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I am a successful software dev but I have a serious drinking problem
334 points by user249 on Mar 28, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 227 comments
I made a couple million and then lost it all, including the wife and kids. I muddle along now making enough to pay the rent. I don't want to end up like Phil Katz of pkzip fame, but I've come close. I don't know why I am posting this except as a cautionary tale -- stop drinking when you are young. Really. It doesn't get better.

There is an astonishing variety of comments here. Frankly this is not a vi vs emacs thread.

I wish commenters here would understand that the OP's glide path is currently aimed at one of two outcomes: insanity or death.

If the OP is reading the thread (and I would guess he is not) I would implore him to ignore all of the comments except those from people who have had up-front and personal experience with the damage from alcoholism.

A flippant comment -- just so you can look clever on HN -- may condemn the OP to a dismal fate. Cut it out.

OP, seek the seemingly harder way. It will turn out to be the softer, easier way. This means a new way of living (on the one hand) or a slow painful death on the other. Let the others here on HN plait their shit. You must either change or die.

Disclaimer: Anecdotal personal experience sample size for this topic is > 1.

Well put. I find comments of the nature "I know a guy who just cut down on his drinking and now he's fine" the most dangerous. Sure, some drinkers can do that but there are many more who cannot safely do so.

I have struggled with porn at times and have done a lot of research on addictions. I also have a couple friends who are alcoholics. IMO, Gabor Mate has been the best resource I have found on understanding addictions. His theory is that addictions start in childhood due to some kind of constant, ongoing stress. It could be something like abusive parents or severe bullying. When we find something that temporarily relieves the stress, our body latches on to it and doesn't want to let go. Personally, I've found that understanding addiction and the addictive cycle has helped me a lot. From meditation, I've also become much more aware of my body sensations and understanding the danger periods when I am getting stressed.

After I did a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, I put together https://www.programmingspiritually.com to try to help other developers that face some of the same issues. Email me if you're interested and I'll sign you up for the course for free.

Gabor Mate heals heroin addicts with two powerful psychedelic plants: Ayahuasca (DMT) and Iboga. I have been to a couple of Ayahuasca ceremonies in the past year, and I can report that - among its many awesome effects - it effectively resets your inner emotional "firmware", helping you cope with stressful situations and addictions much better (I had instantly quit smoking after the first ceremony.)

Vipassana meditation take a slower route, but some say more thorough - it transforms your self into being more reflective, more appreciative and less judging. I've yet to try it out on a 10-day retreat, but even people who practice half-hour daily buddhist meditation praise its beneficial effects on mental and physical well being.

Both Ayahuasca and Vipassana are great routes you can take to battle your addictions, not only to alcohol or tobacco but also many kinds of pain.

> even people who practice half-hour daily buddhist meditation praise its beneficial effects on mental and physical well being.

Wanted to lend some weight to this. I've practiced mindful meditation on and off for a year or so. I've never hit an hour or even half an hour at a time, but I will say it is fairly effective for recalibrating your mental state even with just a few minutes a day. I find myself much more patient, accepting, and clear-headed when meditating regularly, which was exactly what I was hoping to accomplish. I occasionally find myself re-centering and focusing on breathing while not meditating - just a reflex that develops with the practice, and even if its effects are strictly physical (eg more oxygen to the brain), it still feels good, mentally, to get that shot of clarity throughout the day.

I can't speak to its effects on addiction, or other forms of pain, but I would definitely recommend some form of meditation for everyone.

I've found 20, 45 or 90 minutes to be the ideal time where I feel super refreshed after. Maybe try pushing yourself sometime to get to longer times just to see how it goes.

I don't know about meditation, but when I write in the morning I feel like I can think more clearly and express myself more easily during the day. Might be a form of "re-arranging" your brain.

It's a well known technique... Stream of Consciousness writing in the morning is very effective at clearing out the mind before the day starts.

Some Artists use this and call it "morning pages" (Check out "The Artists Way". )

I think during the 70s LSD was being used to rehab alcoholics, it's a shame such practices and psychedelics in general are all illegal now.. but ignoring the law, from what I've read and personal experience, LSD works well too.

