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Exploring addiction and recovery (a skeptics viewpoint)

Old 05-05-2014, 02:28 AM
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Exploring addiction and recovery (a skeptics viewpoint)

). I often wonder if the critical thinking skills and techniques I use today would of been a good foundation at the very beginning of my recovery. Imagine during the first days or weeks of rehab there was no attempt to paint the "powerless" picture, no serenity prayers, no therapy, no vague spiritual concepts or 12 step platitudes, no delusional absolutes, no A-frame hugs or feeling assessments BUT learning the skills of the "How"when it comes to thinking, how to cut through the opinions and unfounded absolutes, how to ask for evidence and question everything with courage and integrity, how to use socratic questioning and scientific enquiry, how to build a life based in reality.

There is so much out there on addiction and recovery, different viewpoints from different people with different motives, so much stuff that the terms of addiction/recovery are almost redundant under the weight of the many definitions that can be applied. We imagine we are skilled up with a toolbox of ideas, but reality suggests we are just confused and overwhelmed. How do we know what will work? we can try everything and see what sticks Or we can create our own Critical thinking filter, imagine our filter is like a journey through a huge stadium more than half of the opinions and conclusions of recovery under honest skepticism probably wont even make it through the turnstiles.

"We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.” ― Arne Tiselius
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Old 05-05-2014, 05:57 PM
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whoa...

Scared to even touch this. When thinking like this i like to start with the knowns.

Addiction is a morally charged topic. People have vastly different beliefs regarding strategy to address it. People, more often than not, stick by their beliefs even in the face of perfectly logical counterarguments.

Then there is that which you brought up- MOTIVES. oh...so many..

I never loose sight of the fact that addiction treatment and punishment is a huge industry. On a one to one level you can see examples of compassion. But then, you can think about stockholders and ceo's, etc. It gets blurry real fast for me.

Its not just liquor producers and drug cartels getting rich.
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Old 05-05-2014, 07:04 PM
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I often wonder if the critical thinking skills and techniques I use today would of been a good foundation at the very beginning of my recovery. Imagine during the first days or weeks of rehab there was no attempt to paint the "powerless" picture, no serenity prayers, no therapy, no vague spiritual concepts or 12 step platitudes, no delusional absolutes, no A-frame hugs or feeling assessments BUT learning the skills of the "How"when it comes to thinking, how to cut through the opinions and unfounded absolutes, how to ask for evidence and question everything with courage and integrity, how to use socratic questioning and scientific enquiry, how to build a life based in reality.
samseb,
for the most part, that is how it was for the first year or two of my sobriety. i knew i couldn't do 12-step, and so i looked and looked and found Lifering, where i fit in beautifully. for the first few years.
no unquestioned absolutes, no powerlessness. open questions encouraged. thinking encouraged. skepticism fine. no prayers.

it was right for me.
how that would have been for you? you can't know, now.
how is it for you today?

the funny thing for me (not haha funny) was that my honest questioning and looking at my own experience led me away from my initial lenses to a different view of what my reality had actually been while drinking and trying a multitude of times to quit and stay quit.
not sure why i'm saying this to you exactly; it struck me that i had much the scenario you wonder about having, yet it's not where my conclusions left me be.
i agree that mostly at the beginning, esp. after many tries, we are often overwhelmed and confused and have no idea what might "work".
your concept of creating your own critical thinking filter seems to counter your later suggestion of questioning everything. it was questioning everything with allowing filters to drop away as my courage increased, so to speak, that got me to understand what's true for me.

hm...are you thinking you lost out, somehow, by not starting out that way?
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by fini View Post
. samseb, for the most part, that is how it was for the first year or two of my sobriety. i knew i couldn't do 12-step, and so i looked and looked and found Lifering, where i fit in beautifully. for the first few years. no unquestioned absolutes, no powerlessness. open questions encouraged. thinking encouraged. skepticism fine. no prayers. it was right for me. how that would have been for you? you can't know, now. how is it for you today? the funny thing for me (not haha funny) was that my honest questioning and looking at my own experience led me away from my initial lenses to a different view of what my reality had actually been while drinking and trying a multitude of times to quit and stay quit. not sure why i'm saying this to you exactly; it struck me that i had much the scenario you wonder about having, yet it's not where my conclusions left me be. i agree that mostly at the beginning, esp. after many tries, we are often overwhelmed and confused and have no idea what might "work". your concept of creating your own critical thinking filter seems to counter your later suggestion of questioning everything. it was questioning everything with allowing filters to drop away as my courage increased, so to speak, that got me to understand what's true for me. hm...are you thinking you lost out, somehow, by not starting out that way?
Thanks for that response.

Alot to ponder here and I really appreciate the dialogue.

I hope I didn't give the impression my post was about regret it not that way for me, at least I don't think so. As much as I don't really get into "my past made me who I am today" thinking ,it cant be changed. However I do see some value in my own de converted process from "Big book thumper" to atheist free thinker.
How is it today?
My 10th year this year of being gambling free, and pondering the idea that gambling is a possible option is very easily dismissed. My life today is rich with learning and ideas and I am almost 50, the thing that I really enjoy is learning about Human Nature, including myself. On the downside I do recognize certain levels of immaturity in myself and can become emotionally attached to "not getting things my way" but recently I have been getting some value in using really simple techniques like ABC's found in SMART recovery., to me they are fit well into the " critical thinking" process.

