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Alcoholics and Drug Addicts Don’t Lose Control – EVER!

How about that!?

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People with substance use issues – no matter how severe – do not lose control of their consumption, ever. This is a bold statement, and you may not believe it. We have to be careful here because we need to understand what control means when I say a person doesn’t lose it. We are not talking about motor functions when drunk or high. Obviously if you drink enough or drug enough there will be a loss or a modification of physical motor function. If we are nearing overdose levels, we might say the individual is losing control of their body’s normal functions. I don’t disagree with this self evident reality. But what I’m specifically referring to when I say “lose control” is that the individual loses the ability to stop themselves from taking another hit, dose, or drink; that they are compelled to continue use beyond their mental and emotional capacity to say no to taking in more substances. In the book, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the pioneering addiction researcher, Dr. Alan Marlatt is quoted describing this myth:

“Adherents of the disease model posit that the alcoholic’s ingestion of any alcohol activates an underlying addictive craving for more alcohol that is impossible to resist. According to this approach, it is impossible for alcoholics to ever control their drinking.”

Again, the idea expressed in Marlatt’s quote – the idea of a loss of control – is a myth.

The book continues…

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“In the quote above, Marlatt is describing Alcoholics Anonymous’ theory that alcoholics have an allergy to alcohol whereby any ingestion of any amount of alcohol begets a physiological response that then causes further unstoppable involuntary drinking. It’s summed up in the slogan “one drink equals a drunk,” and by the general belief that once a so-called addict or alcoholic starts drinking, they cannot stop using until they are forced to by some force or condition outside themselves. The same logic was also eventually applied to other drugs.

This theory is the basis of the widely believed myth that moderation is impossible for those deemed to be addicts. If true, it means that addicts have only two options for substance use – either abstain or use substances recklessly and disastrously. One good thing about this theory is that it’s coherently stated and lays out clearly testable terms. The theory states that addicts and alcoholics have some biological/genetic flaw that causes the allergic/loss of control reaction, and that choice is not possible once a drug enters the system of an addiction victim.

Think of what happens when someone with a nut allergy eats a dish without realizing that it contains nuts. It’s very simple, their symptoms occur regardless of their knowledge. They may swell up, have trouble breathing, and even go into shock. If “uncontrolled” drinking/drugging is the same sort of biological reaction, then we can test it by giving an addict their problem drug without their knowledge and see what happens. If they respond by relentlessly seeking the drug, or express a sudden burst of intense craving, then there’s something to the theory. If not, then it can’t be a physiological reaction like an allergy, and there must be something else going on. This is exactly what Marlatt did in a now legendary 1973 experiment. Here’s how one review summed up the simple experiment:

“Nonabstinent alcoholics and social drinkers were given either alcoholic (vodka and tonic) or nonalcoholic beverages (tonic only) in a taste-rating task. In each condition, half the subjects expected to drink alcohol and half tonic. Consumption increased only when subjects expected alcohol, regardless of actual beverage content.” (Marlatt, 1985)

The test subjects had access to pitchers full of the drinks from which they were told they could have as much as they wanted. The researchers came up with a mixture of alcohol that could not be detected by taste. If the allergy model were true, then the presence of alcohol in the mixture should have resulted in more drinking. In fact, consumption only increased when test subjects were led to believe they were drinking alcohol, but it did not increase when they were led to believe they weren’t drinking alcohol. This gets right to the core of the idea of an allergy-based loss of control and disproves it. Again, someone with a nut allergy doesn’t need to know that they’ve eaten nuts to have the allergic reaction – yet an alcoholic does need to know that they’ve had alcohol in order to react “alcoholically.”

This experiment wasn’t the first of its kind; it was just one variation of several “priming dose” experiments carried out since the 1960s. They’re called priming dose studies because the addict is “primed” with a first dose, and then his response to that “first drink/hit” is observed and measured. Remember, the theory goes that a single drink or hit is supposed to trigger uncontrollable craving and substance use, and that the “addict/alcoholic” has no choice in the matter after that point.

