be applied to all humankind and anyone who disagrees or has alternative ideas is not only irreverent, but also unscientific. Mystical manipulation often lends credence to the group’s doctrine.

6. Loading the Language – The group’s language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. “Groupspeak” forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as “of Satan,” “unconverted,” etc.

6. Loading the Language – The group’s language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. “Groupspeak” forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as “of Satan,” “unconverted,” etc.

8. Dispensing of Existence – The group’s totalistic environment emphasizes that the members are part of an elite or special group. Outsiders are considered unworthy or unenlightened. This thinking leads to the thinking that their whole existence centers on being in the group. If you leave, you join nothingness. This is an extension of doctrine over person. Existence comes to depend on creed (I believe, therefore, I am), submission (I obey, therefore, I am) and total merger with the group’s ideology. This is the final step in creating members’ dependence on the group.

AA does fit Lifton’s Eight Criteria.

It is interesting to see how AA fits into the Eight criteria quite well! You also apply them to most religions and many other spiritual groups as well. I do think that this can help people understand how AA works, and what is really going on in the fellowship. Many people accept everything they are told in a group and do not explore much outside it. This is a big problem for people attempting to recover from Alcoholism or Addiction, as they may benefit from a more modern approach, or something completely different to the AA spiritual solution. AA is right when it says you have take recovery seriously, but it is not always the best way to actually achieve this.

Happy New year 2016.

I thought I would talk about stopping  drinking for New Year,for those who are still struggling with Alcoholism and who wish to stop drinking alcohol. It is New Years Day, the  most popular day to quit, and many attempt to make stopping drinking, their resolution for the coming year, but most with a problem will not make it. Others will attempt a dry January and find out how hard it is, and come to the grim conclusion that they have a problem. I have recorded a short 25 min podcast on the subject, on my own.

Podcast about stopping drinking for New Year.

My experiences stopping drinking for New Year.

I speak from my own experience, as I have stopped drinking alcohol many times on January 1st. I knew I had a problem when I was in my early twenties, but drink and drugs were an important part of my life, and I was not ready to stop. I knew I was harming myself but could not see that life would be bearable without being able to blot parts of it out. I was very ill when I was thirty, but only stopped for a while and then had a decade of stopping and starting before I finally gave in at 40. I have stayed sober since then and prefer to be completely abstinent. That is the easiest way for me, but not for everyone.

The years between 30 and 40 were not good and I tried to solve all my issues without support. I did have some Counselling when I was 30 but did not do what I was told or make significant changes to my lifestyle. I did not stay sober for much more than a year as a result and always felt dreadful shame when I gave in and went back to the bottle. When I was forty I did attempt to stop on New Years Day but it went wrong pretty fast and it was only when I got really desperate and accepted I needed help that I made progress a few months later.

The way I stopped Drinking Alcohol.

I finally decided to stop, and made the decision to go to AA, which was huge for me. I had not wanted to go, and was worried about the stigma. It felt very strange going to meetings at first, and being a newcomer amongst people with multiple years of sobriety. I was not sure about the God Stuff but went along with other things and admitted that the members there did have what I wanted and that was sobriety.

I did also realise that I was really going to have to work at this to succeed as it was obvious that there were not that many in meetings with multiple years who were classed as old timers. Most were quite new and there were a significant number of people who were between one and five years sober. I did not realise that many people simply use AA for a while and then move on, I just thought you would die if you left, as that was what I was told.

I made use of the AA community, much more than the religious side such as the steps, in my time in the fellowship. It was being around sober people with a common aim that helped me and not praying. I am glad I went for 18 months, as it certainly helped motivate me to recover (although this is not the case for everyone). However I felt I needed some other help and went for counselling and moved away from AA. I realised AA would be there if I wanted it, but for me it was time to explore other solutions. I needed to deal with issues such as depression and this needed proper professional help, which I got.

There are plenty of solutions available, but I had not researched them or looked for any alternatives to AA, as that was the group that I had heard about and the one that some famous rock stars had belonged to. With hindsight this was a mistake and could have cost me dearly. I regret not finding out about methods such as the Sinclair Method  http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/explanation-sinclair-method-tsm/ when I was much younger as this could have saved me so much pain. I regret not looking at Smart Recovery early on as it’s CBT approach is what really worked for me later on. There were not that many meetings in those days but this has changed. There are also groups such as Lifering http://lifering.org/find-a-meeting/ which is growing and looks like it can really help.

It is a good time to try and beat alcoholism. There are many good books on the subject and I have listed some on my book section. The new groups such as Smart are growing and have online meetings as well. The Sinclair method is supported by the cthreefoundation.org which has a European site as well http://cthreeeurope.com . Lifering also has online meetings. There are other online groups such as Soberistas http://soberistas.com which you can join for a small fee and be part of an online support group for mainly women. They offer blogs and chatrooms, as well as good professional advice.

I was told in AA to make recovery my priority and put it before everything else. This was good advice at the time although I am a bit more relaxed about it now. I find that a healthy lifestyle is really what keeps me straight today. I look forward to exercise and healthy meals and many people in recovery who do well, do make radical changes such as taking up running. Looking back at the old me from decade ago and before seems slightly surreal. I am so glad that I made the changes I did and have had many rewards as a result. Some people can’t seem to make the changes and don’t progress, while others have many stops and starts. That seems quite normal, very few people seem to give up straight away and often need time to find support that helps them, especially if they have problems in their environment. There is not one sure 100% way to do this and we are all different.

