Surrender – Man’s Eternal Conflict

Surrender is personal.  Every day we are faced with decisions that concern surrender.  We surrender to traffic laws, to office protocols, to the School Evening Program of our children, to the irritable clerk at the grocery store, to unwritten codes of conduct spelled out by our particular culture.  Sometimes we surrender to our base instincts of sexual lust and find ourselves in an affair with someone other than our spouse.  We are faced with choices, surrender to the cultural code of conduct, or surrender to our lust?  Surrender is the elixir of social order.

I just did a google search on “Ego and Surrender”.  My page was filled with the specific concern of ego and surrender in addiction.  Does google know that I often write about addiction?  Must I now write in protest to google – or do I just surrender to the ‘the way it is’?  Every day we make choices about surrender.  Most of the time we just accept the ‘way it is’ because we have bigger fish to fry, other mountains to climb, and other ships to sail.  Our priorities are often simple and easy to structure.  Most decisions of surrender are thus so simple that we are almost unaware we even made a choice.  But choices we do make.  And some choices have profound long-term consequences.

The issue of Surrender becomes an issue when the choice it too great to ignore.  Philosophers speak of surrender in the highest order – surrender to God for instance.  Surrendering all of life difficulties to God is probably the ultimate form of surrender.  Surrender becomes central to theology.  Every day people are faced with a choice between working on a problem themselves or turning the problem over to their God.  As in almost everything else in life, there are extremes and compromises.  We do not generally question the concept of surrender – but we very much challenge the timing.  People have been heard to say, “God can move mountains but he expects us to bring our wheel barrow and shovel”.  Cute and clever – but still we are left with determining which dirt is mine to shovel and which is God’s.  Surrender is not easy.  When?  Where?  Why? “Hold on God, I just need a little more time with this problem before I surrender.”

Two years ago Mr. Clark (the Editor of this magazine) and I witnessed what we deemed to be child abuse.  Clearly we had to act.  But life is not so easy. Is there a limit to our human power?  The person committing the abuse has a different interpretation of abuse than Mr. Clark or me.  Must we have our way?  What if we are correct and the abuser is wrong?  What if the perceived abuser is right and merely being a responsible adult?  I, for one, did not consider that possibility because my clarity of child abuse is absolute.  Is surrender complete and total?  Are there such things as conditional surrender?  If so then must we negotiate with God about which parts of a problem we must give to him and which we must fight for ourselves?  Note a word used earlier – absolute.  Absolute leaves little room for compromise or surrender.

My personal problem with the God thing is that I do not believe in an intervening God.  My God established the rules of the universe and gave me the intelligence to understand the rules.  I am required by my God to use my intellect to solve my problems.  Imagine God as a collective unconscious – an intelligence that permeates the universe and connects all of nature.  This God resides in my unconscious self.  When I am distressed by a problem I must calm down and meditate and connect with the collective – the answers will come if I am patient.  My faith in this process has been affirmed many times.  My problem is in the ‘calming down’ and ‘meditating’.  My fury rises proportionately with the perception of vile behavior and resistance to change.  I seem to cross a line and refuse to surrender, even to my own process of faith.  Pride takes hold.  Ego comes into play. We might see the horizon but have lost our sense of direction – and like the befuddled airplane pilot in a storm, we might ignore our instruments and act of confused instinct.  In this state of being our failure to surrender ends when we hit the rock face of the mountain.  It is easy, and unfortunately too common, to lose our sense of direction when dealing with emotional trauma.  The trauma of child abuse drove Mr. Clark into the mountain.  He is recovering but asked me to write this post.

