Tag Archives: AA

Recovery at Risk Amid a Pandemic: Protecting Your Progress

recovery

Recovery first is the pathway to continued progress. Those who make a daily commitment to prioritize sobriety by attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and paying it forward are destined for success. However, it’s challenging to put your recovery first when the country is in the grips of a deadly public health crisis.

Every American, both in recovery and out, is fully aware that social distancing is of vital importance. For most men and women, that might not be a protocol that’s difficult to adhere to, but for those who rely on mutual support groups, a pandemic presents problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructed every American to avoid large crowds and physical interaction. While there isn’t a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 or Coronavirus, there are steps that each of us can take to safeguard our health.

If you are an active member of a recovery community, then you understand that meetings are extremely important for sustaining your program. Discontinuing your attendance at 12 Step groups can significantly put your recovery at risk. So, if you are like most people in sobriety, then you are probably wondering how you are expected to carry on without regular meeting attendance?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to the question above. The fact is that we in the recovery community have never faced anything quite like this in our lifetimes. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 17 years after the Spanish Flu of 1918. The influenza of the early 20th Century infected some 500 million people (nearly one-third of the world population) and resulted in anywhere from 50 and 100 million casualties.

Even though we have never dealt with a public health crisis like this before, it’s possible to keep your recovery intact.

COVID-19 in Recovery

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on protecting your health. At PACE Recovery Center, we are following the public health agency’s suggestions in earnest to protect our clients. We hope that you will take the time to learn more about how you can protect yourself amid this most severe crisis.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the fellowship of recovery needs to work together to ensure the programs of millions of people aren’t derailed. Those in recovery – especially early sobriety – cannot isolate from their support network, but that is what the CDC is recommending.

In order to safeguard the recovery of countless individuals, support groups need to adapt in response to the pandemic. While it’s not the job of 12 Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to dole out public health advice, the organization is making recommendations to protect its members.

The General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous has offered AA Intergroups across the country some valuable advice for handling the crisis. The resource center for AA members has shared what some groups are doing to deal with the pandemic in hopes that it will steer other groups in the right direction. On March 16th, 2020, the G.S.O. issued an updated statement on the crisis. The General Service Office writes:

Our collected experience suggests that groups that are unable to meet at their usual meeting places have begun to meet digitally; doing so in a sensible and helpful manner to allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose. Some groups that are still meeting in person have shared about making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Many groups have also made contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person.

Recovery Support Groups Contingency Plans

It’s worth noting that some 12 Step groups are still meeting in person despite the elevated threat to member safety. However, the G.S.O. shares that many support groups are going digital. Switching from “in-person” meetings to online is a sound method of preventing disease transmission. Rightly, the G.S.O. points out that regardless of individual group decisions, each member is responsible for their health.

If your health is compromised, such is the case for many in early recovery and especially those with respiratory conditions, then attending meetings could be risky. Such individuals must take steps to protect their progress and sustain their recovery. The G.S.O. recommends:

  • Creating Contact Lists
  • Staying in Touch with Your Sponsor and Support Group via Telephone
  • Utilizing Email and Social Media
  • Conducting Meetings by Phone or Video Conference.

The best thing you can do for your recovery at this time is to maintain constant contact with your support network. If you require further guidance, then utilize your local AA resources. Contact the AA intergroup or central office in your area. You can also turn to AA websites for more information.

Southern California Gender-Specific Recovery Center

At PACE Recovery Center, we encourage you to strike a balance between your physical and mental well-being. Please do not take unnecessary risks and again stay in touch with your support network as much as possible. You have the power to sustain your recovery and protect your health during this unprecedented time.

Please contact PACE if you are an adult male struggling with addiction or mental illness. We offer several evidence-based programs that can help you begin and sustain a journey of lasting recovery.

Recovery Roads: Is AA the Most Effective Path to Sobriety?

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There are many roads that people take to achieve sustained addiction recovery. What works for one person may not have the same effect on another. Last week, we wrote at length about the benefits of gender-specific addiction treatment. We also discussed the value of brotherhood and fellowship in recovery.

When the word fellowship comes to mind regarding sobriety and abstinence, most people think of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). There is a good reason for that association; AA and 12 Step recovery has been extant for a long time. Moreover, millions of Americans and individuals across the world owe their recovery to working the 12 Steps.

Most evidence-based addiction treatment centers, including PACE Recovery Center, introduce clients to AA and Narcotics Anonymous. The hope is that when one completes a stay in rehab, they will continue being an active member of a 12 Step fellowship.

Long-term recovery hinges on continued maintenance. Continued progress depends on dedicating one’s self to working the Steps in all your affairs and practicing the principles established in 1935 when AA was founded.

While there are other modalities than 12 Step recovery such as SMART Recovery, most addiction experts recommend the former. You detox, undergo cognitive behavioral therapy, learn how to cope with challenges, and prevent relapse while in treatment. After rehab, you continue working with others both in and out of meetings to keep your recovery and show newcomers how to do the same.

