Re: Faith Succeeds Where Prison Fails, NYT, 1/31/01. The errors and invalid assumptions in this op-ed are infuriating and sickening to me because they lead to wrong and ineffective policies and actually perpetuate concepts and policies that prevent change to correct and effective policies. The major evidentiary error in this article is: A.A. is proof that "faith"-based programs help alcoholics and other addicts recover. Some alcohol addicts, a too small percentage, do get sober in A.A. (I've been a member of A.A. for 23 years and deeply appreciate it's history and occasional successes but it's time to grow beyond it based on the science of addictions), but there is no valid evidence that it is the "higher power" thing that is the cause of this sobriety. In fact, 1) there are many atheists who get sober in A.A. without using a "higher power" but get sober using the other, the actually effective but unrecognized, parts of A.A., and 2) the religious "alcoholism" programs that preceded A.A. were abject failures. In my book I discuss the actual mechanism of A.A.'s success (the essence of A.A.) and it has nothing to do with "higher powers" but with acknowledgement, realization, surrender of control and acceptance. The effects of these four steps (not requiring any higher power whatsoever) are misattributed to the higher power, and that is the misinterpretation of the actual reality. The neurobiology of addictions requires these four actions for recovery from addiction along with the use of a sponsor to run one's recovery, not religious faith. Moreover, instead of being a plus, religious beliefs in recovery absent surrender and acceptance are to no avail and actually may be just a switch in addictions leading to further problems and relapses down the line for the addict. Additionally, the false impression that addictions are moral and "spiritual" issues, a gross mistake and misconception, is perpetuated by these misperceptions and assumptions, and actually cause much of the ongoing damage to addicts by public policies based on this moral paradigm unbeknownst to the biased A.A. faithful. That none of the various parts of A.A., and there are many, have ever been validly studied due to A.A.'s policy of anonymity, assures these misconceptions and misattributions will continue. The fact is they are wrong as they would be wrong if used to treat diabetics, cancer, or any other real physiology-based disease and would be seen to obstruct progress in their respective fields if used instead of valid medicine. Instead of being a positive force, superstition has always prevented science-based improvements in medical diseases. What would Bush know about this when he has the same false and invalid beliefs as the author of this op-ed? To use A.A. as an example of success of faith based treatment of addictions is not only wrong scientifically but will keep addictions in the wrong paradigm indefinitely, a terribly damaging outcome. It's time to switch from superstition and bad science to valid science, at least in the field of addictions.
Re: No Crops Spared in Colombia's Coca War, NY Times, 1/31/01. I predict this action will have unforeseen and disastrous consequences to both Columbia and the US people. The wrong paradigm leads to the wrong policy leads to worsening and more severe problems. I watch with trepidation, sadness, and anger.
Re: The Story of Redemption Resonates in America, NYT, 2/4/01. Turn back the clock, why don't you? NYT 2/4/1940. "Alcoholics, drug addicts, religious and political conmen, adulterers, rapists, liars, cheats, and swindlers are redeemed by God in 12 step meetings across the country." Not true.
There are people who get addicted to alcohol, drugs, and a variety of instinctive behaviors. These addictions are caused by a genetically transmitted neurobiological disease of the part of the brain that regulates instinctive behavior. These people can recover from this disease, but not through God or redemption, even though it appears many do it this way. These recovering people have misinterpreted their recoveries in this way because they are ignorant of what their disease is and what recovery from it is. Thus, they may be in recovery one minute and relapsing another. 12 step program successes only seem to be based on God and redemption because unknowingly Bill Wilson fortuitously included the necessary recovery ingredient into these programs without realizing what is was. He didn't know the pathophysiology of addiction any more than his followers. Many religious based addiction programs before and after AA have been abject failures because they didn't include this unknown ingredient which has been overlooked as the real cause of recovery. Just because the 12 step believers think it's God doesn't make that true. Your article, written by someone who also knows nothing about addictions or recovery just perpetuates this mythology, this misinterpretation, this misattribution. And, thus, this article perpetuates the problems of addictions, substance and behavioral, by continuing this mistake. Why the NY Times so consistently and repeatedly, week after week, does this is beyond my comprehention. All the above listed behaviors instead of being willful misbehaviors, as the article mistakenly maintains, are caused by a specific and particular neurobiology working unconsciously in those people who have it from birth. Massive recovery and relinquishment from the bonds of this disease, Hypoism, can be obtained, but only by its proper understanding (or randomly through its misunderstanding), not through misused superstition and ignorance. Hypoics can recover fully from Hypoism with the correct recovery program necessitated by the neurobiology, with or without religion and any other spiritualism or belief. This has been shown over the last 65 years by all the atheists who have recovered in 12 step programs without using any religious beliefs or redemption. The continued belief of the principles discussed in this article is exactly what is perpetuating the problems of addictions.