Our choices range from the absurd to the most compelling, life changing positions ever conceived.  Consider this example of the absurd:

There is this man, 78 years old, living in St. Joesph, Missouri, who takes hard line stands on issues of politics and daily order.  For instance, he does not have a driver’s license because the U.S. Constitution says nothing of that requirement.  The local police have come to know who he is and they leave him alone.  He is not a fool who careens around carelessly to prove a point.  He does not agree with any traffic laws because they are not referenced in the Constitution.  He will never surrender.  He drives safely because it is wise, not because anyone told him to.  One day a rookie policeman observed our man coming to a near stop at a red light and then proceeding through the intersection when he deemed it safe.  The rookie pulled him over.  Our man stopped out of courtesy, not because of any law.  The rookie asked the man sitting in the car for his driver’s license.  “I do not have a driver’s license,” replied our man.  The rookie asks our man to step out of the car.  “Why?” our man asked.  The flustered rookie opened the door and demanded exit.  “Leave me alone,” our man said.  The officer reached in to unbuckle the seat belt (worn for safety, not for obedience) and our man stabbed the rookie’s hand with his ink pen.  The rookie bodily removed our man from the car with force and informed his prisoner he would be charged with assaulting a police officer.  In the mean time the Police Street Commander had driven to the scene – he wanted to observe his rookie in action.  The Commander intervened.  Eventually someone was going to surrender – to let go of their position in the interest of sanity and maturity.(Charges were filed.  Our man told the judge the truth.  The judge found him guilty.  No punishment was administered.  Sanity prevailed.)

I have historical heroes.  People like Washington, Lincoln, T.R. Roosevelt, Truman, and Winston Churchill.  All of these men fought to the end.  They never surrendered.  We do find instances in their lives where they compromised.  Washington accepted the surrender of Cornwallis.  Lincoln forgave the South.  Roosevelt found a compromise to end the Russian/Japanese war inn 1906.  Churchill found compromise with is parliament – but not with Hitler.  Truman compromised at the 38th Parallel.

Churchill, when referring to the battle with Hitler’s Germany, said:

 “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”  

Churchill is one of my favorites in all of history – I, like Churchill, will fight to the death (I have used 8 of my 9 lives for all battles cannot be won).

The irony of surrender is that in many cases we only when when we stop fighting.

Consider these quotes from others who contemplated the idea of surrender”
“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”
? Marianne Williamson

“No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance.”
? Henry Miller

“Surrender is a powerful force.”
? P.C. Cast, Burned

“God had brought me to my knees and made me acknowledge my own nothingness, and out of that knowledge I had been reborn. I was no longer the centre of my life and therefore I could see God in everything.”
? Bede Griffiths

“Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter’s wheel. You are not the potter!”
? Joyce Meyer

“The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”
? William Booth

“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.”
? Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“It’s healthy to say uncle when your bone’s about to break.”
? Jonathan Franzen, How to Be Alone

Alain de Botton

“Don’t despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don’t – surrender to events with hope.”
? Alain de Botton

“I wonder if pain comes from surrendering or resisting?”
? Donna Lynn Hope

“The gap between compassion and surrender is love’s darkest, deepest region.”
? Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

“The ego hates losing – even to God.”
? Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

“One real danger in love relationships is that most people secretly believe that they must control the love object in order to feel safe in loving and being loved. The cause of this is simple—children are made to feel that they must “give themselves up” if they are to be loved. Thus, for most humans the act of surrender has meant the loss of autonomy or worse—loss of one’s own mind.
Surrender is neither control nor morbid dependency and cannot be made contingent upon giving away one’s “soul”; nonetheless, the person surrendering opens completely to the moment, and runs the risk of being deeply hurt. Sadly, in our society this is not uncommon and frequently serves to harden or embitter a person toward life in general. Or, on the other had being deeply hurt in the act of surrender can lead to angry and painful “cries for help.” When this occurs there is an insatiable and wrathful desire to be cared for as a child is cared for and the horrid fear of loss of independence.”
? Christopher S. Hyatt, Sex Magic, Tantra & Tarot: The Way of the Secret Lover


Smoking Alcohol – No Calories and No Brains

Drugs and alcohol – the elixirs of a giddy walk down the path of doom and despair – have many different modes of ingestion.  Until about five hundred years ago alcohol and drugs caused few problems for mankind.  It was about that time that some Chinese bricklayer working on a really big wall discovered that he could smoke his opium.  Recently some wizard of  wackiness made a similar breakthrough with alcohol.

