HARM LESS – An Al-Anon Alternative

New on HAMS Network, from Kenneth Anderson:



HARM LESS is a lay-led, free-of-charge support and informational group for anyone who has been negatively affected by a loved one’s drinking or drug use. HARM LESS relies on evidence-based, scientifically proven strategies to help reduce the negative impact of your loved one’s addiction. Whether you are a friend or family member, spouse, partner, husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, brother sister or anything else you are welcome.

HARM LESS offers support and information to help you reduce the harmful effects of a loved ones drinking on your life. You are not powerless and you are not alone. There are always steps which you can take to change your life for the better.

  • JD

    The poor Hamsters…disavowed and disowned by MM, snubbed and refused by the board of MM when they’ve asked for speakers. A bunch of people who get totally blotto as often as they ever did, but who kid themselves that because they didn’t burn the trailer down this time that progress is being made, and that better is better.

    And now they have a program for spouses! Being the spouse of a Hamster is a scarey proposition. Now with these suggestions they can’t bitch about drinking but have to be complementary when the drunk gets drunk, and are advised by this scientifically-based program to dish out food and sex. God, where was this when I was drinking? It would have driven my ex batty to read these instructions to her that boil down to ‘let him drink and get off the poor guy’s case for crissakes!”

    She wouldn’t have bought this for a moment, that I was just as drunk as usual but some meaningless thing I didn’t do made it all better.

    I love the part about when he’s drunk she better not to threaten him with having to go to AA and stop drinking, or he’s gonna drink some more…that’s really funny stuff.

  • MikeAugustine

    @jd, God, where were you when your son was drinking? Oh, and where’s that info you have that shows ben franklin was fibbing last week?

  • An alternative to Al-Anon is an excellent idea. Al-Anon is a 12 Step Program that is often overlooked in how harmful it can be. Al-Anon has nothing to do with helping the Alcoholic. It is just a rewriting of the 12 Steps and Traditions using Al-Anon instead of AA. Alateen is even worse, and has dual problems because of the young age of the people who are in the program.

    Al-Anon does provide an instant support group for you with instant friends, which is good to a point. The people who go thier also are not as brainwashed as the regular AA. But they also make you do the chanting at the beginning of the meeting and the praying at the end. Admitting your faults to God, which they call a higher power. Listing your shortcomings, making amends to the people that you have harmed. You need answers on how to help your loved one get through this, not faith healing aimed directly at you.

    I have to ask anyone who has gone to one of these meetings the following questions:

    1. How does chanting 12 Steps and Traditions at the beginning of the meeting supposed to help your loved one with thier addiction?
    2. How does saying a prayer at the end of the meeting help them?
    3. How do any of the 12 Steps that you are supposed to go through help your loved one?

    Al-Anon does not help the person you are trying to help, period. I see no support being given by Al-Anon to the loved one in need. If you are going to get help for someone in your life, get real help.

  • AllyB

    —1. How does chanting 12 Steps and Traditions at the beginning of the meeting supposed to help your loved one with thier addiction?

    This helped me a bit at my al-anon meetings. I used to hate it so much that it was always a great excuse to be late to the meetings and I could stay home long enough to watch the end of Coronation St (British soap).

    Al-anon isn’t about helping your addicted loved one, but it pretty much says that on the tin. It’s about “helping” you, they also imply that if you change you, your loved one might mysteriously get better too.

  • I’m sick and tired of talking to guilt-ridden parents who’ve been told that they’re “enablers” because they’ve tried to help their children. My Mother went to one of those al anon meetings, thank god she hated it – or she might’ve given up enabling me, and I never would’ve found a way out of my addiction.

  • chris

    TO JD: what is MM, ive never heard of that.

  • Z

    JD sounds drunk.

    @JRH I don’t think Alanon is about helping alcoholics, it’s supposed to be about learning not to contribute to or exacerbate the situation, on the idea that that in itself may help.

