Alcoholism and Mental Illness – DAN JOYCE art

Alcoholism and Mental Illness

Posted by Dan Joyce on


Alcoholism and Mental Illness


I attend AA, but early on they realized I had a mental illness requiring medication. Immediately they opposed this saying I didn’t need it and that I was addicted to drugs. It seemed foolish and really quite ignorant to me that they had no idea about my condition, schizoaffective a light combination of bipolar and schizophrenia, or what the signs and symptoms could be or how to treat it. They took simple phrases from their book, the big book as they called it, which really isn’t that big, 164 pages. So they found terms like, insanity, fear of people to define all paranoia and the manic depressive type which is mentioned in one sentence and goes into no detail. I suppose the founders of AA wanted to address mental issues because in the 1930’s when they started the group, people who drank that much were confined to asylums and mental hospitals, but they went further to claim that AA would cure all mental health conditions. It’s even written in their steps, “could restore us to sanity.” But this is extremely ambiguous. What is meant by sanity or insanity? The term is not psychiatric or used in any medical journal. Does it mean mood swings, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, paranoid episodes, depression, anxiety or just plain drinking? Talk to a few members of these 12 step programs and they will actually tell you it means all of them. You get healed of any mental illness just by sitting in some meetings and talking to a mentor. Not only would a doctor oppose this, but anyone with common sense or basic critical thinking skills could see this is nonsense. Further, their solution is God and not just any God, a God of your understanding, one that you make up. Science is not only thrown out the window, it is replaced with voodoo. 

They had a big problem with medication, which is understandable. Certain drugs I wouldn’t recommend anyone take or at least with great caution. But how do they define medicine or which is acceptable. A pill is solid alcohol. Which is absurd, alcohol is alcohol not prescription medication, unless its NyQuil or codeine cough syrup. There was also valium and a few others carelessly prescribed in the 1970s, but not anymore. The problem with a pill is a pill is a pill mentality is that it tells me you don’t know the difference between oxycodone and vitamin C. None of the medicine I have taken has been sedative or addictive. The only reason to stop taking it would be that AA says so. Initially, I had severe symptoms of delusion and paranoia,  but with medicine and therapy it quickly went away. If it works don’t fix it, but AA will try. And with the therapy, they believe it interferes with the sponsorship and the group pressure. What would you want?  A trained professional or someone whose credentials were Jack Daniel’s and probably illicit drugs? Of course, formal education is rare and discouraged. 

But then once they realized I was telling the truth about my disability, I was quickly labeled crazy and set aside to another sub classified category. And derogatory jokes about bipolar and schizophrenia are common in the meetings and other communing as they are considered less than the average member often with horrific and ignorantly founded stereotypes. This is the part I never understood, if you look at alcoholism, it’s traits, behaviors and possible brain damage, then look at schizophrenia or bipolar as we know them to be, How can you possibly judge one as being any better or worse than the other? It’s like having a scientific discussion in a trailer park. They just want someone to look down upon because they are lowly themselves. Not every AA member opposes medicine or therapy, but the commonality of such thinking is astounding. On the first attendance of any meeting, group think is easily noticed and often quite frightening. Everybody says the same thing like they are reading a very misleading script.  Some psychiatric volumes will identify alcoholism as a mental illness or at least a symptom of other conditions. But to define and treat mental illness not knowing what it is, how to treat it or what you are even talking about can be dangerous. Also, AA has a skyrocketed overdose and suicide rate as well rivaling its low 5%success rate of those who actually quit drinking. Mental health diagnosis are referred to as labels and to them labels are bad, but if mental illness is a label, what would alcoholic be? and how does labeling yourself a compulsive boozer stop you from drinking, make you drink less and not often convince you that you have to drink more? It’s really a recipe for disaster. In the meantime, persons with mental health issues or basically any treatable health issue take the brunt of it. And to take someone with the low self esteem that goes with these conditions, shame them and humiliate them, sometimes talking them Into refusing their rehabilitation is harmfully cruel, all so a former drunk or drug addict can feel superior to someone. What I’m talking about in this blog post is well known in AA, but still sheltered from the general public. If you find this interesting or important, please share and pass it on. Together we can make a difference one crazy day at a time. 


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