When doing an assessment with an alcoholic or drug addict, intake counselors at treatment centers ask how the drug was administered.  It is an important question.  The method of delivery speaks to the level of addiction, to the stage of progression.

Opium grows naturally in poppies.  The gummy substance can be chewed for a small buzz.  The Chinese chewed opium for many centuries with little societal harm done.  Chewing opium breaks down the drug and the drugged saliva is swallowed, digested, filtered through the liver, sent to the blood steam where it is carried to the brain.  That Chinese bricklayer of compelling imagination changed the dynamic.  Smoked opium goes directly to the lungs and is absorbed directly into the blood and quickly delivered to the brain.  The smoke is many many times more potent than the drug in the saliva.  A profound and immediate rush of satisfaction overwhelms the smoker – nothing compares to the relief from daily worries.

In 1898 opium was synthesized into heroin.  Heroin can be injected with a needle directly into the blood – no need to bother the lungs – the hit is immediate and powerful.

Cocoa leaves were chewed in the Latin American countries for hundreds of years.  Workers would take a short break from their labors to chew a cocoa leaf – it was the early form of a coffee break.  A small cocaine buzz boosted their energy and they went back to work.  Cocaine was reduced to powder form in 1850.  Snorting the potent powder magnified the buzz exponentially.  By the early 1900’s cocaine powder was recognized as a powerful addictive drug that was destroying lives.  The 2% solution added to Coca Cola was removed.

Alcohol users of the 21st Century are in grave danger.  We live in a world of images – particularly our body image.  Alcohol contains empty calories – meaning that it has no nutritional value but will add weight.  The video above demonstrates the use of dry ice to evaporate alcohol, creating a smoky or vaporized product that can be inhaled.  Again, the drug bypasses any normal bodily filters and goes directly to the lungs – and thus to the brain.

The jury is still out.  We  do not know what impact this behavior will have on alcohol addiction.  The odd irony of this behavior is that when well intoxicated with alcohol people generally lower their standards and fat people look pretty good.


Cisco – A Tale of Addiction, Justice, and Redemption

People are dying.  Our Prisons are full. Families are being destroyed.  Government sponsored religion in the Criminal Justice System is not working. Federal, State, and Local funds are rewarding bad behavior.  We are talking about the Criminal Justice System sanctioned treatment programs for alcohol and drug addiction – substance abuse treatment.

Cisco, A Tale of Addiction, Justice, and Redemption, is the story of one man.  This novel is fiction – but represents accurate accounts of mal-treatment by pseudo professional ‘counselors.’

The first published novel by Ohg Rea Tone, written with the nom de plume of Gary L. Clark, is the story of Harley Cisco.  He is a difficult man.  Cisco is considered to have failed substance abuse treatment six times – but there is more to this story than erroneous medical charts and weathered progress notes.

Find Cisco at  Select ‘books’ as the department, then enter the title ‘Cisco’ and the author name ‘Gary Clark.’  This search should take you directly to the book.

Dear Oprah – You Are Mistaken About Addiction

I wrote an email to Oprah.  Her address is  Some of the attachments from the email are included as Adobe pdf images following the text in this post.  The Cisco Synopsis follows.

Dear Oprah,

Your daily talk show has inspired many, including myself.  But I am troubled at something you said.  While interviewing Ralph Lauren you asked about his inspiration for design.  He said, and I paraphrase, he would not likely design an outfit for a particular person – but rather designs for an event or situation.  You became animated and exclaimed, “You tell a story.”  I also like story.  I appreciate good interpretive literature which leaves one with a better sense of humanity.  But story, or narrative, is not science.  Narrative does not answer all questions with specific information.  On your farewell show you talked of people’s sense-of-worth or sense-of-self as critical to understanding illnesses such as addiction.  Actually, I think you strongly implied that addiction comes from a sense of worthlessness.  You have unwittingly promoted a faulty narrative science.  The Narrative Science of the mid-to-late Twentieth Century has been proven wrong.   Anyone who promotes the narrative science of addiction is doing a grave disservice to some very sick people, people who are dying every day.