  • AllyB

    Moderation Management, I assume.

  • chris

    thank you ally b

  • chris

    haha, z says, jd sounds drunk

  • chris

    how do you sign up, so you can log-in, and, how do you create a post.

  • I had a different experience. My wife was addicted to AA with 3 meetings a day, 7 days a week, an average of 6 Sponcees, chaired multiple meetings a week, ran a large part of the Intergroup, etc……. I would come home from work and if she was not at a meeting she would be talking to a Sponcee on the phone getting ready to go to a meeting. We had no time for vacations, movies or being together.

    My insurance paid for 2 marriage councilors which both said the same thing, “You are doing to much at AA and are getting burnt out, slow down and have a few date nights with your husband”. My wife wanted us to go to a marriage councilor she knew from the rooms, we compromised and agreed on one night a week being a date night. That night ended up being in a big Church with her chairing about 100 people and an Al-Anon meeting in a side room with about 20 people. I was a big hit and everyone was real nice to me. After about 2 meetings they wanted me to start chairing the meetings.

    The entire ordeal was for me to admit I was enabling my wife to go out and drink again. Combined both rooms had about 120 people and they ganged up on me claiming I was enabling her by not joining the flock and becoming just like them. After enough people say it (like repetition of the steps) my wife believed it.

    PLEASE NOTE: I am not going any further with this story because I have learned that; 1.) Extremists AA people will use this to say it was because I didn’t follow the Steps. 2.) Extremist AA people will attempt to use this little bit of information to try and get more information out of me prove thier point. 3.) The reason I believe AA is very bad is because of items 1 and 2.

    Not all people in AA are bad, just the extremists who attempt items 1 and 2. Never trust them or talk directly to them. It is the only way to rid yourself of them.

  • chris

    to jrh: is it even POSSIBLE to have a conversation with an extremists`, they dont listen to what you have to say, they are just waiting for you to stop talking.

  • chris

    definitely feel for ya.

  • chris

    bill wilson could come back from the dead and say, “it was ALL BULLSHIT”, they wouldnt beleive it.

  • JD

    Guys, it seems I’ve been talking over your heads again, sorry.

    A quick history lesson…the Hamsters split off from Moderation Management because they felt the drinking guidelines too restrictive for their taste. Not that MMs are able to abide by the guidelines either, due to the nature of alcoholism that they are sure they don’t have. About 1 person per year succeeds out of many hundreds that try…they just lose control and are clueless why it happens every week or two, or why they can’t seem to just drink twice a week or make 3 days in a row. Whatever could it mean? They are an incredibly mystified and sad group, trying their very best.

    Anyway, the Hamsters felt they needed to drink more, and more often and still feel they were ‘doing something about their problem’, so they branched off. It’s basically something to get the old lady or parent off their backs while they get toasted as often as they want and excuse it by saying they didn’t drive drunk this week like last week, so it’s better. They’re showing progress.

    When they blackout, of course nothing is out of bounds but when they come to they can claim to not have lost any teeth or appendages, so it was a good night of steady progress.

    I’ve always felt sorry for the Hamsters. They’re like an orphan that’s been abandoned by an uncaring parent who want’s nothing to do with them, but they keep hoping to be accepted and valued.

    Pretty much the lowest rung on the recovery ladder. Just game playing while drinking and the lonliness of the members is palpable, they just want to connect with someone when sick and feeling bad, someone that will give them any hope at all, any validation they are actually doing something positive. It’s all bullshit.

    So, now you know a bit regarding ftg’s post, and can place it in context and possibly even discuss it, who knows?

    Glad to help.

  • I’m so happy there is something else. Not “Powerless” Based YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve been to Al ANon off an on for 3 decades. It helped me when I was getting divorced with some boundary stuff. I was a crazy true believer then opps…now I see the truth as we all know. I always hated stuff they said there like
    only Al Anon spoken here. I thought to myself “you guys are nuts” !
    I always spoke up when old timer Al ANon nazi’s spoke about leaving small children with drunk men OMG…

    to be honest I hate it now. They are crazy.

