Notes on the Journey

Posts tagged ‘alternative mental health’

The Enchantment Model Of Addiction

Support Groups PicI stopped in at a Al-Anon meeting at Thanksgiving, hoping it would help to listen to other people talk about their family pain, but first thing they hit me with the proselytization and the disease model. I just can’t ignore it long enough to sit and listen, that’s my defect I suppose. I felt pressure to read the steps and recite prayers, did not feel safe to refuse, and that is crap.

I know now that AA softened me up for harvest by the psychopharmaceutical cartel. I first attended AA when I was 28 and planning another baby. I’d had a few drinks during of my last pregnancy and felt guilty about that, didn’t want to do it again, and in general, drinking made me sick and depressed altho I enjoyed the painkilling effects. I went to women’s meetings for the first year. It was clear to me that I drank to kill the aftereffects of being raped on a daily basis by my father for the first 12 years of my life, and that’s what I wanted to work on and it felt safer to be in a women-only group.

pillsBack then nobody was taking psych drugs, but we were all being sold on the medical model brain disease/genetic defect theory. So sadly, I was easy pickinz when my GP offered chemicals to fix my congenital brain abnormality. I looked tired because I was engaged in  a lawsuit against my rapist parent and raising two toddlers by myself and I was having trouble sleeping. The doctor, John Matthews of Plainfield, VT, said I was biologically depressed and the drugs were like insulin for diabetes. Then once on the drugs there is the spellbinding effect along with all the other subtle and not-so-subtle coercions I was subjected to. In 2007, when I decided to begin tapering the drugs (after reading Mad In America) AA was a hindrance because just about everyone was on the (safe, non-addictive) drugs and we were not allowed to question the holy doctors. I got a lot of hostility from people who were threatened by my withdrawal, and nobody had any support for me or had information about safe withdrawal.

godthe fatherFor me personally, the whole Protestant religious moral model of the twelve step model is a big problem. For one thing, it is emblazoned upon the deepest reaches of my consciousness that GOD IS MY FATHER, for another, it is a victim-blaming philosophy that totally separates the individual from the violent, addiction-generating culture. So I have to do the mindsplitting thing to be able to sit in a 12-step meeting and I am not up to it anymore. I joined an online group for people who are tapering from behavior-control chemicals. At first, as it was forming, it was a good support but then the admins started in with the 12-step liturgy and dogma. I tried to point out the heterosexism and christian values and got shut down.

The way I see it now is that we are ALL addicts. The word, addiction, literally means: to be spoken over to slavery. It comes out of the Roman court system, where captives were legally made into slaves. Western culture has made us all into slaves to oil, if nothing else. No-one escapes modern slavery. But, some of us run into bigger trouble faster, with whatever we are doing to kill our pain and distract our attention, that is the difference. It’s a continuum. And absolutely, without question, everyone I know who struggles with destructive addiction is a survivor of trauma, usually the good old interpersonal violence kind. I also saw this as a member of a support group for the psychiatrically labeled in Montpelier, VT. Every woman, at least, who was diagnosed and labeled as a psych case was a survivor of childhood rape. I kept telling the staff of the MH center about this, I wrote about it in The Counterpoint, a psych survivor rag in VT, and went before the state legislature to talk to them about it as they made policy on MH services. But nobody really listened. They are not listening now.

The only way that addiction could possibly be considered a medical/physical disease is by thinking of it as a reaction to BEING INJURED. It is a maladaptive attempt to heal an injury. Once we start to damage organs with whatever we use to kill pain THEN it becomes a medical issue.

earAs I have been struggling to understand what addiction has done to me and the people I have been close to, it has occurred to me that since the medical model is such a destructive metaphor, that maybe a good way to characterize what is going on is that it is a kind of enchantment. It is like being under an evil spell. (Certainly being on the psychiatric chemicals felt like this to me. I lost my power to choose and I believed things that were not true. I was trapped, I was a prisoner, a slave.)  How does this enchantment come about? Well, I’m not sure, and prolly there is no one answer, no bogeyman to blame, no witches in the hedges casting spells, BUT, in my case I can trace the enchantment right back to the ugly things that ignorant and cruel adults kept chanting into my ear, all the insidious messages about my lack of human worth that surrounded the incest drama and the simple fact of my having a female body in a patriarchal, misogynistic culture.

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