Addiction Article Comments and Correspondence

Some of DocDawn's articles generate feedback, not always nice, but always appreciated. Differing points of view can be a healthy outlet. This page lists some of the feedback these articles have generated as well as some on-going correspondence.

From letter to editor at The Local :

Editor,

While in a few isolated cases the belief in a transcendent god may have helped serious addicts, the overwhelming evidence is that such a belief is just another psychological crutch, like alcohol or drugs, to prop up the false egos of the addict, and does not help cure the addiction.
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That The Local is publicizing "Dr Dawn", who is obviously and hopelessly addicted to the idea of a transcendent god, and in addition is proud of being a missionary for such a god, is irresponsible. To begin with the missionary part, there is overwhelming historical evidence that Christian missionaries have done untold harm to indigenous cultures and to the environment, and continue to do so. "Dr. Dawn" does not believe that one can be a spiritual person without also believing in a transcendent god, an assertion that is clearly false. If she is pushing her beliefs on her clients, already vulnerable people, she should be disbarred. Could anyone seriously doubt the proposition that if Christians, Muslims, and Jews stopped believing in their absurd god, the world would be a better place? That the doctor of addiction is herself an addict should surprise no one, but perhaps The Local should reconsider giving her misguided beliefs a prominent place.

Bob

Response

Dear Bob,

Great to hear from you again and glad you are still alive. I know just how you feel. I used to discount God and hate, judge and criticize religious people, lumping all of "them" together. Carrying around lots of anger and misery and never feeling spiritually fit for more than a few minutes at a time, I was a pretty unhappy person. I blamed everyone else for my problems. Finite human being that I am, I needed help from something outside of myself. I found out that for me to survive, I had to change my mind, pry it open, listen to those who had the inner peace I wanted and find a new way to think and believe. I had to enlist help from something bigger than me. I had to let God into my life.

I am not in the business of convincing anyone that there is a God, much less one that fits into the traditional Judeo-Christian concept. For some, GOD simply means "Good Orderly Direction". Whatever concept, or lack thereof one has of God is a personal deal and none of my business, although I enjoy conversation about individual beliefs. I avoid "you-ing" and "should-ing" on anyone. What I am grateful for is the opportunity that has been given to me to grow, heal, and share my own journey.

I would be really unhappy to be disbarred, as I am very fond of dark chocolate bars, especially the kind with the little bits of almonds or candied ginger.

For anyone who reads my book, Mission Possible, you will see some details of my personal journey. I pray some of you will find it useful and I pray we will all continue to grow emotionally and spiritually.
Blessings to you and your journey, Bob
Sincerely,

Dr. Dawn [Hide -]




A correspondence with "The Inebriated Informant" a columnist at The Local :

Dear Inebriate,

I am concerned about you. I read in your June 3rd column that you had attended an AA meeting in Boulder and were planning to stop using alcohol and other drugs. How's that working for you? There are people who care about you; your worsening addiction is painful and scary for them to watch. You are harming not only yourself, but those who love you.
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If you are a real addict, just swearing off the stuff will not work any better than deciding to not have diabetes, cancer or any other disease. Just as recovery from high blood pressure or high cholesterol involves specific measures, so does escape from addiction. Yes, you do have to discontinue use of all mind altering drugs. Just stopping one, without recovery, will cause you to use more of another, prescription drugs and marijuana included, much like changing seats on the Titanic. Stopping is just the beginning. Anyone can stop using, including you, but few can stop starting again. How can you stay stopped?

You are not alone in your compulsion to spend much of your life loaded, the only way many know to avoid feelings. Eventually the drugs cease to work and the feelings show up anyway. Problem: difficult feelings surface when we cannot push them down with drugs. Solution: learn to deal effectively with feelings, good and bad feelings, effectively. Did I mention deal effectively? People in recovery get to learn how to do this.

One AA meeting, even in Boulder, is not the cure for addiction (alcoholism is just alcohol addiction). Perhaps you could attend another? Maybe in Steamboat, Craig or Oak Creek? I promise you, whoever you are, the other alcoholics and druggies in the meetings don't care. The identity of any celebrity, politician, doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief is unimportant to those in recovery. You, as a human being, and your sobriety, are extremely important. Those who have found recovery are willing and ready to share same with you, to give freely what has been given to them, regardless of who you are. But...they cannot do it for you. You must participate in your own recovery...kind of like leading a horse to water.

Is your pride holding you back from seeking recovery? Your ego? Your sense of self importance? All can kill. When you are dead or permanently brain injured from the consequences of your disease, it will sound pretty superficial to those grieving that, "he just would not go to local AA because he was afraid of being recognized." Come on! One idea is to attend N.A. (four meetings in Steamboat every week). Surely the local recovering drug addicts do not give a rip about who you are...probably have no idea anyhow. Your identity is just not that important. Your life, your recovery, and how others who have been there can help is. Pry your mind open and give recovery a genuine attempt.