The earliest priming dose experiment mentioned in the research literature was carried out in 1966. Here it is as described by Nick Heather and Ian Robertson in Controlled Drinking, a book which covered many such studies:

“…nine inpatients diagnosed as gamma alcoholics with loss of control were given one fluid ounce of vodka disguised in orange juice and presented to subjects as a vitamin drink at breakfast. Pilot work had established that the presence of vodka in the mixture was impossible to detect. In the control condition a similar proportion of water replaced vodka in the mixture. Subjects acted as their own controls and were given either mixture in two-day sequences over sixteen days. During the late morning of each day of the experiment subjects were asked to record any degree of craving experienced on a simple five-point scale (no craving, slight, moderate, strong, very strong craving) by nursing staff who were unaware of the purpose of the experiment and of the fact that alcohol was being secretly administered to patients. The results showed no difference in average craving scores between the alcoholic and nonalcoholic mixtures. There was also no significant difference in the number of occasions when any craving was experienced; indeed, there were slightly more such occasions following the nonalcoholic mixture.” (p.97)

In this variation of the experiment, the test subjects didn’t have direct access to more alcohol, but the desire for alcohol (craving) was measured and didn’t increase after the first drink. So now we see both parts of the equation represented in two controlled experiments. When alcoholics don’t realize they’ve taken alcohol, they don’t crave more, nor do they actually drink more when given the chance. Several other experiments with slightly different designs all show the same basic results, which are, plainly stated, that alcohol doesn’t pharmacologically trigger increased craving and drinking. Where the increase is seen, it’s a product of expectancies and other cognitive factors – not biology. Drinkers are craving and choosing as a result of what they think and believe, which means that they’re choosing.”

If we face the facts that this research so clearly represents, the only conclusion we can come up with is that anyone with a drinking or drug problem can stop or moderate their use, at will, and that they do so when they see that it is the happier option than continuing heavy use. This research also eliminates the addiction disease argument, as without a loss of control, which is the main characteristic of the addiction disease model; there isn’t much for that theory to hang its hat upon. And in the final analysis, all of this opens the door to freedom; the freedom to choose what’s best for ourselves without the need for any of the disease-based treatment, rehabs, or recovery. You really can just decide to change your habits, and then move on.

If you want to know more about becoming free whether that’s through abstinence or moderate use, you can get your free abridged copy of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap at The Freedom Model’s website here www.thefreedommodel.org

Call 888-424-2626 to talk with us.

If you would like to get away and learn the Freedom Model with a certified FM Instructor in a residential retreat setting at The Saint Jude Retreat, call the number above, or go to www.soberforever.net
If you want to learn about The Freedom Model Private Instruction Program, a program you take from the safety and comfort of home, go to www.leaveaddictionbehind.com

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

Freedom Model

You CAN Move Past an Addiction

…a message to those who feel hopeless

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There is a difference between struggling “one day at a time” in recovery and moving on from an addiction; there’s a big difference. We’ve been taught that once you’re an addict, you’ll always be an addict. This is not true. However, should you believe this, it becomes your truth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So called addicts and alcoholics moderate their use with surprising frequency (for example, 50% of all “alcoholics” eventually moderate their drinking to non-problematic levels whether they’ve been treated or not – NESARC, 2005). While the facts are what they are – and they are very encouraging – people are woefully ignorant of these hopeful and empowering facts.

Here’s the truth; beliefs can change; and lives change when our beliefs do. Once I realized I’d been lied to and I found that alcohol and drugs were not the “cunning, baffling, powerful” agents they were said to be, I could easily choose better for myself. I didn’t need extra willpower, more strength, or any kind of special recovery formula once I realized that drugs were substances, not living, breathing, motivated entities bent on my destruction.

This bizarre and fictitious personified view of drugs as an all-powerful entity was one of the myths that caused me to fear them, and in turn, I feared the inevitable “triggered relapse” as well. That’s what fear based mythology can do. It keeps you trapped in the relapse loop. Even the word “relapse” makes a connotation to the “disease of addiction” myth. There are dozens of ways the treatment and recovery models have instilled this myth based fear throughout its messaging. The question is why?

Treatment and Recovery are about Control

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It’s all about control. A free thinking, freely choosing individual cannot be controlled because the center of that individual’s problem solving capability lies directly inside of them. As humans, our autonomous nature makes us immune to being manipulated, as long as you have the facts. In order for treatment and/or recovery to be necessary, the idea of self-efficacy needs to be extinguished. That can only be done by creating a straw man called the disease of addiction. A disease is, by its very definition, out of one’s control. And because of this defining characteristic, that same afflicted individual must find an outside power, force or method to combat the disease; much like chemotherapy in a cancer victim’s scenario.

The autonomous individual with full knowledge that addiction IS NOT a disease can therefore move past their “addiction” (we call it more accurately, a preference for heavy use) with seeming ease. They can make an internal choice to moderate or abstain that does not require an outside treatment of any kind to be made or supported. No need for recovery either, because without a disease present, there is nothing to recover from.

