Archive for the powerlessness Category

TriBeCa Twelve

A Shiny Failure, Reborn as a Rehab Center

With buffed hardwood floors, a fireplace in the living room, marble in the bathrooms and Silestone in the kitchen, the 2,200-square-foot, full-floor apartment on West Broadway looks exactly like the luxury condo it was meant to be. The furniture is plush and neutral, original artwork hangs on the walls, there is a Wii console hooked up to the flat-screen television and, when the sights of TriBeCa’s bustle from the second-floor windows are not enough, there is a planted, furnished roof deck upstairs, with views stretching from the Empire State Building to ground zero.


The project, called TriBeCa Twelve, is a collaboration between Hazelden, the Minnesota-based network of rehabilitation centers, and the Columbia University psychiatry department, and it represents an unusual resolution for a high-gloss condo development that went belly up.

The apartments did not go to buyers at fire-sale prices or to a new developer, nor did they simply stand vacant until the economy rebounded. Instead, the project is becoming a sober residence that combines a clinic and treatment programs solely for a college population.


Hazelden looked at about 35 properties in New York, said Ann Bray, vice president for strategic initiatives, and purchased the building for just under $8.3 million last year, according to property records.

Read the whole thing…

And read the follow-up, in which the NYT asks:

Have you or has someone you know been in rehab or a similar situation and found the temptations of city life hard to resist? Or do you think that treatment centers need not be remote to be effective? Please share your thoughts and experiences.


Related: Hazelden to Create a Generation of Replacement Addicts

h/t Stanton Peele


Pop Culture and Powerlessness

One of the things I find so maddening about this ongoing conversation about AA is that it’s like trying to get a floaty out of your glass with your finger, or a piece of shell out of a cracked egg: You can see it plainly, but as soon as you get close to it, it slips away. Deconstruction theorists would have a great time exploring how meaning in AA swirls around a complete void. Take God, for instance: Clearly, faith in God is essential to AA. It’s right there, all over the steps and all over the Big Book. God is in the slogans. And many non-believers have had the experience of being told that without God they wouldn’t succeed or survive.We hear stories about sponsors instructing pigeons to believe in Good Orderly Direction or Group Of Drunks until they can graduate to believing in God. Drunkalogs usually begin with protestations of atheism and end with a spiritual awakening. And if you surf around the recovery blogs, you’ll notice that they are unabashedly religious. Hazelden’s “Thoughts for the Day” are, too. We see this. But there seems to be a consensus among AAs to deny it with the vehemence of a cheating spouse, and the spectacular display of gaslighting keeps people coming back, despite their best instincts.
Continue reading Pop Culture and Powerlessness

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pods Win

Stanton Peele gave Stinkin’ Thinkin’ a little plug in his Psychology Today post about the Pod People bringing 12-Step recovery to college campuses, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pods Win“:

Ever see the 1956 Don Siegel cult classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where hero Kevin McCarthy discovers pod people are taking over the identities of everyone in town — including his girlfriend? (I hate when that happens.) I know this disclosure is obvious: when I saw the movie at age 10, I totally identifed with McCarthy (who died in 2010 at age 96).

The same thing is happening again, only for real, as illustrated on Sunday by NBC’s The TODAY show. Today featured a segment on the growing phenomenon of on-campus Recovery Communities, where 18- to 22-year-olds declare themselves alcoholics, turn themselves over to recovery gurus, and vow forevermore to be alcoholic pods. They don’t interact with the rest of the drunken student body (I personally didn’t get drunk the entire time I was at college — okay, I smoked a little pot), busy themselves in sober activities, and surround themselves with fellow recovery acolytes.

Read the rest…

And then check out some of the comments from the Pod People:


Seems to be a lack of understanding here

Submitted by Dorri Olds on August 23, 2011 – 3:17pm.

Alcoholism is a disease. That’s why insurance companies pay for treatment. You better believe insurance companies wouldn’t pay a dime if it was just some silly coming of age thing. There are so many teenage alcoholics/drug addicts and plenty in their 20s. It is a mental disorder. The way to get help is to admit there is a problem. Why on earth should it bother somebody else why a young person seeks help with drinking. People should be cheering them on, not mocking the help that is available to them.

Most people who have never been addicted to alcohol or drugs do not have any idea what it feels like to have a compulsion to do something that could kill you or make you go crazy. People who are allergic to strawberries just quit strawberries. They are not encouraged to continue to eat strawberries.


I would be interested…

Submitted by Dash Stryker on August 24, 2011 – 1:23am.

in learning more about the study you cite. Do the researchers understand, as you seem not to, the burgeoning understanding of the difference between substance abuse and addiction?

Lots of people are substance abusers without becoming addicted. Lots of people are physically dependent upon certain drugs without developing the alterations in neurochemistry that correspond with addiction.

(I’m also curious to know what you think of the research suggesting those alterations in neurochemistry.)

Is it so bad, if some substance abusers who probably could have managed to learn to drink responsibly find themselves in AA instead, completely abstinent? Without setting up a false dichotomy, I think such people are better off than the ones who are truly addicted and never find a pathway to abstinence. Those are sort of the two ways to err, here. So there’s a program that helps a bunch of young people, but there’s some error involved. If the error’s that people who don’t need AA get involved with it anyway, I’m fine with it; I’m not clear on why you’re not.

And yeah, I’ve been a ‘pod person’ for a while now – and yet, I find it a simple matter to interact and form meaningful bonds with non-Pods.

I meant to post this story yesterday, but this seems like a good spot for it:


Because you need donuts when you are torching a building to save lives

Thomas Downey had just been released from prison and needed a meeting. He also needed donuts.

The story is here.

Rehab Nation

Who didn’t see this coming? Anthony Weiner has checked himself into treatment for “sexual addiction!”

