Archive for the Alternatives to AA Category

Addiction Vaccines

An Addiction Vaccine, Tantalizingly Close


SAN DIEGO  — Imagine a vaccine against smoking: People trying to quit would light up a cigarette and feel nothing. Or a vaccine against cocaine, one that would prevent addicts from enjoying the drug’s high.

Though neither is imminent, both are on the drawing board, as are vaccines to combat other addictions. While scientists have historically focused their vaccination efforts on diseases like polio, smallpox and diphtheria — with great success — they are now at work on shots that could one day release people from the grip of substance abuse.

“We view this as an alternative or better way for some people,” said Dr. Kim D. Janda, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute who has made this his life’s work. “Just like with nicotine patches and the gum, all those things are just systems to get people off the drugs.”

Dr. Janda, a gruff-talking chemist, has been trying for more than 25 years to create such a vaccine. Like shots against disease, these vaccines would work by spurring the immune system to produce antibodies that would shut down the narcotic before it could take root in the body, or in the brain.

Unlike preventive vaccines — like the familiar ones for mumps, measles and so on — this type of injection would be administered after someone had already succumbed to an addictive drug. For instance, cocaine addicts who had been vaccinated with one of Dr. Janda’s formulations before they snorted cocaine reported feeling like they’d used “dirty coke,” he said. “They felt like they were wasting their money.”

It’s a novel use for vaccines that has placed Dr. Janda, who is 54, in the vanguard of addiction treatment. Because addiction is now thought to cause physical changes in the brain, doctors increasingly advocate medical solutions to America’s drug problem, leading to renewed interest in his work.

Read the whole thing…

Hi, Mr. Dan!

Getting Sober Without God

How to Change Your Drinking

Ken Anderson (HAMS Network) has just released his book, How to Change Your Drinking: A Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol, in Kindle format, available at Amazon for 99 cents. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download Kindle software from Amazon for free and read it on your computer.



Trailer for “Curing Addiction”

A new documentary by Lucas Catton.

Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe

What will they do next?

About the Campaign

Methadone and buprenorphine are the most-effective, most-researched medicines for treating drug addiction. However, in many countries where injection drug use drives the HIV epidemic, these medicines are largely inaccessible – or even banned outright.

The Open Society Institute’s International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD) developed Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe to help raise awareness about the glaring lack of access to these lifesaving drugs.

IHRD works to reduce HIV and other harms related to injecting drug use, and to press for policies that reduce stigmatization of illicit drug users and protect their human rights. IHRD advocates for the increased availability and quality of needle exchange, medication-assisted treatment, and antiretroviral treatment for HIV. IHRD also works to reform discriminatory policies and practices and to expand the opportunities for political engagement by people who use drugs and who are living with HIV.

For more information on IHRD, see

(Yes, that Soros. )

This post is dedicated to violet.

Put someone in handcuffs, it calms them

Here’s how they do rehab in Russia:

In Russia, Harsh Remedy for Addiction Gains Favor

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — The treatment center does not handcuff addicts to their beds anymore. But caged together on double-decker bunks with no way out, they have no choice but to endure the agonies of withdrawal, the first step in a harsh, coercive approach to drug treatment that has gained wide support in Russia.

“We know we are skirting the edge of the law,” said Sergei Shipachev, a staff member at the center, which is run by a private group called City Without Drugs. “We lock people up, but mostly we have a written request from their family. The police couldn’t do this, because it’s against the law.”

A thick silence fills the little room crammed with tall metal beds, obscuring the fact that there are 37 men lying shoulder to shoulder, each lost in a personal world of misery.

Outside the chamber, known as the quarantine room, 60 men who have emerged — after as long as a month with only bread and water or gruel — work at menial jobs, lift weights or cook in a regimen of continued isolation from the world that staff members said usually takes a year.