Re: Poll: Most American Smokers Try to Quit, But Can't, NYT, 2/14/01.
Are any of these relapsing cigarette addicts prosecuted and jailed? Fired from jobs? Made to demonstrate remorse and repentance? Divorced? Stripped of their licenses and careers? How many of these relapsing cigarette addicts are actually prosecuting and otherwise punishing other drug addicts who are similarly relapsing in different addictions? Smoking addicts get infinite numbers of chances to "quit," while drug addicts are given maybe one chance to stop by even the most liberal drug courts, then if they relapse they're sent to jail. It took me several relapses before I was able to finally recover from oral opiate addiction stemming from periodontal surgery, an addiction infinitely tougher than cigarettes to kick, and had no history of injuring any other person, just like cigarette smokers, but have been treated like a mass murderer by our society, even after over nine years clean; jailed, ostracized by my medical peers, ex-partners and NY State, career ruined, humiliated, medical license revoked, car impounded, forever unforgiven. Please explain why I am treated thusly while continuously relapsing cigarette addicts are accepted and even extended sympathy by our society? Shouldn't all addicts be treated with similar understanding, compassion and acceptance? What exactly is the issue here?
Re: Governor's Drug Efforts Show Fruit in Santa Fe, NYT, 2/14/01.
By changing policy without a change in understanding of addictions, Governor Johnson is doing something nice, but is also helping to perpetuate the problem of addictions. His policy changes are not helping addicts at all! His ignoring of the paradigm problem in addictions (I personally gave him my book that he has ignored) makes sure that more people than ever will continue to get addicted and suffer the consequences of those addictions. The Lindesmith Center, Mr. Soros, and all the anti-drug war/legalize marijuana activists and groups are aware of my book and paradigm yet make the same policy mistakes to the detriment of addicts around the world. Mrs. Johnson, Nadelmann, and other harm reduction and pot legalizers, as important as these policy changes may be, are, by ignoring the neurobiological cause of drug use and addiction, ensuring more and more addicts will need recovery about which the current incorrect addiction paradigm hasn't a clue. Thus, we will have more addicts and problems with addictions. Is this what they want? First, change the paradigm, then the correct policies will automatically follow. They've got the cart in front of the horse and will cause more problems than they cure. First things first! As compassionate, for personal reasons, as Gov. Johnson seems, his self-imposed ignorance about the science of addictions will backfire on addicts, the real victims here.
Re: Antidrug Program Says It Will Adopt a New Strategy, NYT, 2/15/01.
This article made me insanely angry. I've been telling you for 7 years that prevention doesn't work, not because I am against prevention of addictions, but because the neurobiology of addictions dictates that conscious attempts to prevent addictions CAN NOT WORK because of the location in the brain of the brain mechanism that inexorably causes addictions. Only changing the paradigm to the actual addiction paradigm can have any hope to prevent addictions, not through conscious decisions not to use addictors, but via those with the disease being able to make an early diagnosis of Hypoism in themselves (just as early diagnosis in diabetes, hypertension, and cancer prevents inexorable consequences of those diseases) and entering recovery as kids. In recovery they will not use addictors because of the nature of the recovery process about which you don't know. Geez, if the N4A had all that money presently being poured down the drain on useless and stigmatizing prevention programs everyone in the world would by now know about the disease of addictions and all hypoics would be able to get into recovery long before their horrible addictions even get started. This is TRUE PREVENTION and the only kind of prevention possible for this disease. Yet, you persist in not learning about Hypoism yourself, and more importantly, not informing your readers about it. Why?
