Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. AA’s stated “primary purpose” is to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety”. With other early members, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith developed AA’s Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA’s initial Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help the fellowship be stable and unified while disengaged from “outside issues” and influences.
The Traditions recommend that members remain anonymous in public media, altruistically help other alcoholics, and that AA groups avoid official affiliations with other organizations. Subsequent fellowships such as Narcotics Anonymous have adopted and adapted the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions to their respective primary purposes.
AA membership has since spread internationally “across diverse cultures holding different beliefs and values”, including geopolitical areas resistant to grassroots movements. Close to 2 million people worldwide are members of AA as of 2016.
AA’s name is derived from its first book, informally called “The Big Book”, originally titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism.
A very special video podcast interview between Gary Bell (of Naltrexone Confidential and The Free Pigeon Press fame) and Claudia Christian on Gary’s 5th anniversary of starting The Sinclair Method.
Hi everybody and welcome to what marks a very special podcast interview… a Skype chat with none other than Claudia Christian on my 5th Sinclair Method “birthday” in which we talk all about TSM, our mutual experience of filming the acclaimed documentary One Little Pill, Alcoholics Anonymous, the depiction (or rather non-depiction) of alternative recovery options in film and television and lots more besides.
How my adventure with the charismatic Claudia began…
“It’s not a question of faith, it’s a question of facts. I wasn’t going to be able to pray this thing away. When you look at other treatment approaches you’ve got AA… then you’ve got other types of counselling where they’re trying to reason with it… and I’m thinking, well, this is silly – why don’t you just kill it?!?”
-Gary Bell, One Little Pill
I first became aware of Claudia Christian as an actress from her work on the excellent sci-fi/horror film The Hidden and later the classic science fiction TV series Babylon 5.
It was only upon only upon doing a Google search on The Sinclair Method (TSM) back in late 2012 (back when I was still very much struggling with the booze) that I became aware of her work as a TSM advocate/addiction treatment activist .
About Claudia – she doesn’t disappoint in person. In fact, in real life she’s very much like her fictional counterpart Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5. That’s to say intelligent, feisty, brave and beautiful.
The very first time I met her was in fact when I was invited to be a guest interviewee for the filming of the UK segment of One Little Pill.
How that came about…
I’d tried just about everything from AA to acupuncture to curb my drinking and turned to the internet to find answers, ultimately reading about The Sinclair Method and later finding out about Claudia’s advocacy of TSM. Upon discovering this I took the bold step of sending her a personal message on Facebook.
Much to my astonishment Claudia responded that same night and was absolutely wonderful, offering real encouragement. Something that (as it turned out) I would really need because this was unfortunately back at a time when there were even less support than there is now and nalmefene (naltrexone’s sister drug) had yet to be officially approved on the NHS here in the UK.
As I went through the thankless process of somehow trying to acquire this treatment through conventional means (i.e. through my GP and local addictive behaviours service) I recall having numerous doors slammed in my face.
I could have easily lost hope but I had Claudia’s support and, deciding that I needed to charge of my own destiny, would eventually take matters into my own hands by importing a supply of naltrexone from an online pharmacy in Canada.
But out of this seething crucible of anger would come some really positive. A blog that I created called Naltrexone Confidential that would go on to get quite a bit of praise. And it was this that led to my being invited to take part in the London segment of One Little Pill some months after I first went onto TSM.
About the documentary: it was great taking part in it and it was a real pleasure to meet Claudia and Dr. Roy Eskapa, author of The Cure for Alcoholism – considered by most to be the instruction manual on The Sinclair Method (click HERE to visit the Amazon page for the book).
But my interview very nearly didn’t happen. I nearly missed the train because I was extremely sleep-deprived on the day that I was due to take the trip to London thanks to the annoying crack-addicted neighbours that I had at the time keeping everyone in my street awake for three solid days.
Hence why when I look back on my interview I think that I could have done better had I not been so crushingly tired. Still, I think I do okay all things considered.
I also have to pause to thank my mom (bless her heart) because, as I mention HERE, I very nearly backed out for fear of the exposure that my appearing in this might bring and it was her who affirmed that I should do it.
The thing on most people’s lips since I did the documentary is just how different I now look. Some people have had difficulty recognising me, in fact.
What I need to point out is that this was very early days for me and my body and brain were only just starting to heal from the poison I’d been feeding it, so I was still quite bloated and sweaty in appearance. Being used to a diet of Carlsberg Special Brew and takeout crap during the course of my addiction, it would (post Sinclair Method) take a while to get onto a healthy diet and exercise regime but, as the before and after photos on this Quora post HERE prove, I eventually got to a much healthier place. And it didn’t take very long either.