For 85 years, men and women from all walks of life have joined forces against their common foe: the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Today, we refer to those types of behavioral health conditions as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

The Most Effective Path to Long-Term Recovery

Even though Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for quite some time, there is not much research on the program’s efficacy. However, we now have a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of AA on alcohol use disorder, CNN reports. The research appears in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review.

Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, and his colleagues evaluated 35 studies. After looking at the research of 145 scientists and more than 10,000 participants, Dr. Humphreys and his team concluded that AA might be the most effective path to abstinence for people living with AUD.

The researchers found that when a counselor encouraged a client’s adherence to the 12 Steps, it was more effective for achieving abstinence, compared to other psychotherapies. The authors’ key findings include:

  • AA and Twelve‐Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions usually produced higher rates of continuous abstinence than the other established treatments.
  • Clinically‐delivered TSF interventions designed to increase AA participation usually lead to better outcomes over the subsequent months to years in terms of producing higher rates of continuous abstinence.
  • AA/TSF will probably produce substantial healthcare cost savings while simultaneously improving alcohol abstinence.
  • AA was more effective for women than men, slightly.

An advantage that AA has over the kind of therapies I was trained to do, is that people can persist in it a very long time, which gives them a better shot at recovery because you could literally go to AA everyday for years and years and years if you wanted to,” Humphreys said. “That may be better matched with chronic disease than short-term interventions the health care system usually gives.”

The Advantages of AA

Dr. Humphreys points out some of the advantages AA has over other therapeutic techniques. He says that 12 Step programs are free, offer social support, and inspiration, according to the article. Humphreys adds that 12 Step groups can provide insular resilience to situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.

Working a program can “help people create senses of worth and value that occur in the brain and don’t center around alcohol, retraining the brain to live differently,” Humphreys said. The professor of psychiatry rightly adds that AA instills hope for a better life in ways that some professionals cannot. Dr. Humphreys says:

I can say to someone, ‘Believe me, you can have a better life than what you’ve got right now,’ but it’s pretty powerful when someone says, ‘I’m not just telling you that, I had your life. Look at me — I’m also an alcoholic, and I’m having a really good life. If I could do it, you could do it.’ “

The review has some limitations which should prompt further study. Dr. Jennifer Plumb Vilardaga, clinical psychologist at Duke University Health, who wasn’t part of the review notes that the analysis did not focus on how effective AA was with:

  • Psychological Well-Being
  • Overall Health
  • Adolescents
  • Members with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Dr. Vilardaga says that people with AUD and co-occurring mental illness may benefit more from a combination of professional counseling and working an AA program, the article reports. She states:

As a psychologist myself, my read of the literature is that if you have a significant mental health issue, you’re still better off seeking professional counseling to address your alcohol as well as your mental health concerns.”

Orange County Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we help adult males break the cycle of addiction, and our clinicians also specialize in treating individuals struggling with co-occurring mental health disorders. Our team understands that finding long-term recovery rests on treating the whole client.

More than half of the people with AUDs and SUDs meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis. It’s essential to address addiction and mental illness simultaneously. With the aid of evidence-based therapies and adherence to a 12 Step program, you or a loved one can achieve sustained recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment center.

Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 “Books that Shaped America.” Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby’s just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history,” and the defendants “are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain,” the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

Reading For Addiction Recovery

addiction recoveryAs 2016 comes to a close, with Christmas and Hanukkah on our doorstep and New Year’s following close behind, it could be easy to end on a grim note. With overdose death rates holding strong, the result of increased use of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, overdose deaths now take more lives annually than traffic accidents. Lawmakers continue to draft legislation for combating opioid addiction, but there are still many fears about how the various programs like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and 21st Century Cures Act will work and be funded to ensure addiction recovery is accessible.

Millions of Americans still struggle accessing addiction treatment and mental health services in several regions across the United States. So, at this point, the best thing everyone can do is hope that 2017 will be a better year regarding addiction recovery across the country. We should not find ourselves becoming discouraged, but rather remain optimistic about the addiction-focused legislation passed this year.

Rather than talk about the dark side of addiction this holiday week, we feel it is important that we discuss the millions of people across the globe who are dedicated to “living one day at a time.” It is often said that recovery is the most difficult thing people with an alcohol or substance use disorder will ever do. Which speaks to the paradox of addiction. Turning one’s back on substances that are in fact trying to kill you, would seem like a logical, even easy choice—at least to someone who has never walked down the dark road of addiction. Those who are actively working a program know this reality all too well, which is why they must make a daily commitment to abstain from drugs and/or alcohol and invest their energy in living a spiritual life. It is extremely challenging to stay the course year in and year out, but with the help of recovery programs and those working them—we can, and do recover from the pernicious disease of addiction.

