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Is a Drug Addict or Alcoholic Ever Cured?

In today’s world in which more and more information is readily available, there seems to be more and more confusion regarding the topic of an “Addiction Cure.” Is there a cure for addiction? Some people would argue quite convincingly that there is.I will point out that “even quitting use completely, for many years-does not mean that someone is cured.”You’ll probably read or hear information on this topic with various points of view. The concept of an addict who has been clean for years and years-not being cured-is a tough one to comprehend.I recently received a letter from a reader who presents his point of view. I include part of it, plus my response to him. I believe you may hear and learn to discern some of the more subtle differences and truths regarding this baffling disease of addiction.Letter signed “an ex-addict from the Netherlands”:”I just finished your book and want to thank you for your courage. Your insight is an inspiration to me. I have great admiration for people who dare to be vulnerable and put their journey on paper.I too was once addicted. I ended my addiction in 2008. Now, I coach others to free themselves from the confidence trick of drugs. Ironically, I live in the Netherlands where drug culture is not the same as we know it in the United States. I moved here from the great state of Colorado (yes, the “coffee” shops had plenty to do with it). My four years at college were, without question, the place my addiction took off. Cheap beer, cheap pot, cheap coke… and lots of willing “students.” Destructive combination.Joe, there is another reason I feel compelled to write today. To be honest, there is a core component in your philosophy (and AA’s and pretty much every 12-step program) that I disagree with. I’d like to share it with you:You write (and AA preaches) that an addict is never cured. In your view, an addict is forever “recovering.” Truth be told, not only do I disagree with this idea, I think it makes it harder for addicts to even attempt to quit.Allow me to explain. I believe in my heart of hearts, based on my own personal experience, that when a drug addict no longer wants to take a drug, truly has no desire whatsoever to take the drug, he/she is free. Cured.Recovered. An “ex-addict,” not a “recovering addict.” It is OVER. Why saddle ourselves with the gloomy proposition of forever having to look over our shoulders for triggers, temptation, pending relapse. Once we see that drugs never gave us anything, nothing at all, and that drugs have absolutely nothing to offer us in the future, we are done.I coach my clients to revel in that moment, to celebrate the new-found freedom and to immediately get on with the joy of life in front of them. Right now! Don’t wait 150 days. Don’t wait to get your next chip. You’re free. You get it. It’s over. Enjoy, from now on.If support groups help, great. If a “sponsor” helps, super. If counseling counsels, right on. We certainly must nurture our physical and spiritual selves for the remainder of our days. But to constantly be adding up the days, months, and years, waiting until enough time has passed before we are free seems so daunting to users that they won’t even attempt to quit for fear of the lifetime of “battle.”And don’t get me wrong. AA saved my father’s life. AA saved my brother’s life. I am grateful for AA’s huge contribution to health and well-being in our culture. But the idea of “recovering” needs an update, a dose ofevolution, a face-lift if you will. Once you quit, you’re not an addict. You’re an ex-addict.In the brilliant words of the American folk singer Todd Snider, “Drugs? I’m over it.”"Thanks again Joe and God Bless You.~ an ex-addict from the NetherlandsDear Ex,Thanks for the encouraging words in your email. We have spent many years trying to come up with quality information on this very perplexing problem called addiction. Our focus is with alcohol and other drug dependencies.I’ll limit my terminology regarding addiction to tangible substances such as alcohol, coke, meth, weed, heroin and so on. When it comes to using the word addiction for gambling, porn etc., I’ll let someone else tackle these issues.What I’m picking up in the second half of your email is the dilemma of differentiating the words “recovered and recovering” as they relate to addiction. Hence we find ourselves using labels that most people do not want to use, such as addict and alcoholic. Who wants to forever identify themselves as either of these??On the other side of the argument is the term “cured.” Almost all who study and work in this field say there is no cure for drug addiction-so who is correct?I think one way to approach this is to review a definition of alcohol/or drug addiction. Although there are many signs and symptoms, there is one that is common to all alcoholics and drug addicts-and that is loss of control. At some point a person will lose the ability to control their use. Whether they are daily users or binge users, the common thread is-once they start using they cannot control how much or when to stop.So if we can agree on that point we can go on to a discussion about cure. To me a cure means a reversal, or absence of the problem or disease. In the case of addiction to substances I, in the past thirty-three years, have never seen an addict regain control of their use-to become a social-occasional user.So I believe that if I were to tell someone they are cured, they may think they no longer have a problem. That opens the door to another attempt at social use-which NEVER turns out well.The way I explain it to people is to think of it like cancer. There is no cure for cancer but cancer often goes into remission after treatment. It does not mean they have been cured or that a cure has taken place. It’s still there but it’s in remission.Personally, I have not used anything since 1977-but I’m not cured. My disease is in remission. If I were to choose to try to drink occasionally or socially I would bring my disease out of remission and very soon it would again cause lots of problems.I do agree with what you said though-that once a person “gets it” they can move on with their life. Once they come to believe and understand their disease at a deep level they can and should move on with their life. I don’t tell people they “have to go to lots of meetings for the rest of their life.” Each person will have to decide for his or herself-how much involvement they need to stay sober and how often they should attend support groups.AA and the 12 steps are the best support for laying that foundation. This is what has worked the best for the most. And in the long run it is, in my opinion, better to err on the side of caution concerning this horrific and devastating disease.Grace and peace,~Joe