We all know what will happen next.

After he leaves rehab, Weiner will make the tearful apology to his constituents and wife on television. Whether he then leaves his office or stays, he will have joined the growing number of celebrities, politicians and ordinary Joes who have come to see bad behavior as a “disease.” He will become “powerless.”

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post doesn’t appreciate the contamination of American culture by the addiction culture. She writes: Continue reading Rehab Nation


humanspirit sends this odd article from another author who’s critical of AA. She seems more critical of AA’s group atmosphere (she doesn’t want to hear about other people’s problems), but doesn’t seem to be critical of the 12-Step mythology, like the notion that you’re powerless or have to hit “rock bottom” — which leads to some contradiction. For instance, she calls willpower “nonsense,” but then goes on to say that she just quit drinking on her own. But, I’m still glad that people are beginning to talk…

“I Survived: The Alcoholic Who Healed Herself”

I was aware that something had to shift, but felt powerless to change. It is nonsense to think that willpower alone will get you through; it’s like trying to climb a mountain in one day with no previous experience.

I am currently training to be a psychotherapist and one of the most important things you learn very early on is that therapy is not going to work for anyone unless they want it to work. That is the magic that you can’t teach anyone to have; it is like a switch in the head. I had a switch in the head but I had to hit rock bottom before I found it.


[In AA] I’d spent hours on end listening to other people’s problems but felt no one was really listening to mine. I’d had it with other people’s problems, but that’s what AA is all about.

So I went off and did things my own way one step at a time. First I stopped drinking at home, and then one night – 12 September 2002, a date I will never forget – I thought, ‘I am going out sober.’

Read it all.


Truthiness is a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

Yeah, that’s why.

Lucy just posted this link in the comments, but it is begging for a thread crashing. It is such a nasty piece of passive aggressive, sanctimonious AA gaslighting that I think I should issue a trigger alert for people who are still untangling their minds.

7 Reasons Charlie Sheen May Hate AA So Much

In one of the myriad interviews he gave over the last week, Charlie Sheen said clearly that he hates AA.

A lot of people have trouble with Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is full of people and people can be messy and flawed.

The human train wreck formally known as Charlie Sheen is a common sight in the AA meeting halls. The only difference between Mr. Sheen and other self-absorbed, delusional, frantic addicts is the size of the audience to which they rant. These people do not last long in AA. They mock the Fellowship and the 12 Steps (PDF) as too religious or simplistic. AA is beneath them.

Here are a few possible reasons why Charlie Sheen might hate AA so much.

Reasons Why Charlie Sheen May Hate AA

  1. He would have to admit he is powerless.
  2. He would need to embrace Humility.
  3. Deep tissue Change would be required.
  4. He would have to be Anonymous!
  5. His Higher Power could not be Charlie Sheen.
  6. He couldn’t blame anyone else for his troubles.
  7. He would need to learn to be Grateful.

This article offers one really sound reason why anyone might hate AA.

“Taking Responsibility”

The Atheist Experience


From the video’s description:

People who overcome alcoholism and other things in life often attribute their success to a “higher power”, but replacing a physical addiction with an emotional one is never a good thing. Matt argues it is far better for people to take responsibility for their own actions and credit for their own achievements. What is The Atheist Experience?


Dear Abby: For some, a gift of alcohol could be devastating

DEAR ABBY: You advised “Susan in Southern Oregon,” who asked about the appropriateness of giving alcohol as a gift at an office party, that “the only time that alcohol would be an inappropriate gift is when the giver knows the recipient doesn’t use it.” As a former psychiatric social worker, I would say that the only time alcohol would be an APPROPRIATE gift is when the giver knows the recipient would use it, and do so responsibly.

People aren’t always forthcoming about their views and experiences regarding alcohol, so it’s best to play it safe. Many people abstain from alcohol because they are recovering alcoholics or have seen the devastating results that alcoholism has had on a loved one’s life. Others have religious reasons for not imbibing.

Giving alcohol as a gift may not only dismay the recipient, it could also lead to worse results if the giftee is someone who is struggling to stay sober.

– Amy in Dover, Del.

DEAR AMY: You have raised many valid points. Most of my readers disagreed with my answer, and their reasons have made me reconsider my advice to Susan. I was wrong. (Mea culpa.) Read on: Continue reading Choice

Powerlessness and Bullying

The Seattle Times has some puffy article up on their site right now called “Losing Personal Power Leads to Abusive Behavior,” which explains that when people feel like they have no control over their lives, they can get mean. Go read it if you want to, but don’t blame me if your IQ drops and you start drooling on your computer.

In today’s stressful economy and challenging world, abuse is on the rise. We all need to pay attention to protect our relationships.

“Families in our neighborhood are falling apart,” says a factory supervisor we’ll call Robert. “High stress is leading to people yelling so loudly, you can hear them down the block!”

People bully each other for one reason only. That reason is to take back power or steal power we’ve never felt in the first place.

So far, so good.

Then they give some examples of what people to do take control of their lives…. You can see where this is going:

Another man in our community, whom we’ll refer to as Scott, says he’s tired of making excuses for his drinking and partying — while not having money to pay his bills.

Scott says he stopped beating himself up and decided to go to an upcoming Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

We think Scott can eventually take back his power. Beginning the journey of recovery is a good sign that Scott will open himself up to positive solutions.

“If you’re drowning in misery, you’ve got to find help,” says Scott. “I’m anxious to attend that first AA meeting. I don’t want to hurt my family anymore or destroy myself.”

Nothing makes you feel in control of your life like pulling yourself together, making a decision to quit drinking, mustering the resolve and bravery to walk through the doors of AA, only to be told that you’re powerless.

Anyway, I wonder if this little theory explains a thing or two about Serenity Hornets.