This is not just my thought – the actual science of addiction therapy has identified the major myths of the addiction narrative.  This is well documented by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series Number 35, published by HHS, titled “Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment” is very clear on three myths which are central to the addiction narrative.  The Addictive Personality is a myth, Robust Denial is a myth, and harsh confrontation as an appropriate counseling style is a myth (see attachment).  Professional trainers in mental health and addiction therapy note that new findings take about twenty years to reach the front line treatment process.  The Mythology of the Addiction Narrative was first presented by HHS in 1999 – and the retraining of treatment professional is behind schedule.

Treatment protocols based on the mythology are cruel and inhumane.  I have personally witnessed the ill treatment of clients diagnosed with addiction.  These ill-treatments are well defined in the Motivational Interviewing attachment.

Two asides – President Obama struggles with a nicotine addiction – is this addiction rooted in a low sense of self?  I taught Anger Management at our local Community Mental Health Center.  Self-concept is a major component in the equation of anger management and a variety of other mental health problems.  Self-concept is not to be discounted – but neither is it to be tagged as the central problem of addiction or other illnesses.

Why do people feel the need to find the root cause of addiction?  Perhaps it is just the nature of man – but we have to note that we do not know the cause of Heart Disease or Diabetes or Arthritis.  We know symptoms like high blood pressure or high cholesterol or being tired or high sugar measurements in our urine.  We also know that all chronic illnesses, whether we know the cause or not, have to be treated with life style changes – and sometimes medication.

Addiction is considered a disease, like heart disease, because it has identifiable symptoms and identifiable treatments.  The treatments include life style changes.  In AA they have a term: HALT.  They say HALT, don’t get hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  This could as easily be applied to a heart patient.  Physicians have identified stress as a condition which aggravates heart disease – but stress does not cause heart disease.  The same can be said of substance abuse.

Addiction is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorders.  By lumping a vast array of mental health disorders into the same category we do a grave disservice to many suffering individuals.

Oprah – someone with your power and influence cannot legitimately promote incorrect thinking – thinking that is promoting old stereotypes of alcoholics.  Here is a typical stereotype:  “He drinks to self-medicate because he has poor coping skills and basically a low sense of self-worth.”   A better (and more accurate) statement might be:  “He drinks because he is an alcoholic.”  In my work with the Community Mental Health Center I have heard people say, “I shoplift because I am an alcoholic and that is our nature,” and, “I get angry because I am an alcoholic and I don’t cope well.”  Where do you suppose someone would get goofy ideas like that?  (Is goofy an appropriate mental health term – or is it a tool of narrative designed to bias thought processes?)

One more example of narrative masquerading as science:  For two millenniums the narrative said the Sun revolved around the Earth.  When the narrative was challenged by scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo the protectors of the narrative demonized the science and the scientists.  Don’t laugh or discount the example – that same scenario is playing out today in the field of addiction treatment.  You have inadvertently become a part of the protective shield around the addiction narrative.  History will identify you as such.

On January 14, 2009, I wrote a letter to President Elect Obama and HHS nominee Tom Daschle with my concerns about the progress of implementing new science in addiction treatment.  The letter was forwarded to the Ivette A. Torres, M.ED., M.S., the Associate Director for Consumer Affairs for HHS Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.  She promptly responded with bureaucratic statistics, saying, “In FY 2008, data show that at follow-up: 62% were abstinent from substance use, 54% were employed, 47% were stably housed, 96% had no CJ involvement and 68% experienced no social/behavioral consequences due to their use.  These data all show a positive trend from intake to treatment to six months post.”  Oprah – I read these statistics as astounding failures of addiction treatment.  Statistics such as these in any other medical treatment protocol would be cause for alarm in the entire medical community.  HHS either completely missed my point – or chose to deflect attention with blabbering statistics.  Her entire letter is attached.