Reflecting on things now… In the 5 years since the filming of OLP and the 5 years in which I’ve been on the method there’s been trolls, tantrums, tragedy and trauma to deal with, but I look back on things through a really positive prism. Post-pharmacological extinction there’s little that I would change. Sure, I have some regrets (like how I wish I’d handled some things better with my old website, for example), but they’re minor.
Anyway, I think that (for now) just about covers what I wanted to write on the subject of of One Little Pill. Given my biased involvement, it didn’t seem appropriate to write a proper in-depth review – hence why I’ve given more of just an an overview of my own involvement with it… but take my word for it when I say that it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in the topic of alcohol addiction.
Thanks for reading and thanks to Claudia and everyone else who has helped me over these last five years. To quote Vinnie Jones: “It’s been emotional”.
Having very recently tried my hand at hosting video podcasts on the subject of The Sinclair Method, I thought that it would be good to try doing a conventional audio podcast interview and my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovery from Recovery fame kindly volunteered to be my very first interviewee!
Given that I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone and have a go at new things, having very recently tried my hand at hosting video podcasts (see HERE), I thought that it would be good to try doing a conventional audio podcast interview and my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovery from Recovery fame kindly volunteered to be my first guinea pig interviewee for this little experiment.
So – without further ado – here’s what we came up with:
I think it turned out alright. Sure, there’s nothing in the way of any real production values… no jingle or anything… but that’s to be expected; and yes, the sound quality leaves a little bit to be desired on my end, but as far as first goes go, it’s not half bad.
I look forward to doing more and would like to thank Mike for not just being a brilliant interviewee, but also (being an experienced podcaster himself) a really good mentor and – last but not least – for lending a hand to clean up the audio for me.
Many, many, many thanks to him for that.
As for the content of the interview itself: I think it’s really good. The last half of the interview, in particular, is really insightful and I got a lot of identification from Michael’s observations of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Also, during the course of the interview Mike has some really useful expert advice for anyone wanting to set up their own recovery blog.
…Okay, well that’s me done for one article and one interview. It’s been a blast.
Hi Seth and thanks for agreeing to this interview. From previous correspondence that I’ve had with you I was most interested to learn that (like myself) you first heard of The Sinclair Method (TSM) thanks to The Orange Papers website. For the benefit of our readers could you tell us a bit about that whole trajectory in your journey… that’s to say: how did you first come to read The Orange Papers? And, for that matter, what is The Orange Papers?
Gary, I’m happy to be interviewed about The Sinclair Method. That question about the Orange Papers, well it’s a red pill question, the answer for which your readers are going to have to take a trip down the rabbit hole with us.
I found the Orange papers while I was in Alcoholics Anonymous which is probably analogous to a subculture or subroutine in the Matrix, it has it’s own rules, it’s own language, it’s own glitches. There were an interesting chain of events leading to my willingness to explore logic outside the AA subculture that interestingly was initiated by a fellow friend and AA member I will refer to as The Bumblebee. One day Bumblebee asks if I want to come over to his house and watch a cool video, oh wait The Orange Papers, OK we’ll get back to this later.
So The Orange Papers is a website that is a collection of research writings and email threads hosted by a former AA member that goes by Agent Orange. The front page header reads:
Before AA I was involved with a christian cult so finding the Orange Papers was like finding the ex-cult website that had all the dirt on that group I was in. I started reading it, and the more I read the less I felt like AA was actually helping me. But you know what AA true believers do when they are having a rough time, dive more into service. Towards the end I was hosting a group I kind of took over and I turned it into a Big Book Study group, using a series of recordings by a couple old guys named Joe and Charlie.
So I visit the hive of The Bumblebee, and he plays this video called Zeitgeist. Dude blew my mind, so I started doing all kinds of research on the internet expanding my mind. When Zeitgeist Addendum came out I got involved with the Zeitgeist movement, I started the New Jersey state chapter. Anyway it was in this time I became aware of behavioural indoctrination and first heard the idea that AA wasn’t the only way to deal with a drinking problem. Started going to AA in Sept 2000 and by mid 2009 I was done with it, I left and began trying to drink again. It took about 7 years for me to get to the point of looking for help again. This is about the time around mid 2015 I really started to go downhill. After researching SMART, S.O.S. and even Rational Recovery, I tried AA again for 3 months and found it worse than I remembered.
So I decided around 2008 AA wasn’t for me anymore. It was a very difficult time because I lost my community, I was in new territory. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I didn’t have to lie to myself anymore. It actually was a matter of survival because I wasn’t getting better.