Info., you have a bad disease. As I write this in mid July, I suspect your addiction has progressed beyond where it was in May when you last wrote a column for The Local. You will continue to get sicker (yes, addiction is a disease) until you accept help. You may have some periods of being "dry", of switching from one drug to another, or of "controlling" your use; but they are just temporary remissions. The disease will progress until you are either behind bars, in a loony bin or dead, as in doornail. Are you aware of the deaths from this disease in our town in just the past year?

Tune in to the Tour de France for daily lessons in life. Ever realize how much the cyclists help each other? Even those in fierce competition provide assistance to each other as they work together on the climbs and in breakaways.

Let someone help you climb out of the pit of addiction, break away from the self destruction. So many have been there, allowed others to help, and are now ready and willing to guide you and anyone else who wants recovery from this deadly disease.

You deserve a life. Contact me if you want to talk,

Sincerely,

Dr. Dawn




Hey doctor Dawn,

Inebriated Informant here. I just left a rehab center early because I thought it was dogmatic and irrational. I know that makes me sound like every other addict out there. I am trying to get better but things have only gotten worse. I admitted to my entire family my problem. That created a chain of consequences in my mind that make me want to seriously stop my self destructive behavior.

I admit that I need help but inpatient, dogmatic prison only made me want to go off the deep end more than anything else. Not to mention the 25,000 dollars for admission. Hearing the stories about overdoses and the horrors of what I could become was the wakeup call I needed. When I left the rehab center they all told me that I was bound to fail without question. They reassured me without even giving me a proper assessment that I was beyond saving unless I blindly adhered to their system. This I could not do. I am a very rational person. The higher power for me would be reason. They thought this to be unacceptable and would not hear such blasphemy. I have read almost every one of your columns over the last two years and the all or nothing approach scares me. I mainly want to just be able to control that which is cunning, baffling and powerful. I see most disease as curable and I think a mental disease is idiosyncratic and I want to be able to fix myself without inpatient rehab. I have four friends who were the worst alcoholics I knew in college and after. They are all clean now and not one of them used a twelve step program to do it. They simply realized that they continued their current behavior that they would die an early and lonely death. I too have realized that. I just want someone to talk to who will listen and not repeatedly cram AA and NA down my throat. If you think you want to help me then let's make an appointment. I am going out of state to help my family do some ranch work for a week or two. I am taking antabuse so relapse is not an option. I will be back in a few weeks so let's have a talk.

Thanks for the article. Good to see that someone other than my loser, druggie buddies read my column.

Inebriated Informant




Hey Informant,

Great to hear from you. I hate to tell (inform) you, but you sound just like most other addicts I know. Most of the recovering addicts in my life did not go to treatment centers. Of those who did, I can't think of anyone who enjoyed it, bought into the concepts initially, or thought it was the only way. Most relapsed after treatment; many have been many times. Others swear they would have never been able to stop using without treatment. Anyhow, I have an addict friend who really relates to you and wants to communicate, so I asked him to be my guest columnist. I know him well and can promise you he is sober, clean and very happy with his life.

Please respond so we can keep this dialog going!

Sincerely,

DocDawn




Dear Ineeb;

DocDawn asked me to write to you because I too used to worship at the Altar of Reason. Your response to her was very honest and insightful and, in spite of yourself, you have a lot of the building blocks that are necessary for recovery.

You mentioned your "alcoholic college buddies who are now clean..." Boy do I understand that one! I went to two colleges, never graduated from either, and got letters from the Deans of Men of both schools telling my parents that I had a drinking problem. Lots of us drank more than heavily and my friends got the letters too, but never needed recovery, 12 Step program or otherwise. Why me? Because I am alcoholic. Alcoholism involves both the inability to control the amount consumed and powerlessness to stop and stay stopped despite adverse consequences. When I was in college, we all consumed too much! My buddies grew up, stopped excessive drinking and became responsible members of society. The only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that my college buddies were not alcoholic; they were able to stop and/or control the amount used.

Since you state you are, "a very rational person," I wonder if you have you been relying on the "Higher Power of Reason" so far. If your answer is yes, I would ask "How's that been working for you?" If no, and you intend to incorporate reason into your life now, I ask "What makes you think that this new way of thinking will save you?" Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence from people who are not alcoholic, isn't it more reasonable to seek advice from someone who is alcoholic, has recovered and has a sober and happy life? Just applying a little rational and deductive thinking here.

