Horror Story #1:
Dr. Bomb's Nightmare - dr.bomb
I don't have a drunk-a-logue. I have a recovery-logue. It is a dialogue based in the simple principles of freedom. In this case the right as a sentient human being to be free from coercion in all its forms and the freedom to pursue knowledge to strengthen that freedom. This is a story of my journey to discover my authentic self and my return to my own humanity and democratic principles. Above everything else, this story explains my self-discovered liberation from alcohol addiction and those who would rather see me remain in such chemical and ideological bondage.
There is a lot that I object to concerning the philosophy of A.A. known as Buchmanism. I was once a member of the organization from July 21, 2003 through March 2004 who adhered to its tenets so well that I nearly died due to such irrational belief on October 25, 2003. From March 2004 to the present I have successfully deprogrammed myself using a technique which, per the propaganda of the recovery group movement and its business arm known as the addiction treatment industry, either never exists or doesn't work. For a movement which claims that it is helping people one wonders how many more are harmed than saved. A movement which considers itself arrogantly above all other philosophies and rational thought. A wolf within the Godly garb of the trusting flock of sheep. A movement where "rigorous honesty" means to deceive and where what I'm writing is considered sacrelige.
My utter disdain towards A.A. lies not just within being coerced into attending its clearly religious meetings and practicing its 12-step conversion program into belief in "God as Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman" (the true creator of the philosophy behind A.A. and clearly neither William Griffith Wilson nor Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith) understands it. In fact, as someone who prefers a secular life free from superstitious irrationalities, I am NOT against religion. I consider religious philosophy to be a series of beliefs to be voluntarily entered into of one's own free will and not coerced upon by higher human authorities. In fact our very own First Amendment within the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees that right to the citizens of our country to choose their beliefs for themselves and not to have others imposed upon them. I'll go as far to state that I love my country yet hold in contempt the ignorant people who corrupt the system further.
It's been mentioned that the authorities within the criminal justice system in Kittanning PA are "God fearing". It's ironic that that specific phrase since that phrase implies that those people are clearly fundamentalist theists and carry fanatical belief in the existence of such a deity. In reality the fear they hold dear is the fear of reality itself and how it often contradicts their irrational dogmatic beliefs. Certainly living a life in fear of the unknown is a very irrational way of living. I wouldn't even consider that life! Certainly I would drop such respect for such a "loving" deity outright if a life of fear and life a courageous life instead. A life of honesty and of authentic personal values which are no one's own business but one's own. That is all that matters. For the authorities within our system to unconstitutionally impose their dubious "values" of themselves upon other citizens, in fact to contradict the values of honesty and tolerance in light of our own civil liberties, leads to blatant systemic corruption of power. For those who engage within this corruption their expulsion from power is mandated within the shining light of freedom and the action of democracy itself.
This fear-driven corruption, from my own vantage point, has led to more systemic corruption and recividism than any newly hastily-enacted law can ever aspire to end. Indeed, it's far more courageous and virtuous of myself to state, for the record, who I am as a human being rather than lie to others in order to receive clemency. To state for one to "grin and bear it" rather than to be perfectly honest is a practice which has led to an inverted reality consisting of a revolving door where those who "fake it 'til they make it" and go back to their dishonest way of living are granted privilege. Meanwhile, for those of us who possess a clear conscience, we're punished for our own honesty in light of the injustice at hand. Ignorance and closed-mindedness is rewarded while education and curiosity is seen as flaws to be remedied with extreme prejudice.
To cite an example, my first and final month-long sponsor within A.A. showed me, inadvertently, how grossly intolerant Buchmanism (the philosophy of A.A.) is of people who are truly open-minded. I stated that I valued my secularity and believed in reality itself. Curiosity, fact, logic, reason, rationality and the honest knowledge obtained through these actions of freethought were practices I live by yet he didn't want to hear any of it. Prior to the night that we met for the final time to work the Steps of Buchmanism I have had misgivings towards the Fourth Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (a.k.a. the "Big Book") which literally predicts certain death to three specific groups of people: Atheists, Agnostics and Intellectuals. Not one word within that chapter pertains to how one can learn how to quit drinking once and for all.