Frustrated with breaking through the bureaucracy I wrote a novel assailing the addiction narrative.  Fight fire with fire – or in this case – fight narrative with narrative.  The novel is not yet published but I have attached a file with an author bio, synopsis, and sample writing – this is the material sent to prospective literary agents.  The title is “Cisco” and deals with one man’s addiction struggle.  I have also written extensively on this subject on my on-line magazine.

This email is not about me – it is not about my novel – it is not about HHS or President Obama.  I am frustrated with the bureaucracy which stalls the introduction of new science.  And I am frustrated with talk shows which continue to promote outdated narratives of mental and physical health.

Here is the important point:  Inventing causes of diseases with narrative does not serve the treatment of the disease.   Basing medical treatment on narrative science is the equivalent of NASA designing their future projects based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

Please understand that many of us respect your service to humanity.  The intention of this correspondence is to again try to bring new science to the still suffering addict.


Ohg Rea Tone

Addiction mythology

HHS Response Letter



Addiction sweeps America.  Prison populations are at all time highs. Several theories of substance abuse treatment compete.  Conspiracies by authorities in the Criminal Justice System serve to incarcerate anyone deemed an addict.  Cisco is sixty years old and has a history of prison and failed attempts at rehabilitation; he is charged with second degree murder.  The prosecution uses the concept of an addictive personality, defined as criminal thinking, as motive in the crime.  Controversy abounds.  The intrigue surrounds late night meetings at the Courthouse with the Prosecutor, Presiding Judge, Prison Warden, and President of the local Community Mental Health Center.  Methods of addiction treatment have real consequences for those in the criminal justice system, and how the criminal justice system views addiction.

The story unfolds in the Council Chambers at City Hall in St. Adelaide, Missouri.  The County Coroner has chosen the Council Chambers for his Inquest because it is the only venue available with courtroom functionality, with accommodations for a large audience of spectators.  The Coroner is an independent judicial officer of the State, not directly associated with the Circuit Courts.  All Coroner’s Inquests are open to the public.

The facts of this case are generally not in dispute, but motive is. A female jogger was attacked by a young mentally disturbed man, an older male walker came to her rescue, a scuffle ensued, the attacker died in the scuffle.  The Coroner was prepared to issue a Certificate of Death with Justifiable Homicide as the cause.

The County Prosecutor filed second degree murder charges before the Coroner ruled on manner of death.  The Coroner, suspecting back room political motives or simply vengeance against the accused, called for an official Inquest.  There are few legal rules as mandated by a Circuit Court Trial – The Coroner can stage whatever forum he deems appropriate, and allow whatever evidence, to finding truth.  In this case the Coroner subverted the legal process of the Prosecutor in order to find the truth.  The Prosecutor and the accused both agreed to the Inquest format.  The Prosecutor agreed that if Justifiable Homicide is found he will drop the murder charges.

Six Jurors were randomly selected from the community. A court reporter will record the proceedings. The coroner and prosecutor both agree to accept the jury recommendation.

Rarely is there an actual defendant in a Coroner’s Inquest.  Usually the actual cause of death is evident.  The task of the jury is to determine manner of death – whether suicide, homicide, accident, or natural.  That is the question raised by the County Prosecutor in this case.  The Coroner has decided to allow the Prosecutor to present his view.  The defendant can present his story.

The County Prosecutor believes this death was intentional and unnecessary.  In this particular Inquest two Sheriff’s Deputies are on hand.  The Prosecutor has already filed second degree murder charges.  At the preliminary hearing the case was bound over for trial – with no bond for the accused.  The accused is remanded to custody.