Research has started up again:

LOS ANGELES — For the first time in more than four decades, the drug lysergic acid diethylamide – better known as LSD – has been the experimental adjunct to psychotherapy in a controlled clinical trial approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[1]


Major props to the MAPS guys for navigating the mess that currently exists to try and get to a more positive outcome for us all.

I've done both and I'd agree that Vipassana is more thorough and lasting, although more difficult. Doing it even just once and not following through with daily meditations is still a life-changing experience.

That looks great. No need for free, it looks well worth the $5!

I guess the free offer was just for OP :)

Interesting, a close friend of mine just did the Vipassana retreat, and I was considering it for myself too.

Have you sought help? Alcohol is an addictive chemical, and if you have a dependency, you don't have to overcome it alone.

If, on the other hand, you are like me an you simply drink too much, I can share how I got the situation under control.

First, I threw out a lot of the liquor in the house (I kept the good whiskey that I was already saving for a special occasion). Then, I stopped going out to bars as often and, to a certain extent, avoided people I typically drank with or found ways to socialize without being around alcohol. I also took up yoga in the mornings. I like yoga, but if I drink the night before, I won't feel like waking up for it. So, I remind myself before I go out to a pub or meet friends that if I drink, I'm screwing up my routine.

That combination has helped, and it's gotten me to a place where I can go out on a Saturday night, get a nice buzz going with three or four beers over several hours, without reaching that 'fuck it' moment where I start doing shots and smoking cigarettes till dawn.

> I also took up yoga in the mornings. I like yoga, but if I drink the night before, I won't feel like waking up for it. So, I remind myself before I go out to a pub or meet friends that if I drink, I'm screwing up my routine

Fitness did it for me as well. Lifting weights, running, krav maga, all of it sucks when I'm hungover. Plus it's easy to tell that my performance suffers which devalues the time in the gym. I hate knowing that I'm sabotaging all that time I spend working my ass off. When drinking has an immediate impact it's much easier to decide not to do it.

I started out by cutting out drinking during "the week" (defined as Monday through Wednesday as Fri/Sat/Sun are obviously weekend days and everyone knows Thurs is really the true start of the weekend). As I picked up more fitness things it pushed out drinking time. I still go out and drink but now it's once a week instead of every night.

Yoga worked for me, it cured my porn addiction in two ways: the girls that went there helped me have a normal interaction with women, and I had a more relaxed spine which, I don't know why, helps copping with addiction.

This is Great advice! I think op and myself can handle a single day and maybe 2 with the third being the hardest. I know for a fact that exercise helps a lot but taking these three days to really get it in and leave the weekend for the fun is super. Once I start seeing results from the exercise I know I'll want to get in more workouts over time. A great way to slowly wind down the drinking without the anxiety and other symptoms of withdraw.

Biggest thing for me was learning to get up early, and sticking with a schedule even on weekends.

A lot of us have the privilege of working flexible hours and for me that meant getting hammered and showing up to work at 11am still a bit hungover. I now show up to work at 9 and leave by 6, and don't go out with my old drinking buddies. Likewise I don’t try to pull crazy hours because that shit stresses me out and I cope with that by drinking/recreational drug use.

I've wanted to write more about this topic but never have the courage, in part because I still drink sparingly and am not sure that makes me an authority.

> I still drink sparingly and am not sure that makes me an authority.

Don't worry, there are a number of ex-problem drinkers that can and do practice moderation. Some can, some can't. Some need abstinence, some don't. Your experience is not abnormal.

I've skirted around alcoholism in my past, but once I recognised why I was drinking and asked myself why I was drinking I realised I could drink but as long as I didn't 'need' it.

I'm in the same boat. For me it was craft beer and whiskey, so I don't keep them in my house anymore. I found that cutting back on all those empty calories made it really easy to drop weight and left me with more money in my bank account at the end of the month.

Instead of yoga, I took up running. I found that it worked really well to alleviate stress and was a much better coping mechanism than drinking. I feel better, am less irritated, have more energy, and I no longer feel like I need to have a drink. I now get to enjoy my drinks instead of using them as a tool to not care about the things that bother me.

