Give Drugs To Your Child: You’ll Sleep Better


 




     I recently came across a Facebook posting made by a woman who had an obvious problem getting her todler to sleep unassisted. She proudly announced that he finally was able to get himself to sleep on his own. She remarked that it was such an accomplishment that she would reward herself with a celebratory glass of champagne.



     Her reason to celebrate was not so unusual and it is not an uncommon practice to celebrate an occasion with a glass of champagne in our culture. However, to celebrate with alcohol over a toddler’s ability to get to sleep on his own is hardly a cause to consume alcohol. But nonetheless, she was most likely making her point of how important the event was to her that she should celebrate . . . champagne or not.



     And then, someone on her list of friends made the comment that she should also include some champagne in her toddler’s sippy cup to insure she would have more times for her own uninterrupted rest. This is an indicator of just how uneducated and unaware some people are when it comes to drugs. Yes, alcohol is a drug, only in liquid form.



     Alcohol has the effect of anesthetizing the brain. And so does Ambien, Lunesta, Seconal, Rozerem, Sonata, Silenor and even some benzodiazepines such as Halciom, Restoril, and Xanax. How many parents would administer any of these addictive and harmful drugs to a toddler to get them to sleep? Doing so would be illegal. It would not be surprising to discover that there are, indeed, a few who would give them to their child for their own self-serving benefit without considering the dangers imposed on the child. And right about now, someone is thinking: “But it’s only wine (or beer) and it isn’t that much.” Alcohol is alcohol regardless of the clothes it wears.



     A child who has their first drink before the age of 15 has a four times greater chance of becoming addicted to it than one who doesn’t drink until a later age. That percentage increases the younger a person is when they first begin consuming alcohol and any type or amount. Alcohol plays havoc on the adult’s brain and internal organs so you can imagine what it could do to a child’s brain and internal organs that have not yet fully developed.



     But we are a drug oriented society completely consumed in a world of medication madness instituted by the pharmaceutical companies who pay off medical professionals to support their false claims of harmless yet so-called effective brain drugs. This in turn leads the rest of the medical profession to accept the findings of their peers and prescribe these drugs without full awareness of the overall effects, not only to those who take them, but to their family and friends as well.



     The ignorance about alcohol and its effect on the body and brain are totally unknown to most consumers. They simply believe that if it is legal to consume over the age of 21 that it is a relatively harmless and innocuous beverage. Yet it consistently kills over 50,000 drinkers a year and is the number one killer of those between the ages of 15 to 25.



     Instead of giving alcohol to a child to get them to go to sleep, why not change whatever it is that the parent has been doing all this time to attempt to get the child to sleep. No one, not even a child, can stay awake for 24 hours if they don’t have to. The body doesn’t naturally work that way. A child who refuses to go to sleep on his own does so because it serves a purpose or he wouldn’t do it. Like what? You ask. For the attention and the comfort of having Mom do whatever she does to get him to sleep.



     I recall the story Dr. Glasser told of his own very young granddaughter who didn’t want to go to bed when she was visiting his home. He told her, “This is grandpa’s house and you don’t have to go to bed if you don’t want to.” And she replied, “But Grandpa, what will I do?” Dr. Glasser told her, “Anything you want to do.” He reports she was soon fast asleep.



It all goes back to Choice Theory.      
     If someone is behaving in a way in which you disapprove, the first person to change must be yourself. Change what you want or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want. And that would be something to celebrate.

Aurora Atrocity

 


Comment:  This is the start of a new book that I began writing  a day before the terrible shooting incident occurred in Aurora, CO.  I thought it was timely to post it in light of the situation.


 


            As I turn on my TV to catch the morning news, a routine I have had for some time, I am informed of the death and destruction of war between some countries, civil wars in other countries, embezzlement by wealthy corporation officers, an economy that was all but destroyed because of greed.  More news of child sexual abuse, and numerous stories of man’s inhumanity to man are reported, and I wonder why I even bother to want to hear the news.  Perhaps it is my innermost desire to turn it on and hear, “The sun is shining today, all’s right with the world, and everyone is happy.”  But then, no one would watch the news if that is all they had to report.


            So I resort to my PC where I am informed of other news of which celebrity is suffering from substance abuse or even death, the lives of other celebrities and their families and what they had for dinner, sex scandals, who is dating or cheating on whom, sensational headlines that fool the reader into un-newsworthy articles, and worst of all . . . comments made by readers that are filled with such vitriol that it becomes  obvious that there are millions of angry and unhappy people in the world.  And what a sad commentary that is for those societies and cultures who have so much available to them in order to be happy that they choose not to be.  The words to attack a person and name calling of one another directed towards people they don’t even personally know is testament to their intense anger and hatred. 


        Along with this seems to be an intense need for power in the sense of not possessing appreciation, acceptance, respect, and recognition for one’s self in the world.  There is a strong need to be “We’re number one!” not only in one’s favorite sports team but in one’s own Country, State, City, and personal life.  Sports have become the opiate of the nation.           


Even when a city’s college sports team wins a tournament, many students will tear down the goal posts, riot in the streets, and wreak havoc all over the city.  They are so happy and elated that they destroy?  Therein lies another concern:  No responsibility or boundaries towards the respect of others or property.


            It would appear that the world is becoming more and more polarized.  It seems that not only does “us against them” exist between countries but even more so individually, religiously, politically, wealthy vs poor, and no existence of fairness or equality between the two. 


The wealthy can get away with taking advantage of others for their own greed and only get a slap on the wrist if caught because they can afford pricey attorneys while the less financially capable person receives a long prison term for the same type of offense.  Others make grievous errors and commit crime and because of their wealth or fame only need say, “I’m sorry.  I messed up” and they are forgiven.


            The “US against THEM” phenomenon is rapidly increasing.  Hypocrisy does not appear to have a limit.    We see it in Politics, Religion, Law, Ethics, and Values where people are judging others while not seeing the spec in their own eye.  I am reminded of something my mentor, Dr. William Glasser, once said:  Happy people judge themselves.  Unhappy people judge others.


People are seeking pleasure instead of happiness.  They are seeking revenge instead of forgiveness.  They are seeking blame instead of resolution.  They are seeking greed over fairness.  They are exhibiting behaviors of hatred and detachment more than love and acceptance.  And then they don’t understand why they are not happy.


        Yesterday, I read an online article posted by Huffington Post about “The Most Common Age for Women to Cheat.”  It listed ten different reasons why a woman would do such a thing.  I could have given the reason in one sentence and not reasons:  Women cheat because they aren’t happy in their marriage.  The same goes for men.  The bottom line, regardless of the age, or the ten reasons the article listed, or of cheating being gender specific, is that a person who cheats on a spouse is unhappy.  One or more of their genetic needs are not being met and they choose behaviors that they believe will ease the frustration of their unhappiness, at the time, by doing what they choose to do . . . have an affair.  And this does not afford them happiness.  It only creates pleasure albeit only a temporary release of their unhappiness.


        People don’t cheat, separate, or get divorced because they are happy.  Somewhere in their relationship(s) they have become tired of living with something their partner does or does not do that has been ongoing, and all of their efforts to get them to change have failed.  Attempts to change them not only failed, but their methods of trying to get them to change have created more dissention and unhappiness leading to ongoing loss of respect and love.


        I recall a client I had who came to me because he was severely depressed after his wife of fourteen years walked out on him.  He was a physically large man who stood over six feet tall with broad shoulders.  But even with his apparent physical traits, he walked into my office a broken man . . . head down, shoulders drooping, eyes red from crying.  His voice was not that of a strong, take charge, man but rather a meek and mild servant.


