A Letter To Bill Moyers About His PBS Series, "Close
To Home," Addictions, and PBS
Mr. Bill Moyers
356 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Moyers:
I congratulate you for what you are trying to do concerning addictions.
I particularly appreciate your taking the personal risk of exposing
yourself and your family to possible public humiliation and scorn
by the anti-addict people who are quite numerous. There is no
question that we need a quantum change in our societal attitudes
about addictions. However, this change must occur in the context
of the correct paradigm of addictions.
I myself have been an addict in A.A. recovery for over 20 years
and have been studying addictions seriously for about 7 years.
I watched you and your family interviewed on Oprah, MSNBC, and
Larry King. I have also seen your web site and your PBS shows
on addictions. You have a fairly good grasp of the present addiction
paradigm. I also watched you struggle with the answers to several
questions asked of you by interviewers. The reason for your inability
to answer the difficult questions, especially the ones such as,
"Why do some people end up addicts and others do not?"
is that the addiction paradigm you have bought into can't answer
these questions. I heard your answers concerning what you consider
the etiology of addictions, THE HIJACKED BRAIN, and all the biology
surrounding this concept. This concept, however, doesn't hold
water. The basic biology is correct, but the implications of
that biology are completely missed. This concept cannot and never
will be able to explain many animal experiments, many human addiction
experiences and occurrences, and especially the true nature of
addictions. For example, why do certain inbred strains of mice
and rats always become addicted when exposed to mood-altering
drugs and other strains never get addicted when exposed to the
same drugs? Why aren't the brains of all strains of rodents hijacked?
Why don't all humans who get physically addicted to opiates (when
treated with them for chronic painful conditions), for example,
remain addicts after they get off the medications? Some of them
will, but most won't. (The ones that will, have the disease which
my paradigm explains while their paradigm doesn't.) Why aren't
all their brains hijacked? The nature of the physiology of the
brain prior to the experience is the key to these answers,
not the nature of the physiology of the brain after the experiences.
Moreover, the "hijacked brain" concept certainly doesn't
fit with all the other non-substance addictions such as gambling
addiction, "compulsive" overeating, sex addiction, self-mutilation,
workaholism, shopping addiction, religion and superstition addiction,
people addiction (so-called co-dependency), and many more. What
hijacked these peoples' brains? Addicts' brains are hijacked all
right, but not after the first drug use. It happens way before
that. The reality is that the brains of all addicts were "hijacked"
at conception. My paradigm, as defined and discussed in my book,
explains all these addictions and simply answers all the questions
that the old paradigm can't deal with without imposing some preposterous
"environmental" and "psychobabble" hocus pocus.
The realities of addictions are just not part of the current paradigm
promulgated by your experts.
You have just entered the field of addictions, Mr. Moyers, and
don't realize that the current paradigm, despite the new neurobiology,
is 60 years old, and its conceptual deficiencies have resulted
in the present mess we are in concerning addictions. Bill Wilson
introduced the biological disease concept in 1939. However, when
used within the context of the present etiological and conceptual
paradigm, this biological disease model becomes perverted. This
perversion results in incorrect "treatment," precarious
recovery, and incorrect public attitudes and policies. As a matter
of fact, by continuing to perceive the addict as someone needing
to be changed, either by "medications," therapy, or
even genetic engineering, well meaning people using this paradigm
will continue to damage all addicts and their families, even those
in recovery. Within this incorrect paradigm, the addicts will
continue to damage themselves as well, for the same reasons, in
very subtle and insidious ways. The present paradigm is actually
responsible for the dismal success rate for all addicts and for
the high incidence of relapse, even in recovering people. Recovery,
except in rare and fortunate people (about 5% of addicts), is
tenuous when based on the present paradigm. Despite efforts of
people like you, this rate of success has not budged over the
past 20 to 30 years. This is because these efforts are being wasted
using the current paradigm. A.A. made a good start on real recovery,
but the conceptual context, or the paradigm in which it is used,
needs to be changed. My paradigm uses the same neurobiology, but
in a completely differently way. As you will see in the material
I enclosed, which is developed more thoroughly in my book, the
neurological organs where the neurotransmitters work have a more
significant role in addictions than thought today.
