.Letters to the Editor: July 25, 2012

Knives and All

I live in Sausalito and I love the character that anchor-outs bring to this area (“The Anchor-Outs,” July 18). The author of this article did an excellent job showing the perils, humor and grit of this group of people.


Another Path

In regard to “Not About God” (“Rhapsodies and Rants,” July 18), the writer claims that ending a monopoly held by 12 Step programs as the only form of “treatment” available to court-ordered drunk drivers and victims of drug law “justice” is somehow unfair and counterproductive. The new approach allows choice in a variety of treatment options. 12 Step programs are still an option, just not the only one.

The writer states that the “12 Step process has proven itself for many years as the most successful recovery tool there is today.” This myth is as pervasive as the many slogans and platitudes that circulate endlessly and exclusively as answers to all of life’s problems among the more absolutist, cult-minded members. To them, abstract critical thought and existential doubts are simply manifestations of “stinkin’ thinkin” or “the disease.” Others in the program read between the lines, take things with a grain of salt and are open to and practice critical thought, including rational criticism of the program.

If lifelong abstinence from recreational drug use—coffee and tobacco greatly excepted—is the measure of success, the program is a dismal failure statistically. This is how the program measures itself, lifelong total abstinence. Secular programs may avoid both the “spiritual” and “disease theory” approaches entirely. These programs have a statistical success rate, I believe, as high at least as does NA/AA. So does no treatment at all.

Many people have gone to or through AA/NA and benefited, and in more ways than just achieving drug/alcohol abstinence. Some have remained abstinent after discovering they enjoyed life to its fullest that way. It works great for some people, but not for everyone. It kills some people. I have witnessed this. At least one study suggests that AA members are more likely to engage in binge drinking upon cessation of abstinence than are those outside of AA. It is suggested that this is a result of the promotion of all alcoholism as “terminal disease” in AA.

I was a drug-abstinent member of NA for eight years. I chose a more crooked path after that. My experience in NA was very good overall. And the crooked path I have walked since is tempered with more maturity, self-respect and self-restraint than before I kicked a long-term heroin, methadone, heroin again and then speedball (heroin and cocaine) habit 26-plus years ago. I kicked on my own, at home and work, with a full-time job. I went to NA on my own. I was not court-ordered. The NA literature alluded to people like me in stating that the success of NA should not be judged entirely on its numerical or statistical achievement of individuals maintaining complete lifelong drug abstinence, but also on the positive effect “spiritually” NA also had on some of those who “relapsed.” Some who took up drug use again no longer exhibited the negative or antisocial behavior previously associated with their using. A “kind of honesty” had permeated their characters. This was written by NA’s founder, Jimmy Kinnon, based on empirical observation.

In the 1980s, this politically and therapeutically incorrect observation was removed from NA literature and replaced with absolutism. A rational criticism of 12 Step programs and 12 Step history, information about objective studies of 12 Step efficacy, statistical success rates and a list of alternative secular recovery programs can be found at www.orange-papers.org.


Water-Thirsty in the Apocoplex

Southern California shouldn’t get any more water from anywhere else until there is a moratorium on lawns for new houses. There is almost no effort to conserve water there. I was born in SoCal, and as far back as the early ’70s I was troubled by the waste. L.A. has plenty of water already, and it is cheap. People worry about gas prices and electric bills, but no one worries about their water bill, so conservation is practically nil, both at the personal and public level (though I do meet a few mindful people there). When you fly over the L.A. apocoplex, you can’t ignore the tens of thousands of unused pools evaporating away and the water-hungry perfect lawns. We’ve seen Chinatown. History is repeating.


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