        After telling me she left him, he told me that he had no idea why she would have done such a thing.  Having been a therapist for several years, I knew better . . . that he did know why and he just didn’t want to admit it much less say it.  The real reason she walked out is because he had been behaving in a manner in which she disapproves.  She had not been successful in getting him to change or seeing the need to change.  So now, she didn’t like him any more.  People don’t walk out, or say, or do harmful things to one another because they like them.  To make a long story short, she left him because he had been controlling her in the marriage . . . telling her what to do, how to do it, criticizing her, and blaming her for things that did not meet his expectations.


        And this is a common example of why people don’t get along . . . the things they do that lead to trying to change the other person to live up to their wants and needs.  We see it in romantic relationships and marriages, in conflict with family and friends, with coworkers and employers, society, politics, religions, business, and countries.  When someone does or does not do what the other person doesn’t want or wants them to do, they attempt to control the other person(s) or leaders of nations with behaviors that are intended to cause the other people or nations to comply.  In other words, control them with any and all measures that will result in what they want from them.


Why do marriages end in divorce?  Control


Why do employers and managers threaten you with loss of job or dangle a carrot in front of you in the form of a reward?  Control


Why do countries go to war?  Control


Why do countries place trade embargoes on other countries?  Control


Why do employees walk out on their job?  Control


Why do people argue or fight?  Control


Why do people murder or rape?  Control


Why do people bully others?  Control


Why is there domestic violence?  Control


Why does congress refuse to pass any or most bills presented by one political party over the other that created it?  Control


Why do we have prisons?  Control


Why do we have laws?  Control


As I write these words, the news of James Holmes’ seemingly senseless and


 horrific attack on innocent theater patrons, killing 12 (so far) and injuring 38 others has been the primary story of the day on all TV news channels.  While everyone is wondering why this happened and what his motive is/was, it appears that most inquirers are seeking answers that regardless of what they discover, the end result will be:  He is not happy.  He is not experiencing the relationship(s) that he wants to have with some important person or persons in his life.


            When one feels powerless over something of which they have no control, they will devise some means of behavior that will afford them some sense of control to ease their frustration of feeling powerless.  Some resort to drugs or alcohol.  Others choose behaviors such as obsessing, schizophrenicing, anxieting, Bipolarizing, Personality Disordering, gambling, sexing, spending, depressing, angering, murdering, and suiciding.


            And yet to be disclosed is any current or recent use, if any, of psychotropic or antidepressants that not only alter the way the brain is supposed to function normally, but also ceases the ability to have normal emotion or feel empathy for others.  Many people are already assuming he has a mental illness and needs to be on meds.  What they don’t even consider is the possibility that it may the meds, if he is taking them, that caused him choose the behavior to deal with his unhappiness.


Controlling others is nothing new.  Controlling others has been around


 before the beginning of civilization.  And these controlling behaviors continue today after more than 250 thousand years.  We consider us humans to have evolved into a highly intelligent, creative, and productive species.  We have developed some of the most incredible technology and science known to humanity in the last fifty years alone and have many more new advancements to make that would boggle the mind today if we had them now.


With all of our advancement in science and technology and things designed to make life and all of our needs more efficient, one thing has not changed in over 250 thousand years:  The ability to get along with one another.  Our world-wide report card would read, “Does not play well with others.”  We have evolved and advanced in all areas except for being human beings.


        The comments made online regarding articles and news clearly indicates we are a nation of dispassionate individuals who spew venom with every word  posted, regardless of one’s knowledge or facts to support the remarks.  And public figures, radio and TV commentary broadcasters, and political candidates, and even some religious leaders are right behind them leading the way.  How can one lead yet be behind? . . .  by taking civilization backwards or not advancing at all by criticizing, judging, complaining, blaming, threatening, punishing, manipulating, bribing and rewarding to coerce people to do their bidding or to believe what they want you to believe.


        What is truly disheartening is the intense interest people have in hearing and seeing these things.  Some of the most popular reality TV shows are the Housewives of Orange County, Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, and New York City.  These shows consist of some of the meanest, cruelest, controlling, fighting, manipulating, criticizing, judging, groups of people ever to grace the television screen.  And many who enjoy these shows fail to see the harm in them and see the behaviors as natural and normal.  Viewers love to take sides on the issues that arise on these shows.  It’s the Me against You and We against Them.  No one takes responsibility for their behavior in these shows and these are adults, not children . . . although their emotional quotient would indicate otherwise.  They all blame one another for their own unhappiness and for causing them to be mean and forceful.


        The long lasting separation of father and sons in Orange County Choppers is a prime example of how Paul Teutel Sr’s controlling, criticizing, judging, complaining, threatening, and nagging behaviors towards his sons drove them away while he fails to see why they detached from him.  Yet it was one of the most watched reality TV shows all over the world.  The audience loved to see and hear the vitriol.  It’s what made the show successful. . . . success from anger and control.  While it made a successful TV show, it destroyed a family.


If society believes that teasing, complaining, criticizing, blaming, nagging, threatening, punishing, manipulating, guilt tripping, and bribing or rewarding to get someone to do something they don’t want to do is acceptable and innocuous behavior, then it is no wonder we have wars, divorces, crimes against property and individuals, domestic violence, adultery, greed, drug addiction, serial and mass murders, and emotional problems that are more commonly referred to as mental illness running rampant throughout the world. 


        And all along, many of the offenders of such practices are proud to tell you they are moralistic and honorable Christians.  To the best of my knowledge, I don’t recall the Bible describing Christ as behaving in this manner or condoning others to do so.  All He ever professed was to love one another and not fight, argue, manipulate, and control anyone, much less those you supposedly love.  The Golden Rule of do unto others, which can be found in most every form of religion, including non-Christian religions, exists only with a minority it would seem.  To be a Christian, one must behave like a Christian.  Otherwise, call yourself something else like “I’m an unhappy and miserable person and I blame other people for my unhappiness and misery.”


        I was recently askedHow can I “correct” or “point out” critical, blaming, complaining behavior without criticizing, blaming and complaining?  This is an excellent question and my answer is, “I can’t.”  But I can get away with it because I know what’s better for the world than the world does. : )


        I’m sure you will join me in expressing deep sorrow for all the family and friends of those whose lives have been taken from them because a 24 year old child was unhappy.  To all our CTRT certified educators all around the world, I salute you and see you as our primary hope for humanity for being able to teach the most important lesson in all of education . . . .how to get along with one another.

Repairing Relationships In Recovery

 


Repairing Relationships In Recovery 


 


The previous blog that I posted stressed the importance of relationships in the recovery of addictions.  Looking back on it, I discovered that I overlooked a very important aspect of relationships in that blog in regard to addicted populations.  Yes, relationships are paramount in the management of recovery and especially in the use of Choice Theory.  However, I failed to define the types of relationships and differentiate between those that are essential to recovery as opposed to those that could be harmful.


 


The relationships I referred to in the previous blog are those relationships that currently exist and/or those that ended over the course of the addict’s periods of use.  I do not want to infer that new relationships should be created UNLESS they are of the platonic nature with no sexual or romantic motives involved.  Primarily, I was referring to resolving conflict with the important people in the alcoholic’s life who may have had their relationship harmed as a result of the alcoholic/addicts use.  We see this in the 8th step of A. A.  And in regard to these harmed relationships, there exists a caveat:  See Step 9 in A.A.  Don’t attempt to resolve or repair past or current relationships where doing so could result in intense unresolved emotions that could lead to harm for anyone involved.  Some unresolved conflicts are best left alone until another time or perhaps even forever. 