    Anyway so glad to hear something is risen!!!!!!!

  • JR Harris,

    I so agree with you. Wow that is horrible with what happened to you with your wife.
    I know community pages are down and I want to keep in touch with you.
    please contact me directly at makeaasafer@gmail.com. I want to talk with you about documentary that I am going to move forward and make.

  • One of the main problems of going to Al-Anon or AA is that there are Extremists who use manipulative tactics to cloud your reasoning and to generally disrupt a persons path to sobriety. Their actions are extremely suspect of some sort of psychotic thought disorder.

    It can be easily identified by the way they try to manipulate all conversations when it has to do with sobriety. Take the subject of sobriety and looking at different means to do it. The scenario of one of these mentally sick people goes like this:

    1.) Both want to use different ways to become sober and express them.
    2.) The AA psychotic immediately changes the subject to cloud the issue with something that has nothing to do with the subject of sobriety.
    3.) The AA psychotic tries to put on an air of superiority by showing how smart he is by explaining a something that has nothing to do with sobriety, breaking the rules of humility present in AA.
    4.) The AA psychotic or one of his AA psychotic friends then immediately quotes something out of the Big Book to change the subject again to something that has nothing to do with sobriety. Hoping to engage in a subject on the big book and cloud the actual questions.

    The AA psychotic is a very big problem in AA and need psychiatric help. It is obvious that the 12 Steps do not cure his psychosis. They should be avoided at all costs. Not everyone in AA is as sick as the psychotic and the psychotic ones are giving AA a very bad name. Maybe it is time for AA to do some house cleaning?

    People like this are why AL-Anon and AA should be avoided.

  • Z

    They really want you to pick at yourself, and they will pick at you. And call it “health,” “healing,” etc.

  • AndyM

    Yes. indeedy. The terms “Jezebel spirit” and “psychic vampire” come to mind.

  • Border Collie Mix

    The wife of a fellow AAer told me she quit Alanon when it was suggested to her that she needed to be off the medication prescribed to her as a result of a serious head injury in order to “really get the program”. She never went back and I don’t blame her. Her husband was already sober when they met and married so she had never even seen the guy drunk, but since he was so “diseased with alcoholism” it was constantly recommended that his wife get into Alanon. People don’t think enough, they just throw out any kind of whacked out “lore” that some “sage” spouted to them. No matter what anyone thinks about the 12 step programs a lot of the crap pushed on people isn’t even based on that, it just comes out of left field, passed down through “sponsorship”.

  • AllyB

    The main al-anon group I was in was full of mostly very nice people. I don’t think any could have been described as the extremist type. And all most all of the group, including the two women who ran it happened to be atheist. In one meeting, which ended up a cross-talk meeting as the chair couldn’t make it, they talked about the concept of higher power and almost everyone there said they basically reasoned that their higher power was the rest of the group. Which made sense in “a problem shared is a problem halved” kind of way.

    The thing was though, that ultimately all group offered was an extended holding pattern. The holding pattern was probably a better place than you were in the day you showed up, but it never got any better than that. The “advice” seemed like a good first step for someone worried about someone’s drinking, and then that was it, you were just supposed to stay like that forever.

    Just about everyone in my group was really nice, I quite liked most of them and really liked a few others. But they all struck me as people who’s lives were ruined as much by sticking to al-anon as anything else.

    One woman had divorced her alcoholic husband, he had quit drinking (by himself) and they got remarried, many years before, the biggest problem in their marriage now was that he didn’t really like that she still went to al-anon. I used to always wonder why she still attended. Another divorced her husband a decade before and had almost nothing more to do with him apart from occasional contact through their adult kids. Again I used to wonder why she still attended. Their was a woman who was just going to live with her alcoholic husband and only interact with him when he was sober, accepting his disease, she was a sweet, gentle woman but she made me so, so sad. There was a woman who seemed completely defined by being an ACOA, who seemed to need these groups to “help” her through everything in her life, yet her life was continually awful.