I'm an escapist. Whether it's movies, youtube, video games, literally anything that is unproductive, I'll spend an inordinate time doing. Luckily, I don't drink or do any drugs, but I might as well since I'm pissing my life away. It is as if I'm stuck in neutral. However, I do make just enough money to get by.

The odd thing is that I can't pinpoint why I'm this way. It wasn't always like this. I guess reason doesn't matter at this point.

Anyway, I don't think my post adds anything useful to this discussion, but good luck.

> [...] I don't think my post adds anything useful to this discussion [...]

After talking to a friend of mine about his issue and how it reminded me of my own struggles, I tweeted the following:

> "I get stuck browsing reddit and I hate myself for it". Consider that the problem may not be reddit. The problem may be you hating yourself. [0]

Procrastination is often a lightning rod. Try working on the lightning part of it instead of blaming the rod that may actually be saving your life from spiralling further into darkness.

[0] https://twitter.com/skore_de/status/425743423211962368

I don't really get this analogy, could you maybe give an example?

Say you are working on a project, but you can't seem to make progress. At some point, you tab over and read HN or reddit for a while.

Now you have two choices: A) Hate yourself for it. B) Not hate yourself for it.

Lightning struck - you were unable to continue working. There are a number of ways to deal with that, a number of lighting rods to take away the pain from the impact. Some work better than others. Some might even make more sense than others. Procrastinating may not make the most sense.

But the problem is not that you were procrastinating, the problem is that you couldn't continue to work. In procrastinating, you were coping. Your brain told you in rather strong terms: "This is currently not working out and there is no way this is going to get better if we continue staring at it. So let's do something else for a little while."

What you should not do is hate yourself for setting up a lightning rod. Because hating yourself does not increase your chances of being productive. Most of the time what it does is the exact opposite - you're simply increasing the pressure for the next time you get stuck on something. The higher the pressure, the higher the chance that you will grab a coping mechanism from the lower shelves of your arsenal.

It's a cycle of self loathing that only has one out: Stop punishing yourself for not succeeding and instead figure out ways to make it more likely to succeed. Hating yourself is easy, hating yourself for browsing reddit is particularly easy. What's hard is helping yourself to enjoy yourself.

Passion? I'm the same way. When I was a kid, coding 18 hours a day for weeks at a time wasn't a problem during summer vacations. Now, I have trouble with it. Full time job just DRAINS me, I don't want to do shit.

However, I discovered a passion. Illustration and UI/UX design for mobile. Every day after work I've been working an extra 8 hours because I found it so FUN.

So much so I have people working for me full time now and I'm quitting my job soon to follow my passion.

Maybe you haven't found your "calling" or something to get extraordinarily obsessed about?

Passiveness/lack of motivation could be a symptom of depression or anxiety. You should perhaps seek out a professional that could help you break out of your pattern before it get's worse.

Also, if you don't work out/exercise then I recommend that as well. You will feel better, fresher and have more energy.

I am in the same boat. It's actually really interesting, after some careful though, I've realized that I've cultivated a habit where I come home from work and watch TV while eating some dinner. Afterwards, I always plan on doing work.

The problem is, that habit of watching TV with dinner causes me to sit down and get sucked into my TV habit. For example, last night I decided to do that and ended up watching 3 episodes of random shows and then going to bed, instead of doing what I wanted to do.

When I eat dinner and listen to a podcast, I still have a bit of an urge to watch TV but I find it much easier to sit down and get to work afterwards.

Maybe you have this type of habit in your own life? Try thinking about what you do every day when you come home from work, and identify your 'triggers'. If it's like mine and you are watching TV while eating dinner, listen to/watch a podcast or TED talk instead. If you end up spending a ton of time on YouTube or Facebook, set up something like SelfControl (or the PC equivalent Cold Turkey) to make sure that you can't use those things during times that you have blocked off for work.

For mac users, here's a list of stuff that you can use (note that I'm not vouching for any app in particular, but they all seem useful to someone): http://mac.appstorm.net/roundups/productivity-roundups/15-ma...