I tried to speak of this insight with him and he promptly disregarded it as "stinkin' thinkin". My thoughts prior and up to that moment were so clear: "Why would I want to remain a member of an organization which wants me dead?" Certainly, an organization which prides itself upon stating that it is based upon the principles of "rigorous honesty" would be tolerant of someone who possesses a truly tolerant worldview and harbors zero "sacred cows" (although if someone has a sacred cow I do have the urge to grind it into hamburger and feast upon it accordingly). It was then that I realized that this perversion of religion known as Buchmanism is the problem: The wall is the imposition of theistic belief between one's own addiction and freedom from it. At the end of that night I stated that I was content to remain on the Second Step until the end of time and bid myself adieu.
I fired up my notebook computer with a Big Question in mind: "What does theistic belief have to do with recovering from addiction?" My hypothesis was that theism has nothing to do with "recovery"; that the theism, as practiced by A.A., had an ulterior purpose. I proceeded to visit the Secular Web (http://www.infidels.org) and performed a search for mentions of "Alcoholics Anonymous" within their website. I discovered that there are indeed court rulings against coerced attendance in A.A. Indeed, per one case, A.A. was declared "unequivocally religious" and therefore unconstitutional for the criminal justice system to mandate attendance into such an organization. I wasn't looking for a "cure" that night. I was just looking for more informed opinion regarding my firm belief in keeping religion and state separated per Thomas Jefferson's vision of our government. That's interesting in and of itself but the discovery of a list of alternative organizations such as Secular Sobriety, Moderation Management and Rational Recovery piqued my curiosity.
I've heard of Rational Recovery during my stay in Clarion Psychiatric Center (I volunteered to go there on the night of my arrest on July 21, 2003). However there was no Rational Recovery literature to be found there. In fact there was no other literature short of children's books, old women's magazines and A.A. propaganda (the Big Book and A.A.'s organ, A.A. Grapevine) and the description that the staff at Clarion provided for Rational Recovery was that it was just another 12-Step program. Therefore, believing that they knew what they were talking about I believed them and accepted as "The Real Thing", Alcoholics Anonymous indoctrination. My crash course into Buchmanism started there. In lieu of other appropriate reading material (The Nation, Reason and Mother Jones are my favorite magazines, if only to define my favorite reading genre) I devoured the contents of the Big Book in four days. I found myself carrying the book everywhere I went believing that it held the truth of my condition. I thought I was in the right place. I believed I was an alcoholic.
After a week or so I was discharged with some antidepressants (I was "dual diagnosed" for depression and alcohol dependence) and in the next few weeks I was assigned to outpatient counseling sessions with Jane Testa at ARC Manor and I voluntarily attended A.A. meetings. A few weeks I was feeling...okay, I guess. There was neither a high nor a low to my emotions at the time. I was just emotionally flat. Not only did I feel numb from the antidepressants but I became sexually impotent. So I quit taking the medication. Soon it was out of my system by the first week of outpatient and my libido returned. I felt good. I felt.
The second week of outpatient counseling didn't go so well. When one has learned to become substance dependent to regulate mood and finds themselves without such tranquilizers the raw emotions just flood through one's own being. My childhood past was brought up and a cascading wave of emotions enveloped me. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Hatred. Fear. Everything. I lashed out at the counselor because I felt she wasn't understanding me. I was of two people during that day of counseling: I reveled in feeling something for once in my entire life and yet, after the ordeal, I felt just awful. I didn't like what I did yet who was she to judge what was happening? I sincerely thought that she knew. All I wanted to learn from her was how to quit drinking and not dredge up my past.
