Pure Truth

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin

Let’s Not Take Boston To Chicago

I know I speak for the entire Sunrise family when I extend our deepest concerns and sympathy to the victims, families and others whose lives have been devastated by yesterday's awful tragedies at the Boston Marathon and nearby.  We have friends, colleagues and former clients in the Boston area, and some of us have family there as well.  Words can't express our dismay at these events — one more example of folks' inability to resolve differences without violence.

Ron P., one of my therapists when I was in treatment (you know, back when everyone was eating fermented fruit that they picked up on the way to the water hole), used to have a favorite way of putting things.  He'd ask a simple question, or be listening to someone going on at length in group, and then he'd say, “C'mon!  You're taking it to Chicago!”  Then he'd bring us back to the point or, as often as not, make it for us.

I couldn't help thinking of Ron while reading snippets here and there about the Boston bombings.  One theorist blames the US Government, who are allegedly trying to frame the opposite political party.  Still others are sure they know who and what ethnic groups were responsible, and so on.  Blah, blah, blah.

The bare fact is, no one knows who was responsible except for the people directly involved.  It is likely that the rest of us will know more soon, but it's by no means certain, and it's important that we keep our heads and not jump on our horse and ride off in all directions like the codependent cowboy.  It's especially important that we keep these issues out of the rooms of recovery.

We all have our feelings, and many of us aren't that good at keeping them to ourselves.  If we feel as though we need to talk about things, we need to remember the first rule of sharing in the rooms or elsewhere: keep in in “the I.”  We share about how these things are affecting us and our recovery.  We do not voice opinions on outside issues, in violation of our traditions, and we don't take a chance of offending others in the meeting.  We are not there to ride a political (or religious) hobby horse, but to facilitate our recovery, and that of others.

Let's keep our primary purpose in mind, when tempted to air the opinions that all us addicts have in abundance, shall we?  As a bonus, it may prevent us from having to eat crow later, when our pet theory may be shown to be incorrect.  Let's not take Boston to Chicago.


Happy Thanksgiving To Our Alumni And Staff!

Sunrise Detox is about people, so we'd like to mention a few that we're thankful for this holiday season.

We're thankful for our dedicated people at Sunrise Detox in Lake Worth and New Jersey.  We're thankful for the professionals who worked to get Sunrise Detox Ft. Lauderdale up and running, and who helped us successfully pass our Joint Commission inspection last week.  We're thankful for our marketers and the folks who are busy preparing for our planned facilities elsewhere, especially the leaders who work so hard to help Sunrise grow and maintain its professional standards.  We're thankful for our housekeepers, maintenance, techs, nursing staff, therapists and office support personnel.  Sunrise wouldn't exist without you.

And  we're thankful for our clients.  You are not only our reason for being, you are the measure of our success.  We operate an unusual business, measured by the customers who don't return.  Each of you who walks out our doors carries our heartfelt wish that you succeed.  Some of you go on to treatment and the 12-step rooms, and others choose different paths.  Our hopes go with you all.  We're thankful, too, for those who do return to us — thankful that you made it back, that the disease of addiction was cheated one more time, and that you'll have another chance.

So this holiday season, and especially on Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be grateful for.  If we did a gratitude list, it would be far too long, so we simply say to all of you…


Addiction Facts: Annual Cost of Addiction in US

The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year (compared to $114.2 billion for other drug problems and $137 billion for smoking).

This was more than 16 years ago, folks!

Economic costs of substance abuse, 1995. Dorothy P. Rice. Proceedings of the Association of American Physicians 111(2): 119-125. 1999.

Do social networking sites turn teens into substance abusers?

(CBS) Is social networking turning America's youth into substance abusers?

Teens who use Facebook and other social networking sites on a daily basis are three times as likely to drink alcohol, twice as likely to use marijuana, and five times more likely to smoke tobacco than teens who don't frequent the sites.

“The findings in this year's survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children and drive home the need for parents to give their children the will and skill to keep their heads above the water of the corrupting cultural currents their children must navigate,” study author Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder and chairman of Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse, said in a written statement.