Treatment for Sex Addiction: 12-Step Groups

The Problem of AddictionTo be at risk for addiction, two psychological preconditions seem to exist during childhood. First, the child has become over- reliant on sources of comfort outside of himself to provide a feeling of being soothed, safe and secure. Second, the child had difficulty making a healthy separation from the primary parent, with later concerns that closeness and intimacy can be dangerous. Both of these preconditions come about as a result of failure in empathy in the parent-child relationship that leaves the child feeling misunderstood, unsupported and potentially unloved. What develops is a developmental arrest, so that the adult in later life is more driven to seek pleasure and avoid the pain of living since the demands of reality appear too challenging. This theme of seeking solace in pleasurable experiences despite adverse consequences in reality is central in the lives of addicts.A developmental arrest keeps a sector of the personality immature. The result can be deficits that leave the potential addict without the capacity to regulate inner feelings of distress, to delay gratification, to exercise impulse control, to recognize and articulate feelings, or to create meaningful attachments to others.When active addiction sets in, the problems the individual experiences in dealing with the vicissitudes of living seem to be magically solved. The addiction is the glue that holds together the disparate parts of a fragile self. It reinforces a sense of omnipotence, grandiosity and perfection and blots out aspects of reality that are not in concert with that perception. It anesthetizes the individual from painful aspects associated with attempts at expressing the true self. It defends against the need for intimacy or closeness, as the addict relies only on his addiction for a sense of pseudo-intimacy and closeness. For an addict, to be without the addiction would feel like personal annihilation.The inner world of the addict is characterized by intense feelings that are often experienced as unbearable, overwhelming and not transitory in time. These feelings form the context within which the addict lives. The actions and choices of an active addict are organized around an attempt to manage intense feelings. No object is too formidable as the addict, in an attempt to feel “normal”, succumbs to the imperious impulse to indulge. Unfortunately, the strength of the urge obliterates the ability to reflect upon the potentially devastating consequences of his action.Addiction is always experienced as a profound sense of alienation from self and others, since the ability to establish meaningful inter-personal relationships is often crippled by toxic experiences with early-life caretakers. I quote a former client:I was alone and it was loneliness and it was intense. I think the only love in life has been the drug…I just felt so alone…I was sad, so lonely, so isolated. I knew I wasn’t being me… that I could be different, but I couldn’t with people. As far as having some friends, really being close to somebody, there wasn’t anybody…I just wasn’t able to keep connections.Even in the face of devastating consequences to his external and internal worlds, the addict holds on tenaciously to his only source of identity, stability, comfort and support – the drug.It is only when the pain of active addiction outweighs its diminishing benefits that the addict holds out the white flag and asks for help. Many of these people get that help in the rooms of anonymous 12-step groups.How Fellowship HealsAddicts need to substitute people for their substances. For those who choose it, 12-step meetings does this in abundance. The groups offer many individuals who care, who have similar stories and do not tire of hearing new ones. Because of this caring and support, members in the group may be able to gently confront the addict with his maladaptive defenses of denial, rationalization and magical thinking without inflicting new wounds upon the self. The impulse-controlling capacity of these other individuals is gradually internalized and becomes a part of the self-governing structure of the self. The group itself, as a consistent, caring object also may be internalized. Over time, the psychological wounds of growing up in a dysfunctional family can be repaired through the acquisition of a new family that provides the empathic soothing and caring that was missing in early childhood.The 12-step program itself, with its regularity and predictability, its repetitive slogans, and its structure, provides a certain order — a system –even a ritual, which can be used by the addict in the development of internalized self-governing structuresA mark of the addictive experience is a sense of overwhelm when faced with intense feelings for which language is inadequate. A 12-step meeting offers a series of lessons in using language to represent the self. The basic format of the meeting is that people gather to speak of themselves and listen to others speak about themselves. This provides a powerful experience in modeling how to use language to express feelings and experience. In this way, what was once felt to be unutterable is formulated into words which then de-fuse potentially overwhelming affect.There is a certain type of control within the individual personality which can have its source only outside of the personality – the moral principles advocated by a closely knit solitary group – and can only be made effective against self-centered, gratification-oriented impulses by an involuntary feeling of belongingness and allegiance to