BILL: "Frank is addicted to speed--mostly cocaine," writes Jan (quoted above). "So far, it hasn't interfered with his job. But when I go to Alanon meetings, I hear it again and again: there's nothing you can do till he hits his rock bottom. Do I have to divorce him from his children and me before he can stop using?" Dave, psychiatry deals with dreams, fantasy, urges and wishes -all of which are subjective, un-measurable states. How would you define hitting bottom?"
DR. DAVE: I'd begin with the addict's emotional pain increasing to a point where s/he can no longer psychologically engage in the addictive behavior....
BILL: "I think of denial as a Plexiglas bubble encasing the addict," says Hilarie Cash, PhD., co-founder of reSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program. "When people hit "rock bottom", they experience some consequence so painful that it shatters that bubble of denial." At that point, says AA's big book, the addict's behavior reaches self-destruction, incarceration or institutionalization.
DR. DAVE: Or recovery. Two factors intensify the addict's suffering: social and spiritual pain. Alanon assists the family to allow the natural increase in social pain. Spiritual pain comes from seeing others who are genuinely experiencing the joy of living. Living among Alanon and Alateen family and friends increases that part of the addict's emotional pain as well.
BILL: Despite being a psychiatry prof at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Ron Kanwischer was a smoker. But when he lit up in his car one day 25 years ago, his 3-year-old daughter began coughing. "It really bothered me," he writes. And Dave, that's all it took - no "Smoker's Anonymous" -just a cough from his daughter and he kicked his addiction.
DR. DAVE: Is there any doubt that our children can be the greatest source of social pain? Some people, like Dr. Kanwischer, can stop on their own. But such is the power of group morale, that statistics show 12 Step programs like AA increase your chances for recovery.
BILL: As they say in Las Vegas, that's how the smart money bets?
DR. DAVE: I think the Native American counterpart to the 12 Steps says it best. They see the addict as in the middle of a 12-Step Medicine Wheel with four parts of an emotional recovery. Social healing taking place in Steps 4 o 9. Not surprisingly, the joy of belonging in Steps 1to 3 and community service in 10-12 represent spiritual healing. This movement, across many Indian Nations, has been brought together in Colorado Springs, and online, at this link: Wellbriety Institute.
BILL: Let me see if I get you, Doc. When, living by Alanon or Wellbriety principles, the addict's family lovingly detaches from him, they are (1.) letting his painful social isolation within the disease grow while (2.) experiencing their own joy--
DR. DAVE: --which he envies and wishes he had himself. That is exactly why Alanon works for both the family AND the addict. In many parts of the country, the family program for addicts is also growing in leaps and bounds, with their own website, here at Naranon.
BILL: Are you telling Jan that actually staying with her addicted husband can create more spiritual pain than simply walking out?
DR. DAVE: But she has to balance other risks. Family violence and financial ruin are probably two of the biggest--however, with a good Alanon or Naranon program, I've seen many people treating the addict as if they were an elderly relative gradually succumbing to dementia. Of course, unlike the Alzheimer's patients, they are also helping the sufferer on towards a bottom where recovery is possible.Continue Reading: nydailynews.com