    I used to sit in this room with those lovely women and think that I could absolutely not end up like them. I wasn’t going to just accept my husband’s drinking and live with it anyway, just taking my own inventory. (?) I wasn’t going to keep coming to those meetings, for years after he stopped drinking. And if it had turned out that we ended up divorced, then I sure as hell wasn’t going to keep going to those meetings, what the hell would have been the point in that, I wouldn’t have an alcoholic loved one any more.

    It just seemed to be one huge paradox. The ultimate way to detach, which was basically the crux of their programme, was to move on yet they wanted you to never, ever move on. If you have to come to a room every week and discuss your detachment then that is the opposite of detachment. I remember they told me I should do more things in my life that I loved, so I thought I’d join an am-dram group, take up roller derby or try find Krav Maga group which didn’t water down the fighting style. Yes, they told me, what a great idea, until I pointed out that the groups were on the same night as the al-anon meeting, at which point I was told I should wait because the group was so important.

  • Poofter! AKA True Believer

    I think this is great! I grew quite tired of hearing people share that they were so unhappy in their situation that they wanted to commit suicide. I say suicide may be the answer, but not with your life. I commit suicide with the part of my life that has disturbed me to the point of despair. I grew sick of hearing in AA that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. How the hell do you know what my problem is? I commit suicide all the time, I quit jobs, move to new locales, sever ties, try new methods, and quit 12 step groups. This way I can reinvent my self in a manner that suits me and makes me happy.

    Most people who come to AA and ALANON don’t even know that they are being harmed by substance use, they are baffled. The mere mention of the term harm reduction has been a valuable tool in my own skill set. I pass it on whenever I can, especially at AA meetings.

  • Lucy

    Unlike many of you, I have never had a problem with the steps. In fact, I got a lot out of steps 4-11, and, although I don’t pray, I still meditate when I am anxious or sad.

    I was a mess in AA and I was a mess in Al-Anon. I needed help taking the focus off the person and putting it on me. I considered the steps a launching point for the self-examination that I needed to become rational about a great many things that were fraught with emotion for me.

    What I do have a problem with is the decision to be a victim, and I saw that again and again in Al-Anon. I wanted those women to get over it or shut up about it.

  • MikeAugustine

    @lucy, I don’t have a problem with the steps either, within the context of adopting and maintaining a moral code. From a medical and theological [christian] standpoint however I think they are useless and lazy.

  • AndyM

    Actually, not driving drunk this week if you did last week IS an improvement. Quite an important one, I’d say.

  • Poofter! AKA True Believer

    The HAMS program and this site saved my ass when AA stopped working.
    This ain’t AA, one size does not fit all.
    Better is better.

  • Lucy

    MikeAugustine, I don’t believe, nor have I ever seen evidence, that alcoholism is an organic and discrete disease. I have seen lots of evidence that drinking heavily causes organic diseases, and I have seen lots of evidence that there are mental illnesses which are mistakenly diagnosed as “alcoholism.”

    I am not a Christian. However, I would never insult a Christian by calling his quest for an coherent epistemology as “useless and lazy.” I would also never use “Christian” as an adjective denoting “superior” or ” of superior morality.”

  • kellyryan

    The problems with Alanon mirror those of the problems with AA. One is always, “powerless,” over alcohol, the alcoholic, their lives, and, “must,” be restored to sanity.

    Private meetings are a good thing within the context of support for the individual and their process. Safety and trust are essential. I know this because I’ve done it.

    Prior to processing out of the 12 step movement I led a 12 step study group on the Alanon book, “Paths to Recovery for 12 weeks. Open discussion at the conclusion, the consensus, meaningless piece of drivel that disallowed critical thinking and employed, “circular reasoning.” (Where is the rake, next to the hoe. Where is the hoe, next to the rake. Where are the rake and the hoe, next to each other.)

