The following articles were authored by Steven Slate

Melanie Griffith


Melanie Griffith as Honey Whitlock in Cecil B Demented

Melanie Griffith starred in one of my favorite movies of all time – Cecil B Demented – a cult comedy by a cult director where she’s kidnapped by a cult and gets stockholm syndrome.  I never realized that this was happening to her in real life though.  Recently, both her and her husband Antonio Banderas spoke about her recent (a few years ago) stint in rehab.

She’s happy that Antonio and the kids were involved with 2 weeks of a family portion of the program, but still not happy or grateful enough:

“Antonio was supportive to the extent that he can be, but if you’re not an alcoholic or drug addict, and you find out that your wife is a bad one, it’s hard to deal with. I wish he would go to a meeting with me or to Al-Anon, but it’s very foreign to him. Addiction runs in my family but not in his”

Maybe this attitude and set of beliefs is the reason why she’s had at least three major episodes of addiction and subsequent treatment throughout her life.  Perhaps you could learn from him that there’s something odd about putting the responsibility for your own changes on him – or that those who haven’t been brainwashed yet aren’t turned on by the idea of going to these meetings to dwell on substance use and negativity for an hour everyday.  Maybe the guy who hasn’t been addicted actually has a clearer view of the problem than your personal addiction gurus.

My advice: Honey, he doesn’t need to change or be in AA or Al-anon for you to straighten out your act.  You’re 54 now; stop riding the fence, and decide what you want out of life.  It sounds like his distaste for 12-step meetings will be your next excuse for a “relapse.”

Or, don’t fret, because “relapse is a part of recovery”

Full article:

Recovery 101

The Wall Street Journal published a disturbing story on special campus recovery programs being developed at major colleges.  See the whole thing here: Campus Life 101: Staying Sober

I have my problems with this trend – that it essentially teaches young people to be dependent on an artificial recovery environment.  For my take on it, see: Majoring In Dependence, With A Minor In Powerlessness

Beyond that though, there are countless issues brought up by this article.  Is government money involved when they give students $3,000 scholarships for being involved with 12-step programs?

Among amenities including a sober-student hangout with study pods, pool tables and 12-step meetings, Mr. Weir receives a $3,000-a-year scholarship from the university for earning near-perfect grades while staying sober.

One of the colleges says such scholarships are anonymously funded.  But other resources may be involved tangentially, which would amount to taxpayers incentivizing 12-step involvement.  Either way, it sends a strange message.  One commenter on the WSJ site said this of the scholarships:

I’ve always been sober and I get good grades. Why can’t I get a $3,000 scholarship?

And then there’s this disturbing point raised in the article:

Among Americans seeking treatment for substance abuse, no demographic is growing faster than students age 18 to 24. During the decade ended in 2009, treatment providers say the number of students in that age range seeking help more than doubled, compared with a 9% jump in the 25-and-older category, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The rate of heavy alcohol use—defined as five or more drinks on five or more occasions within the past 30 days—is highest among Americans aged 20 to 22, according to SAMHSA. And within that demographic, consumption is heaviest among college students.

I hate to say it, but that’s just kids being kids, and they usually grow out of it.  The actual number of college students who drink heavily hasn’t actually doubled – it’s the number seeking treatment which has doubled.  It scares me because it means that people like me, trying to warn of the dangers of rehab programs, are failing.

The whole thing really gets me going, and I figured it’d get some of you riled up too.

AA is not cult – but its members are my gods!

Ruth Fowler wrote a piece for The Fix busting some supposed 12-step myths. I’ve gotta say with this and another mythbusting piece they published, The Fix has done the worst job of busting myths that I’ve ever seen. Most of their myths are simply strawmen, or the discussion which follows the “myth” either confirms it or has nothing to do with it!

Fowler’s first few myths have to do with the suggestion that AA is a cult – which makes this excerpt all the more hilarious:

But many AA-ers are non-believers. It’s perfectly acceptable *not* to believe in God. It’s perfectly acceptable *not* to hand your life over to Him. I always understood this step to mean: I came to AA a total mess, and I needed to be willing to take the suggestion of everyone around me and have enough faith to trust that things will get better so I can piece my life back together. These people became my quasi-gods, and their advice became my commandments, if you will. And I kind of liked them more because they were real, flawed, screwed-up human beings, not a big old bearded man in the sky. It’s okay not to “get” God.

I couldn’t begin to pick apart everything that’s wrong with this article – so maybe you guys should check it out and report back with your favorite quotes.  I almost think it’s supposed to be a humor piece for Mcsweeny’s.  It makes me wonder why people like this are in AA at all when they claim their interpretations of the program are so different than what is clearly stated by AA literature, experts, and members everywhere.

For a good laugh, check out the full article: 12 Steps To The 12 Steps

Also, I hesitate to mention this, but a commenter on the article going by a name we all know too well ironically posted a link to Rational Recovery.

Which Mother#$%?!ng Hat Are You Wearing?

SOMEWHERE near the middle of “The _______ With the Hat,” Stephen Adly Guirgis’s lacerating portrait of a couple trapped in the self-inflicted prison of addiction, it becomes clear that simply putting the cork in the bottle will not fix everything. Or anything, really.

So opens a review in The New York Times written by David Carr, himself a “recovering addict”, 12-stepper, and author of his own addiction memoir.  Thus it shouldn’t be surprising when he goes on to describe the main character, Jackie, as a:

ball of id who is doing his best to stay sober, one day at a time.

“Ball of id”, is of course a pejorative here which backs up a diseased/deterministic view of people with substance use problems (Corrected).  He continues about Jackie:

 ….he is smart enough to know that if he continues to use mood-altering substances, he will be back in jail, or in a mental hospital, or, if things get really wobbly, buried in a box.

Jails, institutions, or death.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The entire review is colored by Carr’s standard romanticized view of recovery which he pretends not to have: Continue reading Which Mother#$%?!ng Hat Are You Wearing?

St Jude Retreats Is Not Narconon.

In March of 2002, as I sat in my room having a thrilling conversation with my friend Bobby (a fellow guest at the St Jude Retreat House) about the horrors he was subjected to at a Narconon treatment center he had previously attended, it never occurred to me that I would find myself embroiled in a debate nearly a decade later about whether the two organizations were somehow connected.  The reason for this is simple, nothing we were doing at St Jude’s even remotely resembled Bobby’s description of his experiences at Narconon.

Furthermore, I know for a fact that there is absolutely no connection between St Jude’s and Narconon, nor do they use any process which even resembles the purification rundown or biophysical rehab processes that Narconon and affiliated programs are famous for.  There is no connection.  I know this as a former client, employee, and personal friend of the founders and management of St Jude’s & BRI for nearly a decade.  (I hope you read the rest of my story, but if you wanna jump right to St Jude’s side of the story use this link:

Yet, here I am, in the middle of a ridiculous debate.  It’s ridiculous because I’m fighting against baseless assertions and innuendo, and I’ve somehow gotten into the position of trying to prove a negative – when in reality, the ones spreading the rumors should bear the burden of proof.  However, the rumors have caused a dire situation, which is why I jumped in. Continue reading St Jude Retreats Is Not Narconon.