Alcohol Anonymous

Alcohol Anonymous

The Five Ways We Experience Life

  1. Physical; Body symptoms
  2. Emotional; Behaviors
  3. Rational; Realm of thought
  4. Volitional; Decision making
  5. Spiritual; Freedom and independence

The Four Basic Steps of a Life Event or Experience

  1. External Stimuli; We experience some sort of stimulus from the outside world, we experience through our senses. The stimulus doesn’t even have to be in the present moment, it could be a memory or a reminder of an event in the past or the future.
  2. Interpretation/Meaning; Once we sense something, the mind assigns meaning to it. We perceive based on our mental filters. The event goes through a filtering process (see Norm Chomsky) of deletions, generalizations, distortions and personalizations. The mind deletes approximately 80% of the data it receives. It’s a deleting machine and keeps only the data it agrees with or has feelings for. It then groups and generalizes the stimuli into blocks. Distortions occur when we put stimuli into the wrong blocks.  Personalizations are what the stimuli means to the individual. All these filters are also influenced by our beliefs, values and memories. What you believe and value in life is influenced in many ways based on your upbringing, your daily environment and your inner perception (your story) of yourself.. This is why two people can have the exact same experience, but have completely different perspectives, opinions or feelings about it.
  3. Feeling/Emotion; The meaning you assign to the stimuli, dictates the emotional response. They can either be positive or negative based on the filter. These meanings can be perceived as opinions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and truths. It was Plato that said opinions are nothing more then the medium between truth and complete ignorance. In 1933  Alfred Korzybski in his theory of general semantics, concluded that all conclusions, are based on information we think is true.
  4. Reaction/Behavior; Instantaneously our internal representation triggers a corresponding state or reaction, you experience this feeling and you react towards it either positively or negatively. This cycle repeats itself constantly and ultimately dictates our actions in life and therefore, the results.

Neuro Linguistic Programing

Neuro Linguistic Programing shows people how to be less affected (unconsciously reacting) to external circumstances, and becoming more aware of the internal processes, thus becoming better able to control (consciously creating) external circumstances. Maturity comes in controlling our lives through thought and action, and learning how to control our interpretations and perceptions. There are many situations and experiences that we can’t control. What we can control is the meaning we assign to these experiences.

Locus of Control

This principal was originated by Julian Rotter in 1954. It is the degree to which people believe they have control over events in their lives. The concept involves whether Life events emanate internally and externally.

If Internal

  • We determine our future
  • We are empowered, unlimited, and giving
  • We are self-responsible
  • Less influenced by the opinions of others
  • Work hard to achieve the things they want.
  • Do your best with no worry
  • Have confidence, believe in yourself

If External

  • We constantly feel victimized
  • We are dis-empowered, limited, and a taker
  • Feel we are not good enough
  • Often lack self confidence
  • Hold no strong beliefs
  • Often irresponsible, prone to learned helplessness
  • Blames emotions on outside factors

If You Have A Problem

If your not happy with your life, it’s because you perceive a problem. You either don’t have something you want or you don’t know how to get what you want. All problems are emotionally based and originate from the beliefs you hold. To find the answer to your problem, Neuro Linguistic Programing shows ways to understand and have greater control and freedom over your state of mind. They focus on the how and why people do what they do.

Why Psychology Can’t Accept Neuro Linguistic Programing

believes that NLP lacks not only the empirical data but an overall sense of connection and is too oriented toward techniques and “programing’. While they feel some  NLP techniques were quite effective, they are not the final answer. They hold it’s people and their inter connectedness that is the answer. We are all on the path to self Actualization, whether we know it or not. All paths lead to the same place. To end the confrontation and competition from NLP, they came up with their own form of NLP, they call it Humanistic Psychology.

Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic Psychology is a perspective that helps a person gain a more accurate belief about themselves. It encourages viewing the whole person and encourages self exploration, self awareness, and mindfulness. It’s goal is to change a persons state of mind and behaviors from negative self defeating reactions to healthier more productive ones. Early influences came from Otto Rank and Carl Rogers who coined the phrase “actualizing tendency”,which was the concept expanded upon by Maslow in his “Hierarchy of Self Actualization”, that all behaviors are purpose driven, by different sets of needs.

The Humanistic Psychology Perspective

  1. Human beings, as humans, supersede the sum of their parts, They cannot be reduced to components
  2. Human beings have their existence in a uniquely human context, as well as in a cosmic ecology.
  3. Human beings are aware and are aware of being aware, ie. they are conscious. Human consciousness always includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people
  4. Human beings have the ability to make choices and therefore have responsibility.
  5. Human beings are intentional, aim at goals, are aware that they cause future events, and seek meaning, value, and creativity.

They Recognize Their Own Form of NLP

Today Humanistic Psychology is a discipline within Psychology with a perspective on the human condition. Like NLP it doesn’t believe that we can understand human consciousness through Cartesian-Newtonian scientific research, and is not appropriate to studying the complexities and nuances of human meaning-making. Unlike NLP it was recognized by the APA in 1971 and given it’s own division (32).