So, back to my own story. The reasons I drank were emotional and spiritual. Although I used my mind to think through what I might be able to get away with, the compulsion to drink or use a drug was a feeling. For me it was in the lower solar plexus, where I had a void that I was always trying to fill. When it got bad, it felt like a cold wind was blowing through me. I had to use something, anything to make that lonely, cold, isolating feeling go away. Using my superior intellect to think of reasons (excuses) for my behavior, it was never "I think that one more good drunk is the logical thing to do." Or "Studies show that getting drunk 3-5 times a week has health benefits and lowers stress." It was always emotional; "I've got this or that going on... " "I'm dealing with...", "I'm just trying to have a good time". (Clearly I had no idea how to have a good time without drinking or drugging, or even how to live life without the mood altering component alcohol and other drugs provided). While not knowing how to live, we alcoholics seem to have this deep seated conviction that the spiritual way of life won't work. We use all sorts of arguments to try to prove our point. What are we are afraid of?

When I hit bottom with my alcoholism, I was beaten up mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was desperate. My limited choices were to:

  1. Continue to live as I was, in excruciating emotional pain.
  2. Try something other than the 12 Steps. Philosophies, therapies, religion, cutting back, limiting my drinking to certain days and times, self help books and attempts at rational behavior had not worked so far.
  3. Try the 12 Step recovery program. I could always quit if I couldn't stomach it. The rational thing to do was to set aside my prejudices and try, really try. A.A. has been around for a long time, over 75 years, and has worked for millions of alcoholics the world over.

Eventually I reached the end of my rational rope. I had to make a decision based on whether I wanted to live or die (alcoholism is a slow, painful death.) At that point, I had to do the most difficult thing I had ever done: change my mind.

All alcoholics are resistant and have a need to be right and to control. We worship our ability to reason. Rational thoughts: I could be wrong and happy (AA does work and there is a Higher power). I could be right (AA doesn't work) and still be miserable. At least I could have the satisfaction of knowing I was right.

So, my final question to you Ineeb, is would you rather be right or happy. It]s a logical decision.

Signed,

Spiritual Sam, the former Rational Ron

P.S. The real struggle is about God. More on that in a future column if you would like to keep this discussion going. [Hide -]




Continuing correspondance with the Iebriated Informant:

Docdawn asked me to write another open letter in case Ineeb is reading. I was hoping he would write back to me and discuss why he is resistant to quitting the drugs and alcohol and getting help. Since he has been silent, I will write a more general article about the missing component in so many lives: action.
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When we are confronted with a potentially dangerous or at least life changing realization, such as, "I'm addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and I can't quit and it is killing me", we look for choices or remedies to our predicament. Most of us don't know how to change or get help. How could we? We would have changed by now if we knew how. So maybe at this stage in the disease process, we have a self selecting group, one that needs, even wants to change but does not know how. At any rate, experience shows me that when I see people dealing with the drinking or drugging problem, most ask questions that would indicate they have been in denial so long that they do not appreciate their position. They seek answers from people who might tell them things aren't that bad, or from people who know how to change small things in their lives. Doesn't apply here. Making small changes or minor adjustments like changing a haircut or adjusting our saturated fat intake are minor changes and take relatively minor effort. Changing a drinking or drugging problem requires a major psychic change (no, don't go visit a Psychic; keep reading). This change comes from the inside out. If you agree so far you are probably thinking,"All you need to do is straighten out your thinking, change some behaviors, and then life will be good again!" Nope, less thinking, more action is what I found I needed.

"Are you kidding?" No. The underlying assumption that people act based on belief has merit, but it is not decisive enough in most people. Doubt creeps in. Most doubt comes from fear, an emotion. Doubt freezes people into inaction, or worse yet in this case, familiar action. "I'll just keep doing what I am doing until this doubt goes away, or I get caught again, or..."

Soooo... the solution is to take action. Massive action. Take action, whether you believe in it or not, and your mind will follow. Seems like a silly statement. Take the action and your mind will follow. But isn't this how we do all learning? Action yields results, which forms or reinforces belief, which leads to more action, which ..... You get the picture. For you mentalists out there, the belief that spawns the initial action can be belief in what someone else tells you, someone who has been where you are and changed. You don't have to make up your belief before you act; no need to reinvent the wheel, or to reinvent recovery from addiction.

Here is what happened to me. Being highly educated and philosophically bent (pun intended), I struggled with the motivating factors that would spur me to action. I finally came to the conclusion that after all sorts of attempts to quit drugs and alcohol I couldn't stop and stay stopped. Worse yet, I had tried stopping enough to know that I couldn't stop and be happy; at least not if I was left to my own devices. My First Step: I was powerless over drugs and alcohol. I now make a big deal about this step because it opens the door to freedom. I gotta' tell you, being in that First Step position is a cold and lonely place. I had no resources at that point to deal with the feelings. The only thing left was to ask for help. I did. I asked for and received help from people who were experts at getting and staying clean, sober, and happy. I will tell you what happened next at a later time,

Spiritual Sam

Thanks, Sam. I hear you saying, "Surrender, ask for help from those who have been there." I hope Ineeb reads and responds and I know what you are saying will be helpful to others,

DocDawn [Hide -]




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