 


Past recent relationships with another drinker/user, where marriage and children are not involved, are best left to go separate ways with no attempts to continue them after completing or going through recovery.  Recovery and maintaining abstinence are difficult enough for one person much less two people struggling to remain clean and sober.  It is too easy to fall back into old ways in dealing with one another when the two of them were using/drinking together.  An added danger to this is when two people get involved in a relationship while they had been drinking or using. The person each of them became attracted to was a drugged individual with drugged ways of thinking and behaving, even when they were not high or intoxicated.  Once one or the other gets clean and sober and learns new social and life skills, they will not be the same person(s) that others once knew.


 


Recovery requires the support of family and friends and those who are essential to acquiring happiness . . . not pleasure.  The addict/alcoholic has been leading a life of nothing but the pursuit of pleasure and confusing it for happiness all along.  Another component of recovery is learning the difference between the two and how to acquire it without relying on addictive practices.


 


New relationships are encouraged if they involve someone with whom you can learn.  This can be acquired in the form of someone who has several years of recovery as well as those who have never had an addiction problem who are happy and successful in their own life.  A romantic relationship with someone with only a couple of years or less of recovery is not advisable.


 


WHY NOT NEW ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS?  Loving and romantic relationships are not permanently discouraged.  In fact, they are strongly encouraged if the client is currently married or if the addict/alcoholic has several years of abstinence and recovery under his/her belt.  The reason new romantic relationships are discouraged is because a person in recovery needs to discover who s/he really is and acquire a healthy identity and healthy social skills.  Acquiring new and effective coping and communication skills also need to be learned. Otherwise, many of the past behaviors that harmed past relationships will continue to exist and harm any new relationships.  The script will remain the same only with a different cast.


 


A person who has been drinking/using for years has, for the most part, been avoiding all their emotions.  Not only did they drink unwanted emotions away, they don’t even know how to identify an emotion as good, bad, or indifferent.  It takes time to catch up with one’s chronological emotional quotient.


 


Another reason why new romantic relationships are discouraged is because the addict/alcoholic has developed ways of behaving that don’t stop merely because of cessation of drugs or alcohol.  Continued maladaptive behaviors can and do exist even when and addict and alcoholic stop drinking or using.


 


There is also the “like attracts like” situation and not so much as others would tell you that opposites attract.  A person who has not sufficiently overcome their addiction and maladaptive behaviors will be drawn to and/or attracted by others who have not got their life emotionally balanced for a healthy and meaningful relationship. Healthy and successful people are not attracted to unhealthy unsuccessful people and vice versa. . . or at least for very long.


 


Recovery is often, more than not, a long, on-going process.  Many in the field of addictions will state that one year of sobriety is sufficient before starting new romantic relationships.  I contend that one year of abstinence is far from sufficient and that several years are required to attain a modicum of healthy emotions and skills to maintain a long-lasting relationship.  How long?  Everyone is different and not everyone’s history of use is a textbook or cookie cutter case.  Only the success or failure of your relationships can determine this.  The need for emotional, spiritual, financial, and social stability will all take time to develop and internalize before relationships improve..


 


Right now, I can hear the addict/alcoholic saying, “yeah, but I don’t want a serious long-lasting relationship.”  I rest my case.  These would be the thoughts and words of someone seeking pleasure by using another person for personal reasons while thinking it will bring happiness; a relationship for all the wrong reasons.


 


Few addicts or alcoholics have the ability to be addicts or alcoholics on their own.  They are dependent on others and require co-dependent individuals to provide their needs for them not only in the form of money, drugs or alcohol, but also for sex, shelter, clothing, transportation, and companionship to avoid loneliness.  These needs can be very strong and if the addict/alcoholic is incapable of acquiring them him/herself, they quite easily find others who can and will do it for them.  Result:  Another failed relationship.

It is not unusual for a person who has completed alcohol and drug rehab and while maintaining abstinence will find their marriage or longterm relationship ending anyway.  The addiction involves more than just the addict or the alcoholic.  If someone has been in a close relationship with someone for two or more years, that person will have developed a long list of defensive behaviors to deal with the addict/alcoholic’s behavior before they went into rehab.  They will still use these behaviors long after the need to do so no longer is necessary. . . continued External Control.  Along with these defensive and survival behaviors, the significant other will have acquired a mental log book of all of the hurt and harm that was created while the person was drinking and using including a lot of pent up emotions and resentments.  Recovery involves more than just the addict or the alcoholic.


 


The importance of relationships for effective methods in dealing with addicted populations is not a new or different concept found only in Choice Theory.  The importance of relationships is the very core of Alcoholics Anonymous.  That’s why they call A.A. a “Fellowship.”  However, there is no 13th step (seeking sexual relationships with recovering people).

An Overview of Choice Theory for Addicted Populations

 


A Broad Overview of Choice Theory for Addicted Populations.


 
    The Quality World of the addict or alcoholic contains a very vivid image of their drug of choice.  (Alcohol is a drug only in liquid form).  So whatever drug they prefer or whatever brand of beer or liquor they prefer will be vividly pictured in their Quality World.



    But this is not the only place we will find it.  Their drug of choice will also be in their Behavior System because this is the primary tool which they use on a regular basis to deal with those things that lead to their frustration and unhappiness:



  • Unwanted emotions. (anger, fear, anxiety, helplessness, stress –  all of which create depression when suppressed).
  • Unwanted situations.  (marriage, unemployment, employers, managers, problems with kids, physical health, teacher problems)
  • Unwanted people in their lives. (in-laws, spouses, enemies, family, co-workers, employer, managers, teachers)
  • Wanted people in their lives who have taken the addict/alcoholic out of their quality world. (see above)
  • As a sleep aid to get to sleep at night.
  • For physical aches and pains.
  • To feel more comfortable and acceptable around other people. (low self worth and self esteem that dissipates when they drink because they don’t care what others think  of them when using or drinking)
  • Heavy disappointments. (things that didn’t work out as expected)
  • To feel better to overcome withdrawal effects due to the lack of the drug in their system.
  • To feel pleasure which they mistakenly identify as happiness.
  • They “feel good” because the drugs/alcohol causes them to not give a damn about their frustration.

    The above listings are why people abuse alcohol or use drugs but they are not the cause of their addiction.  Their addiction is the result of the body’s bio-chemical adjusted reliance of an addictive substance that has been regularly introduced into the body.  So now, the addict/alcoholic has the concerns of their drug of choice in three places:  1.) Their Quality World, 2.)  Behavioral System, and 3.)  their Physiology.  The first two areas are contained in the mind while the last concern is, not only in their mind, but also in their entire physical, cellular being.


    
    Management for the addict and alcoholic will be determined upon where they are with their addiction.  If cellular chemically dependent, they will require a period of detoxification to rid the body of the toxic effects and to allow the body to readjust to normal functioning.  This is best done under medical supervision to ease the client’s physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms and to avert seizures or other physical reactions resultant from cessation as well as possibly leading to relapse or even death.  The standard time of inpatient treatment in the past was 28 days.  This period might be effective for the first two stages of addiciton.  As of late, this has been found to be ineffective compared to 90 or more days for the cellularly addicted individual.