Re: Fighting Drug Abuse, letters to NY Times, 2/19/01. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/19/opinion/L19DRU.html
The letter and the studies of the Institute for Prevention Research cited therein purported to show drug use prevention categorically do not show what the author says they show. Did you have any objective scientists validate their studies? Their studies as reported in biased journals that don't use valid peer review such as the JAMA (http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/23jamaeditorpublishesaccordingtohisbeliefsnotscience/
Read the letter dated 11/9/00 at: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/mynytletterspage11/ and continued on page 12)
were all short term and all done via self-reporting questionnaires, an invalid measuring devise. No forensic urines or other objective data were collected to demonstrate decreased drug use and no study was longer than a few years. There was no evidence whatsoever that adult addictions were reduced in any way, shape, or form. This kind of pseudoscience reporting is perpetuating the problem of addictions, not solving it. Reporting invalid addiction studies will continue to hurt addicts, their families, and our country for many years to come. This is unconscionable reporting and editing.
Re: A Critic Takes on Psychiatric Dogma, Loudly
Dr. Satel's opinions on addiction date back at least 100+ years, ignore completely all neurobiology of the brain mechanism that causes drug use and addiction unconsciously, and basically say that the cerebral cortex is the determiner of all behavior, a completely invalid, ignorant, and incorrect belief that sets back the clock on understanding human behavior indefinitely. Her opinions are equivalent to creationism refuting evolution and are clearly merely belief based on ideology, not science. Does she similarly believe Parkinson's Disease, Autism, Schizophrenia, Huntington's Disease, Epilepsy, Tourette's Syndrome, Dyslexia, Depression, and Manic Depression are behaviors caused by a conscious choice too? Her views on diseases of the brain are prehistoric, not controversial. It is irresponsible for the Times not to present the diametrically opposed addiction paradigm, Hypoism, that is based on science rather than belief. Because of your decision not to do an article on Hypoism, the readers of your newspaper aren't being given the opportunity to review the scientific basis of addiction which, by the way, not only ensures personal responsibility for all actions by addicts, but uses this personal responsibility to motivate recovery, a recovery based on the reality of the disease causing addiction rather than on her motivators, guilt, shame, and criminality. Just because she's a Psychiatrist trained at Brown and Yale, and is tenured at some well funded think tank doesn't mean her opinions on addiction have any validity any more than a priest knows God better than any nontheological individual. In fact, her opinions are as baseless and personal as any unsubstantiated belief, and thus are useless if not actually harmful. Her baseless though highly intellectualized false opinions perpetuate the problems of addictions rather than solve them. She is not only wrong, but is actually, "the most dangerous Psychiatrist in America," a moniker I gave her in a previous unpublished letter to the editor.
Re: Doctors Punished by New York State Are Still Prized by Hospitals
How about doing an article on recovering, previously addicted, doctors who had exemplary practices, were never accused of any problem in practice whatsoever, never injured a patient and have had their careers ruined indefinitely nonetheless, in the name of public safety, just the opposite of what your article says about already proven negligent doctors? Lack of patient injury or any other patient care allegation was stipulated in my voluntary license surrender agreement with the NYS health dept. Despite over 9 years documented sobriety and advocacy from the medical society's CPH, I've been treated like a mass murderer with no recourse under the NYS law because the NYS public health law, an unconstitutional law according to the ADA, gives the licensing agency infinite discretion with ex-addicts. Read my story at: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/thedoctordrugwarwrongandwastefulp1/
Why should my career be ruined just so the health dept. can say they are protecting public safety while at the same time they let actually damaging doctors practice? I've been scapegoated in the name of public safety. The whole administrative law system dealing with doctors licenses in NYS is arbitrary, personal, and subjective, and has nothing to do with patient safety. The public and especially my ex-patients who all loved and respected me and my ex-colleagues whose patients I helped daily (I was a consultant in nephrology) and who are afraid to support me because of fear of retaliation by the health dept. need to know how damaging this system is to them.
