DIY Recovery

Old 12-21-2006, 04:39 PM
  # 41 (permalink)  
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I strongly suspect that "DIY" -- do it yourself -- is a far from uncommon "program".
It is done without glamor; without a huge support group; without wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is, simply, done.
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:15 PM
  # 42 (permalink)  
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Thumbs up

This is such a great thread I'm so glad it was bumped up as I missed it when it first came around.

I feel that ANY or NO program will always work when we're completely finished with that form of living. Completely, zip, nada, no more. We have to be finished. Some are never finished but if you can count 3, 4 or 9 months of continous sobriety it is a very effective means of harm reduction. At least continous relapsers are giving their bodies some kind of break and that has to count for something.. at least in my book. My main issue is keeping people alive..oh jeeez, I've hijacked this thread!

I also put my alcholism in the past and as someone else said, it was an effective means of closure on that part of my past.

I get something out of all the programs you've all mentioned.. they all have something somewhere that has the ring of truth in it. It's good to be reminded that there's something for everybody even if its nothing!
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Old 12-30-2006, 07:33 PM
  # 43 (permalink)  
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Hi Mongo

What a great thread, exactly what I was looking for! I've read that DIY recovery actually has a better success rate than AA. There's no way of knowing though as, by the nature of both methods, there can't really be any firm statistics.

I know what is working for me though is DIY. I had been unhappy with my drinking for years, completely fed up with the lost productivity and the awful hangovers and guilt and fears about my health.

I've been to a few AA meetings in the past and just knew that they weren't for me. Really nice people but I just didn't want to do a Program I just wanted to stop drinking.

I developed alcoholic gastritis last year which is inflammation of the stomach lining and I used that as my final wake up call and decided that my drinking arm was broken beyond repair. I decided that a body will take a finite amount of drinks and that I had reached the finish line.

My father was an alcoholic and he has not had a drink for 40 years (I'm 38 and he's 74). He did not use any program, he detoxed in hospital for a week then had antabuse for a month and that was the end of it all for him. My eldest sister was also an alcoholic and has not had a drink for 14 years, she detoxed in hospital and then never drank again. Neither of them have any desire at all to drink. So I take great hope from that.

The thing that I find has helped most is being really honest and open about my struggle to stay sober with my friends and family. For instance tonight I was desperate for a bottle (or 3) of wine and phoned a friend and told her I was gagging for a drink and would she please come to the cinema? So tonight I've done something to distract myself and I feel absolutely fine.

So, I think common sense can help. Phone a friend, go to the cinema, eat chocolate, have a bath, go to bed - just anything at all until the feeling passes. I remember saying to a CBT counsellor "but what will happen if I am angry or sad and I don't have a drink to deal with it?" he said "nothing, you'll go to bed and wake up the next day, don't be so dramatic".

Best wishes
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Old 12-30-2006, 07:45 PM
  # 44 (permalink)  
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Hi Jane and welcome to SR.

Thanks for you post, there's a lot of great insight there.

Keep well

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Old 12-31-2006, 07:05 PM
  # 45 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by CAS116
I suspect, but have no proof, that "DIY" is a commonplace. And, such folks who do "DIY" have very little contact with groups whose focus is substance abuse.
That's very good; you hit upon a truism. Researchers such as Peele and Vaillant (the latter of whom I'll return to in a moment) observe in their published works that a vast majority of addicts of every stripe, whether they be smokers, alcoholics, crackheads or pillheads like me are somehow able to stop on their own. AND -as you said- have very little contact with the established mainstream help-groups.

As to what DIY is, well I can tell you the concept you all are struggling to express, underpinning the whole psychology of Do It Yourself. It's a piece of medical terminology which I absolutely love. It's called self-efficacy.

As defined on this page, self-efficacy is an individual’s estimate of his or her own ability to cope with a given situation. It's a measure of confidence in self--which quite literally runs counter to the concept of powerlessness which winds throughout all Twelve-Step programs.

And LadyJane you've been "reading my mail." Hehe. Either that or we read the same books.

Explanation forthcoming in a sec, i have to fetch it.

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Old 12-31-2006, 07:36 PM
  # 46 (permalink)  
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Self-efficacy expounded upon

Now, the following is a repost of my own writing from the Substance Abuse forum so of course if you've read it already, then it's nothing new. OTOH, if'n ya haven't you might find it an interesting read.

- - - [start] - - -
My reading and searching have taken me back 25 years, to a day when the internet was unheard of. A few seminal names stood out immediately in my browsing such as George Vaillant's "The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery," a veritable "textbook for the masses" I practically studied from cover to cover, so fascinated was I with the material.

Please bear in mind that where ever you see the term alcoholism, the related discussion actually bear much applicability today to ALL addictions.

It is very relevant oddly enough, for the SA forum.