    
    Those who have gone through detoxification, and those who are chemically addicted but are psychologically and sociologically addicted, would now go through the next following procedures:


There are four things that come into play while using CT with chemically dependent individuals that are not considered important, if at all, in other types of management:  Relationships, Relationships, Relationships, and Relationships  Alcoholics and addicts drink and use drugs because they are unhappy people, to start with.  All long term emotional problems are relationship problems.  Consumption of drugs or alcohol cover up unwanted emotions but create further relationship problems.  Only one thing creates happiness:  Meaningful relationships.  And the more meaningful relationships one has, the happier one will be.



    Not only is the focus of reconnecting relationships with others, but also a relationship with one’s self.  Those who are the most successful in overcoming addictions are those who have truly, genuine, loving and meaningful relationships.  You can find this to be true by watching any of the numerous Intervention TV shows.   Those who are successful are those who have genuine love from their family and friends and not just those who merely voice their love for the client.

    Reconnecting with lost relationships with the important people in the addict’s life, as well as forming new relationships, are a major component in CT’s approach to chemical dependency management.  Counselors can discover who these people are in the alcoholic’s life while in their recovery program and help them discover new ways to possibly reconnect with them.  (This can be accomplished in the W area of WDEP for those readers who are CT certified or knowledgeable).



    Next in line of management is learning ways to deal with unhappiness in healthy and effective ways rather than to self-medicate.  This will involve acquiring healthy life-skills and learning how to deal with stress and frustration other than relying on drugs or alcohol to deal with them.  Specific needs will be found by the responses from several different self-evaluation questions and plans.  A major component in recovery is How to Effectively Resolve Conflict with self and others.  In other words, teach Choice Theory and explain the Quality World, Basic Needs, and Behavior Systems along with Total Behavior in knowing what we can control and what we can’t and how they have been using them ineffectively to find happiness.



    The third area of concern will be in learning how to avoid boredom, and to acquire new ways to recreate and have fun without drugs or alcohol.  Added to this is the association with those who have been there as well as those who have never been there yet are successful and happy in life. . . real life role models and teachers.



    This is but a broad, yet simplistic, overview of the approach to managing those with chemical addictions using Choice Theory.  Emphasis will be placed on getting the client to see a need to make a change as well as wanting to re-acquire happiness and relationships in their life.  Without this, no recovery of any sort will be successful.  Unlimited and oft repeated use of self-evaluation questions are an ongoing strategy;  implementing plans for clients to get what they want in life without relying on drugs or alcohol which would only add more to their current unhappiness.  By realizing that their unhappiness is the result of their drinking/using, they will be more inclined to replace their maladaptive behaviors if what you have to show them is equal to or greater than what they are currently doing.  Contrary to popular belief, addicted people do not have to hit “rock bottom” before they get help.  Waiting for that to happen often leads to death before they reach that point.



    Those who wish to receive examples of self-evaluation questions for chemically dependent individuals may acquire them by e-mailing me at
Rxrice@aol.com.  or going to the information portal of the WGAI.net site.  Further information is available in my books:  “Choice Theory With Addicted Populations,” a more clinical approach that includes exercises; and “A Choice Theory Approach to Drug and Alcohol Abuse,” a more general informative book on chemical addiction.  Both can be found on Amazon.com or Barnsandnoble.com which also include reviews.  Or, you can order them from me personally via my email address and I will personally sign it for you.  There will be a shipping fee added should you purchase from my e-mail request.   My web site is http://www.Mike-Rice.com

The Onset of External Control


 


The Onset of External Control


            Humans and other mammals are the only animals that are required to learn how to behave in order to survive.  Reptiles, fish, and insects are born with the knowledge of what they have to do to survive at the time of their birth and they get right to it.  Birds mature into fledglings and have to learn how to fly but Mother Nature takes care of that.  The parent birds don’t teach or guide their offspring to the task.  Higher functioning animals such as monkeys, apes, and humans, not only must learn how to survive, but they take a longer time in doing so compared to other mammals and non-mammalians.  Mammals learn by way of play.  Ergo, the genetic reward for learning is the basic need for fun. 


            There is a distinctive difference between humans and other mammals:


Animals will fight to claim territory, for food, and for mating, but we humans will fight over anything and everything.  And this fighting or conflict will always be found in what one person believes is right for not only him/herself . . . but for everyone else.  While lower species of mammals may display their disapproval of another’s behavior, other than those listed above, they may snarl, nip, or brush aside the disapproving behavior of another of their species.  You just don’t see them causing physical harm, or yelling, or punishing them other than to send the quick message, “I don’t like that.  Stop it.”  And it’s over.  It makes one wonder who may be the wiser of the species.


            While all fights and conflicts arise out of the need for power, their root cause will be found in the possible loss of one or more of the other basic needs.  Can you imagine a small beetle confronting another small beetle and accuse it of having a fling with his ladybug and then fight to the death?  How about a lioness confronting a male lion about being out all night and wanting to know where he was, who he was with, and what he was doing?  You just don’t see complaining, blaming, criticizing, nagging, or bribing going on in the rest of the animal world other than humans.  Snarls and nips are threatening and punishing behaviors but are usually only minor ways of displaying disapproval of the other’s behavior that don’t harm their relationships. 


            Dominance in the animal world is the key to their contentment and survival.  However, dominance in the human world is sure to result in unhappiness, death, and destruction.


            So now we come to the birth of the human species.  We come into this world knowing very little other than feeling physically good or bad, or feeling comfortable or uncomfortable.  We are happy or unhappy and that’s about it.  We have no way of caring for ourselves and have no idea of how to provide for ourselves.  We have no idea of how to behave socially or interact with others.  All we know is our own little world of happiness or unhappiness.  Yet . . . we come into the world with the 5 basic needs that will continue to augment in importance as we mature.  Mother Nature will take care of some of our genetic needs but not those of the 5 basic needs.  Those we must learn.  And they are most usually taught to us by our parents, siblings, teachers, grandparents, playmates, and clergy.


            And while it is true that our life-skill teachers know what is right for us better than we do at these early and formative years, the habit of continuing these lessons and insisting that they know better for us than we do will eventually become External Control and perceived as the Seven Deadly Habits.


            It isn’t until around the age of 13 that one’s life-skills begin to formulate.  We learn it’s nice to be nice, it’s nice to be courteous, and it’s nice when we do certain things in certain ways that have positive results.  In other words, the payoff is greater or equal to the cost of the behavior.  And inasmuch as this is a personal value judgment of our wants and needs, no one could possibly convince us that anything different would bring better results.  “So leave me alone!”


            We hear all along about rebellious teenagers.  They are merely testing your instructions against their own possible solutions and/or those seen performed by their peers.  Mark Twain is credited as having said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant that I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty one, I was astonished what he had learned in seven years.”


            The teen years and even some of the twenties can be very trying times.  We never stop learning but there seems to be a breaking point as to when we want the direction, guidance, and opinions of others and prefer to be left to our own devices to learn.  And when is that?  If you’re a parent, you’ll know when it is.  And even if you are absolutely positive and sure that your advice is or would be better than their choices, and that they would be better off if they took your advice . . . you will still be wrong in their eyes. 


            If what they are doing does not offer a threat to their life or livelihood and it does not infringe upon the life and livelihood of anyone else, it is time for you to offer your suggestion and leave them to make their own decisions.  Trying to get them to see or do things your way by complaining, blaming, criticizing, nagging, threatening, punishing, or bribing them to do it your way will only result in their outright refusal to comply even if they know that your way would be better.  Doing so will also cause damage to your relationship with them.  Wisdom is knowing when to stop fighting or arguing over unimportant matters.  And what is important to you may not be important to anyone else.