Re: Ex-Doctor Is Held in Arson as Troubled Life Unravels
This is an exceedingly sad and desperate story of physician addiction and I feel deeply for the doctor and his patients. I don't know the details of the case, but I suspect the extreme behaviors that resulted in his license revocation in 1977 was a consequence of the punitive and criminalizing nature of the NYS Health Department's dealings with addicted doctors. Rather than handling addicted doctors as sick and having addicted doctors fearlessly seek early recovery, thus avoiding the progression of their addictions, the punitive system forces addicted doctors to fearfully go underground where their addictions progress as in this case. Once revoked, doctors like this one are ostracized and abandoned by their colleagues instead of supported and occasionally resort to extreme behaviors such as in this case. Suicide is not uncommon. I am currently in the same situation as this doctor and know the intense isolation and ostracism he must be feeling. I have asked the state medical society to revise its methods of handling addicted physicians in the following article, but have been ignored. You tell me if my plan makes more sense than the current one.
It maximizes public safety as well as saving the doctors.
Re: Bettors Find Online Gambling Hard to Resist
You are missing the forest (the underlying neurobiological mechanism) for the trees (the individual addictors). Whether it's drugs, sex, food, self-mutilation, anorexia, or gambling, the issue isn't the behavior and who's selling it or using it but how the brain works and what's different about addicts' brains from non-addicts' brains. There are at least 50 addictors that hypoics of various kinds get addicted to and have no control over. All addictions to these addictors are caused against the addicts' wills by an altered normal brain mechanism hundreds of millions of years old meant to deal with instinctive (limbic) decision-making. Hypoic alleles of normal genes turn this mechanism into an addiction machine.
By focusing on the behaviors rather than on the brain you only perpetuate the problem. It's time to do an article on the real cause of all addictions, Hypoism, so that all addicts can find out what they are and help themselves. The current addiction paradigm sited on the article's web pages is all wrong and helps very few if any addicts.
Re: Drug Research Inadequate, White House Panel Finds
I've been telling you this for years. Finally I've been vindicated. Congrats to the panel for being honest. Read: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/15replacingalanleshneristheonlywaytoendthedrugwar/
The problem is the people running the research and policy for the country, the so-called "experts." They've beem lying to the congress and the people for years. They need to be replaced by someone like me, someone with integrity and scientific honesty, not ideologues like Leshner or tools like Gordis, chief of NIAAA. The NIH and the white house drug policy gurus, like Shalala and McCaffrey, have been lying to the public for years and need to be replaced with someone honest. Shame on the Times for not publishing this letter.
Re: Faith-Based Discrimination: The Case of Alicia Pedreira
The exact same thing is happening to recovering addicts throughout our society and for the same ignorance-based and biased reasons. Recovering addicts are covered in the same human rights legislation as Alecia's. The discrimination is being done not just in private groups but also by state governments. My story is just as disgusting as Alecia's if not more so because the licensing discrimination done by NYS overlaps into all other states and keeps me from working in medicine anywhere in the country. I'm clean and sober over 9 years, never injured a patient in any way, never broke any law while in practice, and am still being treated behind the closed doors of administrative law like a mass murderer by NYS for just having a different opinion about the concept of addiction from their moralistic and religious one. My opinion on addiction is accepted and supported by current addictionology, yet NYS can use their outdated beliefs and characterizations of addicts to demonize me and others like me even against the ADA and NYS Human Rights Law which they ignore as if these laws don't apply to them. Recovering addicts need the same kind of journalistic documentation of discrimination as you have done with Alecia's case. My case is presented at: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/thedoctordrugwarwrongandwastefulp1/
Re: Prescription Drugs Becoming Concern
The article shows two things: 1) that the paradigm espoused by Dr. Leshner, The Hijacked Brain Hypothesis ("Leshner said that while everybody can potentially abuse prescription drugs, the risk is greatest among women, the elderly and adolescents"), is wrong, and 2) this wrong paradigm causes doctors not to understand the nature of the disease that causes drug addictions in their office patients, and because of this they prescribe addicting mood altering drugs for the patient's symptoms caused by the same disease that that causes addictions. In other words, the unrecognized and undiagnosed disease that causes addictions cause the actual symptoms doctors are treating with addicting drugs that lead to addictions to the treatments, and Leshner and NIDA's lack of understanding of this disease is responsible for the doctor's ignorance.