such a group.The unembarrassed acknowledgment of the need for participation in a caring community without ulterior motives, one which accepts the individual totally for what he is, is the linchpin upon which the 12-step process is based. The founders of AA recognized that the self cannot exist as a solitary structure; that its survival and value require participation in a social structure or community. The development of a true self is always participating with others in its realization and fulfillment.This is the beginning of the “unfreezing” of the developmental arrest and becomes an adaptive substitute for the destructive, maladaptive addiction.But it is only the beginning. The passage from infantile narcissism to emotional maturity and full humanity is ultimately accomplished by consistent immersion in working the 12 steps.How the Steps HealStep 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.The admission of powerlessness over the one’s addiction is the first defeat of infantile egoism, a first step in the assumption of responsibility.The conviction that one can no longer engage in one’s addiction becomes an inarguable truth. Denial breaks down as the addict increasingly sees that to give way to the impulse to “pick up” has far-reaching and devastating consequences.The addict comes to terms with the essential paradox: you have to lose to win.The term “surrender” permeates step work. There are two facets of this concept in the first step. The first “surrender”, and surely the most significant, is this deep conviction that one is powerless over one’s addiction. One surrenders to the reality that they can never act on the impulse to “pick up”, “One Day at a Time”. The second facet is that the addict is really surrendering their sense of uniqueness. As one admits powerlessness, one no longer expects the world to conform to one’s own egocentric beliefs. The first step is a step toward “living life on life’s terms”. It is making a decision that one is no longer driven by the desire for pleasure and is willing to be open to accepting and coping with reality.Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.An openness to the possibility that a higher power exists necessitates developing boundaries over an egoistic perception of reality. From a psychological developmental perspective, more immature levels of personality structure are egoistic in nature. All things seem related to oneself, a condition that prevents the individual from seeing others for who they really are. Rather, others are seen as extensions of oneself, making it impossible for the individual to have anything but a self-centered point of view.The realization and acceptance of some power greater than one’s egoistic pursuits begins the abandonment of a grandiose posture.Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.This step suggests that another “surrender” be considered. It is the surrender of one’s own willfulness in the decision-making process. When left to their own devises, individuals make decisions based only on their ego-centric motives and ways of seeing the world. The step suggests a less self-driven version of reality which leads one to consider one’s powerlessness over many of the events that occur in one’s life.Step 3 sparks a renewal of trust in living and a loosening of ego-dominated self-sufficiency. Doing the work of this step requires an understanding and acceptance of paradoxical thinking. Prior to recovery, the addict focuses intensely upon control issues. Controlling use of the drug, controlling the amount of damage caused by the using, and controlling emotional distance to minimize vulnerability, held exclusive sway over the addict’s consciousness. Step 3 encourages a more passive mode of letting go by surrendering and allowing events to unfold without futile attempts to control outcomes.Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.The process of emotional development involves a degree of self-knowledge and self-awareness. This step is an opportunity for the addict to see repetitive cognitions and behaviors that inhibit this process.When one sees the contribution that these “character defects” have made in one’s own misery, the process of projection onto other people and external events for unwanted inner states is reduced. The focus is on the self and not the faults of others. The addict can’t help but accept responsibility for his life, a crucial step on the movement towards maturity.Step 5: Admitted to ourselves, God, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.The recovering person is asked to reveal the content of their inventory to another, thus defusing feelings of guilt and shame. Another significance of this step is the movement from isolation to interpersonal immersion in a caring community.Step 6: Became willing to have these defects removed.From a psychological standpoint, an attitude of “willingness” is essential to the process of growth. Again, it puts the person in a less ego-centric stance. It also conveys a breaking down of rigid defense mechanisms that may have worked to survive a frightening, unstable childhood but have now outlived their usefulness and, in fact, contributes to the addict’s here-and-now problems in living.Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove these shortcomings.Humility is a word much discussed in 12-step meetings. The posture of humility allows a person to quell ceaseless self-preoccupation and opens him/her up to having a sense of awe in the moment-to-moment awareness of life, nature, God and fellow human beings. Humility also suggests a turning-point in personality development from the illusion of self-sufficiency to having an inter-dependent view of relating to others.Step 7 is the beginning of understanding that character building and remaining close to essential values is more important than chasing the pleasure of the high.I quote from the book “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” (Alcoholics Anonymous Worldwide):”We never thought of making honesty, tolerance and true love of man and God the daily basis of living. We sought to gain a vision of humility as the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit.”Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to the all.The quality of inter-personal relationships is a mark of a person’s stability and ability to live comfortably with one’s fellows. Here we again come across the word “willingness”, implying a deeper insight into the self as carrying responsibility for repetitive, unsatisfying personal relationships. It is only by letting go of resentment of the real or imagined harms done by others and focusing on what can be changed in oneself that the personality becomes less emotionally vulnerable, less reactive and more stable.Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.The step implies a readiness to take the consequences of past behavior, which is important in developing new modes of being in the world. It is an essential step in the development of a self and other orientation to living.Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.The development of better coping skills in dealing with the vicissitudes of daily living is the psychological underpinning of this step. When thrown off emotional balance by people or new events, the process of taking a quick inventory, admitting to errors in the now and forgiving, or at least tolerating, the imperfections of others is a sign of a stable person who has developed a new way of dealing with reality.Practice of Step 10 releases one from the need to be right, a truly liberating way of operating in the world.Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation a conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out.Research has consistently shown the psychological and physical benefits of prayer and meditation. The person in recovery discovers that he is not a victim of his own mind and that he does have power over the state of his inner life. Meditative techniques have a powerful influence in reducing the anxiety that underlies most addictive behaviors. The individual can generate a sense of calm, focus and direction. Psychologically, the 11th Step is a means for even deeper insight into one’s motives and needs.Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.The inherent values of care for others, unconditional love, and genuine, honest relating is the core of the recovery process, a process that produces a mature personality. Maturity connects having an authentic self that has been able to develop adequate coping skills; a sense of “agency” of the self that had been lost to the addiction; the ability to tolerate emotional pain with the knowledge that all internal states are transitory; the development of healthy inter-personal relationships, and a sense of purpose in living.Ultimately, it does feel good to make a contribution, doesn’t it?

Making Money Online for Free: Is It Really Possible?

If you are looking for ways to make money online for free, then you are one of the millions of others. It can be easy to find these opportunities if you know what to look for. However, you do need to use a bit of caution. Despite the fact that there are ways to start an internet business for free, sometimes it still requires a bit of investment. This being said, here are some things to make it more possible for you to make an income online for as close to free as possible.Choose an online business or venture that doesn’t cost anything to sign up:You are bound to find opportunities that offer you the chance to make thousands of dollars a day but you have to pay for the information or to sign up. You can close these websites right away and move on if you would like. There are companies that give you a better chance at success while not having to pay anything to sign up or for giving you information. Some of the most lucrative online money makers are those that give you the chance to make money for free while only having to make a small investment for the purposes of marketing.Choose marketing methods that give free promotion power:If you spend any time online at all, you will probably have noticed that there are social media networks virtually everywhere. These may cater to different people, personalities and purposes. Go through these websites and choose those that would be the most effective for marketing your online venture. It might take a bit of trial and effort. However, since most of these networks are free to use, a little effort is worth it. Don’t forget to use these networks to their maximum without spamming. Create contacts and keep in communication with them. You never know where such a business relationship or friendship might lead.Social networks aren’t the only powerful marketing tactic. Article submission has proven to be one of the most effective in existence. You need to choose the directories that are suitable for your industry. Submit informative articles that draw in the readers. Submit the articles on a consistent and constant basis because there are many other people using these directories for similar purposes.Advertising sites often offer free ad space. When you have sites that have millions of people looking for products and services, you have a great chance of becoming a more successful entrepreneur. Of course, most of these ad sites also give you valuable likes, as do article directories and social media networks.Choose to use your own time and effort:It is tempting to hire other people to do the work for you. If this money is in your budget, then go right ahead. Hire someone to write the articles, to update your blogs, profiles and other such things. There are always people looking for these internet jobs. In the case that you want to save money, you can opt to do this work yourself.Through the tools supplied, you can create your own business website and blog. You are able to set up your own ad posts and social media network updates. In terms of writing, if you don’t have the skill or time, this is something that you might want to hire someone for. The quality of your writing has the ability to bring in customers or turn them away. This work does take time. It can take a few days of solid work right at the beginning just to create the website, blog, content and otherwise. It also takes consistent effort down the road to bring in customers and to keep them. If you want to succeed, you can do this and it can work for you.