  • chris

    i had a hoe rake me once, it wasnt pretty.

  • chris

    remember people, AA is not satanic, its spiritual.

  • MikeAugustine

    @lucy, the steps are very much non-christian from a theological perspective in my eyes. For me, calling upon God’s grace via a set number of steps is contrary to what mainstream christianity cleaves to. Not sure where you see the insult in that. From a moral perspective ala old testament the steps are pretty relevant though.

  • AA Escapee

    @JD, your comments about the Hamsters are quite off base. And if you think for one minute I believe everyone in AA is abstinent, think twice. I’ve heard stories of those picking up 15 year chips only to be seen buying booze the next day (or day before). So, so much for you thinking that AA has the corner on rigorous “honesty, ” or even at what you folks call “sobriety” for that matter. At least the Hamsters are HONEST with others and, most importantly, with themselves.

    I am a firm believer in harm reduction. I really can’t speak to those in HARM LESS, as I don’t know enough about the group. But I do believe fully that better IS better.

    For some people complete abstinence may not be achievable. Much better for these people to reduce the harm associated with drinking. I’ll tell you one thing, AA did nothing for me other than to send me straight to the wine aisle at the grocery store. And this went on for MANY years.

    With respect to my own situation, no, I do not (to date) do the complete not drinking thing, but via a focus on harm reduction, I have greatly reduced my consumption. For example, I may have two bottles of wine (one each on different days maybe a week apart) in the course of a couple of weeks. Without the focus (my focus) on harm reduction and if AA were running through my head, that would be 14 to 28 bottles in two weeks. I’d say two is better than 14 to 28, wouldn’t you?

  • AA Escapee

    One more thing, @JD, at one point I thought I had two choices – to drink myself into jails, institutions or death, or to just drink. Just drinking was a better choice than sitting through mindless drivel and hocus pocus. Due to the thinking – one drink drunk – I did get blotto on several occasions. At least now there are alternative choices available and that is a very good thing.

    When I went to my new shrink some months back, he told me to MINIMIZE my drinking. This gave me enough room to breathe that I was able to not beat myself up (like so many in AA do) and to actually focus on getting better and reducing my consumption greatly.

    If a Dr. prescribes this for me, well, it’s better than a bunch of very sick people in AA spouting off their religious (not spiritual) mandates that I follow their lead. AA is like sitting in a Baptist church service waiting to be purged of my sins for being human (aka character defects) and sitting around thinking I am a piece of shit that owes the whole world an amends (especially while I sit next to some criminal (aka rapists, thieves, etc).

  • Martha

    The idea that total abstinence is the only answer for everybody is just plain stupid. If you are consuming less of a substance that can harm you then you are making progress regardless of what AA says. The problem it the stupid puritanical idea that getting a buzz is sinful and that you must confess that sin for the rest of you life. Humans have been using mind altering substances for thousands of years and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Moderation and harm reduction are as legitimate of a goal as total abstinence. To argue otherwise is almost by definition a religious argument.

  • JD

    Guys, if you want to keep drinking and need some kind of rationaization for the damage you’re doing to yourself and others, and being a Hamster fits the bill for you, then go for it.

    No concern at all of mine if you keep drinking Escapee, as long as you only harm yourself and affect the people around you and don’t injure anyone I know. People make self-damaging decisions all the time, and if by being a Hamster you can manage to damage yourself less than you would normally, then good for you and your internal organs.

    You’ll get a sobriety date eventually, no worries.

  • JD, Since you believe that AA is only for Real Alcoholics ™, then why would people’s participation in other programs and the very option of other programs make you so prickly?

  • Martha

    One of the most self damaging decisions one can make, JD is to declare your self powerless and believe that a raving lunatic wrote down all there is to know about addictions during the 1930s. Also as was pointed out it is not uncommon for AA members to collect those coins even as they drink which is an expected outcome of powerless rigorous honesty.

