Addiction, Questions and Answers

1. What is Alcohol addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a disorder and cannot be addressed with the too often heard words, “Why Don’t You Just Stop?”

Here is why:

Once addiction has occurred permanent changes to the brain take place. Simply put, the “off switch” is broken.  More scientifically expressed: The intricate neural chemical feedback system between the pleasure reward system in the mid-brain and the decision making part of the brain (the ventral medial prefrontal cortex/the part of the brain that is located behind the forehead) is no longer intact.  This means that an addict will not be able to consume alcohol or drugs in a controlled way but will always seek more.  Hence, to remain in recovery it is absolutely essential not to use any intoxicating (mind altering) substances.

2. What does it mean to be in recovery? 

It means more than abstaining from drugs and alcohol.  It is a process during which an individual learns to control seemingly overwhelming feelings, re-builds his/her self-esteem, learns to think in healthy ways, and acquires coping skills to deal with the world he lives in.  It’s all about having control over one’s emotions, creating balance in life and a sense of inner peace.  

3. What is AA? 

The below excerpt will shed some light on the idea and goals of the self-support group: 

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” http://www.lacoaa.org/

4. Why should someone go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)/NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings?

The answer is:  It works in most of the cases. The statement is not only based on anecdotal reports, but also on scientific studies that show lower rates of relapse among individuals in recovery who attend meetings and work the program.  The basic underlying principles for all meetings, regardless the kind of specific chemical or behavioral addiction, are based on AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).  

5. Meeting Basics/finding meetings:

The internet is an invaluable resource.  The following link provides information on AA meeting times and contact persons:

http://www.aauae.net/images/aameetinglist.pdf 

This link provides information on NA (Narcotics Anonymous):

http://www.naws.org/meetingsearch/

It’s very easy to find a schedule for any AA based support group online. There also are meetings that are offered online for chemical (alcohol and drugs) and behavioral (i.e. shopping, gambling, overeating etc.) addictions.  

What is the purpose of the meeting?

–          To listen and to learn. 

–          To share about each other’s problems, the addiction, recovery and challenges.

–          To get a sponsor. 

6. What is a sponsor? 

A sponsor is someone with whom the newcomer will build a relationship that supports his recovery.  A sponsor could be called in a crisis if someone needs support to remain sober. The sponsor helps the new member to go through the 12 steps program.    

7. How to get a sponsor? 

The newcomer simply shares in the meeting that he needs a sponsor.  Typically, someone will come up at the end of the meeting and offer sponsorship.  At some meetings available sponsors will be asked to raise their hand.  If – for different reasons – the newcomer does not connect with a particular person as a sponsor, this should be communicated at the meetings. There will be always other suitable candidates ready to take over. 

8. Are there any requirements to participate in the 12 steps program? 

The answer is: no.  Whether the person seeking help believes or doesn’t believe in God, regardless of his religious and cultural background, the group will help. Of course it is  helpful to believe that there is something eternal, a higher power, a source of enlightenment. For some people this is quite easy, because they believe in such eternal power.  Others will be able to develop a spirituality they are comfortable with. Preaching is definitely not the goal of an AA group. The crucial factor is the connection to the supportive group and its strength.     

9. What are the 12 steps?

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to

sanity. 

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we

understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature

of our wrongs. 

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make

amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do

so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly

admitted it. 

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with

God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us

and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

(http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/smf-121_en.pdf)

10. What is a home group?

According to the AAGrapvine (journal) the home group is the following:

“The home group is called the heartbeat of AA, where we are loved until we can love ourselves.” (http://www.aagrapevine.org/topic/homegroup).  Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group which they call “Home Group.” This is the group where they accept responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the “Home Group” has still remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship. (http://chipsontheweb.net/pages/homegroup.htm

11. A few words about loved ones/the family/friends:

It is important for the loved ones to learn as much as they can about the addiction.  The more they understand about this disorder, the better they will understand what you are going through.   When one person in the family is getting help for his/her addiction, it is important for those involved in relationships with the addict to begin their own journey of personal growth.  The underlying reason for this is to begin healing the hurt and to be able to jointly move forward in healthy way. 

A very important resource for family members/friends is Al-Anon.   

12. What is Al-Anon?

Al-Anon is based on the same principles (i.e. meetings, 12 Steps, sponsorship etc.) of AA.

The purpose of this group is to give those who are in relationships with addicts an opportunity to get support from individuals in the same kind of situation. 

One of the main lessons new members learn is that a family member cannot make the addict better.  Only the addict can make the decision to rehabilitate and work on his/her sobriety program.  

The other important lesson many learn is to STOP enabling the addict to continue his/her abuse by covering for them, giving them money, or providing a place to stay.   

Do continue to love the addict, but do not do anything that supports the addiction, or removes negative consequences. Many in Al-Anon call this, “Though love.”

See this link for Al-Anon meetings in Dubai:

http://www.aauae.net/index.php/widgetkit/sharjah-3

Any contact persons listed on any of the AA based support group websites will be more than happy to help. This is the strength of the fellowship to be supportive of anyone in recovery, or anyone who wishes to stop abusing alcohol or drugs. 

Desiderata, poem by Max Ehrmann, 1972

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d4udnovyr95qwrv/Desiderata%20-%20read%20by%20Anthony%20Jackson.mp3?dl=0