Reading for Recovery

Those who found sobriety in the rooms of 12-step recovery, whether that be in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are all too familiar with the “Big Book.” They also know that without its guidance, long term recovery would be even more difficult to achieve. Inside the tomes of recovery, you will hear your own story of addiction (or a variation of it), and you will learn what is required of you to achieve continued recovery. The basic texts of AA and NA are essentially “how to” guides to working a program, helping people all over the planet work the “steps” and help others do the same. It probably comes as little surprise that TIME Magazine included AA’s basic text on their list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 (the first year of the magazine’s publication).

The basic texts of addiction recovery are invaluable assets to society, considering that one’s mental illness has a negative impact on the entire community. It is fair to say that the world would be a little bit darker, if it were not for such books being written. We would be remiss if we did not point out that there are other books that can help people in recovery on their journey to be their best self. If you have been in the program for some time now, it is likely that you have read some recovery related literature. And maybe the writings of others helped you on your path. If so, then you may be interested to learn about, “Out Of The Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery.” Written by authors Neil Steinberg (“Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life) and Sara Bader (the creator of Quotenik), the book could prove to be a useful resource on the road of addiction recovery. “Out of the Wreck I Rise” is:

Structured to follow the arduous steps to sobriety, the book marshals the wisdom of centuries and explores essential topics, including the importance of time, navigating family and friends, Alcoholics Anonymous, relapse, and what Raymond Carver calls ‘gravy,’ the reward that is recovery. Each chapter begins with advice and commentary followed by a wealth of quotes to inspire and heal.”

Staying Proactive During the Holiday Break

Those of you in the program who will be traveling over the holidays may want to consider the recovery companion. You could have a lot of down time at airports or train stations, a perfect opportunity to invest in your program. There is much to be learned about addiction from authors who have struggled with the disease themselves even if, like Hemingway, the battle was lost.

At PACE Recovery Center, we hope that everyone has wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah, one that does not involve picking up a drink or a drug. Please remember, if you find yourself in times of trouble, help is always just a phone call away.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Atheists/Agnostics In Recovery

alcoholics anonymousIn the field of addiction medicine, it is widely agreed upon that there is not just one way to recover from the insidious and pernicious disease of addiction. That being said, when most people think of addiction recovery, they will typically envision a group of people sitting in a circle, working together to refrain from using drugs and alcohol by practicing the principles of the 12-Steps which were first laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). While there are scores of 12-Step recovery programs to address anything from alcohol use disorder to sex addiction, which may do things in different ways, they all share the common thread of the 12-Steps.

It is often said that everyone is welcome at a 12-Step meeting, as long as they have a desire to get better. Yet, many people have recoiled from such programs due to a word that they struggle with, i.e. GOD. Programs of recovery that incorporate the 12-Step model, are spiritual programs, which members are cautioned to not confuse with religious. Organizations like AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), pride themselves with not being associated with any religious sect. While many of their members may choose Jesus or GOD in the biblical sense of the words with regard to assigning a higher power, every member is free to choose their own unique higher power. Even people who are on the fence about the existence of God, or do not believe in God at all, are welcome to join the 12-Step community.

A Spiritual Program

It is fair to say that countless addicts and alcoholics have stayed clear of 12-Step recovery because of the pervasive nature of the word God in the Big Book. And sadly, it is not only an unfortunate choice, it can be a deadly one. 12-Step programs of recovery are in fact spiritual rather than religious, and one should not let the wording (albeit somewhat antiquated) keep them from finding recovery.

In fact, there are countless people who are atheist or agnostic who are or will be attending a meeting of AA or NA. They have learned how to work a spiritual program without compromising their beliefs. There are people at meetings from all walks of life, who have varying systems of belief. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious, one need only acknowledge that there is something that is greater than himself. Through which, one can learn how to be accountable to others, and most importantly—their own self.

A requirement of getting, and staying, sober is not understanding others’ higher power; it is about understanding and having a relationship with their own higher power. If you are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, and are considering joining AA or NA—do not be discouraged. Before you write off the program because of certain words, please keep in mind that many atheist and agnostics have managed to work a program of recovery for well over 20+ years through practicing the principles of 12-Steps in all their affairs.

“God,” is a God of Your Understanding

Alcoholics Anonymous officially recognized atheist and agnostic membership in the October edition of Grapevine, the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. The publication began in 1944, just five years after the founding of AA. In 72 years of publishing, Grapevine has never devoted an issue to atheist and agnostic members—until now. Grapevine’s Editor’s Letter writes:

This month, our special section features stories by atheist and agnostic AA members, some who have many years of sobriety. One member quotes our co-founder Bill W., in a 1946 Grapevine, ‘… an alcoholic is a member if he says so … we can’t force our beliefs or practices upon him.’ In editing these stories, we honored the request of some authors to not capitalize the word God, which is our usual style. Bill W. intended Grapevine to be a mirror of the Fellowship. We hope these stories will shed some light on the joys and challenges of our atheist and agnostic members.”

Recovery

If you are a young adult male who is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please contact PACE Recovery Center, our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.

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