ADHD, Addictions, And Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous ADHD

 

If you have ADHD and have been helped by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)  meetings, I am happy for you. This post, however, is about the danger of ADHD going unrecognized as individuals pursue help for addictions through AA and AA-based substance-treatment centers.  Here I offer some first-person examples and research tidbits, along with an excerpt from an important new book.

Almost 30 years ago, I attended my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It wasn’t for me but for my roommate. She went only to snag a good seat for the next meeting that night: Overeaters Anonymous. I tagged along as moral support.

What struck me most about the AA meeting—and remains remarkable to this day—is the many people there that night who likely had ADHD.

That’s in retrospect, of course. Back then, I’d never heard of ADHD, not even in children. But there had to be some explanation, I remember thinking. Look at how most of these folks can’t seem to sit in their chairs; they’re constantly getting up to get coffee or go outside to smoke cigarettes. They just seemed so…fidgety.

At the meeting’s end, I chatted with the lady seated next to me. She knowingly explained: “They can’t sit with their feelings, so they keep distracting themselves.”

“Huh,” I thought. What did I know? Maybe that was true, for some. But for the others, well, that was the most fidgety collection of people I’d ever seen. (Note: This was before I’d attended my first CHADD conference lectures. Ha!)

ADHD & Addictions

Of course, now I get it. For the last 18 years, at least.  People with ADHD are more vulnerable to addictive substances and activities of all types.

As Meg wrote in her poems in On Trying to Swim Blind: ADHD and Medication:

Still, something in me keeps pushing –
“Faster-straighter-GET there,”
until I am breathless behind the wheel
thinking nothing but gin
could melt this cluster-f*%# tangle:

In the last decade, many scientific papers have studied various aspects of this vulnerability—and how to reduce it. Surprise! One way to protect children with ADHD from that poor outcome is by treating ADHD early. Isn’t that just the opposite of what many in the public think?

Early ADHD Treatment Can Prevent Addictions

Consider this one from 2017: “ADHD medication tied to lower risk for alcohol, drug abuse in teens and adults

The use of medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is linked to significantly lower risk for substance use problems in adolescents and adults with ADHD, according to a study led by researchers at Indiana University.

The risk of substance use problems during periods of medication use was 35 percent lower in men and 31 percent lower in women in the study. The results, based upon nearly 3 million people with ADHD in the United States, are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“This study contributes to growing evidence that ADHD medication is linked to lower risk for many types of harmful behavior, including substance abuse,” said Patrick D. Quinn, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study. “The results also highlight the importance of careful diagnosis and compliance with treatment.”

ADHD Over-Represented in AA and Substance-Use Clinics?

Count on it: ADHD was over-represented in that meeting I attended with my friend.

No doubt ADHD scampers through thousands of other AA-centered rooms, including private substance-use clinics. Unfortunately, many of those clinics woefully over-rely on their interpretations of AA—and under-rely on addressing underlying psychiatric or neurocognitive challenges.

So yes, I get it now: the potential neurobiological underpinnings of addiction, that is. So why don’t many substance-abuse treatment centers get it? The vast majority of them still base their programs on the AA model, established almost a century ago.

No doubt: AA might have been the best (if not only)  alternative for several decades. Absolutely, AA groups still help people, including people with ADHD and other conditions.

The provenance of free public groups is one thing.  Substance-abuse treatment centers, often costly, are quite another.

We know more about the brain and addiction. We understand more now. Most importantly,  we have better core treatment for the many underlying conditions that leave people more vulnerable to substance abuse.

So why are so many “treatment centers” unskilled in—and even hostile to recognizing—the connection between untreated psychiatric conditions and substance-use?

The Danger of Failing to Recognize Underlying ADHD

Too many readers have written to me sharing heartbreaking stories. They detail their own or their loved one ADHD going unrecognized at substance treatment centers. Instead, their substance-use issues were the sole target.

I can’t imagine how those folks must have felt. Trapped? Misunderstood? Cursed?

A reader makes an important point in a comment to this story (which I am adding now):

AA and treatment centers are two separate programs.  Treatment centers base themselves on the 12 step program but is not complete, especially in the enforcement of rules and paying of counselors.
AA is based on spiritual and physiological principles like Carl Jung’s ‘ inner religious experience’ for a psychic change.
I’m an Adult ADHD sufferer.  This is an outside issue, uncovered when alcohol was removed,  and to be addressed by therapy and medication.  Anyone who states AA is an end-all is incorrect but AA is for my alcoholism and my ‘alcoholic’ thinking.
It
is a good start and once things clear, you can see what outside issues are left, if any,  to be dealt with appropriately.

“Self-Medicating” With  Alcohol…

Some people with ADHD start drinking simply to calm the ADHD-fueled “noise” in their heads.

Some have told me, “That first drink brings clarity, Gina. I can think. Then it fades, and I keep chasing it. And of course, everything goes downhill from there.”

What does it feel like to be told you’re “bad” and you’re “hurting your family” or you “won’t” stop drinking or abusing other substances when you’re just trying to calm the noise—and escape.

Listen,  this is a complicated subject. It’s clear: Millions of individuals have found life-saving help in AA and its derivatives. The peer support alone can be profoundly healing.

Yet, for many grappling with underlying neurobiological challenges, AA alone simply does not take them to the finish line. It might even send them backward. Then their families scold them—and they scold themselves—for being “weak” and relapsing. For failing. For being selfish.

Joseph Biederman, a preeminent psychiatric researcher, and his team published this research in 1995: Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders in Adults with ADHD.

Conclusions: Although psychiatric comorbidity increased the risk for psychoactive substance use disorders in adults with ADHD, by itself ADHD was a significant risk factor for substance use disorders.

More information is needed to further delineate risk and protective factors mediating the development of substance use disorders in persons with ADHD.

This is the 21st Century! Let’s put our knowledge into practice and stop torturing people!

…Or Methamphetamine

These patterns aren’t limited to alcohol abuse. For people with ADHD who become addicted, the choice of substance varies.

Methamphetamine is surely a temptation for many people with undiagnosed ADHD, especially in rural areas with no access to psychiatric care.

Consider this previous post:  “I Was Addicted to Meth When I Was Diagnosed With ADHD”.  Excerpt from the post, which came as an e-mail message to me:

I’m not sure if you remember me but I met you at the CHADD convention in DC in 2013.