“To put someone in handcuffs, it calms them psychologically,” Mr. Shipachev said as he paged through photographs of men shackled to their beds or to each other. “Now, it’s the old-timers who calm the new ones. A guy shouts, ‘I’m going to die now!’ and everyone just laughs at him, because they’ve been there themselves. It would be much worse for him if he was alone. The best thing is to just go to sleep.”

Read the whole thing…

Sometimes when we hash through the disease model of alcoholism, I’ll get this vaguely conceived fantasy about dropping alcoholics off on a deserted island where there is no possibility of indulging their addiction and they have to focus all their attention on their very survival: building shelter, finding food, skinny dipping with Christopher Atkins. They might go nuts for a few days, trying to ferment mangoes and smoke seaweed, but their pressing concerns and priorities will shift pretty quickly. I think this Russian style “rehab does you!” treatment is demented and horrifying because it offers nothing but debasement and dehumanization. Those conditions seem to mirror addiction itself.

What I find interesting, though, is that these people are actually going with the deserted island idea — except with more concentration camp and less quality of life.  At the bottom of this approach, though, is the idea that beating an addiction is as simple as just knocking it off. Critics say that this approach doesn’t address all the complexities of addiction and doesn’t provide any aftercare. I am curious to know how a year of forced abstinence and dehumanizing conditions compares to a year of trying to have a spiritual awakening through the 12 Steps.  It seems that they don’t consider 12 Step to be a realistic option:

Is it wrong to rescue a drowning person by pulling their hair?” asked Yevgeny Malenkin, a founder of City Without Drugs, summing up the public view. “If people say it is cruel and inhumane, let them teach us how to do it otherwise.

A recent article explains why Russians tend to resist 12 Step treatment, saying that it has to do with AA’s foreignness, its Protestant roots, and the fact that it thrives on donations. The article doesn’t mention 12 Step success rates, but it seems to me that a country so desperately in search of a solution to addiction that they are chaining people to beds would be well beyond quibbling about cultural purity. I’d like to see 12 Step efficacy rates compared to Russia’s own soul-crushing alternative.

Comments we have to deal with on Blamethenile

Just a quick glimpse of what we have to deal with over at Youtube from AA members and those that support it.


B l A m E

Scientific American interviews Bankole Johnson

Does Rehab Work for Alcoholism and Other Addictions?

Singer Amy Winehouse’s fame and infamy have now been forever linked to one word: rehab. She is only one of many recent high-profile cases in which attempts at rehabilitation from substance abuse failed. Amidst strange public outbursts earlier this year, actor Charlie Sheen asserted that it was not rehab, but rather he, himself, that had been his secret weapon against abusing cocaine and booze.

Read on for the interview with Dr. Bankole Johnson.

Are Addiction Recovery and Atheism Compatible?

Moderinzing Secular Addiction Recovery

Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds and religious or nonreligious affiliations suffer from debilitating addictions, which have detrimental effects on millions of lives. Addiction recovery treatments shouldn’t discriminate either, but Alcoholics Anonymous does. AA’s Toronto administration recently removed two of its affiliate groups in the area for not holding to its religious standards, which include a belief in God, as stated in the organization’s “Twelve Steps” to recovery.

For AA members, the Twelve Steps dictate a lifestyle code, a strict roadmap away from addiction. If you want to recover from addiction through AA, it’s imperative to treat the program as a “higher power,” says The Fix, a magazine focused on recovery issues. Members are encouraged to recite the Lord’s Prayer during meetings, to follow the steps meticulously and without deviance, and to abstain completely from their abused substance. AA insists that recovery be a lifelong process, maintaining that even an addict who has been clean or sober for ten years should continue to come to meetings.

Read the rest…





This made my brain short out

Gawker’s top Blind Item today reads:

1. “After two failed stints in rehab, this B list singer has decided to try converting to a religion with strict substance abuse rules. She is currently investigating the religion and while she doesn’t necessarily care about the ‘god stuff’ she’s hoping the guidelines will keep her sober.” [BuzzFoto]