Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Saving Lindsay: Make that ten easy steps

Earlier this week, our pal the licensed psychotherapist sent along some free advice on how Lindsay Lohan might finally deal with her addiction issues in a manner that could actually work! As promised, we turned it all over to Lindsay's dad Michael, who himself works with a faith-based treatment program. But whether Lindsay or those around her are ready to get serious has yet to be seen.

Meanwhile, our licensed psychotherapist friend has been heartened by the response from our readers-- and adds a brief addendum, lest anyone get the wrong idea:
Thanks for getting the word out. However, I just realized something that's really quite important: many L.A rehabs, such as Promises do not believe in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step model of recovery, and therefore the most important thing one can gain at a rehab doesn't even exist for them. Some even believe that you can still drink occasionally!

Unfortunately, addictions are tough to kick.

And while the AA 12-step model has the best results, even they are far from perfect. I can't recall the exact stats, but I believe AA offers about a 50% chance of recovery.

Sorry, but that's about the best we have now (although my NYC supervisor says they are working on a pill called Prometa, that has not yet been approved by the FDA but hopefully will allow people to become sober—they just don't know the side effects as yet). There are no guarantees, but what the AA model does provide is a way to change one's life and the ability to provide sponsors and members who will be there. Should the alcoholic should relapse, the door is still open. One just starts over doing 90 and 90. It's kind of like having diabetes.

I often tell my NYC patients that a diabetic isn't supposed to have sugary cake, but if they go to a wedding and eat a piece of cake, do they just keep eating cake forever? No! They call the doctor and say that they did something they shouldn't have and ask the doctor to help them get their sugar levels under control.

Similarly, in sobriety, if one relapses, they need to call their therapist and their sponsor immediately, say that they relapsed and ask for help getting sober again. That help is always there. They just need to pick up the phone, put down the bottle and get to a meeting and start counting again.

It's the shame and denial that often keep a person from doing so. But if anyone is listening out there in cyberspace, pick up the phone immediately! Alcoholism is a genetic disease and nothing to be ashamed of. It's the behavior caused by the alcohol that might be shaming. Once you get sober, you make amends.

One more thing:

Many addicts also suffer some form of depression (sometimes bipolar or unipolar) and often need to be medicated for the depression before they can become sober. That’s why a rehab center with a great psych facility is important. Mu NYC supervisor (herself an alcoholic in very good recovery) recommends the following rehabs:

Silver Hill in Connecticut;
Talbot Recovery in Atlanta;
Hazeltine in Minnesota & Florida;
and The Betty Ford Center's New Advanced Program.

On the other hand, sometimes it's difficult to tease out the depression from the booze since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, cocaine and speed are uppers, and pot and heroin, like alcohol, are depressants. Sometimes one can't tell what the underlying psych condition is until the person is sober for at least one year. If they seem bipolar, are they on uppers that make one crash into depression?

So you can see how complicated and difficult the business of geting sober is.


Anonymous said...

Your psychoanalyst friend is very perceptive. I think he's helping many people besides Lilo. I'd like to read more.

Anonymous said...

Actually 12 step programs have WORSE outcomes for alcoholics than alternative and, in fact NO TREATMENT at all. Not to say that nobody ever recovered within a 12 step model, but studies have shown at LEAST a 90% failure rate in AA, and significantly higher levels of binge drinking within AA than untreated, or alternatively treated alcoholism...and higher relapse and MORTALITY rates.

Bullshit it's the best program, or has a 50% success rate. That is flat out incorrect. I don't have anything against any particular program, but I do have a prob with popular rhetoric being substituted for actual evidence.

This psychotherapist seems like she doesn't know her stuff at all...and needs to start reading up on addiction treatment studies. So I'd be taking their words with more than a grain of salt.