I was the mess of a drug addict who walked in 45 minutes late, in tears, and I was desperate for help. You were one of the people who helped me that day, and I’m grateful for you taking the time to speak to me.

I was addicted to meth for 5 years until 2009, when I was diagnosed with ADHD and my psychiatrist put me on Vyvanse. I easily stayed sober for 4.5 years and built a successful career in real estate. At some point before I relapsed, the Vyvanse stopped working. I had no idea until it was too late.

My guess is it lost its effectiveness during the last half of 2012.

…Or Nicotine

In last week’s post, I pointed to the historical role that nicotine has played for many in managing ADHD symptoms: ADHD & Nicotine: Historical Ads.

Consider this excerpt:

I found a bit of specific research on ADHD and nicotine.

For example, there was this from 1996: Nicotine effects on adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

“Several lines of evidence,” it began,  “suggest that nicotine may be useful in treating the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

…Or Opioids

I can find no studies making a direct connection between ADHD and opioid addiction. But I have met more than a few people with ADHD who succumbed.

It typically starts with legitimate use of opioids. The “abuse” continues because, these adults tell me, they feel so much more focused and “clear” on the opioids.

This study’s findings contradict many prescribing physicians’ ideas about not treating for ADHD among those who are active opioid users.  Published in the Journal of Dual  Diagnosis, “Stimulant medication for ADHD in opioid maintenance treatment” drew this conclusion:

These findings show some promise with regard to the safety and utility of central stimulant medications for patients with ADHD who are receiving opioid maintenance treatment.

 

 

 

Alcoholics Anonymous ADHD

Journalist Taking Treatment Centers To Task

That is why I was so riveted to the radio a few minutes ago. Check out this fantastic NPR interview with award-winning journalist Gabrielle Glaser: “Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous for Lack of Evidence.”

An investigative writer on mental-health issues, Glaser is a remarkable spokesperson for this critically important issue. You can listen or read the interview. Some snippets:

On the dominance of AA and the 12-step approach in the treatment of substance abuse in the United States

There was a book that came out in 2013 called Inside Rehab by Anne Fletcher.

[Gina notes: Perhaps Fletcher’s most important finding is the alarming discrepancy between the treatments offered at many rehab centers and the treatments recommended by leading experts and supported by scientific research.]

Her book found that up to 80 percent of all rehabs rely on AA and 12-step treatments as the foundation for their centers. It really has crowded out other voices.

On the criticism she’s received that questioning AA is irresponsible, when so many people say 12-step programs are the only thing that enabled them to quit drinking

I get those messages all the time. My response to that is that this treatment actually can be just as damaging and dangerous for the people for whom it’s failing. AA doesn’t refer anybody out. It doesn’t tell anybody that AA is not for them. It’s very unlike professional organizations, which refer people to second opinions.

AA tells people that if they don’t benefit, it’s basically their fault. This has produced, really, a lot of tragedies. I hear about them weekly. Someone sent me an email this morning about a younger brother who committed suicide last night with the [AA] Big Book and a glass of scotch next to his bed.

Glaser’s Book

Glaser also wrote a powerful piece in the April issue of The Atlantic magazine: The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Subtitle: “Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.”

Thinking of ADHD, in particular—not to mention its many co-existing conditions—this passage sent a chill down my spine:

He felt utterly defeated. And according to AA doctrine, the failure was his alone. When the 12 steps don’t work for someone like J.G., Alcoholics Anonymous says that person must be deeply flawed. The Big Book, AA’s bible, states:

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.

Glaser’s work is an important read.

Have you or your loved ones with ADHD struggled with substance-use issues?

If treatment was sought at a substance-use treatment center, how did that turn out?

Has subsequent ADHD diagnosis and treatment helped?

I welcome your opinion and experience as it relates to this issue.

This piece originally posted on March 27, 2015

—Gina Pera

42 thoughts on “ADHD, Addictions, And Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)”

  1. Thank you for your reply, you give me hope! I did as you suggested and downloaded the list, after a few false starts, I managed to concentrate on it long enough to confidently say its easier to list the symptoms I do not display rather than those that I do. Less than a handful at best. I have come to much prefer written word over verbal conversation, seems I’m so much better at the former, I can take my time to read back and remember where I was going, I get so lost in speech, I actually feel sorry for anyone I’m talking to. I have reminders to feed my children! Then reminders for those reminders! My entire life is a tangled web of “coping strategies” and a constant state of overwhelm and panic is fairly normal to me.

    I completely agree with what you said about the crossover from AA to support services, whilst I’ve never been admitted, looking back I did essentially do an “at home rehab”, well when they got to me anyway. The women I saw actually snored while I was speaking and woke up long enough to inform me that anything I tell her she has a mandatory obligation to report me if she feels my kids aren’t safe. We spoke for around 6 months, and I’m sure you won’t be the least bit surprised when I tell you I was her “star pupil”, I’m not sure a word I said to her after that warning was true, I told her exactly what she wanted to hear and we went our seperate ways, her totally confident that she’d done her job well. She couldn’t help me. I’m not sure she can help anyone. It’s not that my kids aren’t safe, they are, but to throw a threat out like that to a mum who already doubts herself and is trying to tell you their worst secrets? Makes me sad that these people are our “professionals” in an area that so badly affect so many lives.

    I agree with you in that, yes some of the principles of AA would be great in rehab, but the reason AA works so well for those of us who “get it” is because of the people who deliver it. Without them, the lessons wouldn’t/couldn’t be learned.
    When I first read your post I was slightly offended because AA has done so much for me, but upon further investigation (namely hyper focusing on what you’re actually saying), I completely agree with you and understand.
    Thank you for educating me, I do love to learn, I just wish everything was this easy to understand. Haha.

    1. Thank you, Lou, for understanding my intent. I am always looking out for my readers. Always. And that often involves being a “watchdog” on various treatments (especially when there are misdiagnoses!).

      You aren’t the only one, though, who had that reaction. I completely understand — and thank you for keeping an open mind.

      If I may be so bold, you sound very sharp to me. If ADHD symptoms with “word processing” and such cause you trouble, I really encourage you to look into medication treatment. Even for a trial period, if you are cautious.