A New Reality

Humanistic  Psychology goes beyond classic NLP, and has shown to be very effective in treating addictions. Much of what is taught in traditional treatment approaches (12-Step) and even in alternative healing methods, is based on premises, about reality which physicists abandoned roughly 30 years ago. Recent research and advances in quantum physics support what ancient wisdom has taught for thousands of years, we are more than our bodies, we are more than our brains, we are part of an interconnected whole.

HP’s Presuppositions

  1. No matter what you think you are, you are always more than that
  2. We have all the resources we need.
  3. Reality is a construction.
  4. The map is not the territory.
  5. You get what you focus on.
  6. Living is learning
  7. You can’t not learn.
  8. All behavior is motivated by a positive, well adaptive intention
  9. Everything and everyone is interconnected.
  10. The material universe is a dynamic web of interrelated events.

It’s Internal not External

A major premise of both traditional NLP and HP is that people are capable of more then they think.This is based on the knowledge that our perceptions are limited to how our neurology filters information. It’s our internal representations and states that determine our behaviors much more than the world outside of us. Both have developed therapy models that treat phobia, trauma, habit and addiction cessation.

Change the Belief and the Behavior Changes

They both identify, how the language of others, whether verbal or non-verbal, as well as their behaviors, have influenced and formed a map of reality, that has lead to the forming of limiting beliefs, unwanted habits, negative reactions and destructive behaviors. Simply put, recovery can be more readily found, by identifying these dis-empowering beliefs and connecting them to the “character defects” (the behaviors),then visa versa.

Incorporate the Science into Traditional Treatment

If either NLP or HP were intellectually incorporated into a 12-Step program, addicts would more quickly learn that all behaviors are motivated by unconscious impulses which are known as neurological triggers. These triggers are the catalysts which are responsible for everything that we do. Once you know what they are, these triggers can be transformed into catalysts for positive results.

Our Perception is not Reality

12 step programs have a tendency, to put responsibility for our addiction outside us by blaming the disease of Alcoholism. And to achieve recovery all we need to do is simply turn our life and will over to the care of God, is to ignore the models of human spiritual growth, as explored by Fromm, Maslow, Erickson and Fowler. For long term recovery and sobriety we need to look within. As long as we believe we are powerless and look outside ourselves, we are stuck in the dilemma.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Addiction is very complex and goes far beyond a Self Will run riot. For many it’s the feelings of inferiority and low self esteem of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that is behind the addiction. It’s by focusing on the reasons for the feelings, of irritability and discontent, that recovery can be found. We remain depressed and angry as long as we continue to look outside ourselves. As long as we continue blaming others, we cannot heal.

!2-Step Programs Would be More Successful

Experts are in agreement, that Alcohol Anonymous offers an important support system, through out the world, for no cost. But that addicts would be better served if they used it in conjunction with evidence based therapies. Nowhere in Medicine is treatment less grounded in modern science then in Alcohol Anonymous. With little change since it’s establishment in 1935, Alcohol Anonymous offers a single path to recovery, the 12-Steps.

The Only Constant is Change

The history of Alcohol Anonymous is the story of how one approach to treatment took root before other options existed , inscribing itself on the national consciousness and refusing to change or adapt. While attending Alcohol Anonymous meetings may offer some cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, it’s not at a professional level. The Big Book is famously difficult to study, but could be modified along with the 12-Steps to incorporate up to date science.

You Have To Want Recovery

People with alcohol problems suffer from a higher then normal rate of mental health issues. Alcohol Anonymous is not equipped to address these issues, it is simply a support group whose leaders lack professional training. Using the latest classification from the American Psychiatric Associations DSM-5 for alcohol-use disorder only 15 percent of individuals are at the severe end of the spectrum, and yet our legal system has been sentencing any DUI offender to attend mandatory AA meetings, since 1985.

Designed for the Hopeless

Alcohol Anonymous was designed for the hopeless alcoholic who realizes they have no other recourse but to stop drinking or end up in a hospital, institution or death. And even with this motivation if the alcoholic doesn’t seek recovery himself he’ll fail. If he can’t find a sponsor, he can do business with, he’ll fail. And if he doesn’t do the 12- Steps, like his life depends on it, he’ll fail.

Lack of Power

12-step programs want us to abdicate our power, admit powerlessness and to surrender. In reality, the thing we need to do, is surrender blame. When we let go of seeing ourselves as victims and recognize that we create, promote and allow everything that we experience in life. When we finally take responsibility for the beliefs we hold.and understand how these beliefs are the cause of the effects of our lives, we become powerful, only then will we start to find true recovery.

The Goal

Incorporating modern Psychology into traditional 12-Step Programs, and focusing on changing the dis-empowering beliefs we hold will empower more to heal. The goal should be to improve the rate of recovery for the still suffering alcoholic. As long as we are unwilling to change and be flexible to new ideas and approaches, we are cheating millions of people who could be helped, before they take the elevator all the way to the basement.


It’s taken me thirty years to get ten years twice. As I approach my eleventh year of sobriety, I’ve thought long and hard how I could help others, from making the mistakes I’ve made. It starts with understanding that the addiction is only a symptom to deep emotional and psychological problems, caused by what we believe. It’s the struggle between what we consciously believe and what we unconsciously believe, that makes us irritable and discontent. Constantly searching for anything that will change the way we feel.

As always, thanks for visiting. Dave

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