So, one person I dug back and found was George Vaillant M.D., a Harvard educated psychiatrist and noted researcher who dared ask some of the difficult; nay, even taboo questions for the day:
  • Have we invented "alcoholism"? (The term itself is no more than "alcohol" with "-ism" attached. One might just as well
    created the term, nicotinism for addicted smokers.)
  • Does treatment really work?
  • What, other than abstinence, precisely is a "medical treatment" of an addiction?
  • Are alcoholics doomed without intervention? Vaillant observed, through a landmark 16-year study, that many people either a) appear to "mature out" of their disease or b) follow an observable inverse bell-curve pattern which simply ends on its own.
  • What were the socio-political benefits in raising addiction to alcohol from simple vice to official, recognized disease status?
  • Is controlled drinking by the alcoholic possible and can cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT) emphasizing the crucial element of self-efficacy over powerlessness help the patient achieve reasonable goals?
  • Barring this, how about complete abstinence but without the mindset of powerlessness?
These and many more provocative questions are explored in his books from the 80s right up to near-present and I encourage the interested reader to visit his or her local library and do a little digging.

I focus mostly here on Vaillant because his work came after Jellinek's and indeed, was based off much of his research and studies.

Both men also sought to study how and why spiritually-based programs like Alcoholics Anonymous worked, but they didn't stop there, oh no. Vaillant for one, often quite matter-of-factly cited the difficulty in obtaining any empirical, outside (objective) data because of the Traditions and anonymity aspects.

Nonetheless, they did try. And, when measured against either CBT or no "treatment" at all, five-year follow-ups were often less than inspiring. The men found that AA works best when a strong motivation in the subject was present; however, in those for whom these programs just didn't fit (for whatever reasons, be it the "God" factor or the ritualistic characteristics of meetings), outcomes were predictably abysmal.

The following snippet is from "Broadening the Base of Treatment for Alcohol Problems." This is a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the Department of Health and Human Services, copyrighted 1990. It is authored by a committee of the Institute of Medicine and includes complete bibliographical references. The links and parenthetical commentary are mine to aid the reader.

Based on longitudinal research on several different populations, George Vaillant has eloquently stated the case: Alcoholism is a syndrome defined by the redundancy and variety of individual symptoms. Efforts to fit all alcohol users who are problems to themselves or others into a single, rigid definition will prove procrustean (i.e., "one size fits all"). It is the variety of alcohol-related problems, not a unique criterion, that captures what clinicians really mean when they label a person alcoholic.
- - - [end] - - -

Kinda says it all.

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Old 01-02-2007, 10:06 AM
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Hi Ten

Ah - 'tis in my nature. I couldn't read just one book - I had to read them all!

What you say is very interesting about the use of the word "alcoholic". Need we even use the term? Should we be regarded as forever sick or in the grip of alcohol? I'm not suggesting attempting to moderate use or of forgetting how dangerously ill alcohol has and can make many of us.

I once broke my arm (whilst sober, very unfair!) but it is no longer broken although I do tend to guard it a little on hazardous stairs or paths. Can't "alcoholism" be viewed in the same light?

One thing that I have noticed in the AA Big Book is that so many of the stories begin with or contain the words "I always knew I was different" or some form of those words. Are problem drinkers different from non-problem drinkers? I'm no more "different" than anyone else that I know well enough to know whether they are unusual.

My view is that the problem drinker is made, not born. Through continued excessive ingestion we may become physically dependent and it may become our sole way of coping with any excess of situation or emotion. That is a learned behaviour and so hopefully can be unlearned. Through powerfulness.

Best wishes
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:02 PM
  # 48 (permalink)  
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Hi Jane.

Good post. I like your analogy of guarding a past injury in hazardous situations. That is so true for my personal alcohol addiction.

I don't believe that I was born an alcoholic, nor do I believe that I have a disease that predisposes me to make bad choices. Through my behaviour and choices over the years, I addicted myself to alcohol, therefore I was responsible. So yes, my problem drinking is my fault only. The circumstances of life can be rough for everyone, I chose to "help" make it through them by drinking.

I had the power to develop my addiction, only I have the power to curtail it. To me, powerlessness also means hopelessness. I'm delighted to have started to find that power to beat my addiction through my own behavioural choices.

Yes, I realize that controlled drinking for me is not an option. My only hope of curbing and eventually curing my addiction is through abstinence.

Being able to access information from the internet, and utilizing every resource available to me has helped tremendously.

Taking bits and pieces from here and there from different recovery programs is an option that really hasn't been available until the internet has made it so, and I believe that recovery programs will evolve and have evolved to take advantage of this in years to come. So the future does look bright.

Looking forward to reading your future posts.

Good luck and keep well

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Old 01-02-2007, 08:54 PM
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Hi Ron

I totally agree with your take on the powerless = hopeless. When I tried to make AA fit I felt just awful, like I was staring death in the face if AA was truly my one and only option and I am so delighted that so many other resources are now at our fingertips.