I had a similar problem and the only way I could get myself going was by getting a schedule and sticking to it. I only allow myself a certain amount of time a day to do the things I consider unproductive and thats it. Of course it's good to have balance and allow yourself time to just waste it can be become a problem and in my case it did.

Try starting small. At least an hour today of no wasting time on unproductive activities. Then increase gradually.

Might also be a good idea to add obstacles to these activities such as hiding the icon for your browser in five different folders before you can open it, deleting the facebook app on your smartphone, or even packing away you video game consoles. While a completely different theme, a book called the happiness advantage has a chapter on adding obstacles to nudge yourself in the right direction. http://www.amazon.com/The-Happiness-Advantage-Principles-Per...

You might want to watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFIa-Mc2KSk I've been struggling with this as well at times.

Very informative, thanks for sharing.

I have the exact same issue. No matter how much I want to achieve or how motivated I get myself it fades over night and I go back to watching TV and making enough to get by. I second the other commenters recommendation of exercise. The days when I force myself to do even a quick 15-30 minute workout as soon as I wake up, I find are significantly more productive.

That's interesting. I have totally lost that ability. Now when I am not working (aka I don't have a contract) and I'm not hanging out with someone, I just kind of sit at home and surf the web or do idle crap. Not escapism but not really constructive either.

I kind of obsess over some things (succulent plants, leather footwear recently) but that's the "most productive" my surfing entails. I feel like it's maybe my IT job, where I am idle all day and not challenged, that has trained me to do this sort of activity. I wish I could get a real job doing iOS development but until then I'm trying to fill my personal time with it.

It's even the case where the day is over and I realize I could have swept up my house or organized those papers or whatever. Kind of damning. But I think it's just that I bottom out sometimes after getting 5+ rejections from job applications.

I've TRIED escapism but for some reason I just can't suspend myself enough to get into it.

You are describing the last 15 years of my life... And i am only 30...

Man, first thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are not the first human to become addicted, nor will be the only one. There are people out there that have been in a worse situation than you and that have gone out of addictions.

You should find those people, meet them and get out of drinking. Over years you made a path that you have to undo. This will take years, like it took you to create it.

Your wife and kids did the right thing: to stop supporting your addiction. It is time for you to take steps.

I have studied a lot of psychology but I can't help you because it would be like trying to explain quantum physics before learning basic math. But there is people out there that really know what steps you could take for getting out and doing great things with your life.

>You should find those people, meet them and get out of drinking

I don't mean to be offensive but...

This can work, however it might not work depending on who you find. Many former addicts I personally know have replaced their drug habit with a religion habit. They are actively preaching religion at almost all times. This is probably due to the twelve step programs. If you aren't into religion or being preached at, you could be turned off by hanging around these people and thinking that's how your become if you quit, or you need religion to keep you from drinking.

I just know an addict, he avoids getting help because he believes that the 12 step programs are offensive. (I share the same opinion - however I acknowledge they work for some people and that's good - I just disagree they should be the "go to" programs for everyone) He knows AA doesn't work for him, but he doesn't know there are non-religious programs and people who have gotten better without religion.

Disclaimer: The following post is entirely my own experience. It might not reflect everyone's experience. It may or may not be useful. I am just an atheist who knows many former addicts. I have read the AA "big book" some, and I couldn't stand how they treated non-believers. They basically said non-believers can't get better without accepting the Judeo-Christian God. It quotes the bible excessively. Anyone who says AA isn't a religious organization is being dishonest or very selective.

Agreed. AA is a religious program, and if you're not religious you shouldn't do it. It's also not backed by sound medical research, and about 50% of people drop out after the first 90 days.

What is effective about twelve step programs is the support network you build. It's important to have friends you can call on when you're thinking of going to the bar, or just want to take a walk or try something new.

> "It quotes the bible excessively"

Absolutely false. I can't locate a single instance. Care to provide some page numbers?

I admit, it has been a while since I read it and that is what I remember. I went back and reread some of it, and you are right I couldn't find any direct quotes. That was my mistake.

It does however have its roots in The Oxford Group.