      As I always say, “it’s not like cutting off a leg.” 🙂

      You can always stop. But you’ll never know how clear and organized your smart brain can be until you try. 🙂

      Cheers,
      g

  2. I struggled to read all of the comments as is quite standard for me, and I’ve never been to a treatment centre, but I do struggle with alcoholism and (sporadically) attend AA. I did notice at a topic meeting yesterday that the list of suggested group topics read more like an adhd symptom checklist.
    The problem I am having is being diagnosed! I’ve just managed to drop a Bipolar diagnosis, I’m still shaking my head at that one, only to be slapped with a BPD diagnosis from a 45 minute session and offered more medication! He even told me to “concentrate on the 5 symptoms I DO have, rather than the 5 I don’t!” I asked if those were also symptoms of adhd and he replied “oh you have ALL of the symptoms of adhd but I don’t believe you have it because you can Hyperfocus”! ‍♀️ (I did do my research and I officially have 1.5 symptoms of BPD, and I’m completely flabbergasted as to how a “professional” could come to that conclusion in such a short amount of time or from my answers!)
    Honestly, my question is what are we supposed to do when we are surrounded by idiots?
    If I didn’t have A.A. in my life, I simply wouldn’t have one. It’s the only place I feel even remotely “normal”. I’m not even sure I go there for addiction issues anymore, just support to calm down my non-stop internal monologue!
    I think what I’m trying to say is that for some of us, AA is the closest we can get to some sort of treatment. If you have any advice I would really appreciate it. I’m at a loss as to what to do, I just know I’m not taking any more anti-psychotics or antidepressants because I’m pretty sure I’ve now tried them all. At least AA doesn’t try to medicate me. Haha.

    1. Hi Lou,

      I absolutely sympathize. I’ve heard the stories every day—for 10 years—about how prescribers and therapists are failing people with ADHD. Not only failing but harming.

      Sometimes it really does feel that way to me, too — that I’m surrounded idiots. And hustlers. Oh, so many hustlers.

      Good for you, for being able to rise above the noise and come to what sounds like your truth.

      The best advice I have for you is to keep self-educating as much as possible — and get validation for your perceptions. The lower your tolerance for BS, the more quickly you’ll go through the professionals unqualified to help you.

      I understand how valuable AA can be. I would never discourage someone from seeking support.

      The main criticism here is substance-abuse centers charging a lot of money and failing to use evidence-based care….instead relying upon AA models as meted out by poorly trained staff. While the underlying disorders go untreated. No wonder the addiction recidivism rate is so high.

      Definitely, the first-line treatment for ADHD is NOT anti-psychotics and antidepressants. It’s the stimulants.

      You might want to download this inventory. It can help when evaluating women with ADHD. Developed by two veteran ADHD experts who themselves have ADHD (and happen to be women).

      http://ncgiadd.org/pdf/SASI.pdf

      good luck!
      g

      Perhaps you can remain with your group but just keep to yourself the ADHD information.

    2. Ever since we had this conversation, I can’t get out of my head what you said about the connection between AA and ADHD. I’ve been listening closely at meetings and haven’t heard anything as yet that contradicts with what you said. I truly think you’re on to something. I’m now convinced that almost every person in those rooms are undiagnosed adhd. I constantly hear “I felt like this long before I picked up my first drink” (which is what I said before I learned about adhd, in that I believed I was born an alcoholic). Happy to chat more about it from an inside perspective if you’re interested. X

    3. Hi Lou,

      Thanks for keeping an open mind and checking it out “in the field.”

      I would love to hear more from you on this. Care to write it here?

      thank you and take care,
      g

  3. Capillary damage, my blood pressure went past Jesus on it’s way up.

    No offence intended to anyone writing here. I could not even read all the comments because. AA. What can I say eh? Sometimes a well meaning bunch of regular christian hypocrites converting lost souls for their karmic gain. Oh, perhaps that’s another religion, but whatever, they’re all mostly the same working towards the same goal using fear, guilt and remorse as their vessel. A book is a book by any other name, and there are soooo many. But only ONE that’s true right? Damn it, blood pressure took off again, this time even passed L. Ron Hubbard on some vulcano on Jupiter.

    If and when I surrender my misgivings to a higher power, I say it like Sting sings it: (then) it’s probably me. Myself in the future.

    Wired wrote an insightful article on AA a few years back:

    “It was in June 1935, amid the gloom of the Great Depression, that a failed stockbroker and reformed lush named Bill Wilson founded the organization after meeting God in a hospital room. He codified his method in the 12 steps, the rules at the heart of AA. Entirely lacking in medical training, Wilson created the steps by cribbing ideas from religion and philosophy, then massaging them into a pithy list with a structure inspired by the Bible.”

    https://www.wired.com/2010/06/ff-alcoholics-anonymous/

    1. Peter!

      You crack me up.

      But I hope you are only kidding about the blood pressure!

      Fortunately, I have a history of low blood pressure. That’s how I’ve survived the last 20 years of being confronted with all kinds of ADHD-related nonsense, gimmickry, charlatanism, etc. without stroking out! 🙂

      My blood pressure is normal now, though.

      Maybe Wired goes a bit in the extreme. It does tend to do that, especially on “cultural” issues.

      In my experience, all the Anonymous groups are only as useful as the people who organize and dominate in the meetings. Lots of variation.

      The founding is more complex. Bill was a successful businessman whose career was destroyed by alcoholism. I don’t find it helpful that Wired calls him a “lush”; to me, that’s just more of the leftist psychiatry denial.

      He founded AA with the help of a physician. Imagine what kind of resources were available to alcoholics back in 1939. Bill had been in one hospital for alcoholics, several times. But the doctor there had the believe that Alcoholism was an illness.

      Bill struggled with the conception of God as a centerpiece of existing programs. A friend suggested that he could form his own conception of God.

      To me, I find it pretty advanced for the era. The history is quite interesting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

      The problem comes when it is mis-used, especially by pricey “substance-abuse treatment centers” who over-rely on it and under-rely on evidence-based treatment practices for addiction. Including to diagnose and treat underlying psychiatric conditions.

      cheers,
      g

  4. As a member of AA and one who has several mental health “labels” including ADHD, I want to thank you for an excellent article on the problematic side of treatment centres. In the meetings I attend, it is often said that many of the folks that go to treatment centres have simply paid way too much money for a Big Book. Sadly, many times this is true.

