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Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Treatment Industry


I made some notes from a few weeks back to post here on the subject of 'treatment' for addiction.

I may have alienated a few addicts due to my strong views, but as I see it I am as entitled to mine as they are to theirs. Despite her song, the late Amy Winehouse did in fact go to rehab, and it had no success. I know of people who have been in and out of such places, time and time again, with no result.

I have long been of the mentality that addiction to any substance is something someone lets go of when they want to, when they have a others words, something to live for other than drink or drugs. If somebody's existence feels pointless and miserable, why ask them to give up the only enjoyment they have? To attempt to force them to do so is an experiment doomed to fail. I have given up my addictions and been able to use or drink recreationally when I feel alright, happy in myself. I have done this with no 'treatment'. One narrow minded 'support worker' said to me sarcastically 'Well, I admire you Snow Queen, as you are an exception, you are the first person I have met who has managed to do this......'. The implication was that I was lying, as the sarcasm was not lost on me, nor was the patronising tone. Maybe it is because the person in question works in the treatment industry herself, and is an ex addict/12 stepper, which means by definition she is unlikely to come accross people who have overcome addictions with no 'treatment'. But her narrow world is not the only world, and it would probably do her good stepping out of it. I have met people who have managed to quit addiction without 'treatment' involving meetings, destructive group therapy, addiction counselling, and all the rest it entails, be it residential or out patient based.

Most treatment is based on the disease model of addiction....that addiction is some kind of a disease, perhaps hereditary or genetic. This view largely derives from Bill Wilson's 12 step program which is the basis of AA and all of it's offshoots such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous), among many others that stick to the same script. Most 'treatment', if not directly based on the 12 steps, tends to be largely influenced by that school of thought, and the disease model tends to be taken for granted.

There is no medical evidence to support the view that addiction is a 'disease'. If one really wants to stretch the point they could perhaps classify it as a social or psychological disease, but no way can it be described as a disease such as Cancer, Aids, Parkinsons, or whatever else.

The only thing we have to go on is that it is a compulsive behavioural problem, a psychological problem no doubt, but this is a far cry from insisting it is a genetically based 'disease' akin to cystic fibrosis.

And, as far as mental illnesses go, the medical profession is diplomatic enough not to label biplolar disorder or schizophrenia as 'diseases'. Psychotherapy or other therapy given to the mentally ill is therefore described as 'therapy' rather than 'treatment', as it has not scientifically proven to be of benefit to every patient, as we are individuals. Human beings are too complex to be boxed into neat little compartments, especially when it is the human mind we are talking about. 'Treatment' is a term you would expect to be used for something that has tangible, predicted results that can more or less be relied upon. This is why even chemotherapy for cancer is not known as 'chemotreatment'.

Therefore I would like to know how so called 'treatment' for addiction gets away with calling itself such, as it is one of the least reliable therapies for any mental problem, and has a noticeably low success rate. It has no proven, tangible, results, and while you may be able to force chemotherapy on an unwilling cancer sufferer and get some results (for arguments sake, leaving aside the ethics of such a matter), 'treatment' forced upon a drug addict or alcoholic is more or less guaranteed to fail. Why? BECAUSE IT IS NOT MEDICINE!

Freud, whatever one may think of him, at least called his method 'psychotherapy' or analysis, not 'psychotreatment'. Although his views may be of value and may have been of help to some, just as 'treatment' may have been of help to some addicts, the theories of Freud cannot be proven in any laboratory, it cannot be proven that the human brain is receptive to therapy, and however interesting some may find the Oedipus complex etc it cannot be scientifically proved to exist by any experiment. So it remains a theory, not a fact. I say this as someone who finds pyschotherapy to be of interest and even has been of benefit to me in the past working through issues from my childhood.

Hence I am angered that what in my view amounts to re-education, or indoctrination of people like myself dares to call itself treatment.