Gary: Here’s a fun question for you – as I’ve previously mentioned to you, something we both have in common is a fondness for Star Trek. My question to you is “wouldn’t the addiction treatment arena be a better place if people started channeling their inner Spock instead of their inner Captain Kirk?’ i.e. stopped arguing from emotion and started coming more from a place of dispassionate logic. I only ask because I see a lot of people channeling Kirk and McCoy on internet addiction forums, but not many Spocks! Lol
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. I’m fond of Spock, I like to think I identify with him. What made Spock great was that he wanted to be on a ship with all these divergent and various people. This is something I think addiction treatment needs is a willingness to boldly go where the 12 steps hasn’t gone before. I really don’t know how Spock would deal with addiction, this is the first time I’ve thought about it. I guess if there was a behavioral plague Vulcans fought it would have to be emotions, so our addictions are like emotions to Vulcans. The closest thing I can think of that Vulcans might regard as a treatment for emotions would be the Kolinahr training. That takes years, and once completed they are Kolinahr masters. There have been attempts by Star Trek to address the problem of addiction, one was a Next Generation episode that got it wrong, but they didn’t consult Dr. Sinclair about it.
I think Gene Roddenberry liked to drink because it comes through the series, his way of solving drunkenness was to invent synthehol.
Another question just around Star Trek… would you say that the difference between TSM and other treatment methods is that whereas other treatment models effectively see alcohol addiction as a “Kobayashi Maru” (an unwinnable scenario), we don’t.
So the classic lore in Star Trek was that Cadet Kirk beat a training simulation called “The Kobayashi Maru” by rewriting the parameters of the test, the test being unwinnable. 12 step lore is the opposite of the Kobayashi Maru it’s winning by accepting defeat. In any other field of medicine this would be laughed away. If the field of cancer treatment stopped searching for better outcomes I would have died 15 years ago. If the AIDS research stopped at the peak of the epidemic we might have 3 billion less people alive now. So yeah AA and other 12 step groups present addiction as a Kobayashi Maru test when it’s anything but. This learned helplessness is killing people.
It just seems like when people derisively exhort “There is NO cure for alcoholism” it sorta echos the “There is NO way to beat the Kobayashi Maru” sentiment expressed by numerous characters in Star Trek in response to the fact that Kirk did just that.
That is the sad thing about the 12 steps, civilians for the most part see AA and NA as something they are not. If I ask people who know nothing about it they tell me some strange things. Some folks think medical professionals are involved at meetings, they think it really works and people who it doesn’t work for just refuse to be treated. They don’t know that the primary treatment is to go to a group and bitch about how they can’t drink anymore. I’m an Ozzy Osbourne fan, everyone knows Ozzy has alcohol use disorder. I think he had the most brilliant insight when asked why he hates going to meetings. To paraphrase: “Going to AA is like going to a meeting where a bunch of men who lost their leg sit around and complain about losing there leg and how it happened. I say it’s done, I lost my leg now get on with life”.
After I went back to AA after not going for 7 years I had a new perspective, I wasn’t going because I was afraid, and I was fully versed in the whole program. So I was very much in touch with how what people said effected me, and meetings are an hour long behaviourally triggering process. I mean if a person goes to a meeting and doesn’t want to drink after they weren’t paying attention. So after 90 days I started looking for other things, I went to SMART for a few meetings but that was after I started TSM.
Two of the people that impressed me were Dr. Robert Sapolsky, and Dr. Gabor Maté. They both have novel scientific views on nature vs. nurture and the social cause of addiction. Their work is what started me looking at alternatives to AA. Dr. Maté used to treat the addicts he treated with Ayahuasca and had great success with it.
Okay, next question… and this is a boring mandatory question that I need to ask… but how are you doing as far as TSM goes? Do you still drink at all or are you now completely abstinent? And how long exactly have you been on TSM?
These are my favourite questions.
I’m very active in our little community of pioneers, and I’m solid. I would describe my relationship with alcohol and TSM as “Organic Abstinence”. If that’s a term that has never been coined I’ll go on record as the originator. What I mean by it is if given the choice of a slice of pizza and a glass of ice water or a beer I’l pick the pizza and ice water every time. I have alcohol all over the house, it’s not mine, but that never stopped me before now. it’s just bottles of something it takes too much work to bother with. When I started TSM I decided I wasn’t going to be totally abstinent because to me that was to extreme and I felt I’d rebel against myself.
So I live life free from the grips of the trickster. I have rules… don’t drink alone… only drink if it’s a casual occasion… if it’s a booze orgy I’ll pass. Nothing triggers my drinkflex anymore. I don’t even stare at people’s drinking glass anymore. I used to do that all the time. I started Jan. 13th, 2016. I consider July 1st 2016 as my extinction day, but it’s hard to tell because it wasn’t until July 10th or so I realised I hadn’t had a drink for a couple weeks.
Okay, last question… as you mentioned, you’re “very active in our little community of pioneers”… you recently took over the reins from Angela as the head moderator on the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook forum (which has seen MASSIVE growth in a very short time – so major props to you, Angela and the rest of the gang for that) and you’re an active participant on numerous other forums… but my question to you is what next?