    No doubt in my mind that the medications I take help me tremendously with my mental health Without them, I’d be a bouncing high to severely depressed person. But self-care, structure and a detailed schedule also help me a lot.

    A couple of things greatly concern me with treatment centres. The first being that options other than AA are rarely presented. Although AA was the answer for me, it is not for everyone. I personally encourage anyone who has doubts about the AA program to give it a try for a couple of months. If the fit isn’t right, find something that is for them.

    The second problem as I see it is that treatment centres are well known for taking people through the 5th step and then discharging them. They are left on their own for the most part and the support network they had in the close atmosphere of a treatment centre is gone. Obviously treatment centres do not bother to follow the steps as written. After the 5th step and an hour’s reflection on it to make sure we’ve left nothing out, we are to immediately go into steps 6 and 7. Without doing that, I’d have been left to face the mess that I was without hope that this part of me could change. To me, that is cruelty to the people who pay for their so-called help. Personally I’d have probably felt there was no solution and run back to my bottles.

    As I mentioned, treatment centres obviously do not follow the Big Book. On page 133, it states:

    “But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners
    of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.”

    Written in 1939, I find this as relevant today as when the Big Book was written, perhaps even more so. The symptoms of ADHD, bipolar and several other mental health problems can and do overlap in many ways. For me, until I got off the alcohol and began to work the steps, the extent of my mental illness wasn’t clear. I was altering myself with alcohol, self-medicating which gave a false picture. I was fortunate that the structure of the program of AA was what I needed to help get me to a place that I could help my doctors help me. That did take about 6 months though.

    As for the answer(s), I do not have a clue. All I can say is the system is broken in most treatment centres and things need to change for the good of the people who entrust these centres to help them recover.

    Thank you again for a well balanced article addressing a giant problem (as I see it) in today’s alcoholism/addiction recovery. I’m so glad I found this article today, even though you wrote it a few years ago. You helped me to clarify a number of things in my thinking on these issues.

    1. Dear Pey,

      I am so grateful to have “gotten it right” from your experienced perspective.

      Thank you for your careful reading and, moreover, for fleshing out the details in your so very helpful comment.

      best
      g

  5. I know this article is 3 years old. I have been dealing with the most fucked up mess in my fucked up life.

    I was born in 1963 they didnt know about ADHD . I was adopted and my poor folks I put them thru hell. I was just the kid that was a fuck up. But I was smart my IQ latest results is 165. So they couldnt figure me out. I was a shity student but bright they had a disconect. I pretended I couldnt read until my das caught me reading the History of the Roman Empire. He tricked me into giving up the goods. He asked me if I was reading ” I said no i was looking at the art ” he had however seen me running my finger down the middle of the page ( my self taught method of speed reading , I was impatient to learn everything and reading slowed me down there where to many other subjects so I realized that a lot of words do not need to be read i individually words like , the ,and ,there , ect. And your mind filled them in automatically.

    And it was faster to read from top to bottom and not side to side. I could therefore read 50 to
    100 pages an hour. By 10 I was reading mt mothers course wirk on abnormal psychology. So sorry for the tangent my dad asked me about what the pictures and art where about. I blasted off and he read the page I was on deducing correctly that I just discribed the gist of the chapter he read. At first he looked pissed off but slowly a smile formed and a laughed calling me a little shit.

    The reason I lied about not being about to read was simple I had been thrown into LDS class and frankly the curriculum was for retards. Just a nomlecture I had freinds i have this amazing abilty to adapt to the intellegence or lack of and realize that all people have dignity. So in order to avoid the bullshit of participating in that crap i figured im not playing thier game tge start of a life long rebellion to public education. In every class I went i could have taught it. I went to the library and sought out the most scholorly book i could find on the subject I was interezted in. Math and english I had no use for …so I often failed tnose tests. I got by by getting A + on testd but doing zero coursr work and never even brought homework home. I just took the trst without studying . Math and English tests i just ditched those classes. .

    I was vulnrable. Plus im an empath so i was a target. For bullying molestation and just plain hatred from most adults.

    i also have PTSD and hearing that im no good lazy selfish a sociopath ….they didnt know i probably knew more about sociopaths than they did. All things i knewnot to be true about mysrlf. I said fuck it they want a psycho and a bad kid Ill give them one. It was a bullying incedent that triggered this new me. The me of no fear ….not being intemidated by anyone or anything. Abd i went against my own personality i became completly selfish . So this kid Helmet was pushing me around for the hundreth time. Hes smaller than me. … I was 6 foot by the time i was in the 7 th grade. And wirey. I waz strong as hell from all the jobs i did around the nieghborhood and for my dad. But i didnt look it. I just snapped …I saw red and his face became everyone thst ever hurt me or let me down. If my brother hadnt hapoened along i would have killed him as i was on top of him slammi g his head on the ground. I had read the marine manual on hand to habd fighting and some of those deadly technique s came back. After tgat incident my brither was afraid of me…not for his safty i loved him bit for any kid thst picked on him. Because Helmut was smaller thsn me the nieghborhood kids felt that gl make it it even i kneded to fight Helmet and another kid at the same time. The ither kid was a local delinquent older and bigger than me. I knew he had to go first.He came up behind me and tried a chock hold i cocked back my right arm snd caught him in the eye with my elbow.

    I then procedded to beat the tar out of Helmet again. To this day he still plots of wzys to get even. This behaviour continued and I became a srrisl killer in training….neaning that the behaviour patterns where similar. I never thought about killing people for fun. I only wanted to hurt bullies and molesters . An anti hero. I set fires tortured animals vandalised stole shit did drugs and drank.

    Until at 15 I met the creator of the universe and tgat put me back onto the empath personality I reallt was. However That ability to tap into my inner pyscho when needed has helped out on occasion. I never had friends so at l5 I had developed coping methods that allowed me to get along with kids that liked the brutal honesty and loyalty i offered. And intellegent kids were alwaysxa staple regardless if they where book smart or not intellegent people seek the same. However i had friends rmthat ran the gamit from high functioning autistic kids to egg heads. Stoners jocks surfers i didnt care if you were my friend social status didnt matter.
    I will continue this only if i realise someone is resding it.
    I just looked up and was like wow
    If someone is interested in talking to a dude that about ready tonthrow in the towel.

    1. Hi Mike,

      I read every comment. And I respond when it seems appropriate.