After counseling that night I had only one beer to soothe my jagged nerves before I went to an A.A. meeting. At the meeting I complained about her and how she didn't understand. It felt good just talking about what I went though. I felt as though I was one with the group. I found other meetings and though I was doing quite well knowing I only drank one beer in all of that time since Clarion. The next counseling session I told her about the one beer I drank and the requirement became going to two counseling sessions per week because it was such a dangerous "relapse". Likewise, due to the outburst the previous week, I was mandated to see a psychiatrist to deal with my "childhood trauma" and my need to self-mutilate myself. I mentioned to her that I've had far too many bad experiences in my childhood due to psychiatrists who did more to harm and ridicule me than to actually help. Again, I told her that I just wanted to learn how to quit drinking. The wedge between my addiction and my freedom from it, in this case, was my phobia of psychiatrists; A phobia which she could not understand despite how I went into detail concerning my past experiences with them. I also noticed that I was feeling worse after the counseling sessions. It was as though I was talking to the walls.
In between going to a lot of A.A. meetings and counseling sessions I felt isolated. Sobriety sucked. A.A. meetings just didn't feel right since they felt like religious revivals and I felt like a stranger at every meeting I went to. I always felt worse after counseling at $25 per session. I got the bill for Clarion and found myself staring down $2000 in initial debt (I joke about it now by stating that I paid $2000 for my copy of the Third Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous). According to the philosophy of alcoholism I was a dry drunk in full-blown misery. Since I valued my secularity I knew I couldn't work the Steps yet I believed I was diseased. I knew there was one thing that would make me feel great so I proceeded to drink while believing that A.A. was helping me.
I wanted to get further involved in A.A. at that time. I had the grandiose dream of constructing a website where I would post actual maps of where meetings were within the area. Thanks to the mapping software on my notebook computer I could easily send text-based directions to interested parties looking to get to a meeting from whatever location they were at. I even proceeded to write some draft pages for the website-to-be by taking my notebook to the bar with me as I bashed out prose proclaiming the benefits of A.A. while within a drunken stupor. Indeed, as I learned later, early spokespeople for A.A. were still drinking yet were valued for their oratory skills. I was following the path perfectly.
Prior to the next counseling session I stopped at my favorite bar to enjoy the pleasant buzz of my favorite drink. Realizing what time it was I wound up showing up late to my counseling session. I told her of my plans for A.A. and she suspected that I had a couple of drinks. I was then swabbed for alcohol and was told to wait at ARC for an hour before I drove home. She inquired about whether I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist and I told her yet again how I felt about psychiatrists. I was next mandated to be drug tested three times a week for a month. I wasn't counseled further during that month.
Needless to say that I binged the worst during that month. Weekends where I would go to a meeting in the morning then proceed to the bar became my habit. I would drink from the morning until the afternoon with my "friends". Between testing days I would drink as well. It was as though a little voice inside my head was saying "Y'know you hate them and they'll never understand. You're an alcoholic. This is what alcoholics do so it's not your fault. Enjoy it while you can as long as you can. As long as you test clean no one will be the wiser." My alibis were rock-solid: I was going to "meetings" and if I seemed a little "out" of it I was tired from meetings. However, there was a darker side: A part of me didn't like this one bit. I still wanted to learn how to quit drinking yet I felt diseased and felt as though none of this mattered one way or the other. My self-mutilation graduated to burning my arm with lit cigarettes while at the bar. Maybe I burned myself to feel something genuine. Maybe because I did feel as though all of these people, especially the counselor, would care as long as I tested clean.
On the Friday before my death I received a letter in the mail from ARC Manor stating that my counseling was terminated because I refused to see a psychiatrist; That counseling would continue only if I saw one under the advice of my counselor. My heart sunk lower than it ever did before in my entire life! It didn't matter if the drug tests all were negative. The message was simple: "See a shrink or we won't teach you how to quit drinking!" I felt betrayed as though the counselor didn't listen at all and since I was bingeing hard at this time, feeling lower than low at my own betrayal of myself. It was as though the end was here: Die lonely and diseased. I thoroughly hated myself and ARC Manor for leaving me. Then the thought occurred again: "There are worse ways to go. Might as well enjoy it. Cheers!"