For those it does help, the only thing it does have the right to call itself is therapy, as everything else dealing with the human mind does. But, due to the disease model most 'treatment' bases itself on, it becomes less surprising that it has the arrogance to label itself as treatment, as something that is not a disease will hardly need treatment, will it?

I am one drug user who will hold my head up high and say I do not want 'treatment' - I want drugs. The drug laws mean nothing to me as I do not respect them, they are laws that amount to nothing else but an invasion of my privacy.

I have seen person after person come out of 'treatment' and either fail miserably (the 12 step premise that after one drink one is doomed to go down an everlasting spiral to jails, institutions, death.... can often be self fufilling, if people are told this for long enough), or they become people I no longer recognise, picking up jargon they would never have used before, like s/he is in 'recovery'.. 'I relapsed yesterday'...and so on. As most treatment has the 12 step approach, which is religion rather than medicine, the fellowships and the religious views they hold often take the place of the drug, and become a new addiction.

I have been told I do not want treatment because I am not ready. No, I am not ready, and you know what? I never will be, as I never want that rubbish rammed down my throat. While some people may benefit in some way from it, not everyone does, many people slow down naturally themselves, because as the body ages it can take less abuse. Or perhaps some people may need help in some form, but it does not instantly follow that they need the disease model, the 12 steps, or any of that rammed down their throats. The most succesful 'treatment' for obsessive behavioural problems such as phobias, compulsive behavious such as addiction, and destructive thought patterns such as depression (which some of these other symptoms may stem from) is a method known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is in fact something a person can learn themselves, and it simply involves learning to isolate destructive or negative thought patterns that can lead to destructive behaviour, and attempting to replace them with a healthier way of thinking than depressive thoughts.

I am not a cheerleader for CBT, as like anything it will not work for everyone and is no miracle cure as some of it's fanatical adherents like to insist. However, it does appear to have a noticeably higher success rate than the 12 step disease model. Another thing in it's favour is that it is secular, while the 12 steps are openly religious. Religion is not medicine or even therapy, therefore it should not be posing as such. At least CBT does not pretend to be something it is not.


My current feelings are that I don't want to suffer old age, with the agony and loneliness, facing the prospect of dying in a white room wired up with tubes, I would like to go quickly with as little much pain as possible, as most of us would. I have no children and the way my prospects are looking (bear in mind I have been cursed with fertility problems along with my other crosses I bear) I am unlikely to have any. I have long accepted the fact I can never be totally what this society classifies as 'normal', and I am willing to live with that. Therefore the last thing I want is for the State to force feed me what I know to be snake oil in the hope of making me the model citizen I can never be nor am willing to be. While my life on this planet continues, I am determined to enjoy it and overcome my setbacks in my own way, not a way that is forced on me from without.

The CJS are the worst offenders for stealing people's right to privacy, their right to be who they are, by offering desperate people 'treatment' as an alternative to prison. I know of one man who was put in jail for breaching part of a community sentence, and this community sentence was ....attending 12 step meetings! If so called 'treatment' is to have any success the patient must at least be willing, choosing it of their own free will. Else what remote hope does it have of working?

Would forced psychotherapy be likely to work? Anyone with even half a brain cell to rub together will reply in the negative. So why the hell do the State imagine forced drug 'treatment' to work on convicted 'criminals'? (I use the term criminals in inverted commas as the chances are the people I speak of would not be criminals if the society we lived in did not make them into criminals due to the law of prohibition). An alcoholic is not by definition a criminal, yet even a recreational user of cocaine is such in the eyes of the law. A wine merchant is acting within the law, yet a small time heroin dealer, putting out small amounts at a time to feed his habit, is deemed by the same laws to be equivalent to a child molester or murderer.

Drug 'pushers' do not hang around outside schools offering them powder, that is a tabloid invention designed to whip up hysteria among the general population and thus gain increased support for the prohibition laws. In fact, it is not very easy to get in touch with a 'pusher' directly if you are new in town. The way one usually is introduced to a dealer is through their friends, peer group, whatever. Every drug dealer I have ever encountered had said he would not sell his product to someone who has not tasted it before.