You may find this of interest though:


I'm not an alcoholic, but it's great to see support like this. Cheers.

Test for ADD/ADHD. Seriously.

Many people with ADD/ADHD end up in the IT business. Drinking and drug problems, nicotine and caffeine addiction, high-risk behaviours and family issues are very common among ADD/ADHD people.

The reason behind this: low dopamine and norepinefrine levels in the ADD/ADHD brain. Those low levels create a very high reward threshold, so people with ADD/ADHD tend to unconsciously seek for strong or risky stimulus.


I feel like it's not really possible to be tested for ADD as an adult without just coming across as a person seeking amphetamines. Which is funny, considering how eager child psychiatrists are to hand out diagnoses.

If you just want the test, take the Wender-Utah adult ADD inventory. It's around online.

How can this be corrected?

Not at all. You can take Ritalin and Adderall, but that will give you the personality of an accountant and take away your creative problem solving skills.

It doesn't do that to everyone. If anything it makes me more creative. Pity that after a couple of weeks, they stop doing anything, and the withdrawal is so unpleasant.

sorry I meant neutral, ph of 7, and if your urine is acidic <7, eating basic foods/supplements (tums), will get you back to where you need to be.

you need basic urine to metabolize amps properly, a glass of OJ or anything with vit. c/citric acid will make it seem like it's not working.

I'll bite. This hasn't been my experience nor the experience of anyone I know who uses Ritalin or Aderall (or Dexedrine).


When I did Amphetamines for the first time (and cocaine for that matter), I was like WOW. I couldn't believe the sheer mental clarity I experienced. This was more like a team of accountants on a high-speed bullet train, filing Kim Dotcom's annual taxes while doing sudoku's in the background.

I managed to take a low dose of l-amp for exactly 2 consecutive days before I started abusing again. Yes it worked, but I just want more and more. You feel like a superhero compared to baseline.

I agree, amphetamine/methamphetamine really boost my creativity and productivity, however it was too much for me to handle. I have experienced some of the most intense mental breakthroughs and produced some of my most creative works with speed, but it takes it's toll in a heavy way, atleast if you go at it like I did. I am just now starting to feel normal again 6-months later after recovering from a 3-month speed fueled intellectual adventure that landed me in the mental hospital twice due to psychosis. I think there is a reason our minds are calibrated with particular dopamine and neurotransmitter levels, when we alter these levels we see the amazing potential of the human mind, but the brain hardware can't handle it unfortunately. Addiction is hard, now I am back to coding (sober) and I find myself thinking about having a bump whenever I feel unmotivated, which is often.

Hear hear. Don't give in. If you wanna talk to someone who's had a similar experience. be welcomed. Although it didn't land me in the hospital, I must say I'm thankful of the support of my girlfriend. Even when I was listening to the shadow-people plotting against me, she supported me and helped me pull through. Don't kid yourself when you think you can manage on your own. Even if you have a super strong will which seems you do. The cravings can be bad, and giving in could be in a blink of an eye.

Found an interesting article that discusses the tight-rope add/adhd'ers walk when medicating.


I honestly must say I've never read into Atomoxetine, and it looks interesting.

Edit: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial found that atomoxetine is an efficacious weight loss medication

Never mind..

It has been mine. Sure, YMMV.

But don't you require continuously increasing dosage?

Don't think so, but as others pointed, YMMV. A post I just released: http://www.reddit.com/r/ADHD/comments/21kz8l/addadhd_no_supe...

Let me cosign this. Tl;dr I'm a highly functional, auto-didactic freelance programmer and pothead. I get highly stimulated by everything from porn to "dangerous" activity like skateboarding, bouldering, gambling, alcohol and drugs.

Yes. I've never been officially tested, think I slipped the early detection nets. I could read before I went to elementary. I surpassed everyone in basic calculus easily. Usually got bored, and started clowning around a lot. It was a Montessori [1] school and this made me surpass my classmates by about 1,5 year in certain classes like math. I have really poor eyesight, and had really big glasses, so yeah I got messed around with a lot, stood my ground, got into a lot of fights, switched school while skipping a year.

