Friday, April 18, 2014

Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Habits by James DeSena

Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug & Recovery Habits: An Empowering Alternative to A.A. and 12-Step Treatment, James DeSena. Tuscon AZ: See Sharp Press, 2002. e-book, 200 pps.

     James DeSena does not like Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't mind that but some folks will. If the idea that twelve step programs may not be for everyone threatens you, you do not have to cause yourself distress by reading this blog post or by thumbing through the book being reviewed. By all means, quit reading this post now. It's alright. Really.

     One thing that James DeSena does particularly well in Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug & Recovery Habits is identifying the pattern of treatment, relapse, self-mortification, more treatment... that some addicts get sucked into. This is a problem that the addictions treatment industry is ignoring-- at least in the United States. By and large, twelve step ideology has dominated treatment. And joining one of the twelve step programs may not be the best idea for every single addict that has ever graced the halls of rehab centers across America.

     If someone with a sincere desire to become abstinent is an atheist or a polytheist, the addictions treatment industry does that person a dis-service by insisting that he or she find a capital H Higher capital P Power "of their understanding." The A.A. literature makes it abundantly clear that the Higher Power is male, probably Christian, and part of the patriarchy. Bill Wilson engages in a bait-and-switch technique known to sales people in the Big Book. People are told they can use anything for their Higher Power-- from a dog to a tree to nature. DeSena illustrates how the steps sound when you make your beloved canine your Higher Power. You have to admit your defects of character to your dog and another human being in step five. You have to seek the will of your dog for your life through prayer and meditation in step eleven. Hmmm. Something about that doesn't work. Bill Wilson was a salesman as well as a Methodist. Both of these two factoids show in his writing-- any writing he did that is not plagiarized from the Oxford Group that is.

     James DeSena offers his thoughts on a Higher Power substitute. He calls it your Heightened Perception. From there, he covers the troubling concept of powerlessness, the Parasite, relapse triggers, co-dependency, and true freedom. An appendix provides contact info for alternatives to twelve step meetings.

sapphoq reviews says: James DeSena has written a valuable addition to recovery literature. Although repetitive in spots, the writing was competent and easy-to-understand without being insulting. The one chief fault is his coverage of self-esteem. Self-esteem, properly understood, is indeed valuable to someone seeking abstinence. I suggest that the atheist in particular will find the writings of Nathaniel Branden to be helpful. In spite of inadequate coverage of self-esteem, I liked Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug & Recovery Habits . Highly recommended to any who have an interest in addictions and addictions treatment as well as to those who are not doing well in a twelve step program.

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