Now, we are not saying people don’t have serious issues with heavy use. This is why we call it problematic use. We also do not miss the fact that some people might even need to be physically detoxed from their drug of choice. These facts however, sit outside the scope of what we are talking about in this article. The “disease of addiction” we are referencing here is the idea that a person is compelled beyond their mindful will to use drugs and alcohol, and that an outside force called treatment is needed to solve that lack of will. That definition of addiction – as a disease of the mind – is absolutely incorrect. And, if we correct that definition to the following: addiction is a preference for heavy use as determined by the powers of reason in the mind of the individual, and only the individual can change that preference internally, then we bring the solution back where it belongs, inside the mind of the individual. Free will either exists or it doesn’t. Either you are a being capable of choosing or you are not. The treatment world wants you to believe you can choose certain aspects of your life (like the choice to go to treatment) but not have the power of choice in regards to the use of drugs and alcohol. But here is the problem with that – you cannot have it both ways. Either free will exists or it doesn’t. When you think about it, you know that the existence of free will is self evident – you are choosing to read this article right now. You’re a chooser.

Are you ready to move on from an adfdiction for good? Are you ready to moderate or abstain? Are you ready to own your use and its trade-offs? Are you ready to seek the truth to make these kinds of decisions? If so, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap is the book to read and study. In it, all the addiction myths are exposed, and the researched truth provided. Moving on from an addiction is a wonderful and amazing event. I hope you take the time to learn the truth as I did. My life is amazing, and yours can be too!

If you or someone you love are ready to break free from the addiction and recovery trap and move on, call us at 888-424-2626.

For more information about The Freedom Model go to TheFreedomModel.org

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

There is a difference between struggling “one day at a time” in recovery and moving on from an addiction; there’s a big difference. We’ve been taught that once you’re an addict, you’ll always be an addict. This is not true. However, should you believe this, it becomes your truth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So called addicts and alcoholics moderate their use with surprising frequency (for example, 50% of all “alcoholics” eventually moderate their drinking to non-problematic levels whether they’ve been treated or not – NESARC, 2005). While the facts are what they are – and they are very encouraging – people are woefully ignorant of these hopeful and empowering facts. Here’s the truth; beliefs can change; and lives change when our beliefs do. Once I realized I’d been lied to and I found that alcohol and drugs were not the “cunning, baffling, powerful” agents they were said to be, I could easily choose better for myself. I didn’t need extra willpower, more strength, or any kind of special recovery formula once I realized that drugs were substances, not living, breathing, motivated entities bent on my destruction. This bizarre and fictitious personified view of drugs as an all-powerful entity was one of the myths that caused me to fear them, and in turn, I feared the inevitable “triggered relapse” as well. That’s what fear based mythology can do. It keeps you trapped in the relapse loop. Even the word “relapse” makes a connotation to the “disease of addiction” myth. There are dozens of ways the treatment and recovery models have instilled this myth based fear throughout its messaging. The question is why? Treatment and Recovery are about Control It’s all about control. A free thinking, freely choosing individual cannot be controlled because the center of that individual’s…

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Freedom Model

Am I An Addict?

Objective Truth vs. Subjective ‘Truth’

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With so much talk about heavy substance use increasing as a result of the pandemic lockdowns, there are many people wondering if they may have crossed the line from reasonable substance use to “addiction”. Rates of serious emotional problems such as depression and anxiety are skyrocketing across the country as a result of people being locked in their homes and many are using alcohol and other drugs to try and get some relief. But is this increasing demographic now officially suffering from addiction? Are these millions of people now doomed to lifetime of addiction treatment, meetings, and perpetual struggle? Let me answer this straight – absolutely not.

In the book, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, we discuss the concept of addiction as the following:

The very concept of addiction – whether it’s called a disease, a disorder, or something else – says that some people (i.e. “addicts & alcoholics”) are enslaved to the behavior of substance use in some way. That is, they cross some line where they are no longer actively choosing to use substances of their own free will, but instead are compelled to use substances. It’s also said that they are unable to stop themselves from using once they start (they experience a loss of control); that they are unable to stop wanting to use substances (they experience craving); that all of this just happens without their consent (that they’re triggered by various things and feelings); and finally, that they’re in for a lifetime of struggling with their demons (the “chronic relapsing disease” and “ongoing recovery.”)

This definition is a construct of the treatment industry – in other words, it’s made up. But because it has been repeated for nearly eight decades, it has become truth to believers. I was once a believer myself. I felt compelled to drink and drug. I believed addiction was something that happened to me. I felt that I was “powerless”. I felt that I would lose control after the first beer, hit or shot. I felt addicted, and I’ve since met tens of thousands who do as well.