      You aren’t asking a question, so I won’t try to devise an answer.

      I’m sorry that no one knew, from a young age, the nature of your challenges.

      It’s why I do the work that I do, because that should not happen. Ever.

      best,
      g

  6. Gina what a great piece. Thank you. I was in AA for years before I was diagnosed with bipolar II. It had been there all along, but I was repeatedly told by sponsors to “pray about it” or “work the steps harder” or “get out of myself by doing more service work.” Needless to say, medication, not faith healing, saved me. I also wanted to echo your sentiments regarding the fact that AA never refers anyone out of AA. AA does not in any way vet it’s members. In fact, members will tell you that “no one ends up in AA by mistake.” That’s what’s so weird about the woman’s comment above re: “real alcoholics.” If AA is only meant for “real alcoholics,” then why do you all try to convince everyone that they are there for a reason, a drinking problem. You just can’t have it both ways. I never belonged in AA, yet I stayed for 13 years – brainwashed. Also, to the person who commented above claiming that Carl Jung explained the spiritual and physiological aspects of the disease, that just is plainly false. AA is faith healing and has never delves into the “physiological aspects of the disease.” The founders labeled it a disease to reduce the social stigma around it – and, anyone who has read the big book know that the book describes the “disease” as an “allergy of the brain and mind” and a “spiritual sickness.” This is very much not synonymous with a physiological, scientific explanation of substance use disorder. At any rate, thanks for your voice of reason and for writing and publishing this. – Julie

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks so much for the validation. I knew I risked stepping on toes, and for some people, AA is one of the few available resources.

      But for all the reasons you mentioned, it is important to also screen for treatable psychiatric conditions.

      thanks,
      g

  7. Hey! You really do steal my thoughts away! It’s interesting to see the responses of people who, instead of understanding what you wrote, are just offended that you dared suggest AA isn’t 100% perfect.

    I grew up with un-diagnosed ADHD because my symptoms where not the stereotypical symptoms and the condition was not as well understood as it is today. At age 13, instead of getting that diagnoses, I was forced into a 12 step program (self-medicating behavior that would continue for a huge chuck of my life).

    To the extent that such programs work, they do so because peer-support is very helpful for almost any kind of human problem that doesn’t have a medical basis. And that’s your point — when one has a mental health issue (a medical issue), their drug use issues are secondary in most cases.

    The two biggest problems with 12 steps programs is 1) it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. In medical science, we’ve learned that mental health issues are almost never solved with fully predictable treatment plans. That is, specialized treatment for the individual seems to be required. 12 step programs don’t really have much flexibility in that area. And 2) it’s structured very much like a religious order. That’s why any questioning of it is met with irrational resistance. It’s like going into a church and questioning the existence of God.

    But science and understanding require questioning. I shared my anecdote above, but only to make this point: people who don’t get what you’re saying don’t understand the difference between statistics and anecdote. They tend to think their personal experience must be the same as everyone else’s, or at least every one else who isn’t a “broken and unfixable” person. Statistics tell us the reality: 12 step programs can work sometimes, but the success rate doesn’t support the idea that it’s the best choice or that it should be the only choice.

    1. Dear Jason,

      Would you like to write my blog posts? 🙂

      Because we’re on the same wavelength and all, and you’re a clear and cogent writer….just saying… 🙂

      Seriously, thank you for understanding and validating the point I was trying to convey.

      Yes, a few readers have written critical comments to that effect, contending that I am saying AA is worthless, etc.

      For some people with ADHD, reading comprehension is difficult and all-nothing thinking is the reflexive go-to. Then there’s impulsivity, self-medicating from anger, and so forth.

      I don’t take it personally, and I appreciate all comments that add to the discourse.

      tx
      g

    2. P.S. Jason, I’m really sorry that happened to you. Horrific.

      On one hand, we can “send a man to the moon” and on the other, when it comes to neuroscience, anyway, we are largely troglodytes.

  8. Gina.
    AA and treatment centers are two separate programs. Treatment centers base themselves on the 12 step program but is not complete, especially in the enforcement of rules and paying of counselors. AA is based on spiritual and physiological principles like Carl Jung’s ‘ inner religious experience’ for a psychic change. I’m an Adult ADHD sufferer. This is an outside issue, uncovered when alcohol was removed, and to be addressed by therapy and medication. Anyone who states AA is an end all is incorrect but AA is for my alcoholism and my ‘alcoholic’ thinking. It is a good start and once things clear, you can see what outside issues are left, if any, to be dealt with appropriately.
    Thank you.

    Jim M.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment and an important clarification.

      I added it to the post.

      I still think it’s true that many AA groups have “alternate explanations” for the behaviors leftover after the alcohol is stopped. But the post is primarily regarding the substance-abuse treatment centers.

      tx
      g

  9. Gina,
    I have been sober for just shy of 7 years.
    I regularly attend AA meetings and have a sponsor. I recently was diagnosed with ADHD at age 52. I had always thought ADHD was a possibility and that I likely had it for a number of years. I knew a little about it. Just enough to say oh I do that or that sounds like me. I find AA a way to calm myself. The 12 steps do not work for everyone but many people could benefit from the spiritual nature and the design for better living. We all have baggage and the steps help those of us see our part and be able to forgive ourselves and make amends to those we have hurt. Then move on to step 10,11,12 which are to structure a standard way of living by giving of yourself and reflecting on things you do wrong in daily living and make amends to them immediately
    AA was teaching people some of the foundations of mindfulness practices. This has been going on since the 1930’s. Another thing about AA is it creates fellowship this helps in recovery in a number of ways. 1) it give the alcoholic a network of support.
    2) it creates strong bonds among groups and friendships arise.
    3) fellowship and service helps others recover. Service is where you do a job within AA or you carry the message to a still suffering alcoholic.
    These are a few things which are important.
    What if there were groups of ADHD individuals who could share experience strength and hope with each other.
    I could see this helping ADHD individuals learn and grow by hearing what others have done. By creating friendships and learning new ideas
    Certainly your blog is one piece of that which connects is to new information.
    I very much appreciate the website and information.
    I by no means believe AA is the be all end all and other options my have better success. AA is not to be at fault of treatment centers using it as a basis. That is there choice. AA has actually been over run by court mandated attendance by courts for years. Not just for dui but about everything. This has put a strain on AA and has often made meetings less effective because people are not there to become sober but because they need a slip signed. This is not AA’s fault by any means. AA takes people in regardless and trust to help. AA is an amazing grass roots self funded and self supported group of people working to become and stay sober and help others along the way. By no means is it perfect and it is not for everyone.
    My next thing is I have had little problem staying sober once I came to AA my issue has been change my behaviors. We’ll come to understand I have struggled to understand that my ADHD is a significant if not greater part of my inability to change my behaviors. I am just realizing that I must do things differently than the standard drunk because I will get on a new path and a squirrel will appear and I will run that way because it’s a cute fuzzy squirrel. It is a very strong reason that change does not stick. I get so easily distracted that o forget what part of my behavior I was trying to change. For me I must work extra hard at organizing my plan for daily living it is how things go smoothly and it is the way I am able to make it part of my regular life.

