Wednesday, November 09, 2016

She just said No. A case study

Received an email the other day from Laurel VanWilligen, who said she'd just finished SHAM and had a few thoughts to share. Following (eventually) are Ms. VanWilligen's remarks in the form of a guest column (published with her consent, of course). I applaud her for her honestyespecially in that she comes from a medical background. The column focuses on addiction/recovery, a theme we haven't touched on in a long, long time. Some of you may recall that my thoughts on AA were a large part of the impetus for my book, and certainly formed a topic of considerable controversy in the dozens of radio call-in shows I did when SHAM was first released. That may have been a decade ago but addiction is timely again, as we know, (no) thanks to the heroin epidemic now blighting not only America's cities, but our suburbs as well; this became clear during the presidential campaign. Speaking of which, I have taken down my prior post, "Deplorable. Irredeemable. Maybe so." Apologies to those who graced the blog with their thoughtful comments, but it's time for the healing to begin. And now on to our guest blogger:
As far as addiction, I can attest to the weird power of "just say(ing) no," even though I'm no Nancy Reagan fan. I was addicted in one form or another for 40 years...never particularly intrusive in my work life. I functioned at a high level (as an ER physician) for most of those years, until I retired 10 years ago. I would say sleep deprivation had as much negative effect on me as any particular drug, but that's a different book.

Anyway, one day a couple of months ago I woke up and said to myself, "I don't want to be an addict anymore." And that was it. Haven't really had an urge since. 

I can say unequivocally that 12 steps and "admitting a higher power" would not work for me. I am an atheisthave been one since the age of 25and foresee no change in the future. So a higher power was not going to help me.

Further, if magnetic therapy works, wouldn't you expect people coming out of MRI scanners to be cured of all kinds of things? Or at the very least, after all those fields had been momentarily aligned, to be "reset"? 

I believe my journey shows the disease "burning itself out," as you spoke of in your book. I seemed to need to get to that point before I could just stop. And I honestly don't believe any amount of bullying or 12-step intensity could have done it before that time. I'm not sure I would have believed it could work that way if I hadn't lived it... 

Anyway, thanks for the book and the clear thinking. 

ED. NOTE: Be interested to hear from some of our mental-health professionals on this one.


Anonymous said...

You are one person with obvious biases and you're going to discount all the research and all the success stories? I would be dead without AA and other members of my extended family are in the same boat. Who are you to say such damaging things on your own say-so? Shame on you!

Laurel VanWilligen said...

Well, unfortunately AA has its own biases, but hides behind the 'Anonymous' wall to avoid and prevent any studies which might show their own efficacy as opposed to any other approach. So until such time as they allow valid scientific study and comparison, it will be my say-so being just as valid as yours. I don't see how that's even debatable. And since I'm using my full name and you're anonymous, I think the issue of who should/does feel shame is equally obvious.

don't be so smug said...

Were all after the same things in recovery and it disturbs me greatly when we have this in fighting. What does it matter to you if a different approach works for me?

I know that Narcanon saved my son's life. He had already overdosed twice before one time having to be revived. He was at the end of his rope and his groups helped him find a way out that worked for him. Now he goes to church and tries to be a good father to his little boy

Everybody responds to different things and sometimes it's mind over matter. So you can be critical of the magnetic stuff but if somebody else believes it works for them and it helps why do you care if you say it's a placebo? We should all be supporting each other not arguing over finer points!