The defendant, Harley Cisco, is a sixty-year-old ex-convict, fifteen years for one charge of vehicular manslaughter and one charge of felony vehicular assault.  The felony charges stemmed from drinking and driving.  While in prison he was ordered twice to complete their 120 Day Drug and Alcohol Program – he was kicked out each time.

Prior to prison Cisco had a small rap sheet, including possession of marijuana and misdemeanor assault.  He was intoxicated at the time of the assault.  After the assault charge he was ordered to attend Drug and Alcohol Treatment at the local Community Mental Health Center.  He left the program after one night.  The marijuana charge also was met with a charge to again attend a treatment program.  He was kicked out a second time.

A mentally disturbed attacker is dead.  Cisco is initially considered a hero, heralded as such on national cable news – until his past is highlighted by the local prosecutor.  The death of the young mentally ill man was from three different mortal blows – which the Prosecutor and Medical Examiner both believe were intentional and well executed.

The Prosecutor believes Cisco struck his first mortal blow, and then proceeded to intentionally kill the mugger with two more strategic mortal shots – for personal satisfaction.

The story unfolds with witnesses from the Medical Examiner’s office, the police, paramedics, Hospital ER personnel, a Prison Warden, the local Director of the Community Mental Health Center Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program, the Presiding Judge of the Fifth Circuit and Administrator of the local Drug Court, and the Elementary School Teacher of Cisco’s grandson.  In every case the Prosecutor will interpret the testimony in light of an addictive personality.  The interpretation is consistent with modern criminal justice treatment programs.

The testimony from several witnesses, including the police, paramedics, and Medical Examiner is chronicled as modern Crime Scene Investigation, with details and conjecture.

The case builds on evidence of the character of Cisco, suggesting this is a man who would kill again if given a chance.  The prosecutor’s case rests on the concepts of Addictive Personality, denial, poor impulse control, immaturity, defiance, aggression, and confrontation in counseling.  The novel challenges these concepts as applied in addiction treatment.

Protestors are in town from the National Council of Christian Churches.  The National Council of Christian Churches argues that modern mental health strategies do not allow for the simple consideration of sin, and the right of true Christians to defend their beliefs.  The NCC also makes a case against twelve step programs, noting that a one step program is the solution – the one step is acceptance of Jesus as Savior.

Cisco is called as the last Prosecution witness.  Prosecutor Sprague is confident Cisco will expose his irrational addictive thinking – so he merely asks Cisco address his history of failed treatments and prison life.  Sprague verbalizes his interpretation of addictive thinking to the jury.  He then asks Cisco to tell his story of what happened on the Urban Trail.  Again, everything Cisco says is interpreted in the context of Criminal Thinking.   The Prosecutor believes that the Addictive Personality and Criminal Thinking are mutually inclusive.

Watching the trial from an internet feed in Washington DC is the Director of Mental Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Kevin McGonagall.  He orders his plane ready and flies to St. Adelaide.  Dr. McGonagall takes a seat beside Cisco and Cisco’s liberal Parole Officer and offers his assistance, asking Cisco to call him as a witness.  Cisco agrees and Mr. McGonagall takes the stand to dispute the claims previously made by local mental health authorities.  Mr. McGonagall will challenge myths of addiction treatment, including Addictive Personality, denial, and confrontation as an effective counseling strategy.  Mr. McGonagall will surmise that Cisco may perhaps have never killed anyone because of a DWI if Cisco had had proper treatment – directly confronting the prosecution.

The last witness will be the daughter of the man who died in Cisco’s manslaughter conviction.  She will appear as a witness for the defense.

Concurrent to the Inquest proceedings is a Group Conscience meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The AA members debate the treatment philosophies presented at the Inquest as compared to the beliefs of AA.

The story concludes with the Coroner turning the case over to the Jury.

The completed novel is nearly 71,000 words – 258 pages at double spaced 12 point font with one inch margins.