Seventy percent of teens spend time on these sites every day, according to the survey. That's 17 million 12- to 17- year-olds….

Read the rest here.

Sorry, I don't buy it.  I have no doubt that the statistics are accurate; it's simply that I don't agree with the interpretation.

What do we know about kids who don't use drugs, as opposed to those who do?

  1. They tend to be active in all sorts of ways, from athletics to social organizations.
  2. They tend to be better students, which implies that they spend more time on schoolwork, both in the form of homework and other outside means of education such as research for book reports, projects, and general outside reading.
  3. They tend to come from stable families.
  4. In short, they tend to have lives that are fulfilling, and I believe that leads them to spend less time on social sites.

I'm no expert on population studies, nor a sociologist, but I can see when it looks like people are taking an easy shot, rather than doing a little critical thinking about other reasons for statistics, which are only numbers, with no inherent meaning.  The meanings are ascribed by the interpreters, and they are, in turn, informed by their ideas, prejudices, and agendas.

It may be true that exposure to these influences moves a small percentage of teenage social site participants in the direction of excess — it probably is.  But we're talking about 70% of teens, here.  According to another study, by age 18 more than 70% of teens have tried alcohol at least once.¹  Furthermore, simply stating that some of them are x number of times “as likely” to use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs fails to take into account how many times they used them, how long they used them, whether it became a problem, and a number of other factors.

I have no problem with studies and their use in determining priorities for fund allocation, areas of concentration, and so forth.  I do have a problem with interpretations that are not put into context with other pertinent data, or skewed to make a point.  Ascribing a cause and effect relationship to these figures is like explaining addiction as being the result of “bad blood.”

This, in turn, is only my opinion, but it's based on a intimate knowledge of addicts and addiction.  I wonder if that's true of those who simply study us.

¹Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008).Underage Alcohol Use: Findings from the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

George Carlin Was Sooooo Right!

I've been off the grid for the last few days on vacation, and just got to a WiFi connection. As a result, I hadn't seen the news about the U.S. credit rating reduction. Sometimes you get lucky.

With no intention of creating a political discussion here, and the assurance that I'll ignore one if it starts, I have to say that to those of us attuned to addictive thinking it's obvious that our government acts — or, rather, reacts — like a seriously dysfunctional family.  It reminds me of the old program saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It's good for me to be reminded that we have to break out of our old ways of thinking and looking at problems if we're ever to have a chance at finding solutions. I know people who have been clean for many years, yet have never gotten past the passive-aggressive, pouty, tantrum-throwing behavior that typifies us addicts and alcoholics when we run up against the preferences of others.

“My way or the highway” is normal behavior for active addicts, but we have programs of recovery and therapy to help us break out of the old mold and begin to develop the skills we need to interact with each other and society as a whole. When we don't avail ourselves of those resources instead of behaving the way we used to behave (like spoiled nine-year-olds), then we're the very definition.

Us addicts are lucky; we have a program that will lead us, if we're able to give up a bit of ego, to healthy and effective ways of dealing with each other and the rest of the world.  Those poor, dysfunctional souls in Washington? All they seem able to do is the same old thing, over and over again. I wonder if they even expect different results, really.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the Rockies and High Plains with my kids and grandkid, and trying to do new things with no expectations at all.  However, I do try to remember, as always,  my favorite quote from the inimitable Mr. Carlin, who understood us folks all too well:

Just because the monkey's off your back, it doesn't mean the circus has left town.

Well, it's in recess, come to think of it, but relapse is imminent.

Keep on keepin' on!


You may be the only Big Book they’ll ever read. (AA Saying)

It probably seems as though this article has nothing to do with addiction.  I beg to differ.  Read it, think about it a bit, and then comment if you like.

…there are a lot of vicious cycles in the headlines recently. Obesity spreading among friends and NASA's alleged culture of drinking, just to name two of the most prominent. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll also find that there are also virtuous cycles out there, “cycles” that everyone can participate in.