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on January 28, 2001
Jeffrey Schaler lays out a different paradigm for addiction recovery in this book, holding alcoholics and addicts responsible for their own choices, which is refreshing and empowering. While taking on the AMA and other forces with financial agendas is risky, Dr. Schaler courageously cuts through the baloney and "tells it like it is". His bibliography is comprehensive and a compelling case is made for abandoning current treatment menthods.
For those people with substance abuse problems who cannot buy into the "disease model" promoted by AA and most recovery institutions, this book is welcome relief! To be held accountable for one's own actions (as any OTHER adult is in this society!) is a GOOD thing! While AA may be helping some people recover, there are plenty more who don't "resonate" with AA teachings and beliefs, and for addicts and alcoholics to reclaim the power to abstain, after professing "powerlessness" in 12-Step meetings, is a blessing indeed!
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on August 12, 2000
Dr. Schaler has been called a "libertarian." Perhaps he is that. But if you've ever been subjected to an "intervention" (a human rights violation not yet addressed by Amnesty International), or forced "treatment," believe me, those experiences lead one to that libertarian approach.
It's amazing how we accept as fact that which is shouted the loudest. The disease model has been blown from every bullhorn since the temperance movement, therefore we accept it. There are a few rebels, those who rely on facts--evidence--rather than the platitudes of the treatment gurus and 12-step addicts who've captured the market. So addiction is one of the leading buzzwords of the day. It's also a means of making us all alike. You know, I may have a bank balance of a billion, could buy Iran in a quick real estate deal, but I'm addicted to such and such, so I'm in the same boat with you, poor moron, who lives in the city and doesn't stop complaining. On that concept, another book has yet to be written.
The "treatment" industry thrives, wasting untold billions of dollars of our insurance premiums on little more than religious sayings. In the meantime, tobacco companies shell out millions for the victims of tobacco "addiction." (Can I get some of that loot? I quit smoking over 20 years ago! No treatment; no 12-step bumper stickers!)
While we most often don't see the 12-step programs as a religion, Schaler does. I know from experience with its adherents--even in "treatment" into which I was coerced--that they claim they're not responsible individuals but victims of genetic circumstance, the propensity for addiction over which they have no control. They MUST rely on their "higher power," whether one calls that power God or anything else. That's not religion? And the 12-step-aholics denial (!) of that is another symptom of the anti-intellectual nature of the "movement."
I probably should state that--and I believe Schaler would corroborate--if a person feels comfortable with a 12-step program, or for that matter with Scientology, he or she should have the freedom to attend whatever meeting(s) s/he likes. But when we're forced by courts to attend such congregations against our will, then there's something wrong. (Fortunately, these forces are being challenged in court, on grounds of religious freedom.)
Schaler is wise too in pointing out that:
(1) many users of allegedly "addictive" substances never become addicted to them;
(2) many an allegedly incurable addict recovered on his or her own, particularly those returning from Vietnam. (So the stupid movies we were shown in high school showing people strung out on this or that demon drug were laugable; those who recovered on their own--and there are many--laugh at that D-grade propaganda);
(3) There are many "addictions," to religion, to fads, what have you. It's just that some are socially acceptable and some are not.
He also challenged the prescriptions of the contemporary panaceas: the antidepressants such a Prozac. (See "Toxic Psychiatry," another good reference on that subject.) During the early to mid-1980s, Valium was the most prescribed drug, given out like candy. By the early 90s, it became one of the demons of the treatment industry. When will Prozac and its cousins fall into the bottomless pit of condemnation by the temerance crowd and that drug's manufacturer start paying their ransom for the concoction now seen as relief for a couple of bucks a hit?
I wish Schaler spent more time commenting on the economics of "treament," face it, the real reason the industry exists. He comments vigorously on the fact that the treatment is a religion, but the emphasis on the monetary motive is one he doesn't stress.
The only other criticism I have is minor but notable. Schaler spends an inordinate amount of space, I felt, commenting on his problems with Moderation Management. While the problems were formidable, the amount of focus on MM reminded me of Carl Sagan's near obsession with Velikovsky in "Broca's Brain." It was a fine book, but the excessive comments on that other author's foolishness distracted from the quality of Sagan's text.
Aside from those minor infractions, I highly recommend the book. Let's those of us who object to the disease model and all its offshoots, including the expensive (And you're paying for it, folks!) "war on drugs" and phony populism (i.e., all of us who are prone to addiction are in the same boat, despite the superficial difference between my immense wealth and your squalor) use information like that in this book to fight the propaganda of the industries capitalizing off of them.
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on March 27, 2000
This book "jumped" off the shelf at the bookstore and landed in my hands - right when I needed it to understand more about addiction. I read the first three chapters sitting on the floor of the self-help/recovery isle! After talking with a "therapist" and attending some "meetings" to help me understand my husband's addiction (and those of some of our family members), I just was not feeling "right" about addiction treatment programs. This book offers a fresh, common-sense perspective about addiction, whatever that addiction may be. There is a great deal of sound research cited (although I must admit, I skimmed over those parts and went straight to the meat of the book)and some great examples! Dr. Schaler pulled me right over to seeing his side of things. The only downside to this book is - it left me hungry and wanting to know where I can find practitioners/psychologists/therapists that support this view (practical information). I assume these professionals are hard to find. Thank you Dr. Schaler and PLEASE continue spreading the word!
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