You disclosed to me in a previous conversation that you’ve mooted starting a podcast show – are you still keen to get that off the ground?
There are times in my life where I became involved with things from a pure heart only to find out the leaders had very ulterior motives, and I stuck around even after I should have left. There were other opportunities I was an early adopter of but didn’t fully commit to because I was burned in the past. The Sinclair Method is the first thing I’ve done that I know 100% that it works, and it’s a grassroots thing that has potential to turn alcohol use disorder treatment upside down.
Alcohol is only legal today because it’s the oldest mind altering substance man has used. If alcohol was discovered today it would be a schedule 1 controlled substance. So I feel a duty to the world as long as it remains a culturally accepted and legal intoxicant to spread the word about The Sinclair Method.
Having been on the inside of Alcoholics Anonymous and done all the things they suggest and tried, I mean really tried to get well and help people do the same. I’m not willing to sit by and be silent, I know what works and what doesn’t, I know what is sane and what is insane. Treating a medical condition like alcohol use disorder which is a learned behaviour that is physiologically set by social conditioning of repeated exposure to alcohol over a long period of time. Treating that by forced abstinence, group indoctrination, some religious ideas of powerlessness, prayer, meditation, restitution and proselytising when The Sinclair Method is available is not only insane. It’s unethical and deadly. We have case studies, we know personally dozens of people who have successfully done what we have done, we have dozens more right now in their first weeks of TSM who need support. Tens of thousands in Finland who have been treated successfully.
We face a difficult challenge because people want answers, and most stop at the first one they come across. As expensive as treatment is and as cheap as 12-step meetings are it’s a hard sell to say to folks “hey there’s something in the middle here”. You know, families have resigned to the idea that rehab is $1,000 a day, medical detox is $10,000 per treatment.
When someone comes along and says look, you can do detox and rehab at home for $3 to $5 a treatment not including drinks. Treatment being take naltrexone or nalmefene wait an hour or two then drink all you want, do that for 3 to 6 months and you’ll be cured, they don’t believe it.
Now accredited addiction professionals are providing The Sinclair Method option for their clients, but instead of a $10,000 detox and 28 day $30,000 rehab they are asking just $1,000 a month for 6 months or some are charging $5,000 for complete treatment meaning until AUD is extinct, if that’s 6 months or 12.
I want to tell you what alcohol use disorder felt like to me. Ever had to be in a room with a crying baby? If it’s not your child it can be annoying, but it’s not your kid so you can get up and leave. But if it is yours or you have to watch it, you’ll stand on your head to get the kid to stop crying, bottle, binky, milk toast, rocking, bouncing, changing diapers. Whatever is in your power to do you’ll try, just to get some quiet. But what if there is a baby in your head, and that infant has a scream on it that would make a mother flip over a car to get it to stop. The only thing that was able to get my evil brain baby to shut up is booze.
Before TSM it was bedlam in my head.
After six months the baby was weened and I guess he moved out, went to college or something, but all is quiet on the booze front between my ears now. Now I’m left to tackle the 20 or so years I avoided emotional maturity. The first year after extinction it’s like an identity crisis, who am I without the defining feature of powerlessness over alcohol? I’m a pioneer in a field where this treatment will absolutely become the Gold standard of care for Alcohol Use Disorder. I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t need a label like that, I don’t have active alcohol use disorder, I don’t need to be anonymous about it, I love where I’m at with regards to this deadly problem.
So what’s next for me? Long term I want to write a guide book for TSM to help people who want to do it get started. I won’t go into more detail than that. But short term I want to host a weekly or twice weekly or even if needed daily Sinclair Method Podcast. I want to have guests on, I think I could have 50 episodes on just talking to all the TSM doctors in each state of the USA. I’d want to cover TSM news, have some fun, I’m sure there will be no shortage of material.
Thank you Gary for interviewing me, it’s been a blast.
…Thank you, Seth. It’s been fun. We should collaborate again some time. 🙂
The following article is what you might call an epistolary… an electronic “chain letter” (using instant messaging and e-mails) between myself and Lesa, a member of the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook forum, collected and re-edited here in a Q & A format.
…I like doing these types of things, I must say.
It makes a real change from the onus being just on boring ol’ me… and I like how it makes for a really organic article.
I pretty much just got lucky. I went to a 30 day in-house Rehab and AA and I couldn’t stop drinking.
I was a disaster and I felt like I was sinking further and further down.
A friend of mine who’s an avid AAer told me about naltrexone but didn’t know really what it did. I started researching and came across Dr. Roy Eskapa’s book, The Cure for Alcoholism. I read it and went to my doctor and asked her to prescribe it to me.
I didn’t even mention TSM because I was worried she wouldn’t give it to me. I was given the prescription and told not to drink but if I did it wouldn’t hurt me*. I started it right away.