But getting back to the point, as I was sidetracking....the 12 step model is not medicine but religion.Yet it still is funded by the State in some way or other, posing as treatment for a 'disease' that is not proved to even exist. The elite, by and large, have little idea of the way that their prohibition laws affect the life of the addict on the street, and their own prejudices make them care little about his or her plight. This makes them too readily lap up the unrealistic and often downright untrue claims that 'treatment' makes for itself. If any member of the establishment questions it's advocates about it's noticable lack of success in dealing with this social problem, they simply reply that people are not following the program correctly, hence the enormous rate of relapsing....but what does following the program entail?

Mind control. 12 step programs expect would be devotees to attend '90 meetings in 90 days'. During which time a 'higher power', or 'God' is rammed down their throats incessantly while they are forced to listen to other people's sob stories, and then how much better they feel since being in so called 'recovery'. There is no room for atheists here as the first three steps explicitly state that one is powerless over their addiction, that their only hope of returning to 'sanity' is trusting in a 'higher power', and that they must learn to trust in God as they understand 'Him'. Note the 'Him'. When I was trying to come off heroin over a decade ago, which I eventually did with nothing but my own willpower, a reducing methadone script and some diazepam to calm my anxiety....this was after 3 years wasted of my life with doctors who should have known better trying to insist I tried the 12 step model. Doctors should not be prescribing religion. I attended my Catholic Church and was quite content there, religion was of help to me at the time as well but my faith did not sit comfortably with the 12 step program, which asks God to perform miracles. As I believed the Bible, which states 'Do not put God to the test', I was not prepared to do that.

Most addiction counsellors are ill qualified, often have the 12 step approach and very often their only qualification is being a former addict. It can help having someone to talk to who understands, but if this is a 'disease' we are talking about, that according to the 12 step zealots is 'fatal', then what good is this? If someone is suffering from cancer, a former sufferer may be able to give them comfort, and might even have some anecdotes on how they managed to beat the disease, but no doctor would class that as 'treatment' or medicine. According to 12 step theory, addiction is a disease that can be 'arrested but never cured', a bit like HIV, so to speak. Yet HIV is a virus that is proven to exist, and the ways of arresting the disease are in the form of medication, not snake oil and psychobabble. Therefore it seems addiction is a very odd 'disease'.....probably because it isn't one.

I don't have the time on this blog to go into the origins, beliefs etc of the 12 step movement, and how it's assumptions have infiltrated the establishment, how the treatment industry thrives off prohibition, but go and google 'The Orange Papers'. That will be a good place to start. But to start with, the AA 12 step cult was founded in the 1930s by an alcoholic named Bill Wilson, who was a devout US protestant and associated with a cult run by a Frank Buchanan, known as the 'Oxford Groups' as they gained recruits largely from Oxford University (not to be confused with the Oxford Movement, otherwise known as Anglo Catholicism). Alcoholics Anonymous grew in the time of the depression, not long after prohibition on the sale of liquor....

Contrary to its claims the 12 step approach is not the only way to get better. Personally speaking, my drug use or drinking has reduced itself when my life circumstances have improved, and as I have stated it has been managed with no 'treatment' of that kind.

I am talking about this now due to my recent experiences, of which I said something, but the experience of being threatened with homelessness unless I accepted some modified version of the 12 step approach (which is what most 'treatment' amounts to) was no joke. I was close to a breakdown, thank God I am not there, but I truly was thinking the hell I had with my ex was preferable to what was on offer from the steppers....

To be continued.


  1. RE: "My current feelings are that I don't want to suffer old age, with the agony and loneliness"

    Nobody wants that. Snow Queen, I do hope you are able to find your happiness in a positive way soon. Stay strong.

  2. Thank you, Princess. Good to hear from you, nice to find someone who understands. You too stay strong xx