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Always Get Better   

More Details on the 'American Model of Chemical Health Improvement'

AA Alternatives - American Alternative Approaches

John Brantner/Andrew Weil/Edwin Land – Alternative Joy

     The desire for intoxication/euphoria is an essential need; chemical induced intoxication is an easily available way to achieve pleasure, creativity, rapture, love, transcendence; more natural/personal skills ways of gaining joy and relief is a better than chemical use as it improves/enhances personal competency; best to have several ways that we can intoxicate ourselves than to be dependent on one or a few.

1. Become involved/immersed in activities that are not associated with past use

2. Learn how to explore new activities and competencies of life

3. Find other ways to get ‘high/relief’ that do not include use

4. Use meditation or other similar activity to ‘be in the moment’ and to ‘tune out and tune in’

5. Increase ability to do things by yourself, spend more ‘alone time’ that does not involve use

6. Learn to ‘drop out of everyday life’ alternatively and more constructively

Stanton Peele – Life Process Program

     Healthy habits expand awareness, lead to other involvements, increase self esteem, bring more pleasure/satisfaction than pain, are lasting/constructive, are pleasing to others around us and contain variety. We become addicted (unable to stop) habits even when they ‘turn negative’ and begin to eradicate awareness, hurt other involvements, lower self esteem, more painful than pleasurable, is objectionable to those around us and is ‘the same old thing’. Addictions are more predictable/familiar experiences that we repeatedly ‘turn to’ to rather than try and develop new habits of personal growth.

1. See yourself as an active participant in creating the problem and the solution

2. Determine values, personal strengths/characteristics and use them to make for change

3. Connect with proper people and disconnect from improper people

4. Become actively involved in making the community better (in any way).

5. Lead a purposeful/constructive life rather than an addictive/enslaved life

Jean Kirkpatrick – Women/Men For Sobriety

A focus on competencies and strengths is more helpful in overcoming addiction-type problems. Being positive and more appreciative in thinking is essential to notice the small changes/improvements that are a routine part of people who change in a ‘progressive way’. Focusing on nature for 10 minutes a day is a helpful form of mindful meditation.  

1. Find helpful ways to think about yourself and your problem

2. State that ‘I have inadvertently created an unruly appetite (or need)’

3. Be aware that the appetite/need speaks as an ‘Addictive Voice’ that advocates for ITself – not for YOU. Temptations come from IT – commitment comes from ME

4. Ambivalence is a continuing problem that keeps me interested in the addiction and away from achieving change.

5. Use a ‘Big Plan’ – increase commitment to eliminate ambivalence (ie ‘I will not participate in the addiction ever again, under any circumstances – no matter what’

Tom Horvath – SMART Recovery

Cravings and temptations are a result of repeated involvements with alcohol/drugs (or anything else).

The cravings will reduce over time if you stop participation. Cravings are not intolerable and you do not need to act on them – even those that are so strong that it seems our survival is at stake. Cravings need to be taught to enjoy alternatives. Unhelpful, severe emotions will trigger cravings so better mental/emotional health management of self is needed.

1. Strive to be Independent from Addictions
2. Increase and Sustain Motivation to Abstain/Avoid/Eliminate
3. Improve Management of Unhelpful Emotions
4. Get Better at Preventing and Treating Temptations/Cravings
5. Find Alternative Ways to Achieve Momentary Pleasures/Enduring Satisfactions

Bob Muscala – Personal Chemical Health

Each individual has their own chemical health that is derived from their family (genetics, ethnicity, values and practices) as well as from modeling/encouragements of their friends, communities and cultures. We individually develop ideas of the right/wrong things to do with chemicals (social, prescription illicit and over the counter drugs). We develop our own unique chemical health preferences and we tend to seek out others who are similar to our own. We ‘develop’ a chemical health as a child, adolescent and young adult thru experimentation and exposure to the ‘chemical health of others’. Many of us develop more permanent chemical health thoughts and behaviors. When we need to change – and have difficulty doing so – we are ‘addicted’ to an old chemical health and having trouble developing a new one.

1. I realize that my chemical health has been shaped by my genetics and my environment

2. My thoughts about what is ‘right/wrong’ chemical health is as important as what ‘I do with chemicals’

3. All of us tend to have a chemical health that is similar to those around us

4. When we seek out a more individual chemical health, we depart from the CH ideas of those around us and seek out new persons with different CH ideas and behaviors.

5. If I am having difficulty changing my chemical health it’s often because I don’t want to be different from the people I have been the closest to

6. I can be addicted to an old chemical health and resistant to trying a new one

Note regarding definition of ADDICTION – Addiction is measured in three ways. The first is the extent to which our bodies have become physically dependent and will have withdrawal symptoms when we stop an activity. The second way addiction can be characterized is the extent of difficulty we are having in making for change EVEN THOUGH WE WANT TO. The third way is to grasp the degree of thoughts, urges, cravings, thoughts/plans, desires/preferences we have to return to the activity once we have left an ‘old way’ (partially or fully). We all have a unique set of habits and preferences. Changing a person's addictive patterns (by definition) is difficult. We all treasure our own way of doing things (which used to work). We are reluctant to "take on" any alternatives even though it might be 'good for us'.

Anne Fletcher – Sober For Good/Inside Rehab

No one program is effective for very many people. The best program is to sample the techniques and ideas of a variety of approaches and decide what is best for you. An increase in personal competency is needed to succeed at changing a troubling/addictive chemical health. Listen to people who have succeeded at change to learn what it took for them.

My chemical health problem is different from others – I am unique and use a personal program of change that incorporates the ideas of others.

James Prochaska – Changing For Good

Personal change is difficult for everyone (chemical health, diets and other lifestyle habits). Most people avoid change because it is frustrating and complex. Change is easier when you realize that there are several ‘stages of change’ that need to be mastered and you give yourself credit for ‘advancing’ rather than only for ‘ultimately succeeding’. Stages include denial, contemplation, preparation, commitment, action, maintenance and finally the achievement of a new effective way of living.

I may not be where I want to be – but I’m a hell of a lot better off than I used to be.  

Alan Marlatt – Lapse Containment and Relapse Prevention

A lapse is a partial return to the ‘old way’. A relapse is a longer/more complete ‘return to the previous condition’. A lapse happens in a moment – a relapse occurs over days/weeks. A lapse is a temporary loss of conviction/determination to move forward. A relapse is a more permanent loss of desire to move forward. A lapse is something you feel badly about and apologize for. A relapse happens when you change your mind and now believe ‘the old way is best’, you are defensive and feel entitled to continue.

I may lapse in my effort to change – but I will never relapse. The old way is the wrong way.

Anti-Addiction Medication Treatments

Regular use of intoxicating chemicals makes for permanent changes in the neuro-biochemistry of the brain that cause us to be repeatedly attracted to use. Cravings, appetites and desires for continued use are a result of the changes made to brain chemistry. Medication treatment allow us to reduce craving and reduce the effects of alcohol/drug use to make it easier for us to change.

It is in my best interests to talk with my physician about any medications that might help me to change.

 Other Models Used With Clients/Families

  • HARM Reduction
  • Moderation Methods
  • Measured Independent Recovery
  • Seculars on Sobriety/Life Ring
  • Technological Advances
  • Leverage Compliance
  • Client Centered Motivations
  • Therapeutic Communities
  • Effective Involved Others(EIO)-CRAFT

Best National AA 

Alternative Sites

Dr. Stanton Peele, Ph.D


Rational Recovery

SMART Recovery

Women For Sobriety

Moderation Management