I think my language may of been a bit loose, when I wrote "I create my own critical thinking filter" what I really mean is I use a critical thinking filter (not my creation) which means I do try to question everything, that is a major part of "critical thinking".

Thank you
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:24 PM
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yes, i think a lot of techniques are useful, no matter what program, if any, one uses.
and what's interesting to me, too, is how much of a part "appeal" plays, appeal emotionally, i mean.
i was brought up by very critical-thinking parents and taught to make decisions in that critical filtering way.
what can happen, of course, is that i'm very sure of what the critically-thinking-logically-deciding thing to do is yet...it's more genuinely satisfying to choose differently, feed a part other than the rational brain/mind.

hm...filters...yeah...we inherit some, choose others, some turn into blinders....thanks for your response. and way to go on ten years!
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:30 PM
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whatever works for you is the only answer
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:14 PM
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yeah, of course, but one big problem with that set-up is the successs is only seen by the result. okay, i'm not putting this right; try again: you can't know what works for you until you're doing it or have done it and it's worked.


how do you know what works until you've done it forever?

see, what i've done and am doing has "worked" now for me for many years, but if i were to go back to drinking at some point, then how would it look? "oh, well, i see, THAT didn't work for more than 7/23/45 years, so no, won't do it THAT way again, doesn't work for me!" or "wow, got go and do that again! that worked really well for 4/19/41 years, and then i blew it, but i'll go and do that again because that worked well for me!"

just being devil's advocate....though i do think we can't really know what will "work" for us until something DOESN't.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by samseb5351 View Post
). I often wonder if the critical thinking skills and techniques I use today would of been a good foundation at the very beginning of my recovery. Imagine during the first days or weeks of rehab there was no attempt to paint the "powerless" picture, no serenity prayers, no therapy, no vague spiritual concepts or 12 step platitudes, no delusional absolutes, no A-frame hugs or feeling assessments BUT learning the skills of the "How"when it comes to thinking, how to cut through the opinions and unfounded absolutes, how to ask for evidence and question everything with courage and integrity, how to use socratic questioning and scientific enquiry, how to build a life based in reality.

There is so much out there on addiction and recovery, different viewpoints from different people with different motives, so much stuff that the terms of addiction/recovery are almost redundant under the weight of the many definitions that can be applied. We imagine we are skilled up with a toolbox of ideas, but reality suggests we are just confused and overwhelmed. How do we know what will work? we can try everything and see what sticks Or we can create our own Critical thinking filter, imagine our filter is like a journey through a huge stadium more than half of the opinions and conclusions of recovery under honest skepticism probably wont even make it through the turnstiles.

"We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.” ― Arne Tiselius
While my rehab did require that we go out every night to a 12-step meeting, our work during the day was a lot of group therapy which did draw on critical thinking skills. We challenged self-delusion (our own and others), and really tried to understand what helped each of us. I hear on SR that a number of rehabs use the 12-steps in their program.

I do not know if it helped everyone. Not everyone wants to turn the lens on himself, so you saw people find more sophisticated rationalizations. And some just left. And at least one killed himself.

My experience is that critical thinking skills at the very start do not help since thinking is so distorted at that point. But I do not know if I would want a bunch of psychologists and social workers getting involved in imparting a 12-step program since the power-dynamic seems antithetical to that program.

I do not know if anything works other than being in a strange town without drugs and alcohol available. I think that you just need to be clean and sober for awhile before anything can work. I do not know if rehab, 12-step, or anything helped me more than just being separated from my DOC.
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Old 05-11-2014, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by miamifella View Post
f. My experience is that critical thinking skills at the very start do not help since thinking is so distorted at that point.
.
I think what may need challenging here is the idea inn early recovery we are not mentally equipped or things are distorted, that maybe true in detox however after that this idea is more a "recovery" party line and probably not something real or true. Its not hard to convince people with their last binge or relapse still fresh in their minds that everything is broken or dysfunctional with thinking, I think it is false however and many many people are ready and willing to learn from the get go. Maybe this all comes back to this Step 1 idea that we are powerless, when we feel hopeless then we are vulnerable to suggestions we are powerless, if this is the main MO of certain recovery groups then of course people will reinforce the idea our thinking is distorted. By the way Critical Thinking skills are a How of thinking not a What, pretty easy as long as we can get the"powerless" fallacy out of the picture.
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:08 AM
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I never went through detox, so I do not know how long a period you mean, but it took me a few weeks to normalize back to anything resembling my pre-addiction thinking.

I am not talking about reading comprehension or anything like that. I am talking about how I interpreted actions of myself and others and my perception of relationships.

I am not in 12-step recovery, but was in it for many years. It seemed to me to be not a program for the newly clean/sober, for just this reason. I think it works better after someone has passed this early period. I do not know if the idea of "powerlessness" can be understood until you have some time away from drink/drugs and can evaluate behavior before and after. I do not think one has the critical thinking skills needed until things have already started to change.
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