Best wishes to anyone trying to stop problem drinking in 2016.

Good luck to all who are setting out on an alcohol or drug free journey today. I hope it goes well for you, but please don’t give up if you have setbacks. Most people in the Harm Reduction community accept that few will be able to stop straight away and try to help people who are going to use, even though they may not want to, to be able to do so in a safe manner. Stopping is a very hard thing to do and I admire anyone who tries. I have met many amazing people in recovery from all kinds of backgrounds and they all had to work at it. If they didn’t, they probably did not have much of a problem to start with!

 

Podcast

I decided to do a podcast on alcoholism-recovery-radio.com to look at the good and bad things that I have covered on the www.recoveringfromrecovery.com blog and talk to Jon Stewart about what he has been up to. Generally I feel that it has been a good year and that people are getting the message out about modern methods that can help people recover. There have been several articles in the mainstream press that have questioned the effectiveness of AA. One was the recent article about Jon Stewart in the Observer, which we talked about in other Podcasts and another was in the Atlantic by Gabrielle Glasser who I met in the summer. I think it is great that people are saying that AA is not the only way and that there are modern approaches such as the Sinclair Method that can help so many people.

Deaths in 2015

We mention the sad passing of Dr David Sinclair who has done so much research to help those of us who have been affected by alcoholism, and who has managed to find a solution that can help about 80 % of people who use the method correctly. I hope more treatment centres make use of his ideas. We also talk about the sad suicide of Audrey Kishline, who again helped many in the recovery community by setting up moderation management. She is missed by many people and her death shows how we all need to be on our guard when depression strikes.

Talks and Films:

We also talk about the talks that Jon has given at various venues which are well worth watching, and he also said that a recording should be put up on the web soon on YouTube. Another good thing that has happened in the last year are some films which show the dangers of addiction such as the documentary about Amy Winehouse and also the film that Monica Richardson made called the 13th Step which has won awards in America and was well received in London. We discuss some of the issues brought up in the film, and also where we feel it should be shown in the future.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year and a successful 2016.

This week  on www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com we have decided to reflect on the piece in the Observer about Jon Stewart and his experiences in recovery from alcohol issues. The piece got over 650 comments and was one of the most popular pieces of the week in the paper. It is quite long, but we go through a lot of comments both for and against Jon’s views and discuss them. We start with the newest and then work backwards. Many of the comments are intelligent and put forward some good points. Some people give quite lengthy replies and there are quite a few discussion threads throughout the section. You can read the piece here http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/29/alcoholics-anonymous-saved-my-life-but-i-lost-my-faith. Jon has his own blog at https://jonsleeper.wordpress.com

Many comments sections on sites such as the fix are often taken over by the same handful of morons posting under different names and just using a comments section as a venue to argue and attack others. I am pleased that does not happen here too much although there are a few “orange papers forums” types spouting their usual mantra and a few of the rather crazy pro AA types as well. Some of the AA people are passive aggressive and I have sometimes found that members of AA can behave in this way when anyone questions the 12 step solution.

Thankfully most of the comments are worth reading and there seem to be a lot of people commenting who have moved on from AA and done well without relapse. They are not aggressive towards AA, like some of the Anti types, but are grateful for the help they got when they needed some support. That is how I feel about AA, although I would like to see it modernised a bit. It does prove that those in AA who feel that it is impossible to recover without AA and the steps are wrong. Many do move on, but they do not have much of a voice. Many AA members only see the people who have not done well and who come back after a relapse. I have been told that people in AA have discussed me in the past and have said that I went back to drinking and one person said he had heard that I was dead! I think it is important that people read that you can leave AA if you want and live life the way you want.

 

 

 

Today the Observer newspaper published a piece about Jon Stewart and his 14 years in AA. You can now read it here http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/29/alcoholics-anonymous-saved-my-life-but-i-lost-my-faith . I feel it is a well balanced piece about Alcoholics Anonymous and some of the more modern alternatives such as Smart Recovery or the Sinclair Method. I know Jon well and have recently done some podcasts on the steps of AA which you can find on this site. We decided to have a quick chat about what he had said in the interview that was done a few months ago, and also mention some of the comments that the online version of the piece received.

As you can see from many of the comments, opinion is very divided about AA and if the piece is good or not. This does not surprise me at all and I feel it shows that not everyone is going to do well in AA despite the claims and that people do need to be helped to find a solution that is going to motivate them, rather than a solution that somebody who now works in a treatment center has been through. There are many ways to recover but AA does tend to be resistant to change and will not acknowledge problems. There is resistance from some in AA to any criticism such as the film, The 13th Step Film which was made by Monica Richardson, which is mentioned in the piece. There is also resistance to discuss any other solution such as The Sinclair Method or Smart recovery, which means newcomers do not find out about solutions that could save their lives.

The comments are interesting as there are many people who are like myself, who have made use of AA and then moved on. You tend not to hear from these people as they do not have a voice, and many members of AA believe that you cannot stay sober without meetings. They only meet the people who come back to meetings after relapsing rather than those who are living good, sober lives. AA does help those who enjoy being part of it, but it is not for everyone and it can cause problems and Jon talks about his experience in later recovery where things get tough for him until he leaves and learns about CBT. Jon has his own blog https://jonsleeper.wordpress.com and does many talks on the subject.

observer_AA_Piece