[*Note: this is NOT the correct way to prescribe naltrexone for The Sinclair Method. The correct protocol is to advise the patient to take a naltrexone pill one hour before their first drink and not to take it on any days that the patient does not drink.]
[After a short break the conversation then picks up again a few days later by way of e-mail correspondence]
Hope you’re well. I’ve had an odd couple of days where I’ve not been able to find the motivation to do much (February is always like that for me – it’s just a dead month here in Hartlepool).
I’ve been thinking about my blog and I think that I might do a whole series of interviews like this with different people at different stages of recovery with TSM… why? Well, because I think readers are getting a bit bored of hearing “Gary’s story” all the time and would be grateful to hear other people’s points of view.
So… continuing on with our interview… I have a question for you: I note from your posts on the Your Choice, Your Recovery forum that you’re someone who very much supports medically assisted alcohol addiction treatments such as TSM as well as other stuff like baclofen and gabapentin, etc… and my question is what do you say to people who don’t support a biological model of alcohol addiction? What do you say to people who view it as “an illness of the soul” (a view supported by many AA members)? Or, for that matter, people who view alcoholism as a “choice” rather than a disease? (a view supported by some psychologists)
I have been dealing with this for a while now. AA is so infiltrated into our society no one wants to hear anything else.
“It sounds to good to be true!” or “Lesa, there’s no magic pills.”
So I respond like this, “If I go to my doctor and I tell him I am sad and nothing makes me happy, he’d probably diagnose me with depression. He wouldn’t tell me to “choose” to be happy and go find “God”.
That would be malpractice, especially if I committed suicide.
Yet, we live in society that is brainwashed into believing that if someone is alcoholic they need to find a “spiritual awakening” and “choose” not to drink.
It’s completely absurd!
There are medications that repair the eroded neuropathways from addiction and balance-out the neurotransmitters that cause anxiety and depression caused by alcoholism. I take Naltrexone as needed and Acamprosate to balance out the neurotransmitters. They are a great medication team to cut cravings and create homeostasis (balance) back to pre-addictive state.
It’s absolutely ridiculous we (TSM) folks are educating society on this scientifically proven and evidence based method to cure alcoholics instead of doctors. We really need to make a movement to help so many people suffering from alcoholism. Not only is society ignorant to these medications they fight the scientifically proven method! It’s pure madness.
…I think you’re right: ignoring an effective, safe and dignified treatment in favour of a less effective, antiquated one IS malpractice… it goes against the Hippocratic oath.
It’s like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.
I mean, it’s a question of human rights, surely? It’s like this: if there was a ground-breaking treatment for diabetes or cancer that was being denied to people there’d be an absolute uproar, but because TSM is for alcohol addiction it’s like nobody gives a sh*t about our rights – don’t you think?
That’s a great point. I am going to start using it. You’re right, if there was ground breaking medication for any major illness that was available and not used there would be an uproar. I am going to use this in my arguments with non-believers.
Here’s a question that I wanted to ask… I note that you work in law enforcement… and my question is this: would attending AA meetings not put you in a potentially very compromising position if you found yourself sitting in a room elbow-to-elbow with people you’ve previously arrested?
I mean, okay, there’s the “who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here” card and there’s the twelfth tradition… but in this age of social media you have AA members breaking their own traditions online all the time…
Actually that’s another dilemma I had to deal with in AA.
I am actually a sergeant in the jail which makes it even harder because you spend 40-60 hours a week with people who hate you. They love to get dirt on staff.
12% of AA members are court ordered so there’s no desire to keep that private. I live in a very small community in Northern California called Humboldt County. We have the second highest crime rate per capita in the State to only be beat by Oakland, California.
Most of the people who commit crimes are influenced by drugs and alcohol so as you can see going to a program or going to AA in my area can prove difficult. I had to go out of the area for rehab that was professional and first responder based to feel safe. AA meetings had many offenders and I found that made that support system even more ineffective for me as well.
So thank God for TSM and MAT (medication assisted treatment).
…So I notice from my newsfeed that you’ve set up a Facebook page. What can you tell us about that? This is very much inspired by what you’ve read in Roy Eskapa’s The Cure for Alcoholism and Linda Burlison’s A Prescription for Alcoholics, right?
I want to be a part of a movement that educates society on new approaches that treat addiction. I find it ridiculous that society is so brainwashed by AA. I know that it takes a strong person to be a linchpin but I think I am up to the challenge. I am inspired by several people: Claudia Christian, Dr. Roy Eskapa, Dr. David Sinclair (of course), Linda Burlison, Lance Dodes and you. Plus, all the many people who are willing to speak out against the masses and are making positive change. I really want to be a part of this movement and see real change.