  • chris

    TO JD: again, its NO CONCERN OF YOURS AT ALL, but, you continually comment on it. Go to a meeting man!

  • MikeAugustine

    @jd, I see we’re playing the D card from the jails, institutions, death playbook. How utterly quaint. I suppose I will also lose that 10 pounds, stop worrying so much, and give up coffee when my time comes.

  • chris

    WHY do you CARE AT ALL, if ANYBODY drinks, smokes cigs, drives fast, whatever, WHY do you care and why are you so NOT CONCERNED about it.

  • This thread was started to talk about AL-Anon and how a different approach may be better for those who choose to look at different programs. I do not believe that this thread was started to be talking about getting drunk while you are in these programs, or about analogies to the name of a program.

    The reason many people choose not to go to Al-Anon or AA is because AA hardliners always want to change the subject and start it off on other tracks. The program we are talking about as a substitute to Al-Anon is free from this kind of stuff and focuses on recovery. Not Hamsters or Light Bulbs.

  • chris

    you spend more time here than IN SERVICE to YOUR ORGINIZATION, couldnt you be handing out pamphlets at the detox or something?

  • chris

    dont get angry jd!

  • chris

    how come i everytime i say something to jd, we dont hear from him for awhile.

  • Because, chris, as JD puts it, he’s only here to piss on the ants and watch them scurry around. It’s how our betters amuse themselves.

  • You know we could always just analyze the success rate of the 12 Steps programs to see if people being in Al-Anon or AA actually helps or hurts the family unit. Hmmm…….So a person being in Al-Anon or AA protects thier family from the destructive side effects of Alcohol. Lets pick a number to make up a fictional character with that many years of sobriety and a child the same age (12 sounds like a good one, you know 12 Steps, Twelve Traditions).

    So the hypothetical question is:

    Would a person with 12 years of sobriety, who was thoroughly following the Steps and had a 12 year old child, be able to protect thier child from the effects of Alcohol?

  • Poofter! AKA True Believer

    It took me living through multiple AA member deaths to realize that the teachings in the meetings can be deadly. People need alternatives to reduce or eliminate the harm done by alcohol. Individuals have different beliefs and constitutions; AA is only one possible solution in a world of many possibilities that promote willingness and the dignity of choice.

    • sick of it

      I think all of it is bullshit. We are not powerless. Aa and alanon are a total cop out that give people permission to be irresponsible. Harmless is even worse…allow the poor drunk to drink…its not their fault? Hogwash. By all means divest humans of their individual responsibility…and chanting and repeating cannned trivial philosophy. This is cult behavior. In a wierd way it actually worships the booze as an all powerful entity people are unable to resist.

  • chris

    well, if thats the case, then he`s not prcaticing these principles in all his affairs.

  • BusBozo

    Gotta give JD credit, he takes the big book to heart, always thinking of others and how he can help. Realizing he is not talking to the “betters:, he lowers the bar for the “unfortunates” (the ones who are born this way). Truly an outstanding display of the principles in action. Hats off to JD.

  • chris

    no, you dont have to give jd credit, he LOWERS the bar, for who, people who were born fortunate enough to be constitutionally capable of thinking for themselves and NOT beleiving a cult leader. what a guy!

  • chris

    AA people, the “true beleivers”, are an amazing breed of non thinkers, blind followers. the preamble is worded very effectively, to manipulate people. YOU dont want to be “constitutionally incapable”, do you?, you`re NOT defective like THAT, are you? YOU werent born THAT WAY, were you? YOU`RE NOT constitutionally incapable, ARE YOU? NO BILL, im normal, so yes i do beleive, what ever YOU say bill.

  • chris

    So, ANYONE, who does NOT give themselves COMPLETELY to this simple program, is CONSTITUTIONALLY incapable of being HONEST with themselves. what a bold and ridiculous statement. ANYONE, who does not.