The truth is that only hypoics are at risk of addiction and that symptoms of Hypoism, the disease that causes addictions in only about 20% of the population, are the symptoms doctors are treating with addicting drugs. I've been writing you for years that Leshner and NIDA are part of the problem, not the solution. Leshner's paradigm is based on ideology and morality, not science.
Isn't it obvious yet that under Leshner we have made no progress in dealing with addictions?
Until this is acknowledged and understood, the problem will continue as is.
Re: Father's Age Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia
Not too long ago psychiatry insisted the cause of schizophrenia was environmental; bad parenting. Today, another nail is put in the coffin of environmental causes of mental illness. The same is true for manic-depression, autism, seizures, one's personality, and even sleep disorders. One day, all mental illnesses and other "abnormal" behaviors will have definitive physical and strictly neurobiological causes, relieving the stigma of these diseases that are no different than diseases occurring in organs outside the brain. The data that addictions to substances and behaviors are genetic, and thus, physical, not environmental, or caused by "bad parenting" and "bad conscious choices," is overwhelming. In spite of this data and its strong brain mechanism implications, current addiction treatment and public policy revolve around methods that can only effect the conscious will; individual choices like punishment, psychotherapy, stigmatization, ostracism, and forced medications. This is equivalent to, "just say no to schizophrenia." This attitudinal disconnect is a result of psychiatric belief bias and self-interest agendas from the NIH down to the practicing psychiatrist and addiction counsellor. The public blindly believes these biased and woefully incorrect "experts" because it has been brought up to hate and fear addicts, exactly like racist beliefs. Until the public, via conscientious, thoughtful, and objective investigative reporting by journalists like you have at the Times, is allowed to hear and read the truth about addiction etiology, the current mistakes in treatment and policy will continue to damage addicts, their families, and the whole of society. Currently the foxes are guarding the hen house and the public be damned!
read and ignore to the public's detriment: http://www.nvo.com/hypoism/15replacingalanleshneristheonlywaytoendthedrugwar/
Only objective journalism, something that doesn't exist concerning addictionology today, can begin to turn this around.
Re: An Author Explores 222 Paths to Sobriety
In 1939 Bill Wilson wrote the big book and included in it the stories of the first group of "alcoholics" to get sober in A.A. Jack Anderson wrote a Saturday Evening Post article about this new program for "sobriety," promoting A.A. Now, 62 years later we have a similar book whose book review that says the author is saying something meaningful and lists four "sobriety" sources for those looking for help, adds moderation management and cognitive behavioral therapy for thoroughness. Of course, neither the author nor the reviewer knows anything about what causes what they call problem drinking or "alcoholism" nor what it is. Besides, the author's data is anecdotal, not scientific and not prospective or controlled in any way. Notice how things in addictions haven't changed and are even a lot worse in all this time and with all this "sobriety." People still don't know what addictions are and still use and promote superstitious (believed without need for proof) treatments. Moreover, a "science" writer promotes it in a book review. What this kind of irresponsible writing and reviewing does is maintain the current problem, not help or solve anything. Alcoholism (and 50-100 other addictions) isn't a disease. It's a symptom of a disease, a disease that is known and understood but not written about or read about. Believing superstitious "sobriety" is recovery from something (an addiction in this case) is therefore a delusion and leaves the addict in danger much like patients going to faith healers for cancer or other serious medical diseases while their diseases continue to wreak havoc in their lives. There are countless "sober" people who have died directly from their unrecognized disease - John Denver, Princess Diane, JFK, Jr. are some well known unrecognized examples. There are many many more. Also, to say that 5 years sobriety means something about future relapse is seriously wrong as well. It's nice that some people control their drinking or stop drinking, but calling their efforts sobriety or treatment for something is wrong and seriously negligent. It keeps the emphasis on the symptom instead of on the actual disease. In doing so it maintains ignorance and superstition about addictions rather than a scientific basis for approaching addictions. Thus, in the long run, like the book Alcoholics Anonymous, it hurts many more people than it helps. By ignoring Hypoism, the disease, the NYT "science section" is doing the same thing.
I have stopped publishing letters to the editor in this venue. In seven years, not a single one has been published. If you want to read them please send me your e-mail address and I will add you to my e-mail list.