I have dedicated my page, The Game Changer for AUD with Pharmacological Extinction (see HERE) to helping as many people as I can. I am currently working on a class dedicated to teaching people about the brain, addiction, alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) and medications used to control and cure the disease. I created and taught many classes for law enforcement and I am going to use those learned skills to teach my new passion TSM and MAT.
However, I am a novice blogger and Facebook page manager so I am still learning in that area.
On my page, I show and talk about books that not only talk about TSM and MAT but provides the proof of the statistics and the information that back it up. I also bring up issues and add some of my personal information and issues I’ve dealt with going against the grain.
I hope you join me and I look forward to creating my class and sharing it with all of you.
That sounds great!
I use WordPress as my blog platform, by the way. It’s a blogging platform/website builder that’s really user-friendly and really easy to learn. You don’t have to have any real experience with coding or anything like that to set up a decent looking website with WordPress.
…Okay, well I think we’ve just about come to the end of the road with this article, Lesa. Thank you so much for your input and long may your success with The Sinclair Method continue. Also, all the best with your new projects!
This has been a bit of a rubbish last month for me. I’ve really lacked the motivation to write anything and have just felt strangely at odds with a few different things and a few different people.
Which is not good, I know – but I get spells like this.
I dunno… maybe it’s my bipolar or maybe it’s just the poor weather getting to me. It’s also been exactly one year since the end of the trial and since my mum’s killer was caged, so the memory of that has been playing on my mind..
That said, the last couple of days have been quite interesting.
I’ve been doing a bit of reading and have reacquainted myself with a bit of AA history, reading up on the background of famous early atheist/agnostic members such as Jim Burwell and reading websites like AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief.
…So what’s prompted this research?
Well, I just got a most interesting comment from a gentleman called Edward on an old article of mine (see HERE) that discusses the possibility of splicing The Sinclair Method (TSM) into the DNA of the 12 Steps, substituting the words “God” and “Higher Power” with “pharmacological extinction”… and what Edward wrote about secularaa.org set off a whole chain of thought and curiosity with me about how someone would go about actually trying to set up a secular TSM-themed meeting. Just what exactly would be the protocol? …And just what sort of resistance to expect if you wished to become part of that whole ecosystem.
And – oh my word – as a result of this research I was quite shocked to have read the details about some of the discrimination that these groups have had to endure because of the intransigent and intolerant attitudes of brethren from traditionalist groups.
Of course I’d already heard about what happened in Canada (see HERE) with some secular AA groups being purged from meetings listings, but I had not read the finer details about what exactly had gone on there and I think that it’s absolutely scandalous how these groups have been treated.
But, on a positive note, it is encouraging to know that there are people in AA fighting this type of persecution and looking to try to bring AA into the 21st century and make their fellowship truly inclusive.
It really is a story of true heroism in my eyes because I have to give these guys real props for the stand they’ve made… and it also makes me think that when it comes to something like the idea of splicing The Sinclair Method into the 12 Steps there is potential for a real dialogue with such people to discuss how to go about charting such new, uncharted territory.
Okay, well I’m “talked out” all of a sudden; I guess that’s all I have to say for the moment, so I’ll say bye-bye for now and do some further reading, I think.
Since I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while, I thought that it was time for an update.
Aside from a few visits to the gym, binge-watching all four seasons of Halt and Catch Fire on Amazon Prime and playing some games on my new Xbox One X I’ve not been doing much, to be honest. I’ve had a really lazy start to 2018.
About the games I’ve been playing on the Xbox: I decided to go with Xbox exclusives such as Quantum Break and Gears of War 4. Whilst I completed Gears of War 4 (which is a relatively short 8 hour campaign), I have yet to complete Quantum Break… though I am keen to get back on it today as I’m intrigued by the time manipulation concept behind it and I think that the use of live action cut scenes used in a TV show type format is inspired.
You know, it’s interesting… given my interest in gaming I often find myself using gaming or tech analogies to describe things.
For example, when it comes to my experience with The Sinclair Method (TSM) and how it removed my craving for alcohol I’ll often explain it in terms of having received a software patch to “fix some bad code”… and I don’t think I’m alone… I notice that a lot of people on the forums fall into the habit of using techspeak in order to explain their experience of pharmacological extinction.
One of the most famous recent examples of this type of thing was Claudia Christian‘s TEDx speech at London Business School where she said that she “pressed Control, Alt and Delete” on her addiction thanks to TSM.
The fact that TSM offers a “software fix” that other treatment methods don’t does prompt interesting conversations, though.
I remember chatting with Jenny Williamson of the C3 Foundation a great deal about it at one point… the fact that the difference between The Sinclair Method and other treatment options such as the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is that theirs is a palliative approach all about managing the condition and finding ways to tip-toe around triggers, whereas ours offers an actual cure.