            The habit of parenting and directing children can and does carry over into relationships with others in life.  And it is a habit.  Are you a parent in your love relationships, with your coworkers, as an employer or manager, or with your adult children?  You can be pretty sure that you are not in this role when you are with your closest, dearest, and longest friendships.  If you were, they would be sure not to be your close friends for very long.  So if you don’t do these things to your closest and dearest friends, why do them to the people you love?


The Toxic Family

 


The Toxic Parent


Unfortunately, there are those family members who, unintentionally, are so toxic to another family member, that divorce from that person seems to be the only remedy.  The cause can be found in the parent’s survival skills as developed from a percieved unfriendly world in which they have lived.  Alcohol also often plays a crucial role in the survival skills of a parent.


 


Over the years, dependent upon one’s environment and development, a person relies on their creative mind, as well as learned behaviors, to develop survival skills.  Some may see the world as hard, unfriendly, unfair, or dangerous. They may learn to attack, be ever-vigilant, fight, and distrust.  Or they may become weak and helpless, compliant, or needy in order to survive.   In any case, their family skills tend to be lacking in some areas that keep them from getting along well with the closest people in their lives . . . their spouse and children.


 


Their survival skills don’t seem to have any major effect on society in general or in the workplace with others, but it does come down hard on those who are closest to them.  They have come to the conclusion that the behaviors they have acquired over the years to survive in such an unfriendly, distrusting world are the same skills they must convey and pass on to their offspring because they know what is better for you than you do.  They constantly rely on two or more of the Seven Deadly Habits of Criticizing, Blaming, Complaining,  Nagging, Punishing, Threatening, and Bribing/Rewarding to control another in the family.  They don’t resort to such measures once in awhile.  They do them often.  They are “A Toxic Parent.”


 


Spellbinding


It appears that in most families, there is a phenomenological aspect of human behavior that is genetically rooted in close family ties and bonding.  After living with parents who care for us, feed us, clothe us, and see to our well-being; as well as the Christian/Judeo commandment of Honor the Father and Mother, parents are not perceived in the same way as those who are not family members. Quite bluntly, we see our parents as all knowing, all loving, and all giving when they may, indeed, not be that way at all.  We hold them in high regard and esteem more so than someone outside the family.  Even the healthiest of families have spellbound children.


 


If and when it becomes obvious to some that their parents are fallible, the strong bond between child and parent overrides what is noticed and denial sets in.  It’s as if a pair of blinders suddenly appears and any disparity between what is obvious that does not agree with the Quality World image of the parent goes unnoticed, or quickly forgotten.  It is not  uncommon that when a fallible parent is discovered, a child will continue to see the parent as all benevolent and loving and take on the unwanted or disliked behaviors of the parent as their own.  This is the effect of being spellbound.


 


Unless you were not raised by a particular parent, you will never be able to perceive your parent(s) the same way you perceive others.  There will always be that spellbinding connection.  The spell only exists with the parent in whom the child has bonded and not with a stepparent. 


 


We are all spellbound with our parents.  And it would seem that the more radical the survival skills a parent has, the more spellbound the relationship exists with that parent.  This is how maladaptive survival skills get passed down and are learned in each generation.  But there will always be those who will refuse to accept some of these survival skills which will cause much friction, arguments, and lead to the use of the seven deadly habits that harm any relationship.  It becomes a matter of power. 


 


Case in point:  Paul Teutul, Sr, and Paul, Jr. in the T.V. show, “Orange Country Choppers.”  Paul Sr. used the Seven Deadly Habits on all of his children but doesn’t use them on his employees.  Then he can’t understand why his 3 sons want nothing to do with him.  One son, Danny, has only been on the very early shows two or three times.  And even in the midst of wanting to reconnect with Paul Jr. and Mikey, Paul Sr. just doesn’t get it.  He hasn’t got a clue that it is his overpowering behavior and ranting and raving that drove his kids away.  He finds it easier to blame them than to look at the speck in his own eye.  His perception of what is happening in distorted due to his own low self-worth.


 


The child who refuses to accept these parental survival skills and attitudes is the one who becomes “different” from all the other siblings.  The child who resists the power of the parent the most is the one who is seen as the black sheep in the family.  This child is angry and their anger is often rooted in the discovery that someone close to them, whom they always respected and held in almost godly esteem is, in reality, human and prone to not be the perfect person they thought they were. Then there is the child who disagrees with the parental instructions but keeps quiet and goes along with it anyway in order to avoid conflict, until they are finally old enough to leave the family and be on their own.  Spellbinding continues long after the death of a toxic parent.  It never goes away.  Other family members may be so strongly spellbound that they will rise in opposition to the one who suffers the most, only adding more toxicity to their wellbeing.


 


Do you have a toxic parental relationship?


♦ Do you feel like your clothes are too large for you the moment you grab the doorknob to your parent’s front door?


♦ Do you bite your fingernails and feel nervous and uncomfortable for any reason when you are around a parent but don’t when you are not around them?


♦ Do you find yourself always seeking approval from a parent and never getting it?


♦ Do you argue, yell, and have heated discussions much of the time you are with a parent?


♦ Do you suffer from headaches or other maladies that seem to dissipate when you are not around your parent(s)?


♦ Is you life more comfortable and successful when you are away from your other family members?


♦ After finding your own happiness, does your life and even your marriage seem to become unhappy when you associating with a parent or parents?


♦ Do you go for months or even years without talking to a parent or parents because you want to avoid them for your “own sanity?” (Not to be confused with punishing by silence and revenge).


 


While you can not change another person, and another person’s survival skills are so deeply embedded, you will find that the only thing you can change is how you react to them.  If you want someone to change, the first person to change must be you.  Changing whatever you do and changing how you react to another person may not change all of the things you may dislike in another person but it will surely make it better.


 


In defense of parents, a parent does not intentionally want you to feel any resentment towards them.  A parent only wants what is best for the child (even as an adult child).  The problem lies in the fact that the parent only knows what s/he knows and has developed to live life and survive in their world.  And because it works somehow to some degree for them, they also believe it is what will work for their child.  The will to survive is a very strong will and getting someone to change their survival skills is more difficult than convincing a drug addict that they have a drug problem.


 


There is also the parental claim, “I am much older than you and have experienced things in life you have never seen or will see.  So I know what is better for you than you do.”  You will rarely, if ever, convince a parent otherwise.   The more adamant the parent’s position, the more toxic the relationship may be.  Parents don’t want to drive you off.  They just can’t see how what they may say or do is what is causing the conflict.  They can’t imagine that what works for them can’t also work for their children.


 


In heavily spellbound families, the one who has the most difficulty with the parent(s) is looked upon by all other family members, including extended family members, as persona non grata.  Even distant relations will not be respectful to the un-spellbound member without even knowing why . . . only that the other family members dislike him so they must dislike him as well.


 


Possible Options:


You can continue to wear blinders and choose to see them as you would like to see them.


You can accept the parent(s) as is and tolerate him/her as best you can and stop wanting them to change.


You can change how your react when around them.


You can limit visits and contact.


You can move a long distance away.


You can get conjoint family counseling.


You can get individual counseling.


You can divorce yourself from them.


 


If you aren’t happy, you need to change something that will create happiness.  And the only person you can change is yourself.  It’s not an easy thing to divorce yourself from parents and/or family.  But if your overall happiness and even your health and wellbeing improve when you are not around them, then the answer is fairly obvious.  But be prepared for the spellbinding of non-family members who can not possibly understand how you could possibly distance or divorce yourself from your family.