I am cherry picking too but have not yet found a snappy CBT tool.

I think though that a "hangover" (ha ha) from drinking days is that years of using alcohol to deal with life's ups and downs means that as well as learning not to drink we have to learn to roll with the ups and downs as non-problem drinkers always have. Or we imagine they have. But, in the spirit of powerfulness and acceptance, time and practice will work. It may be uncomfortable at times, but hey, remember my arm? It only aches when I think about it.

Also, if this is my "ego" talking then great! Ego can be as benign as the Greek word for "I".

Best wishes
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Old 01-14-2007, 11:32 AM
  # 50 (permalink)  
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Great wisdom and truth in this thread.

I am a satisfied DIY individual. I agree with the idea; find your own truth. Investigate the options, formulate a plan and commit oneself to action. I found what worked best for me. I believe addiction recovery is a skill that most anyone can learn.

One skill that I learned is to alter my perception w/o drugs by way of Buddhism. When I learned that I am the cause of my suffering, I did something about it. I don’t feel like a hapless victim of my thoughts anymore.
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Old 01-14-2007, 04:25 PM
  # 51 (permalink)  
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Ten chips down:
Got it in one!
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Old 01-27-2007, 03:43 PM
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great thread.

i have a logical issue. i think everything i do is "DIY" (or "DIM") anyway. basically, i have never done anything in my life a certain prescribed way, even when i really wanted to join something and do it like that i end up doing it my way... i came to an age when i accepted that. sometimes that means i have to work harder, or be on my own. i fall and stumble, but i often manage to get through to the other side. and there is no reason this should be any different.

side note: what i find difficult with AA is the things like admitting you're powerless. i am not powerless. i may have a problem but i believe i can make a difference. why the hell else woud i try recovery if i thought i was powerless? maybe i am too rational and control-oriented. but works for me in general why not in recovery...
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:56 AM
  # 53 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by velouria View Post
maybe i am too rational and control-oriented.
Thanks for posting, and keeping this thread active. This Secular neighborhood is the only place I feel "safe" posting about my continued abstinence. Too often on this site, rationality and self-control are viewed as signs of denial, "dry-drunkenness," or worse...

I want a place to not necessarily celebrate being sober for 60 days, but to comment on the significance of that date, since 30/60/90 days are mentioned often in reference to "recovery."

At 30 days, I was still pretty cranky: my job still sucked, I still spent lots of free time alone, I didn't feel suddenly healthier...and I began to think it was all because I wasn't attending A.A. meetings. But being the stubborn, ego-driven Alcoholic personality that I've heard I am, I continued to abstain and use this website for inspiration and information.

Well, 60 days have passed without a drink, and I feel better. I'm more positive, have put my difficult job into perspective (like, I have one, at least!), and I'm feeling healthier. And looking back, I'm realizing part of my trouble during that first month was pure, unadulterated GUILT for not attending A.A. meetings!

It's easy to pick apart a program of recovery like A.A., and I try very hard not to get into it most of the time. But I'm also a little pissed to realize that, in my mind, their program had gone from being one option, to being considered crucial to my sense of well-being, when in fact the opposite was occurring. Every day I choose sobriety without a meeting makes me feel better about myself and my future. I no longer feel like I'm "doing it wrong!"

That's my biggest problem with their philosophy: that I'm doomed without being powerless and turning everything over to God. Um, sorry; simply not true for me, and for countless others just like me.

And for that, I am truly grateful today!!!!!!

Any more DIY-ers wanna testify?!

Thanks for this opportunity,
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:28 AM
  # 54 (permalink)  
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Hi Arp, congratulations on getting so far. As far as AA is concerned, "take what you need and leave the rest" is what a lot of people say and that seems good to me.

I do that, but also try to make at least a small contribution in return. So now I only attend sporadically, and I don't do things by the book (or by The Book) but I do a small service job at one group.

That's a fair deal in terms of what I get out of the movement, I think. Whether its a good idea in terms of my own sobriety is for me to figure out. At the moment, I think it is.

peace, nl.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:15 PM
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hi Arp,

congratulations on your continued sobriety and thanks for sharing your perspective.

i am open to AA. i might "take what works" from it one day, like many people have suggested here. the experience-sharing part might be useful to me one day i think.

but i haven't gone so far. and when i ask myself why i don't go... i think it's because i have been to busy. but a deeper reason... lets see. i know there will be a lot that i will need to "filter out" when i do go and right nowthings are hard enough without complicating my life with exposing myself to annoying concepts. like i need to let go, let god.