Okay, enough yapping, I think.
Time to grab a bite to eat and settle down for the night.
Alcoholics Anonymous is often held as the best way to cure an Alcoholic. Is Alcoholism a disease? – does AA work? – whats with all the religious stuff? Buck and Myles (the B team) are joined by Jon Stewart, he spent 14 years attending AA meetings but left and stayed sober. He tells the B […]
[Note from Gary: whoops… thanks to my unfamiliarity of how to share or reblog stuff on WordPress it’s in fact taken a couple of goes to get this right. Please do check out this podcast link. It’s really good – my friend Jon Stewart is on great, erudite form. I really like his statement “If you want self esteem you do esteemable things” and I can really relate to what he says about being stuck in the middle between between the AA Taliban and the anti-AAers.]
Hello dear reader. Well, I’m not sure how many posts I’ve got in me in the lead up to 2018… this may well be the last of 2017.
So what’s on my mind today?
Well, I’m just pondering upon something Quentin Tarantino once wrote about how, when it came to screenwriting, what he chose to omit was always just as important to him as what he would include.
Hmm… it’s interesting… I mean, Tarantino is certainly not the type of person that you think of as “Mr. Restraint”, but if you look at the original screenplay for his debut feature Reservoir Dogs it is a masterclass in lean economy; there’s not a speck of fat on that story and the fact that Tarantino leaves the very worst carnage in that story completely unshown (e.g. Mr. Blonde’s massacre in the jewellery store and the ear-slicing scene) makes it all the more powerful when left up to the imagination of the viewer.
“But what about all of the sweary dialogue and things like the silly Madonna monologue at the beginning of the film? Isn’t that completely gratuitous?” you might say, but I would argue otherwise; I would say that the uncouth dialogue and pop culture discussions that the characters engage in reveal volumes about their different personalities. They serve a real purpose.
For example, the unpopular views that Mr. Pink expresses on the etiquette of tipping (or rather not tipping) waitresses mark him out as a real individual and free thinker who doesn’t just follow the crowd and someone whose conscience is unburdened by the need to be particularly liked (a selfish streak that would in fact save his life through the course of the story, ironically enough).
Likewise, the fact that someone like Mr. White passionately sticks up for low paid waitresses demonstrates a person with clear empathy and compassion, sure, but later scenes where he talks racist trash about black people reveal the man to have a conflicted, contradictory sense of ethics at his core… something that really comes into play later on when the story becomes very much about White’s personal code of honour and how that impacts upon the fate of his colleague, the seriously injured Mr. Orange. This becomes the heart of the film, in fact. (***Note: since writing this I’ve had a rethink and I’ve come to the conclusion that “conflicted” is the wrong word to apply to Mr. White’s ethical rulebook. No… what I really meant to say is that, in terms of morality, he is a man who operates on a completely different code to most people… one that seems all about honour, but one that has some callous caveats which give licence to some pretty brutal behaviour.***)
As for the much-discussed Madonna monologue (by Tarantino himself in his role as Mr. Brown): well, that tells you that for all the character is intelligent enough to string together the words for a passionate (albeit vulgar) argument, his crude misinterpretation of Like a Virgin reveals a deeply immature, emotionally stunted man who likely resorted to a life of crime because his childish nature probably got him fired from every legit job he might have ever had.
“Okay then, Gary, you’ve droned on about Quentin Tarantino for the last six paragraphs – what does this have to do with anything?”, I hear you ask.
…Well, I’m just thinking about my process when it comes to blogging, really. As cathartic as it is to write these articles and as lengthy as they often are, believe it or not I often bin a lot of what I write; particularly my rants.
In fact I’ve written 2,000 word manifestos before today that I’ve thrown into the WordPress trashcan.
Because I feel some economy is important and I think that it’s too easy to get into the habit of writing about the things you hate all the time, particularly in a blog like this… and believe me, my frustrations are legion (especially when it comes to how unjust it is that people with Alcohol Use Disorder don’t have ready access to naltrexone and The Sinclair Method), but here’s the thing: if I were to let my anger overpower my emotional compass and if I just unleashed the beast then what example of supposed “recovery” does that really give?
No. I consciously choose a different path to lazy fireband polemics on here.
I choose love rather than hate.
Not that I’m a saint, mind. I don’t completely self-censor myself – hey, my writing on here is littered with words like “fuck” and “shit”… but the point is I am getting better with self-restraint and I think that makes me a better writer.
I think that another reason why I don’t turn this blog into The Orange Papers: Part Two is (a) because there’s enough blogs like that already out there, and (b) I’d like to think that I could actually strike up a reasonable conversation with any members of Alcoholics Anonymous on here without unnecessarily insulting them.
Rudeness is not the way to persuade anyone, I feel… and a little bit of courtesy goes a long way – even when you disagree with someone.