 


Enter Guilt and Shame for even thinking it.  You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  Even society and your friends may criticize you for even thinking about distancing yourself from them.  Society has no idea of what has been going on behind closed doors and they have no idea how it is affecting you.  Even should you reach out to friends, they may shame you for depicting your parent(s) in any bad way.  If your choice to be happy can overpower the shame and guilt that you may choose to feel, then you have found the better payoff.

What IS an Alcoholic?

 


Just What Is an Alcoholic?


 


I am often asked, “What is an alcoholic?”  There are more myths, lies, and half-truths when it comes to chemical dependency than anything else I can think of.  The simple answer is: “An alcoholic is someone whose drinking is causing problems but they continue to drink anyway.”  Then the next obvious question would be, “What kind of problems?”


 


All alcohol addicted individuals abuse alcohol but not all abusers are addicted.  The difference being that the addicted person’s abusive behaviors are a pattern of behaviors and not just occasional events.  The following symptoms start out as moderately abusive and increase in severity as the list grows.


 


Abuse: These behaviors include (but are not limited to all of) the following behaviors.


 


Relying on occasions that always involve drinking alcohol in order to “have fun.”


Loss of control – drinking more than intended – getting intoxicated when not meaning to.


Frequent intoxication.


Consuming four or more drinks in an hour or less.


Blackouts – the inability to recall something that recently happened.


Mood swings and personality changes.


Driving while intoxicated.


Passing out once or twice in a lifetime.


 


Severe abuse and addictive behaviors.


 


Drinking to get to sleep at night.


Drinking the first one or two drinks rather quickly.


Drinking to avoid unwanted emotions or situations.


Preferring to hang with those who drink as opposed to those who don’t.


Hiding one’s use because others would be upset if they knew he was drinking.


Drinking to purposely get intoxicated.


Drinking while on prescription drugs that are affected by alcohol use.


Arrests for several DUIs, public intoxication, or domestic violence w/alcohol involved.


Lying about drinking.


Frequently Passing out.  (falling asleep while drinking and being fully dressed)


Drinking alone on a regular basis.


Drinking within a few hours of getting up in the morning.


Experiencing shaking or trembling of the hands that dissipates when one drinks.


Frequent arguments with family or friends about drinking.


Drinking on the job.  Losing one’s job due to drinking.


Loss of friends and family due to drugged emotional behaviors.


Relying on drinking to get through the day either emotionally, physically, or both.


Drinking when a medical practitioner advises against it due to a medical condition.


Acquiring health problems as a result of drinking alcohol.


 


Any one of the above behaviors is cause for one to take a serious look at their alcohol use.


 


Just because a person comes home from work and has a martini each day does not necessarily make him an alcoholic.  Because a person may have one or two drinks a day does not mean they are an alcoholic.  But if they drink several drinks a day then that would be cause for scrutiny. 


 


Conversely, there are some alcoholics who only drink once or twice a month, a year, or even several years.  But when they drink, they may binge and can’t stop once they start until they pass out or get arrested.


 


Alcohol is an addictive drug and anyone who drinks long enough or hard enough will become addicted.  There are three basic stages of addiction all of which are individually addictive:


 


Sociological:  No one starts out drinking alone.  It is commonly done by those who get together under the guise of “having fun.”  It is seen as fun because alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions and the consumers don’t particularly care what others may think or say about them after a few drinks.  Alcohol also impairs one’s judgment and intellect. People often say and do things while drinking that they normally wouldn’t say or do if not drinking.  They feel free from, the things they would normally feel more reserved about thinking or doing.


 


Then when they get home and get sick, or get a DUI on the way home, or have an accident or pass out, they no longer are having fun.  But alcohol causes not only chemical amnesia in the form of blackouts, it also causes amnesia about getting sick, passing out, and getting a DUI charge.  A blunt way of putting it would be, alcohol makes you stupid.  And if you have ever been in the presence of someone drinking when you were not, you can see the change in the person’s behavior as it occurs.


Task:  Learn how to have fun and acquire happiness and pleasure without drugs or alcohol.  If you have to put something into your body in order to have fun, you might want to take a look at what’s going on in your life.


 


 Psychological:  Drinking alcohol can cause one to temporarily not be concerned about any pressing uncomfortable situations one is currently experiencing.  In fact, alcohol and drugs are the only things that have a direct effect on one’s emotions and physiology.  Once discovered that drinking causes one to not care or be concerned about something that is causing frustration, the drinker begins to rely on it for psychological purposes to feel better about unwanted situations.  Some people rely on alcohol to give them courage or self-confidence to deal with certain situations.


 


How many times do we see or hear ourselves, or others, who say something like, “I could sure use a drink,” after experiencing a frustrating or stressful event?  Alcohol has a sedative effect.  It is not only psychological but it also has a physical effect on the brain by interfering with the oxygen supply that causes the brain to function normally.  To seek pleasure to supercede displeasure is a natural part of human behavior.  All we do from birth until death is behave and all behavior serves to create happiness or pleasure.  We take aspirin for headaches and other pain.  We put on a jacket or sweater or turn up the thermostat when cold.  We rely on an umbrella, rain hat, raincoat, or seek dry shelter when it rains.  There are those who rely on alcohol to overcome much of their unhappiness and displeasure. . . because it works  . . . and does so quickly albeit temporarily.


 


Alcohol and drugs often fool a person into thinking they can perform certain tasks better when drinking (or drugging).  Many a person in the arts will swear that they function much better creatively if they are drinking or using.  And to this, I will agree up to a point, only because of their loss of inhibitions.  But it soon goes past that purpose and does just the opposite.  Either way, it is a psychological crutch.  If they can do anything well while under the influence that means they could do it while not under the influence because it is coming from the same person.  Their own self-imposed limitations are what keeps them from doing it well if sober.


TASK:  Cease all artistic endeavors for a period of time (6 months or more) as well as any use of drugs or alcohol.  Then return to the endeavors with a fresh approach while maintaining abstinence.  Learn how to deal with life’s adversities in healthy and more effective ways rather than avoiding them with drugs or alcohol.  Learn effective life skills.


 


 The first two stages of addiction, sociological and psychological, are difficult stages to overcome.  But as difficult as they may be, the next stage appears to be the point of no return. 


 


Biocellular


Once a person has continually introduced an addictive substance into the body, the cells of the body have had to learn how to exist and function with this substance in one’s system on a regular basis.  In fact, they have become reliant on the chemical to function the way they have adjusted to it.  Whenever the biochemical individual goes for any period of time without drinking, the cells of the body react violently and the person experiences withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms can be so severe that they can even lead to death. 


 


There is also that part of the brain in the frontal cortex called the nucleus acumbens that is the pleasure center of the brain.  Please note:  It is not a “Happiness Center.”  The pleasures we receive from drinking, gambling, sex, smoking, eating certain foods such as chocolate, ice cream, etc become active and increase the pleasure receptors with the use of these pleasures.  When one stops the behavior, some of these receptors eventually go to sleep but not all of them.  Some of them stay awake so that you continue to enjoy some of the other pleasures in life that may not be causing you any major difficulties.  But as soon as one returns to drinking or using, the cells in the body recall their previous forms, and the pleasure receptors of the brain wake up and it’s party time all over again. This is why it is said that once one becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, they can not return to drinking our using.