  • chris

    you`re NOT constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself are you, busBOZO?

  • chris

    keep talking homey

  • Martha

    Chris, you are flooding please knock it off.

  • chris

    your not defective and weird like that are you?, busBOZO. your capable of being honest with yourself arent you? then why didnt you realize you had a drinking problem?

  • (chris, busbozo was being sarcastic.)

  • chris

    ok, well. ill quit flooding, anyway.

  • A+ for enthusiasm! 🙂

  • Pogue Mahone

    My sponsor says that I have a disease that tells me I’m a hamster.

  • Poofter! AKA True Believer

    My X sponsor has a disease.

  • Martha

    And now you can’t stop using that hamster wheel and you eat nothing but sunflower seeds?

  • I have to wonder what type of treatment would help the guy that we just started a thread on called “Atleast he didn’t come empthy handed”. It doesn’t say if he has a family or not and he has been arrested before for DUI before. He most likely has been to a few AA meetings and he is still acting this way. I mean a sane person does not go to a Court House 1 1/2 hours late to his pretrial arraignment drunk with 4 unopened late beers in a black bag.

    Can he be helped and what type of help does he and his family need? (I know, I am not asking one question, I am asking 2)

  • AA Escapee

    @JD, LOL! You think one bottle a week is damaging?! Ever corrode your arteries with plaque by eating a Big Mac and fries? And what about all those so called “sober” people in AA who smoke like chimneys? You do realize nicotine is a drug, right? It kills 400K people per year and alcohol kills 100K per year. Keep in mind one of your fearless leaders died of emphysema before you go bragging about “sobriety.” I guess while he didn’t end up in jail, institutions?, he sure ended up dead at a younger age than he had to. So you go on telling yourself that the AAs sure know how to do the “sobriety” thing.

    I don’t drink and drive and I drink a couple glasses of wine more than the one Drs. say is ok every day. I also weigh more than the Dr. says is ok. I also eat crap food once in a while like McDonald’s which the Dr. would say replace with fruits and vegetables. I am actually drinking LESS than what a woman could drink in a week.

    No, I am not going to worry about any “sobriety dates” anytime soon. I with Charlie on this one…what? I lost my days? Where did my days go? It’s a ridiculous notion this thing called TIME (trademarked). I’ll speak on behalf of anything harmful. For every day someone doesn’t drink (although studies show that moderate drinkers fare better than teetotalers and heavy drinkers), smoke, eat crap food, etc. all their body organs are thanking them and THEY (the organs) do NOT forget.

  • AndyM

    I returned to occasional moderate social drinking after totally abstaining for 14 or 15 years (I stopped counting). It was also after finally finding proper help with the underlying problems which led me to drink dangerously at one time in the first place. I have had to take mood stabilising medication as a part of this treatment, which necessitates periodic blood tests which monitor the function of my liver and other vital organs. I have the records of these tests and they show in full detail that these vital functions are fine. I have also had numerous brain scans. For this reason, I am confident that my current use of alcohol isn’t jeopardising my health. With regard to the brain scans, I had a chance to discuss in detail with a neuroscientist with extensive experience of studying head trauma patients my anxiety over the possibility that I may have incurred long-term brain damage as a result of past head injuries and the effects of alcohol and drugs in the past. He reassured me that there were no obvious signs of permanent damage and also that it was now recognised that the brain is capable of remarkable levels of recovery anyway. I also managed to pass an invigilated Mensa test, which at the time (about 4 years ago) was a much needed boost to my then very shaky self-esteem.

  • AA Escapee

    meant to say I *am* with Charlie on this one.

  • AA Escapee

    Good for you AndyM! I’d love to get a brain scan done, but too expensive.

    I’ve been told by my Dr. that my cholesteral levels are fantastic and to keep doing what I’m doing. I just had a physical in December and all systems go.