The biology of addictions, as you have been instructed by your
experts, is quite correct, but how this biology functions in the
human brain and the implications of this function in explaining
most behaviors of addicts before, during, and after (even recovery
or when abstinent) active addictions is way off. Your experts
are working with the wrong global concept, or put in another way,
the wrong paradigm of addictions. It's not their fault. They just
haven't thought about all the issues concerning addictions and
honestly admitted where their paradigm falls short. They just
don't know what addictions really are. Some addiction experts
have been honest about their shortcomings, however, and I quote
from chapter 8, of Substance Abuse-A Comprehensive Textbook,"
ed. by Joyce Lowinson, M.D. (This book is the bible of the present
paradigm). The following are the opening statements by the authors
of the chapter: "Unraveling the etiology of substance
abuse continues to be a challenge. There have been many technological
advances in understanding the chemistry of human behavior, including
the highly significant discovery of opiate receptor sites and
endorphins, as well as other neurotransmitter systems. However,
the substance abuse field continues to be in a preparadigm stage
of development, suggesting a lack of agreement between theory
and treatment. Sederer notes: [To set foot into the field of psychiatry
(or the addictions) is to encounter an overwhelming mass of clinical
data, hypothetical notions, and theoretical constructs. Dopamine
mingles with denial, and serotonin with symbiosis. Defenses and
divorce appear as meaningful, and influential, as gamma aminobutyric
acid and the endorphins. Urban drift, ego-deficits, and ventricular
enlargement may be found rubbing conceptual shoulders.]"
In other words, the field of psychiatry and addictions is
one big mess! Their paradigm fails to explain much real stuff
about addictions, and they know it but they can't see beyond their
paradigm and are, thus, unable to conceive of the true disease
of addictions. To put it simply, they are stuck in the old paradigm,
which I call the "psychological/superstitious/religious paradigm."
This paradigm views addictions as part genetic "vulnerability",
part psychological, part immorality, part sociological, part environmental
and mostly about "bad" choices. This view is wrong!
And, what is worse, instead of causing the beneficial effects
you would like it to have on our fellow addict brothers and sisters
and society, this paradigm actually perpetuates all the current
problems and damage existing today concerning addicts and addictions.
Believe it or not, this paradigm actually keeps most people out
of recovery! This is because it actually maintains the
stigmatization of addicts and addictions and demonizes them and
their drugs as well!
The paradigm that I have developed (I include my book proposal
which discusses many of these items) includes all the good biology
that exists today, which you discuss very well in your material,
but goes on to present a functional part of the brain where this
biology works and inexorably produces addictions of all
kinds as well as the self- and situational evaluation and
decision-making difficulties that all people with this disease
experience. My paradigm answers all the questions a true
addiction paradigm needs to answer. My paradigm leads to the changes
you want to occur for all addicts and their families-your
family and my family. My paradigm, when fully understood and appreciated
by society, leads to the destigmatization of addicts, which allows
all addicts to come out of their closets, not just the wealthy
or fortunate ones, and breathe the fresh air of shameless honesty
and recovery. The present paradigm has not led to these changes
and never will, no matter how hard it tries. In actuality, the
present paradigm only makes things worse. The present paradigm
will always blame the victim, the addict, and will always demonize
the drugs, perpetuating the drug war, an abomination to addicts
and to our society, a true genocide right here in our own country.
I believe that, as a journalist with integrity, you will appreciate
the need to hear and present all sides of an issue. Consequently,
I sincerely request that you review the material I have enclosed
and interview me so that I might have the opportunity to present
my paradigm. Then you will have a better and more complete concept
of addiction and be able to answer the question concerning your
own family and yourself, which you are unable to answer today.
I also believe that the view that I propose will put you in a
better position to advocate for policy changes for addicts of
Dan F. Umanoff, M.D.
PS: I have a complete book on this material. It discusses my paradigm in detail.
I would be honored for you to read it.
NEVER HEARD FROM HIM