 


Everyone is different.  Some drink for a relatively short period of time and become addicted while others drink for years before it occurs.  And the greatest myth of all is that the person who abuses alcohol will be able to recognize if and when his drinking starts to cause problems and that he can then stop.  The alcoholic is the last to recognize the problem even when everyone else around him can plainly see it.


 


TASK:  Enter an inpatient detox center that has medications to help get through the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms for 3 to 5 days.  Subsequently, enter either an inpatient  (preferred) or intensive outpatient program on leaning how to live life without relying on chemicals; developing effective life skills; renewing and/or creating new relationships with the important people in one’s life; acquire a support group; learning how to recognize and deal with emotions that have been blocked out over the years by avoiding them with chemicals; developing a positive self-image free from shame and guilt from all of the things they did when drinking/using; learning how to take responsibility for their own behavior and realizing that the choices they make will dictate what life hands them; and remaining alcohol and drug free for the rest of their lives.

Once one becomes biochemically addicted, their recovery will involve dealing with all three stages of addiction, not just one. 


 


 “I’m just a social drinker.”


One of the most misused terms people use to define their alcohol use is, “I’m a social drinker.”  What they are saying is, “I never drink alone and only drink in the company of others.”  Guess what?  So do many alcoholics.


 


A social drinker is one who doesn’t necessarily care for alcohol.  They can take it or leave it and generally leave it.  They mostly drink on occasions when they are in the company of several other people who are drinking and just to be sociable, they join them.  If drinking beer, it generally gets warm before they finish it.  If drinking a mixed drink, the ice cubes melt in the glass before the drink is completely consumed (if at all).  They have one or two drinks and that’s usually where they stop.  Sometimes they may have more than two but not very often.  They may get intoxicated rarely in their entire life.  Is that the type of drinker you are? 


 


There are responsible drinkers in the world.  They know their limits and know when it’s time to stop.  They also know if they are safe enough to drive and may even have gone a few hours without drinking before getting behind the wheel.  Their drinking does not cause problems for themselves or others and they are aware of the dangers of alcohol.


 


I’m reminded of the TV commercial a couple of years ago of the young man who shows up at a party in his expensive convertible.  He gets out of the vehicle and with a knife, he punctures all four of his tires and then grabs his alcohol to join the party.


 


While the purpose of the message was to not drink and drive, it seemed, to me, to show just how desperate a person can be to drink that he would destroy four very expensive tires and have to pay several hundred dollars to replace them as well as the expense to have his car hauled from the party.  I told you . . . . Alcohol can and does make you stupid. : )

Money Can’t Buy Happiness . . . Only Pleasure

 

Money can buy happiness if one needs funding to provide our basic genetic need for survival.  Survival needs are:  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, health, and adequate finances to sustain these needs.  But Survival is not the only basic and genetic requirement to attain happiness.  There are also the needs for Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun.  Those who live in poverty, war-torn areas, and have lost all their survival needs due to natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis will require money to provide the happiness derived from having their survival needs replaced. 


 


Many a homeless person may prefer the lifestyle they have without many needs of survival on a reliable basis.  This is not to say that all homeless people choose to be homeless . . .only that some have become accustomed to that way of life and make the best of it to suit their needs and prefer it.  Generally speaking, people do what works for them or they wouldn’t’t do it.  To most people’s  point of view, that sort of lifestyle does not provide happiness.  But to the homeless person, it may.  They find ways to get their surival needs met adequately enough to satisfy them.  Even so, they will still require the other four basic needs to have happiness.


 


After Survival, I contend that the need for Love and Belonging is perhaps the strongest need of all.  Once this basic need is acquired, all the other needs seem to be much easier to attain.  Meaningful relationships with the important people in our lives are the key to happiness.  Everyone needs to have at least one meaningful relationship to experience happiness.  And the more one has, the more one feels happy.  Imagine hitting a hole-in-one on the golf course and you were the only one who saw it.  Your happiness would be short lived and reduced to one of fading pleasure, which could only be revived by telling others that it happened . . . if they believe you.


 


Basic needs that are being met are often sufficient for those who do not aspire for more than what they have.  We often see happy people with low incomes.  And if we are truly honest with ourselves, everyone could be satisfied with just our basic needs.  But the human animal tends to want more . . .some more than others.  Greed does hot result in happiness.  But it can result in pleasure.  Pleasure seekers tend to be obsessive and addictive.  These are not behaviors of happiness.  Alcoholics and addicts are not happy people.  If they were, they wouldn’t’t need to put something in their body to feel good.  Any exhibitions of apparent happiness from an alcoholic is a drug induced behavior, not an emotion of genuine happiness.  They are feeling pleasure which overcomes their feeling illness due to deprivation, once addicted.


 


 Money can not buy any more of our basic needs than basic Survival Needs.  However, money can provide more experiences resulting in pleasure.  And it is pleasure that is being confused as being happiness.  Can people with money be happy?  Absolutely.  But they, most likely, possessed and/or knew how to find happiness before they came into their money.  Conversely, how many times have we seen those in the entertainment industry or other successful careers who make hundreds of thousands of dollars but end up in one failed marriage or relationship after another?  And how many do we see who become involved with the law after indulging in pleasure seeking behaviors?  It is not uncommon that we hear of wealthy people who have murdered their spouse or partner, or committ suicide.  These are not happy people.


 


Those who have little respect for money, or who spend foolishly and recklessly when not wealthy, will do the same if they ever come into a financial windfall.  Money not earned tends to quickly disappear as easily as it appeared.  Many a person who comes into money as a result of winning the lottery, a law suit, or inheritance quickly find themselves more financially strapped than they were before they received their winnings.


 


I used to have to travel the United States for a living.  I traveled alone for the most part. There were times when I would have to pull over to the side of the road to take in some of the most beautiful sights I never knew existed in our own country.  Just as I began to feel the appreciation of the beauty I was seeing, the happy thoughts soon dwindled into a mild form of sadness.  Why?  Because I had no one with me to share the experience.  The experience became one of pleasure but not happiness.


 


Regardless of what you may purchase, it can not provide happiness unless shared with someone who is important to you.  Regardless of what you may achieve, it will not provide happiness unless someone else in your life respects, admires, acknowledges, and enjoys your success with you.  Regardless of how much fun a particular activity may be, it is rarely as much fun if only done alone and not with someone else. It may be pleasurable but not happy.


 


The Declaration of Independence insures that we have inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  It does not say, “The Pursuit of Pleasure.”  While happiness requires connections with others, pleasure is something that we can experience and acquire without the involvement of another person.  If we have the right to pleasure, then there would be total chaos and anarchy in the world.  Those who get pleasure from taking advantage of others, harming others, stealing money, or any other crimes would be found innocent because they were only pursuing their Constitutional Rights.  The founding fathers were specific with they used the word “Happiness.” And not “Pleasure.”  Pleasure you can buy.  Happiness you pursue.


 


Pleasure is much more intense than happiness but it doesn’t last long.  The sensation of pleasure will quickly dissipate and the behavior that created it will have to be repeated in order to continue to feel the pleasure.  Happiness lasts as long as one possesses meaningful relationships. 