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Objective Truth vs. Subjective “Truth”

There is a difference between an objective truth and a subjective “truth”. An objective truth is the kind of reality that takes human opinion and feelings and throws them out the window. It just looks at the merits of the facts and we determine what the truth is based on that foundation. A subjective perception is just that, a perception or opinion-laden perspective. The concept of addiction, as defined above, is fully subjective, it is not grounded in fact. But because the idea that people are addicted – that addiction happens to them – is so oft repeated in our society today, it seems as if it is an objective truth. This definition of addiction is then taken as fact, and so the fear of becoming addicted becomes very real. It might even feel real to you personally or someone you know. The good news is once you know the facts, you can let go of this powerlessness narrative, and move on with your life without an “addiction.” In essence you can become truly objective about the subject.

What is Addiction Really?

Objectively speaking, what we think of as an addiction is a habitual preference for heavy use. We use heavily based on our perception that drugs and alcohol provide certain personal benefits. In the COVID scare, these benefits might include the belief that substances cure boredom, anxiety, depression and trauma. If we believe drugs can provide this relief, we will habitually prefer them and crave them.

But a subjective want (or a craving) is different than an objective need. In the conventional subjective definition of addiction as a disease or disorder, the “addict” is told they will always crave and need the substance for these magical qualities of relief. They are further told that they will always need substances to solve these human problems. Further still, the addiction model says that the COVID scare causes them to feel this way, and that their need for the substances becomes enormous and only intense treatment can stop the cravings and the desires for consistent use.

Moving Past the Lies

So how does someone get past the lies? What is the objective truth? Is addiction an unstoppable disease that requires lifelong treatment and struggle? Or is it a preference that can change – even in an environment defined by a pandemic?

The answer is the latter. You do not have a disease of addiction – the disease model of addiction was created to make an efficient path for third party reimbursement of drug and alcohol related medical and psychiatric needs. In other words the disease concept created a way for health insurance providers to pay the treatment and rehab industry for its services, it’s creation had nothing to do with whether, in fact, a disease existed. What you have is not a disease, but rather a preference for heavy use that you might choose to call “addiction.” That preference is based on the perception that drinking and drugging can somehow help you cope with the COVID scare and shutdowns. Substances can’t do that of course, but if you belief they can, then the belief will drive further heavy use.

Know this – you are not powerless. You are not compelled to use substances by an outside force called addiction. Your feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness are learned. You have reasons for your belief that substances provide benefits to you. But equally important is the truth that you can change your point of view and see that stopping or moderating your use might have more benefits than trying to cope by using drugs and alcohol heavily.

In short, addiction is what you make it. You can choose to see it as an unstoppable outside force that creates havoc in your life. You can even see it as a solution to boredom, worry, depression, trauma and anxiety, making heavy use seem so much more necessary than it actually is. Or, you can see it as a temporary habit you’ve created yourself. You can challenge the benefits you see in heavy use. You can challenge the idea that heavy use solves depression, anxiety and trauma. You can decide to deal with your human struggles without the idea that substances need to be front and center in solving them.

Let Go of the Construct of Addiction

Addiction, seen as a powerless state of mind is a construct meant to lead you to endless treatment. Let go of these myths! It is time to move on from this narrative, and challenge all the benefits you see in using. The benefits of not using or moderating far outweigh believing you are powerless and addicted. Once you come to grips with this objective truth, you will never use heavily again – even in the COVID era.

If you or someone you love are ready to break free from the addiction and recovery trap and move on, call us at 888-424-2626.

For more information about The Freedom Model go to TheFreedomModel.org

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

With so much talk about heavy substance use increasing as a result of the pandemic lockdowns, there are many people wondering if they may have crossed the line from reasonable substance use to “addiction”. Rates of serious emotional problems such as depression and anxiety are skyrocketing across the country as a result of people being locked in their homes and many are using alcohol and other drugs to try and get some relief. But is this increasing demographic now officially suffering from addiction? Are these millions of people now doomed to lifetime of addiction treatment, meetings, and perpetual struggle? Let me answer this straight – absolutely not. In the book, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, we discuss the concept of addiction as the following: The very concept of addiction – whether it’s called a disease, a disorder, or something else – says that some people (i.e. “addicts & alcoholics”) are enslaved to the behavior of substance use in some way. That is, they cross some line where they are no longer actively choosing to use substances of their own free will, but instead are compelled to use substances. It’s also said that they are unable to stop themselves from using once they start (they experience a loss of control); that they are unable to stop wanting to use substances (they experience craving); that all of this just happens without their consent (that they’re triggered by various things and feelings); and finally, that they’re in for a lifetime of struggling with their demons (the “chronic relapsing disease” and “ongoing recovery.”) This definition is a construct of the treatment industry – in other words, it’s made up. But because it has been repeated for nearly eight decades, it has become truth to believers. I was once…

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