The next issue of DDN will be out on 6 October — make sure you send letters and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 24 September to be included. Letters may be edited for space or clarity – please limit submissions to 350 words.
Mind the prejudice
After reading the latest challenges and condemnations of the 12-step philosophy via Stanton Peele (DDN, April, page 8, and subsequent letters pages), I felt compelled to contribute as someone who has experienced a very positive influence from a 12-step programme.
I have many friends who are atheist and agnostic who attend meetings. Speaking with my counselling hat on, the 12 steps are a CBT programme of behaviour modification before CBT was invented. It’s interesting that some professionals have such bitter reactions to it and my experience is that most professionals in the field have never attended an open meeting to gain their own perspective of the 12 steps. My experience in training professionals is that their biased judgements are either created from impressions and feedback from previous clients who have had a negative experience with a group or individual, or a prejudice they have that 12 steps is a religious cult or order.
Dispelling the myths of 12 steps is important for the sector. How can any professional give objective, non-biased opinions concerning 12-step groups if they have contempt for this approach? Let’s not forget what a resource it is, with more than 200 meetings a week of NA in London from 7am to 11pm daily, 95 meetings a week of CA, almost 400 meetings a week of AA – not to mention all the others such as Marijuana Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous. The fact is, meetings are free – no one pays, there’s no commissioning involved, no staff needed and opening times are not restricted to nine to five.
Is the fact that 12-step fellowships are free one reason that they provoke such contempt in our field? Are they seen as a threat to professionals and services?
Mark Dempster, director, Mark Dempster Counselling
I am a first-time prisoner and, despite appealing my case, I have decided to use the time in prison as my rehabilitation. This is due to the fact that after many years in denial, I eventually admitted to myself that I am an alcoholic and had planned to go into a rehabilitation centre specialising in drying people out.
As that did not happen, my intention was to take full advantage of the help that the prison service would provide for alcoholics. Unfortunately, the prison system ‘talks the talk’ but does not ‘walk the walk’.
When I had my induction in prison, I was delighted to hear all the in-prison support from RAPt (the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners trust). This appeared to be a lot of empty promises, as all of the programmes that I wanted to do (ADTP, 12-steps, and Stepping Stones) have been cancelled due to budget cuts.
It has been difficult to receive books and literature associated with alcohol addiction, and when AA have sent me books, the prison will not let me have them as the justice secretary Chris Grayling does not allow books to be sent to prisoners.
There is no support from AA coming into prison due to the security issues, so despite occasional one-to-ones with a RAPt mentor, my rehabilitation has to be self-rehabilitation.
Through self determination, I am winning my battle and am today 200 days dry, but without my own will to win, I would think ‘why bother? Nobody cares’. I am going to do this to prove myself, and be the man my fiancée Karen wants, but with little help from the prison system.
I hope other prison inmates reading this can keep the faith and beat the drink, do it on their own and stick two fingers up to a prison system that does not care.
Peter Mace, HMP Bure
Tell us how it is (was)!
DDN will be a whole decade old on 1 November and we want to hear from you, our faithful readers! Did you read our early issues? How has your job changed over the decade? What are your most significant working moments and how do you see the future for the drug and alcohol field? What do you want to see us covering in the future?
We’ll be including contributions – memories, forecasts, whatever you want to share with us – in a special issue in November, so please get in touch with us by writing, emailing, Facebooking or Tweeting. We’re waiting to hear from you!