Saturday I went to my morning meetings and went to a meeting in Pitcarin. I was hoping someone I knew there would talk with me. The person who I wanted to talk to left immediately after the meeting ended and only the reactionaries remained. There is nothing like the pain of abandonment. I then spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening drinking enough so that I would be "numb" enough to end it all. By the end of the night I nearly succeeded. Emerging from a totalled vehicle near a ravine which I intended to drive and crash into, I was unscathed. Besides the car my pride and self esteem was also totalled and left in a state of limbo: Alive but dead.
For the next two months I thought about that period of time, neither drinking nor attending meetings. "What went wrong?" "Why am I alive?" "Have I suffered enough?" "What did I learn from all of this?" "What will I do differently?" I spent some time beginning to learn more about the history of A.A. and started reading some material by Mitchell K., a historian of the movement at about.com. By the end of this two month period I reluctantly decided to go back to meetings. This time I decided to be a bit more careful and aware of what was going on. As far as recovery went the decision to just occupy myself for two months was a very wise move.
The second night of going back to meetings it was as though I couldn't talk about what was going on with me. By the time my turn would come up the meeting was over. In between meetings I felt that urge to drink again coupled with that same sickening sense of abandonment. The choice soon became apparent: either drink or go to a meeting. I resisted the temptation of drinking and went to the meeting at Allegheny Valley Hospital. I had a lot on my mind and a few minutes after sitting down I just broke down and cried. My anger at the movement was apparent for abandoning me when I wanted to learn how to quit drinking. By the end of the night I met my first and final sponsor.
Rich I. seemed to have it together. With a couple of years of sobriety and a GSR, he obviously seemed like a decent person willing to show me how to quit drinking. He didn't have a driver's license at the time so I wound up taking him to a bunch of meetings I attended throughout the Pittsburgh area. He wasn't a perfect human being but that didn't really bother me much at the time. From changing the station on my car radio to eating within my car to go as far as to nitpick if I didn't recite the A.A. doctrine perfectly at meetings ("Progress, not perfection?") I was getting annoyed at his behavior. But what was I to do? Per A.A.'s doctrine, if one doesn't have a sponsor the sponsee will sicken and die! I certainly didn't want that! Likewise, the core of A.A. belief, adopting a "higher power", sounded like sacrilegious idolatry which flew right in the face of Christianity. I was also noticing that my sponsor was becoming very boorish when I mentioned these facts to him. So by the end of that period of time I attempted to work the steps and left stuck on the 2nd with the Big Question in mind.
I also wound up reading the Big Book again and I noticed something. With a much clearer head after not drinking for a couple of months I found the Fourth Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous vaguely offensive towards my own sensibilities. For a month or so its text seemed as though it would rather have me die no matter how I initially supported A.A. at the time. As someone who would rather live a secular life free from superstitious mythology this entire chapter bothered me. The overall message was that either I believe what A.A. believes or I'll die drunk. With a clear mind I witnessed history repeating itself: The wedge, now in the form of A.A.'s theology, was being driven between my addiction and my liberation just as much as the requirement for psychiatric counseling was earlier.
During my search within the Secular Web I decided to take a side-trip and check out the Rational Recovery website (http://www.rational.org). I immediately clicked on the "Recover Now" button and got one of the best experiences in my life. Within an hour I took the free crash course in AVRTTM (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique) and immediately saw why I persisted to drink in spite of everything. I was never diseased. I was never insane. I was never and will ever be an alcoholic. I drank because I learned that such behavior leads to immediate pleasure. I separated myself from the behaviour, named it Beast, proclaimed the Beast to be my worst enemy and ripped it to shreds. The Beast was once a master over me. Now the Beast is caged for life within an impenetrable prison of my own creation. I defeated that which had once baffled me for so long and I finally felt something which I never felt within my entire life: Liberation. I had an idea of what freedom was but now I know what freedom feels like.
