Further Reading

I've gone beyond AA to ADD; can you help?

Have you studied ADD/ADHD issues as they relate to addiction, or, more properly, "addictive behavior?"

I ask because I have had a very troubled life and one which has revolved around alcohol professionally (owner of a wine bar for 12 yrs) and as a substance of what appears to be "self-medication."

Years in AA helped me to not drink, and what a relief that was -- for a while anyway. But after a time I found AA members were by-and-large unwilling to discuss matters which did not relate directly to alcohol use (read abuse).

AA, or sobriety at least, helped me to return to school, get an MA with honors and I am now attending graduate school in sociology.

I have resumed drinking without the AA promises of it being worse, or more intense than before. Indeed, I have had many good times while drinking, but I have also found the "self-medication" model to be accurate as it pertains to my ADD/ADHD/LD experience. I am still working with skepticism on the ADD issue, but Wendy Richardson's book "ADD & Addiction" published recently has shed much light on my history of "troubles." I do have cognitive problems.

Unfortunately, Wendy's book is fully subscriptive to the AA/abstinence model of "recovery". Yet in a recent session with her (I am seeing her as a client) she suggested I investigate "Rational Recovery" as an alternative. So here I am on the Web reading and downloading your articles. I very much appreciate that they are academically oriented (citation written) so that I may better trust their intent and accuracy.

I feel a sense of relief that there is a perspective, even here in the USA, which goes beyond what I have suspected as a cultural parochialism towards alcohol and "substance" use. Having read Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" more than once I have subscribed to the notion that America is indeed "morally" driven and that this presents our culture with a certain "American Exceptionalism" which, in this case, is manifest in rather bizarre and cult-like approaches to alcohol.

Thank you for you time and please feel free to send me a note regarding my comments.

best,

Eric


Dear Eric:

I very much enjoyed your letter. I appreciate that you can say AA helped you but that you have gone beyond AA. I appreciate your searching for real information. As for alternatives to AA, RR is decent, but also abstinence oriented. Check out MM as well. SMART is an offshoot of RR which I am involved with.

While appreciating your self-medication theory, I am wary of ADD as another label and disease. There are an awful lot of men (and I am one) who tend to rush through things, have a hard time sitting still, don't like to do things reflectively, etc. What is the answer? In general, the solutions for ADD are

  1. accept your approach to things and select for your primary activities (like jobs) those that meld with your personality and style;
  2. nonetheless, work to expand your patience and concentration by attempting involvements that stretch your current limits (I just graduated law school and am studying for the bar);
  3. don’t rule things out absolutely because you don’t believe you are capable of them – try and see if you can cut them;
  4. there are other mood modifiers besides alcohol and drugs – expand your horizons and activity mix to the outdoors, community and political involvements, religion, exercise, travel, non-therapy groups;
  5. if you accept yourself, perhaps you won’t need so many explanations for what’s wrong with you.

Best regards, Stanton