Dead Body Found in Woods

I am cleaning my office.  Stacks of paper, piles of books, new book shelves – there is not enough room.  So I am compelled to throw something away.  This ritual is not done arbitrarily – I have to look at everything and rethink the value.  I came across an old news clipping.  It has no value to anyone but me. The headline on page A8 is “Dead body found in woods.”  It is the culmination of a sad story of alcoholism.

I’ll call him Bill for this minor memorial on his life. The news paper reports:

‘A man was found dead Friday morning in a wooded area behind a grocery store in midtown…Bill…address…, age 59, had been dead for at least five hours before the discovery, but determining a precise time of death will be difficult because of the summer heat…While Bill had a listed address, he frequently would leave for long periods of time… Police initially believed he was homeless based on witness accounts and signs that people had been loitering and drinking alcohol in the area where he was found… He was last seen at 7:30 last evening sitting on a curb in the grocery parking lot…A local contractor found the body. He said he often finds beer cans in the area and regularly checks the woods for homeless encampments, in which case he would call the police….Detectives didn’t locate any defensive wounds or recent injuries on the man but he did have some old injuries that obviously had not been taken care of… No autopsy is planned.”

I feel the sadness again. I knew Bill. He and I used to sit and laugh and talk about literature and history and poetry and theology.  Bill was one of the most well read men that I ever knew.  He was mostly self taught – but his depth of knowledge and wisdom were unparalleled.  So if he was so smart – what was he doing sitting on a curb with a plastic bottle of CAV (Cheap ass vodka.)

Bill was sick.  Bill had a chronic disease identified by the American Medical Association as Alcoholism.  It is a disease, they say, because it is chronic, progressive, incurable, and sometimes fatal. It has identifiable symptoms and identifiable treatments. By every definition of disease – alcoholism qualifies.

Bill was 59 years old and had been to treatment centers for his disease four or five times. The medical ‘professionals’ at the treatment centers dismiss the failure of treatment by simply saying, “Well, I guess he wasn’t ready to quit.”

The sadness of Bill’s death again raises my level of anger with the incompetence of failed treatment facilities that do not look at their processes. They have a 10% success rate – if FedEx delivered one out of ten packages successfully they would not stay in business.  If the mortality rate at the local Cardiac Care Unit in the local Hospital was nine out of ten – no one would go there for heart treatment.

Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alcoholism – all chronic, progressive, incurable, and sometimes fatal.  All identifiable.  All treatable.  If a person had a heart attack on the curb at the grocery store, people would offer CPR and an ambulance would be called.  Bill suffered an attack of his illness and people just said, ‘Oh well, another homeless person, how sad.”

I am as sad about the state of humanity in America as I am about Bill’s death. My sadness turns to anger when I think of the incompetence and shallow attitude of mental health professionals.  There is a real enigma in the treatment process – the professionals claim they are treating a disease – but when they fail they excuse the failure as being the responsibility of the patient.  How many times have we heard treatment professionals say, “I guess he was not ready?”

My father had a heart attack twenty years ago.  He was in the acute care hospital for a week, then participated in an outpatient program to learn new life skills to better manage his illness.  What is the difference between this sort of treatment and the treatment for addiction?  There are three fundamental differences.

Heart patients are met with love and kindness – obvious care for the life of the patient.  Most heart patients require life style changes to manage their heart disease.  Things like a more healthy diet, regular exercise, and no tobacco.  Addicts receive a different regimen – a regimen based on flawed mythology about the disease of addiction.

Mythology of Addiction:

  • All addicts have an addictive personality.  Research has shown that when the drug is removed addicts return to the same diversity of personalities as the general population.
  • Denial is robust in addicts.  Research has shown that denial is no more robust in addicts than in the general population.
  • Confrontation is an effective counseling style.  Research has shown that harsh confrontation is not effective, and can actually deter recovery.

Dead bodies are found in communities across this great nation.  People of no consequence for they have not been productive members of society – they have succumbed to the devastating affliction known as addiction – and they were treated with harsh behavior by the professional health care community.

I have to go clean the next file cabinet.