 


Substance abusers are known for their ability to confuse pleasure for happiness.  They purchase their drugs or alcohol and once introduced into their body, they get the sensation of pleasure and regard it as happiness as opposed to feeling  the unhappy feelings they had before they drank or used.  To seek pleasure for displeasure is the most natural thing on earth.  If it’s cold, we put on a sweater or coat.  If it rains, we seek cover.  If hungry or thirsty, we eat and drink.  If we have a headache, we take an aspirin.  If feeling unhappy, drugs and alcohol produce pleasurable feelings to override the unhappiness and the pleasurable feeling is erroneously considered happiness.  Just look at all of the wealthy entertainers who have died from their pleasure seeking drugs.  The highest paid television actor, Charlie Sheen, lost it all due to seeking short-lived pleasures rather than long term happiness.


 


The rule of thumb is:  You can’t buy happiness but you can buy pleasure.    You can only maintain happiness through meaningful relationships with the important people in your life.  And they can not be bought.

Sorry Charlie


Last month, March 29, Charlie Sheen appeared on the Today Show and was interviewed by Matt Lauer.  Speaking from the position of one who has worked with chemically dependent individuals for the last 18 years, had Charlie been sitting in my office, as he presented himself on the show, I would have required him to complete a Urine Analysis to see what stimulant drug(s) he was on. He appeared to be under the influence of cocaine or meth and was definitely not in a normal mode of behavior.




Charlie was recently photographed at a Guns and Roses concert where he had been drinking.  Matt Lauer stated, “No addiction specialist would tell a guy in your position that it’s okay to drink.” 


Charlie replies, “I have a different theory on the whole thing.” 


Matt asked, “Are you comfortable having a drink from time to time and not being afraid you will slip back into a much darker place?”


Charlie stated, “Yeah, because I don’t believe that whole piece of mental fiction that you have an allegiance to.” 




Charlie is thinking what so many addicts and alcoholics believe . . . that they can recover from their addiction by themselves without the help and support of others; that they can control their use without it causing any more problems.  He has been in and out of rehab centers several times in his life and so far, his way has never worked and won’t work.  The message addicts/alcoholics project is:  “I don’t need your help or anyone else’s.  I can do this my way.”  If Charlie’s way were effective, he would not have lost his position as the highest paid actor on television and the loss of his role on the TV show.  If Charlie’s way was effective, he wouldn’t be in the mess he is in today or in and out of several rehabs.



True, there are those who have stopped drinking or using drugs on their own.  But this is not recovery.  Abstinence is only abstinence. 

But Charlie hasn’t even completed this task, as yet.  And as difficult as it is to remain abstinent, abstinence is the easy part.  Recovery takes a long time of learning how to live life on life’s terms and not on one’s own terms.  It requires learning how to deal with life’s unpleasant times in healthy ways and not to gloss over them or run from them by way of chemically induced substances.  Recovery requires establishing relationships that were harmed or destroyed with the important people in life as a result of drinking/using.




Unless Charlie gets professional help and support, he will soon find himself back in that dark place Matt spoke of because that is the nature of the beast.  Drinking and/or using just a little bit and thinking it is in control is like someone saying, “I’m just a little bit pregnant.”




Ironically, Charlie is now involved in a new sitcom for FX called, “Anger Management.”  The irony is, Charlie will be playing the role of a therapist.  He may, or may not, remain abstinent while working in this new show, but this will only be short lived.  He will still find himself unhappy and rely on drugs to provide what he thinks is happiness, but in reality, is only pleasure.




We have not seen the end to the Charlie Sheen drama.  There is still one scene left to be played:  When his heart finally gives out due to cocaine and other drugs, and everyone will say, “How could this have happened”. . .  remember Whitney, and Elvis, and Hendricks, and Janis, and Jimmy, and Belushi.
Remember:


Chris Farley


Judy Garland


Bobby Hatfield


Margaux Hemingway


Billy Holiday


Charlie Parker


Howard Hughes


Michael Jackson


Heath Ledger


Billy Mays


Jim Morrison


Marilyn Munroe


Ike Turner


Amy Winehouse.


 They all did what true entertainers aspire to do . . . “leave your audience wanting more.”

Depression: The Absence of Feeling


 


While listening to a recent interview between Dr. Peter Breggin and Dr. John Snyder on depression, Dr. Snyder quoted Dr. Antonio Damasio as saying, “Our feelings are the background music of our lives.”  Having been a professional musician for many years, this statement really struck a chord (pun intended).  I used to think how great it would be for a person to go through life with background music playing, just like in the movies that would reflect the mood of the moment of each  waking second of life.


 


After hearing Dr. Damasio’s quote, I suddenly realized, “Wow!  The music has been playing the whole time and I didn’t recognize it!”  Our emotions are the music!  What a great eye opener.  We move in accordance to the music   So when we tie this with Dr. Glasser’s theory of choice, the music we play is chosen based upon how we choose to react or behave to any given outside world information..  The analogy would be:  We have our own recording collection of music that we have amassed over the years:  Happy and joyful, sad and depressing, angry or unwanted, and neutral or indifferent.  Negative or sad music tends to overpower happy thinking.  Have you ever gone dancing when you felt depressed?


 


But enough of the music analogy.  Dr. Glasser explains the three reasons why people choose to depress and they are right on the money.  I have tried to challenge them and failed each time.  So after learning why we choose depression, Dr. Snyder explains what depression is.  We normally perceive depression as a feeling.   Dr. Snyder defines depression as “The absence of feeling and not the presence of feeling . . . a pressing down of  the emotions of hurt, fear, and/or helplessness.”  Depression is the avoidance of emotions that one does not what to feel.  It is the brain’s normal reaction to stress.  (Keeping anger in check)


 


In therapy, we would want to approach one’s depression with unsatisfying relationships with someone important to us, including our selves.  And added to this would now be, “What is it you’re trying so hard NOT to feel about this relationship (or situation)?”  One can not be angry and depressed at the same time.  They must choose one or the other.  This further supports Dr. Snyder’s remark about the absence of feeling.


 


Dr. Snyder explains the PTSD condition as an example of suppressing fear and anxiety while in a stressful situation in order to deal with the emergency of the moment, i.e. duties required in combat.  Soldiers are not supposed to have fear and anxiety or feel hopeless.  Doing so would indicate cowardice or weakness or even cause them to be ineffective in their duties.  Consequently, all of these emotions are suppressed.  But afterwards, when the war or fighting is over, the emotions emerge and this is the PTSD.  All the feelings of fear (anger), anxiety, and hopelessness emerge in an open floodgate.


 


Dr. Snyder further explains that our emotions are always functioning and they are always transient.  All of our most happy emotions and sad emotions eventually go away.  If you do nothing about your depression, you will eventually come out of the storm on your own having done nothing.  Actually, you have done something:  You would have either chosen to accept the situation and rise above it, or chose to react differently to it.  Either one would be a conscious effort.


 


The use of antidepressants keeps the emotional process from happening.  65% of antidepressants are being prescribed by non-psychiatric practitioners. . . . general medical doctors.  If someone is feeling down the doctor will say, “We have a pill that will make you stop feeling down.” But what they don’t tell you is that it will also make you stop feeling happy too.  Antidepressants interfere with the brain’s ability to function normally by shutting down all emotions.  These drugs don’t cure depression, they cause depression.  People don’t get depression, they choose depression and antidepressants keep them there by not feeling anything.  The resolution of unhappiness occurs only when the circumstance is no longer an issue and the emotion is released.  It is no longer an issue when one has changed what they want or changed how they react when they don’t get what they want.


 


Sources:  Dr. Peter Breggin, “Toxic Psychology,” “Medication Madness,” et al


                Dr. John Snyder, “Flying Lessons”


Dr. Wm Glasser, “Choice Theory,”and “Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous To Your Mental Health.”