    1. Hi Scott,

      Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. I agree with all that you write.

      AA can be invaluable for all sorts of people. As you say, and as I try to emphasize in the post, the trouble is with these treatment centers failing to perform evaluations to identify underlying conditions that can make a person vulnerable to substance abuse (as ADHD surely can).

      That’s a very interesting point, about court-mandated attendance putting a strain on AA. Absolutely I can see that.

      As for this part of your comment: What if there were groups of ADHD individuals who could share experience strength and hope with each other.
      I could see this helping ADHD individuals learn and grow by hearing what others have done. By creating friendships and learning new ideas

      Absolutely. That’s why I have led an Adult ADHD group here in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. It is a powerful thing. Finding other people (finally) who can relate, sharing strategies with others, not having to “hide” behaviors or “cover for fear of being judged, etc. I’m convinced that this group is an immense part of the treatment/healing process for most of the people who attend—and keep attending.

      If you’re ever in Palo Alto, you’re welcome to join us. It’s free and open to the public.

      best,
      Gina

  10. Hi my name is Andrew
    I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.
    I’ve suffered with addiction and alcohol related isssues throughout my life.
    I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for the last 7 years.
    I’ve begun to notice and gain an awareness that the so called symptoms of Alcoholism as stated in the Big Book are alarmingly the same as the symptoms of ADHD.
    Given the structure of the AA program is somewhat helpful in my daily life it has started to make me wonder why I would spend the rest of my life attending meetings if the possibility I am not actually an alcoholic and the cause o all my symptoms is just good old ADHD. I’m at a bit of a crossroads here and would appreciate some feedback.
    Kind Regards
    Andy

    1. Hi Andy,

      Sorry for delay. I’ve been very sick that contagion going around. Still sick, so I’ll keep it short.

      I definitely would encourage you to pursue an evaluation for ADHD. First, read up more, though. Read throughout my blog and elsewhere. Make a note of what resonates for you. It will be important to the evaluation process.

      I thoroughly concur…who would want to structure an entire life around attending AA meetings if the source of your challenge lies elsewhere, and is treatable??

      You owe it to yourself. Please keep me posted on your progress.

      g

  11. Gina with all due respect your representation of Alcoholic’s Anonymous is inaccurate. You seem to be under the impression that AA discourages the use of outside resources. This simply is not the case. Here are a few quotes from AA’s main text…

    “Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” p.64….ADHD is surely a big factor in causes and conditions, no?

    “We recognize that alcoholics are not immune
    to other diseases. Some of us have had to cope
    with depressions that can be suicidal; schizo-
    phrenia that sometimes requires hospitaliza-
    tion; bipolar disorder, and other mental and
    biological illnesses. Also among us are diabetics,
    epileptics, members with heart trouble, cancer,
    allergies, hypertension, and many other serious
    physical conditions.
    Because of the difficulties that many alcohol-
    ics have with drugs, some members have taken
    the position that no one in A.A. should take any
    medication. While this position has undoubtedly
    prevented relapses for some, it has meant disas-
    ter for others” p.11 pamphlet

    I don’t doubt for a second that your experience regarding prejudice in AA is true. Unfortunately there is no application process to become an active member. For this reason our message often gets scued. This is why it’s important to go through the book with somebody with experience instead of on your own. God bless…

    “We missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees” p.50

    1. Hi Austin,

      I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. Thank you!

      As I noted in the post, this is a difficult type to write clearly about. Such complexity.

      The main issue, though, isn’t to criticize AA, which has undeniably helped millions of people.

      The main issue is to point to the poor practices at substance-abuse treatment centers that overly rely on the AA model, without bringing other medical expertise to bear.

      They are often a last resort for people with substance-abuse problems, people who don’t know that they are dealing with a neurobiology that makes them more vulnerable to addiction. These clinics don’t offer psychiatric expertise and screening for these conditions. At best, they might give people with ADHD medication for “depression” or “anxiety” — which only intensifies ADHD symptoms.

      I’ve heard the stories.

      That is where the objection comes, not to AA itself, but to these “clinics” that actually exploit the good reputation of AA to offer inferior but costly (in more ways than one) “treatment.”

      I hope that clarifies.

      thanks,
      g

  12. As the scientific community advances our knowledge of how the brain works including how addiction or ADHD shows up in the brain, there may very well come a time when AA simply becomes one option among many.

    But I have to tell this: While Bill Wilson and his friend Dr. Bob were many years ago creating AA –which has undeniably saved countless live around the world for decades–Lois, his wife created a place for the spouses of the alcoholics to share their experience, strength and hope and so Al-Anon was born. This a group for people affected by other people’s drinking.

    Although I’m the one in my partnership with ADHD, I ended up in Al-Anon and it had an unexpected benefit. Not only did I learn how to keep my peace and serenity despite my partner’s behaviour, even with 40+ years of undiagnosed ADHD, I also found a place where I could learn to love and accept myself.

    The 12 steps gave me the principles that would enable me to stand up for myself–with respect for myself and the other–in the face of anger, criticism and derision regarding how I kept house, my productivity and forgetfulness. Al-Anon certainly saved my marriage and quite possibly my life.

    A few years later, after reading “Driven to Distraction”, I’d get an ADHD diagnosis, but it would be a some time before I truly tackled my ADHD. Until then I had the sound, applicable to everyone, principles of that 12 Step program to live by.

