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Well, after being badgered by the doctor every time I saw him at the ARC, I finally relented to attend one group session, in return for sorting my prescription out - which it has yet and I will take great pleasure in letting him know that one kept their end of the bargain and one didn't.
So, I went this morning, one and a half hours. The group wasn't as bad a mix as I had feared or been warned. Obviously you have to allow for the fact that people are attending for a reason that may affect their lives somewhat.
I'll give you the short version. The was eight of us including me, plus the guy taking it, who was and ex-recovery person of the ARC - peer grouping they refer to it as.
There was probably four of us that spoke and the other half pretty much didn't say a thing, which is okay, because not every one is comfortable with it. Somebody had also had a stroke and been to the same rehab hospital, it was nice to actually have met someone for the first time, that has also been through it, although it was nothing to do with alcohol.
Interestingly, two of three had been on a residential detox, with a follow up residential rehabilitation and there was a third going on it in a couple of weeks. I know I asked about this when I first went to the other branch and was told no way, too expensive and I don't qualify. The fact that I'd been in hospital and I said surrounding factors influence me, like a good country pub 30 yards from my driveway, that it would be better if I was taken out of my normal routine and environment, counted for nothing.
I think a lot of these people become institutionalised. They're almost taught that they have to forget every thing and follow a new way, and the number of people who introduced themselves as 'XXXX' an alcoholic, abstinent for 'x' months or years. I felt like saying, if you're not drinking alcohol, you no longer meet the definition of an alcoholic.
I just introduced myself and said, like others, I have had an issue with alcohol. If someone had tried to say I'm an alcoholic, I would have just said that I reject any tags to describe myself that fit in with the current meme and that I view myself as a person and defining myself as an alcoholic, almost condemns me to failure from the start.
Althougth the guy running the course was careful not to knock the AA, he was quite clear that it hadn't worked for him and that it might work for a limited audience.
Back to the institutionalised, I believe some were there as part of their probation and I think a high percentage were not working and in receipt of benefits. I say this because a number said they attended every week, and quite a number were staying for the afternoon meeting of mindfulness. I thought, don't you have things to do?
They seemed to have swapped dependency on alcohol, to dependecy on groupthink. I felt that this way of life had now become a normality and that if these meetings were taken away from them, they would immediately return to alcohol. They somehow had lost their independence, they seemed happy to be stuck in this loop, with no defined plan, on how to get better, move on and go back to normailty.
Someone was on Antabuse, and my blood started to boil. He had been on it for a course of a few months and wanted to extend it. He had already managed to drink on it and make himself ill. He complained that they were hesitant to represcribe it and that what was wrong if it was stopping him drinking. I had to speak up and say because you are doing substitution dependence. I had a prescription in my bag of Campral, how I wanted to take it out, hand it to him and say, try that.
I then went on to talk about why people were having problems, shaky hands etc - central nervous system fecked. Why people were struggling with willpower, because your neural pathways have changed etc. I could go on and er... I did. I said there is medication to help you, I use it and it works for me.
They seem to feed off each other, happy to talk about the same old things, patting everyone on the head for a month off the beer. I felt like saying, how many people move on from this, how many get their life back together and go back to normal.
I felt like saying. Who's got a plan, a detox, followed by medication and a system to keep you way from temptation. Surely coming here every week is just reminding you of what's wrong, not how you're going to fix it. Have you set goals, time frames, ability to measure progress and what plan if it doesn't happen. How will you measure success, have yout got a finsih marker that when you get there you can move on.
That's about as condensed an hour and a half as I can.
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