dude, if i could just "let go" like that within my first 3 decades of life i would not have had 2 pack a day smoking habit for 12 years (quit), compulsive overeating disorder (recovered), anorexia nervosa/overexercise (three times, recovered), and heavy drinking (recovering)... so yeah, that would be nice but clearly we're havign issues with that sort of thing here...

on the other hand, the same "not letting go" thing has made me seek success, indepence, travel and adventure... and i have led an amazing life i do not regret...

i have been told "you can't do that, you'll fail, that's wrong, we've all done it this way, that's impossible". but i have often been that one person who did it that other way, who did not fail, who showed that maybe there is no right or wrong about this thing but there is a "different"...

now, this is a fine line with addictions. because an addict is not rational or in control, the addiction is.

but i am not addicted to alcohol. perhaps i could be, if i continued to drink but now i am not... hence, i have to go about it another way.

this is all quite incoherent. i guess what i am trying to say is, i am a huge believer in human possibilities. and while AA works for loads of people, each of them are still different inside and are "doing it their way". and there are unique possibilities that noone can dream of that are yet to work...

it's a pity but understandable that the out of the ordinary can make others uncomfortable. they don't mean any harm, it's just unfamiliar. i on the other hand, find the extraordinary exciting and amazing!!
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Old 01-30-2007, 01:45 AM
  # 56 (permalink)  
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This is a beautiful thread, and I'm glad I found it tonight.

My dad quit a lifelong battle with alcoholism about 15 years ago. He didn't use AA, and he never talked about it. It was just like one day he was done and that was it. His brother (my uncle) died two summers ago and my sis tells me that dad got drunk right after. You'd think that would alarm me, but it didn't. I totally thought, "Well, if you can't drink over that, then what can you drink over?" Obviously if he had continued to drink it would have been a different story, but he didn't. I don't think that means his 15 years were for naught, but that anyone can slip, and sometimes we are able to have one episode rather than completely lapse back into addiction.

I've tried AA and NA and I think those programs are wonderful for a lot of people. However, I couldn't ever get past Step 1, and that was not for lack of trying. It seemed like there was something that everyone else understood that I couldn't get no matter what I read or how many meetings I attended. I really think that it was through AA that I realized just how little belief in a higher power I have. I wanted one, but it felt like a lie to sit there and participate in a program that so strongly revolves around that concept.

I'm not clean at all, and I don't know if I ever will be. I want to be done, but it keeps dragging me back. When I drank heavily I was able to quit, much like my dad. It never pulled me back in like drugs (painkillers) have. When I found them I was taken by surprise that something could make me feel soooooo good. And ever since I have been chasing that feeling. I hate being a slave to this thing, but I don't know what to do. Sometimes I can leave them alone for long periods and other times I take so many that I lose track. Sometimes I feel that the drug controls me, but mostly I feel that it is a choice I make. I have stared down the barrel of the gun and willfully pulled that trigger. If the urge to quit ever overwhelms the urge to use I will know I'm done, but I fear that will never happen.
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Old 01-30-2007, 04:45 AM
  # 57 (permalink)  
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Hi HH and welcome to SR.

Thank you for sharing your Dad's story. Sometimes I need to hear about success like this, makes me feel way better. Often in the back of my mind I have little nagging feelings, can this really be done? Really helps with self-doubt.

There's a lot of great info and personal experiences on these forums. I hope you can find some valuable stuff to help you. Wonderful people here.

Sounds like you're right where a lot of us were. We do have the power within ourselves to turn things around, I think.

Keep well and good luck

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Old 03-12-2007, 04:26 PM
  # 58 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by HedwigHansel View Post
I've tried AA and NA and I think those programs are wonderful for a lot of people. However, I couldn't ever get past Step 1, and that was not for lack of trying. It seemed like there was something that everyone else understood that I couldn't get no matter what I read or how many meetings I attended. I really think that it was through AA that I realized just how little belief in a higher power I have. I wanted one, but it felt like a lie to sit there and participate in a program that so strongly revolves around that concept.

I couldn't have said that better myself.

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Old 01-10-2008, 11:22 PM
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my conundrum

Here's my problem, though I've already accepted the solution and am at this point just bitter and bitching:

I'm not an alcoholic. Don't get me wrong my drinking will no doubt trend towards alcoholism over time, but at this point, the reason I'm leaving the sauce is the (nearly unavoidable) progression from drinking to cocaine. If I'm drinking, I let my guard down, and then I make stupid decisions. So, for now at least, I need to give it all up, since the two have become like one of those annoying couples that are ALWAYS together.

How do I distract myself for the initial period of cleanliness? I'm quite functional while wasted so throwing myself into school or work doesn't help. I've considered having "Smarten the f**k up" tattooed onto my right hand (my wallet hand) but that seems extreme.
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:50 PM
  # 60 (permalink)  
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There is a great tool on the SMART Recovery site called Disarm. I use it all the time, not just for my addiction, but for any bad habit these days.
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