The next day I went to my Sunday morning meeting feeling completely rejuvenated. I caught up with my sponsor and told him about the Rational Recovery website. He seemed unenthused by my discovery and, by the end of the meeting, I broke off the sponsorship. A sense of independence filled up inside of me with the intuitive knowledge that I was doing the right thing. Other changes I noticed within me was that I was a little grouchy for a week. Even though I didn't drink for a few months I felt as though I was within withdrawal from something. I then realized that this withdrawal was a result of my commitment to permanent planned unconditional abstinence and that it wasn't me that was cranky but that craving of the Beast itself.
Everything changes when one makes the leap from tentative one-day-at-a-time "sobriety" to lifelong abstinence. I used to justify my drinking on problems in my childhood. After making the commitment those memories faded. My drinking kept that past alive solely for the sake of drinking in the future. The experiences of that part of the past became totally irrelevant. The biggest change of all was that as the voice of the Beast died inside of my own head I noticed that all of those feelings and ideas which support future drinking were being mouthed by the allegedly "sober" members of A.A. Of those who had load of Time the reality sunk right in: They're not getting better but getting worse! All of that anger, that inner turmoil, being kept alive one-day-at-a-time in the hope that one will drink Tomorrow! Such torture! Such cruel and unusual punishment! Poor things. There's a word for their "new freedom and new happiness": Slavery!
Rational Recovery is simply the lore of self-recovery in a brief educational format. It is not, per the recovery group movement, for secularists, atheists and agnostics who has a problem with the "God thing" only. By that same logic Minute Rice would be exclusively for those people as well since there is neither any theological philosophy nor jargon involved regarding its preparation. Likewise, just as one follows the instructions on Minute Rice the result is cooked rice, Rational Recovery is a recipe in which the result is permanent planned unconditional abstinence. Rational Recovery helps you to focus on your own positive innate strength to defeat addiction once and for all with no higher powers, sponsors, meetings, triggers, slippery places, relapses, prayers, character defects and other useless euphemistic recovery group jargon or bogus pop psychology/pseudoscience involved.. You get full credit for ending that struggle, it's very easy to learn and master and anybody can do it. It was exactly what I was looking for all of that time.
As for Rich I. the last I've heard of his rumored whereabouts was that his probation came up. To prove the practices behind his "rigorous honesty" he then proceeded to go back to his empty, alcohol-addled, pickled way of life. I'm willing to wager that, just like any good Buchmanite, he'll scapegoat his self-inflicted intoxication onto others and other irrelevant nonsense. No doubt that he'd go as far as blaming it all on me since I dropped his sponsorship. Since he showed no interest in what I learned on the morning after my discovery only proves my theory of those who claim that A.A. is the only way: These people are procrastinating one day at a time concerning the decision to quit once and for all. They're holding out for that next day when they will drink. They are nothing more than irresolute drunkards who have solved nothing regarding their drinking problem.
As Jack Trimpey, president of Rational Recovery, sums up A.A. in comparison with his organization: "Rational Recovery is an alternative to addiction. A.A. is an alternative to quitting."
Now fully recovered as simply a human being who NEVER drinks I'll do what I can to expose the injustices of the blind zealotry of the recovery group movement, its business arm known as the addiction treatment industry and its various front groups and special interests. My story is but one of thousands yet to be told which document the untold tragedy which the movement covers up through labeling its critics as "insane" or "dry drunk" while, through its denial of the right to informed consent to EVERYONE who enters within its sphere of corruption, actively harms those still caught within the internal debate of addiction itself.
Last updated 2005/08/02
(c)2003-2005 dr.bomb & The ARID Site - All