Alcoholics helping Alcoholics??

Old 03-01-2015, 11:14 AM
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Alcoholics helping Alcoholics??

I had mentioned the idea on another thread, that it might be worthwhile thinking about or challenging the deep belief amongst many addicts/alcoholics that only other addicts/alcoholics really know how to help, and secondary to that idea is that those who are not an addict (offering support or expertise) should be treated kind of like second class helpers and in some cases dismissed as non-experiential intruders on sacred ground.
I, like most up until recently never really questioned the immense value that one who has "been there, done that" living a sober life can help another, and the subtle idea that this kind of help almost always Trumps other kinds of help, BUT on a Podcast "Point of Inquiry" on Feb 2nd an episode called "Letting Go of the Soul" Dr Julien Musolino was interviewed and he presented the idea that this Sacred Attachment humans have to the experiential maybe more a myth than a reality.
When you think about examples of the experiential, stories you may sometimes hear in Recovery Groups like the one About the two people, One man who learns all this is to know about Oranges, the make up of the orange, its chemistry, where its grown, its history as food source and so on... AND the man who eats the orange, and then We are posed the Question "who knows more about the Orange?" Almost intuitively we say the man who eats the orange, My question is Why?

My main point of discussion really isn't that we can't help one another its more that Secondary dismissiveness we develop that other non addicts cant help, and how possibly we block off decent chances of Scientific answers to problems of addiction because of this. I would love to hear others perspective on this.....

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Old 03-01-2015, 12:28 PM
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I think it is less about the quality of the potential help and more about the ability to connect and form some sort of trust. For example, if you have a drinking problem that you have struggle with for years, a friend may tell you that you should just quit. You think, "well he doesn't understand." You tell your doctor, and he says that you should just quit. You think, "well he doesn't understand." Then you come here and someone says that they struggled for years with their drinking, then they tried RR. They finally realized that they had the power to just make a decision that they would never drink again, no matter what. You think, "Ah ha! Now here is someone who really understands me and knows what they are talking about."

Essentially the same message three times, but one was received very differently because there was a bond of understanding.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:36 PM
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We know from science that addiction is a brain disorder caused by drinking/using too much, too often, manifesting itself as changes in normal chemical production and distribution in the brain in response to the regular intake. We know this from white-coated scientists in the lab, who mostly are not addicts. We also know that some drugs, naltrexone for example, can reduce alcohol cravings, and that other drugs, butrenorphene for example, are helpful in managing opiate addiction. Again, developed by people who mostly are not addicts.

Is the knowledge helpful? To me, indirectly, yes, because it explains what we're up against, and explains many of the symptoms both of addiction and early abstinence. Are the drugs helpful? To some people, yes.

But if I wanted guidance on how to get through early recovery, I wouldn't talk to a medical doctor or a brain imaging scientist, I'd talk to lots of people and pick out what works for me. And those people will mostly be former addicts, even the professional counselors who work to help addicts get through to the light on the other side.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:52 PM
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You use the word 'help' in a very broad sense. I would ask, help with what? I think you would have a hard time finding someone who thinks that physicians (most of whom are non addicts/alcoholics) are not useful in assisting people with detox.

That is to say, there are many forms of "help". One of those is emotional support. An essential part of that support is often empathy. People who have never had a substance/alcohol problem cannot relate as effectively to someone recovering as can other drug addicts or alcoholics (as the case may be). They cannot quite put themselves in the shoes of those who are currently struggling. Can they provide support? Sure. Is it always as effective? No, not by a long shot. In some respects it takes one to know one.

There is a big difference between support and expertise. It's best to get both, and if all those qualities are characteristic of the person who is helping, so much the better.
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:06 AM
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It would be my contention that the only help that is required is some early, brief and strong advice to quit drinking permanently. The RR decision making guide and lesson plan available for free is perfectly adequate.

However, a firm warning from a doctor that it is "quit or die" is often sufficient.

There are many non-group methods whose only help is a stern rebuke to quit now, forever. Many Catholic rites have saints dedicated to this, and many people pledge permanent abstinence in this manner and perform various religious rituals associated with it, and it works great. Very popular and common in Hispanic tradition.

As far as secular counseling goes, however, it is my belief that only formerly addicted people are really in a position to understand and advise the one true path: planned, permanent abstinence based on the structural model of addiction. An understanding of the structural model of addiction allows the addict to understand and effortlessly resist the inevitable urges to drink that will crop up.

The reason that only the formerly addicted are capable in this is that only they understand the deep pleasure, the insidious seductiveness, the constant rationalizing of drinking as an innocent act.

Non-addicted counselors prescribe things such as moderation, confession to others, delving into childhood dramas, etc., that do no good and are possibly harmful.

The only advice that matters is that which advises immediate, permanent cessation, Very few in the professional counseling field will furnish such frank advice, and all are former addicts. Almost everyone else believes recovery is a process, not an act.

It is an act: quit drinking permanently and you are forever cured of excessive alcohol consumption.

Last edited by Greenwood618; 03-02-2015 at 10:19 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:51 PM
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:35 PM
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My mom, who was an alcoholic, always said "The only people who've ever been able to help me are those who had to ask for the same type of help before"

I find now, the only people who truly get what I'm going through are those who have been or are currently there themselves. My non-addict friends think I'm fine because I would only drink some beers 1xs a week. They didn't see how I became argumentative and ruined relationships, or woke up crying because it hurt to know I gave in again.

Anyway, human connection and shared experiences is vital.
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