    Recently I bumped into a former ADHD coaching client. He was cheerful and happy to report that he was attending a 12 step meeting for chronic indebtedness. He also said that he looked forward to, at some point, attending my 12 Step based ADHD Support Group.

    12 Steps and AA may not be a perfect fit all the time, and like any treatment, including the most modern therapies used for ADHD–are not always administered as well as they should be.

    Please don’t write off this very helpful program.

    Cheers

    1. HI Brett,

      Thank you for detailing your story and your positive experience with AA and Al-Anon.

      I would never disparage a program that is available freely to millions of people, especially one that offers community and, as you mention, helps people in finding their voice and in listening as well.

      The problem is that AA is overly relied upon in actual substance-abuse treatment programs, to the exclusion of addressing underlying psychiatric conditions, including ADHD. That is definitely short-changing people and resulting in high recidivism rates. Treatment centers need to step up their game and step into the 21st Century.

      best,
      g

  13. After 1o years of marriage I think I can say that even AA can become an addiction. Over the years, I have seen how my husband gets more and more involved in all type of AA related activities…..daily 90 minute meetings, conferences, cds, endless phonecalls to his sponsor, books (AA literature is all he ever reads), etc… it never ever ends…there’s always something.
    I sometimes wonder if this is how cult members behave.

    He has been resisting taking medication for his ADHD after he gave it a quick try and didn’t like it.
    He thinks AA is all he really needs for his problems and that I simply don’t understand. The irony is that even though he attends his daily meeting and does everything the AA literature says…he is still suffering.

    I hope he someday realizes how much better he would feel if he tried medication and received adequate treatment for his ADHD.
    I also hope that the AA community does something about all their undiagnosed ADHD members. Many would benefit from it.

    1. Hi Lucy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I completely agree with you, because I have seen that scenario play out many a time.

      It’s almost like the person is using AA as the last defense against facing reality.

      I credit AA for being there when there were no better answers — treatment, support, or therapy. The system of it does a great job of keeping awareness “front and center”, with the sponsorships, meetings throughout the week, etc. But at some point, that system can also be a trap, keeping the person in denial. Especially when the sponsor or group spouts anti-medication sentiment (as many do, but that’s not in the “Big Book”).

      I hope your husband comes around soon.

      best,
      g

  14. Gina, you mentioned in the reply to the person who’s husband was into porn, that it appears it is time for meds. I know there are stimulant and non-stimulant meds – which ones appear to be the ‘safest’ in slowing down the impulse to act or speak – creating the pause that is needed? By safest, I mean the ones wt less intrusive side affects. I’ve tried suppliments. L-tyrosine has some benefits but my mind is still like a popcorn bag with each kernel wanting to be expressed. What would be ‘entry level’ meds that one could talk to the doctor about?

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Put a lid on that popcorn popper! 😉

      Good question. It really depends on what’s going on in the neurochemistry department.

      Some people with ADHD will do well on a stimulant alone, at least for a while. But some will ultimately need a pairing that addresses both ADHD and anxiety/depression.

      Have you read my book? If so, check the chapters on medication, where I spell out a “start low and titrate slow” approach. (One that many MDs don’t know to follow; hence, too many people get side effects and give up.)

      There are equal odds to the two classes of stimulant (AMP and MPH) working well for you. The best is to try one of each to get a fair trial.

      For people with ADHD who have a bit of the heebie-jeebies about trying a stimulant (because once you swallow it, you’re stuck with it!), I suggest checking out the patch, called Daytrana. http://www.daytrana.com/

      You place it on your hip and have to wait a while for it to enter your system. The advantage, though, is that you can just take it off if you don’t like the effect. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to clear.

      But you can also try a low dose of the other stimulants — Ritalin, Focalin, and Adderall (my last choice, because it has a more problematic side effect profile for some people).

      At the lowest dose, it about has the effect of a strong cup of coffee.

      Of course, medication to slow the impulse is one thing. There is also the issue of breaking bad habits, and sometimes even addictions to consider.

      But a good place to start sorting it all out is with the Rx.

      Good luck!
      g

    2. Re: side effects, I saw some good advice in a recent book (or books) I read: make sure you request the name brand first until you’re familiar with how the medication works for you.

      The default for most physicians, pharmacists, insurance companies, etc. is to offer a generic “equivalent” whenever it’s available. However, those generics aren’t all created equal. It’s more expensive, but it’s the only way to get an accurate baseline for what works for you and at what dosage. I didn’t do this when I started meds, but I wish I had.

      Also, Gina, that quote at the end is just heartbreaking. How many “simple systems” have ADHD folks failed to “completely give themselves to?” I find that kind of talk unhelpful at best in any situation 🙁

    3. Hi Jaclyn,

      Yes, I ALWAYS recommend starting with the name brand first. You can always switch to generic. But if you start with it, you won’t know if it’s the medication that doesn’t agree with you or the generic.

      And yes, “simple” indeed.

      best,
      g

  15. I wonder how adult ADHD plays out in porn “addiction”. (Yes, the quotes are there on purpose. After 13 years of reading and research, I cannot agree with the 12-step community that it is a true addiction). How does ADHD leave someone “vulnerable” to impulse-control disorders, or vice versa? And how on earth is it ever successfully treated, assuming it can be? Over a decade of meetings and therapy, and my porn-“addicted” ADHDer continues to lie and act out, and to behave like an entitled, emotionally abusive jerk in general, even when he’s not acting out. (Yes, I’m working on being able to get out of the relationship, but I wonder if ADHD is a cause or a symptom, or if it makes the impulse-control behavior more entrenched and impossible to change).

    1. Hi Persephone,

      You make a great point. The researchers I’ve read in the area of hypersexuality object to calling it “addiction,” too. Nonetheless, they recognize that there can be pathology in the obsessive overuse of porn, masturbation, etc.

      ADHD can create a vulnerability to addictions due to the deficits in dopamine transmission (the “reward” neurochemical); that’s a very simple way to put it. The ADHD-challenged brain, being understimulated, is chornically seeking stimulation, and often over-doing it. Poor self-regulation is part of the central challenge of ADHD.

      To answer your question, ADHD is an impulse-control disorder. And, that can manifest in many areas in life.