So that’s my thought for the day.
As for what else I’ve been up to: well, I got into the gym today and spoke to my trainer, setting up a new post-Christmas training regimen for myself that’s going to be truly brutal.
I also want to start the ball rolling with some driving lessons; something that’s been on my to-do list for too long and that has been a real impediment to my getting back into employment, given the number of jobs that require a clean driving licence – not having one has proven really limiting.
And, last but not least, I finally finished watching the last season of The Strain… which was good, though didn’t quite live up to the promise of the novels (though I do think that some of the changes made from the source material were bold, ballsy choices).
Okay, well that’s me done until whenever.
Have a safe and happy festive holiday, guys.
Peace and love,
P.S. Just on the subject of Madonna… not a huge fan, but I have always had a guilty appreciation for this track. It’s a mushy ballad, I know… but i can’t help liking what I like; one of her better earlier ones, that’s for sure. By the way, I can’t get over how young Matthew Modine looks in this video – flipping ‘eck! …He’s changed a lot between this and Stranger Things:
Someone remind me… how does that saying go – “God laughs when people make plans”, right?
Pheeeew. What a day.
After finding out that my good friend Frank was ill and thus unable to accompany me today I resolved to go it alone. Which worked out fine for the most part except that (a) I should have set off to the National Portrait Gallery much earlier in the day (because the traffic was mental by the time I got into central London by train) and (b) I shouldn’t have listened to some advice from someone about how Charing Cross is “easy walking distance” from Cannon Street Station.
Yup, I got a bit lost.
“Thank God for Google Maps” is all I have to say, because after having walked around for what seemed like forever I finally made it to the National Portrait Gallery.
It was worth the effort, as it turned out, because I loved the art on display by the likes of Lucian Freud, John Singer Sargent and many other famous artists.
My most striking observation of the NPG, though, is that the very best portraits were of celebrities, not royalty… all of which were technically very good paintings (often painted at an imposing scale) but which lacked the charm and personality of portraits such as the ones of Elton John and Paul McCartney that I saw.
I’m just sad that I didn’t get to attend an AA meeting as I’d planned, but the fact is I elected to come straight back to Mike’s place after visiting the National Portrait Gallery because it was getting quite late in the afternoon and I’d been warned how bad getting back home can be come rush hour.
Now to get set for the church service tomorrow… which is going to be an emotional day, since it’s going to be all about remembering my mum; that’s the main reason why I came to London, after all.
Christ, this has been a long, dreary year. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.
Maybe this event tomorrow will give some form of catharsis… I don’t know… “closure” does not exist as far as I’m concerned; but I’m glad that I’m there to represent my mum, all the same.
Okay, well that’s enough gabbing from me for now. Time to get settled for the night.
Peace and love,
P.S. There is an exhibition of Cezanne’s work on at the NPG at the moment, but I decided that £18 for a ticket was a bit much. I like Cezanne, but I don’t like Cezanne that much!
“Did you order a taxi?”, said the voice on the other end of the line.
I groggily confirmed that I had indeed ordered a taxi the day before, shitting myself at the sudden realisation that I’d slept in.
“Well, we just buzzed your property and someone said that they hadn’t ordered a taxi”.
Then a pause.
“Okay, we’ll sort it; we’ll send another driver out”.
And that’s how this trip to London almost never began before it even started, dear reader.
10:30 a.m. (ish)
…And I’m standing in King’s Cross Square filming this on my Samsung phone:
Actually, upon walking around the sculpture, I don’t think it’s a cock at all… it has a nipple thing going on if anything.
Whatever. In any case, I’m pleased that I’ve got there okay after the three hour train ride and I text my friend the fellow blogger Michael Dempsey (of Recovering from Recovery fame).
I like London – so different to the goldfish bowl that is Hartlepool where everything and everyone seems to move so slooowly; now this is more my speed.
Amusingly, a chav accuses me of being a homeless person as he and his dickhead friends walk past.
Crikey, I knew that I was a bit unkempt that morning, but come on! Haha.
…As for the rest of the day, it’s a bit of a blur after I meet up with Michael. Tiredness started to set in quite badly by mid afternoon. But, as ever, it’s great to see Michael and catch up.
We have a walk around central London for a bit and the tour helps give me an idea of where I need to be for the special service commemorating victims of murder on Saturday.
A good day overall, despite the poor start.
Tomorrow/today I intend to get along to the National Portrait Gallery and visit an AA meeting – just because I’ve never attended a meeting in the capital and I have a feeling that it might be quite fun. Besides, it’s about time I claimed my chips.
Hey, why not?
The day closes with fish and chips and then coffee back at Mike’s place. Overall, it’s been a fun day spent in good company, but I am a little whacked. Time to retire.
And with that, I bid you adieu for now dear reader.