    Now, having said this, my hat is off to anyone who has managed to stop any substance (including nicotine) with success. (Sorry to use so much durn AA language, but I was in and out of the rooms over many, many years.) It’s just that for some (especially the dual diagnosed and I also take a mood stabilizer AndyM) total abstinence may not be achievable and, in some cases, not desirable.

    While on Lamictal (first time around), I completely FORGOT I had a bottle of wine in the refrigerator. I completely credit the Lamictal to this odd occurrence. Maybe it was because I wasn’t going to AA and constantly thinking about drinking or not drinking it was easier to just forget. I don’t know. What I do know is that I sat in far too many a meeting thinking “there just went an hour of my life I’ll never get back” and went straight to the store for wine.

  • AndyM

    I got a chance to do this because I volunteered to take part in a clinical study my psychiatrist was doing into bipolar disorder, which involved several sessions in an FMRI scanner. I’ve got all the images on a disc. When I manage to get to grips with the technicalities I want to use some of the images in a multi-media artwork or perhaps a music video.

  • Z

    Way upthread: “No matter what anyone thinks about the 12 step programs a lot of the crap pushed on people isn’t even based on that, it just comes out of left field, passed down through “sponsorship”.”

    — This is *very* true and it is one of the major problems. Worth emphasizing.

    Lucy says she needed the steps to be able to take necessary distance on some things and I am sure that is true for some people. I’ve wanted my mother to go to Alanon to learn to be a little more independent and a little less reactive. And when I went to some Alanon meetings to get perspective on dealing with an addict, I did in fact get some very useful insights.

    But I *do* think the steps are problematic, for all the reasons already amply discussed on this site. So I think it’s great that there is a program / programs that might offer some of the benefits of Alanon without the “you have a fatal character flaw” cant.

    I also appreciate AllyB’s point upthread about how Alanon when/if not outright evil, does just keep people in holding patterns.

    I guess the right holding pattern is better than major turmoil and drama, and I know the idea is that the holding pattern will give you the time and space to work toward greater changes. I also recognize that for some people these holding patterns may be the best option.

    However, that’s a really limited goal, just to figure out the best way to put up with a bad situation. It’s also sort of alcoholic-like, I find: “life is bad, so let’s find something to hang onto and tolerate it.” I’m interested in doing more than just get by, and this is why I found Alanon so depressing / frustrating.


  • Z

    Gosh, I’m long winded today. On the holding pattern thing — the Alanon idea I didn’t like was that you shouldn’t leave a bad situation because you’ll just find another. This may be what Lucy means by the insistence on being / remaining a victim.

  • chris

    MAYBE, just MAYBE, the guy who showed up to court WANTS to DRINK. Would that not be his choice. if he said, Fuck You Man, leave me alone. i WANT TO DRINK, get drunk. maybe next time i wont bring beer with me to court, but, EVERYBODY FUCK OFF. i dont want to be saved.

  • chris

    sorry, wrong thread.

  • AllyB

    I cane across this thread on SR and I’m left feeling a bit sick about it; http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/friends-family-alcoholics/223042-held-hostage-suicide-attempt.html

    I don’t know exactly what the right thing this man should be doing in his situation, (I’d suggest getting his wife real psychiatric help that has nothing to do with rehab) but I’m pretty sure it’s not talking to the people on this board and reading Melody Beattie books.

  • QueenB

    Two alanon meetings and I was done. Lovely people, honestly their intentions were good. BUT they were so lost in playing the victims of anothers crime that it made me want to vomit. As a partner of a addict, knowing that your not alone is the biggest relief. I imagine it is the same for addicts attending a NA/AA meeting for the first time? I heard a story of a older woman explaining that she no longer went out searching for her brother when he went off wandering about after a drink from his aged care home, tough love. What happens when tough love doesn’t work…. What happens to her when her brother does end up hurt/dead after his wandering? Does she tell her self it was the right thing to do? Guilt can kill as well