      You mention that your partner has done 12-step meetings and therapy, but no mention of medication. That seems far past due, if 10 years of the meetings/therapy hasn’t made a difference. Or perhaps he’s just a jerk. 🙁

      Take care of yourself.
      g

  16. Hi Gina, What a relevant subject.

    How much longer will the medical profession believe alcoholism, depression, ADHD, add, bipolar and all the labeled symptoms considered diseases and known as “mental illness,” and not as an energy-deprived or chemically imbalanced brain causing emotive and motive problems with transmission and transformation of energy.

    With lack of emotion\motion the mind and body is known as depressed and with too much it is known to be manic or psychotic. When the doctor prescribes a controlled substance to a mentally ill patient it is considered medical treatment and for now it is still legal, but if an undiagnosed or untreated person should self-medicate oneself with an uncontrolled substance, that is considered addiction and that is illegal.

    Why is it that the fortunate conscientious patient gets treated while the unfortunate and ignorant criminal is fined, jailed and untreated. Am I right or maybe that is not the matter. Edward

    1. I don’t know if you’re right, Edward, but I certainly agree with you.

      This issue is one that particularly penalizes the poor, who don’t have access to psychiatric care and sometimes do the best they can with illicit substances or even abusing legal ones. Taking what little money they have and perhaps pushing them into crime.

      It’s the 21st Century. I hope we all join it soon!

      g

    2. Nuala O'connor

      I am interested to know how you feel qualified to talk about this subject if you are not an alcoholic with ADHD. Here is my experience and I hope to give you some understanding around the subject as I feel your motives are positive.

      First of all around half of the room you walked into do NOT have ADHD. It’s so much more than being fidgety and drinking too much coffee. There is a correlation. People with ADHD are more prone to substance abuse, statistically 4 times more likely but a good percentage of those will never make it into a meeting.

      I did! Now I know alot of alcoholics and addicts and while we’re mostly dual diagnosis, not everyone has ADHD in fact as a woman I have yet to find another who displays such extreme symptoms as me. So what do I do?

      Firstly when I came into the rooms, I did not have a diagnosis because my alcoholism and addiction masked everything. If it hadn’t been for AA and working the 12 steps to the best of my ability I would never have got a diagnosis because all alcoholics and addicts are unmanageable in their nature. It wasn’t until I was 6 months sober until mental health services could work with me. We could rule out substances and look at why I can’t concentrate unless it’s something I’m passionate about, losing things I need constantly, feeling overwhelmed by absolutely everything, I can’t follow lists. I can’t stick everything in a purse because I’ll lose that. Friends feel I don’t listen and 70% of the time that is true. But what I needed to understand was that while there is a correlation I am not an alcoholic or an addict because of my mental illness. Many people with mental illness do not drink like I did. I had trauma in my past but I did not drink because of that, I drank because I was alcoholic!!

      There is another quote from ‘As Bill Sees It’ that states AA is not a cure all ‘It would be a product of false pride to claim that AA is a cure all, even for alcoholism’. We work the programme alongside seeking professional help if necessary. That is my experience and I could not have done that without getting sober and personally for me I could not have got sober without working the steps. I know I am not alone in this. AA is a fantastic tool for aiding mental illness. There really is no negative.

      You know the quote you referenced says the opposite of what you are implying. It states ‘They are NOT at fault’. And they’re not, often mental illness is so overwhelming they can not get this stuff and that is very sad but it happens.

      But you know as an alcoholic and an addict that was of the hopeless variety I try and carry a message to the still suffering. My life has changed dramatically. I am nearly a year sober, I am the most mentally sound I have ever been. I’ve been able to get a diagnosis for ADHD and I have a sponsor who has guided me through the steps and I now sponsor others. This stuff quickly and dramatically changed my life. It made me useful, I don’t have to hide behind a diagnosis and use it as an excuse to drink and drug. I can use my experience to benefit others!

      You know a lot of people come into meetings withdrawing from substances, shaking and fidgeting. It doesn’t mean they have ADHD, often they are typical addicts and I can say that as one.

      Hope this helps!

    3. Hi Nuala,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I would encourage you to please re-read my piece. It doesn’t say that you maintain that it does.

      I do not disparage the AA model itself, only the tendency of substance-abuse treatment centers to base too much of their “program” on it while ignoring underlying psychiatric issues.

      I do not claim that everyone at the AA meeting I attended had ADHD. This is what I wrote:

      You can bet ADHD was over-represented in that room—and no doubt thousands of other rooms, including private clinics, where AA is still the model used to address substance-use problems and underlying neurocognitive or psychiatric issues are ignored.

      I stand by this statement, especially since this was the mid-1980s, when almost no one was talking about Adult ADHD or even milder forms of bipolar disorder.

      I also respect the work of Gabrielle Glaser, and this post is largely based on her work and others. I cite one of her responses to an interview question:

      There was a book that came out in 2013 called Inside Rehab by Anne Fletcher. That book found that up to 80 percent of all rehabs rely on AA and 12-step treatments as the foundation for their centers. It really has crowded out other voices.

      If you are not concerned about people with underlying ADHD/bipolar disorder being treated (often at great cost) at centers that do not have qualified psychiatric staff and that have high recidivism rates, that’s your business. If you want to disagree with everything in my post, again, your business. But when you misrepresent the content of my post with your criticisms, that’s my business. 😉

      Best,
      Gina

    4. Ruth Hamilton

      You don’t seem to realise that there are ” real alcoholics ” and those people that misuse alcohol because of life events and trauma. I am of the first type and no amount of therapy, counselling and physciatric help did for me what AA has done . It’s been life changing and helps me to deal with life on life’s terms. Unless you’re a real alcoholic you would not know or understand . Many people with diagnosis of mental illness find that the steps and program allow them to run their lives and their illness with a lot more manageability than when they were in active alcoholism. They are able to differentiate between the alcoholism and their mental illness. There are some brilliant books out there on this subject . Carl Jung also agreed that it needed more than we he could offer to help an alcoholic to recover .

    5. Hi Ruth,

      Where in my post gives you evidence that I “don’t realize there are ‘real alcoholics’ and those people that misuse alcohol because of life events and trauma”?

      Perhaps you’d like to re-read, because I did not limit the world of alcoholism to people with ADHD or any other group.

      My blog is about ADHD. That is my focus.

      This post has a very specific point — that substance-abuse treatment centers that overly rely on AA are missing other important treatment factors for many clients.

      Thanks for writing.
      Gina

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