In our schools it is normal that you sit in smaller groups with your classmates, so yeah they did single me out when I got distracted all the time, but this never was sufficient and got kicked out of class a lot of time.

Then when my father died when I was 11 after about a year of fighting with cancer, they started attributing my behavior to that stress factor. (ugh, I told them to eat my shorts, and got strongly opinionated about pediatric workers:) ).

I did do a lot of petty things around that time that would give me thrills. I did manage to spur interest in computers from a very young age which kinda saved me I guess :-) (read on), and impressed my friends with "hacking" 3 digit bicycle code-locks. A lot of pranking, lighting fires. I got into alcohol in my last year of elementary.

I went to a pretty elite high-school when I was just 12. My sister went to the same one, and was a couple years ahead (she finished. I never couldn't cut the two hour a day study requirements. The interpretation of my problematic behavior had already been passed along as info to my high-school teachers (which is usual here). Subsequently I don't think they ever considered ADD/ADHD. In the second year got kicked out of 9/10 classes. My reputation preceded me, and it usually worked to get the class to quiet down by kicking me out. So they started calling me literally a disturbance that was undermining my classmates education.

I went to homework class when I failed the second year for the first time. I ended up sitting around with a bunch of kids just like me: Most of us smoked pot, were all pretty intelligent. And we were great about lying about the amount of homework we had. Enjoyed the free tea and cookies. One of the pediatrics by then said I had ADHD. But I was never hyperactive really. They wanted to put me on Ritalin. My mother was against it, but gave me the choice and I obliged.

After that I switched to a somewhat lower education system in high-school, which made me pass everything without doing anything other than smoke a lot of weed and singling myself out in the class, and just paid attention to the teachers, which worked fine if I was baked.

I've been experimenting with psychedelics since I was 15. First time I took MDMA was age 17. The list of drugs I have experimented with is impressive.

I am still a daily pot smoker, although I found Green Tea, L-Theanine [2] extract and even mild anti-anxiety or anti-depressants to work for me as well. I pick the first two since they are not physically addictive. HOWEVER, they all make me sleepy at some point, and I sometimes f up by power-napping for too long, then battle insomnia at night. This sucks.

I did some Ephederine back in the days when it was still legal, but for lulz, not because I thought it would help my condition. Other than that, never did stimulants (except for MDMA @ party's) until I was around 23-24. I have found stimulants to be extremely addictive to me, so I really shouldn't be near them. Although low dose amphetamines and Methylphenidate do make me a highly productive, I start abusing them really fast, which fast-tracks down into watching a lot of porn. Also, it KILLS my appetite and I've been lean since forever, so it just makes me lose a lot of weight.

I don't wanna go to my doctor to get a script because of these reasons. But I still struggle a lot with finding a balance.

I have been working for companies since the age of 16. I have been self employed freelancer for a year now, and also got a house and mortgage at around the same time. My motivation usually involves paying the bills now :(

When I have interesting new projects lined up (like now), I get highly motivated. But the 10 minute PHP hack I happily postpone until the last possible second.

So yes all in all, I also attribute dopamine. It is also really hard to explain to people why you don't "just do choir x" if you know it will make "choir y & z" easier, or just alleviates stress in general; my brain just obliges. I really really struggle with this.

My saviors for being productive are THC and L-Theanine [2], and it kinda sucks. Amphetamines make me work for hours straight until I finish all the amps and hardly eat. And weed makes me eat a lot and sleep a lot..

Also I do not recommend smoking weed at all!!! You should be vaping it :P

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_education

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine

My story is a bit similar to yours. I got diagnosed with ADD when i was 16 and was put on concerta during my high-school years.

I am interested on how you manage to get stuff done when smoking weed. I have tried to make weed a tool to manage my self, but its not just working for me. I get really confused in my head and do not manage to produce quality work when stoned. It also sometimes makes me super paranoid.

I have ADHD and no tolerance for weed -- it ruins my headspace and makes me paranoid. I also hate ritalin/etc, so I manage myself using tools like lists, alerts (if I've been using my web browser for too long), calendars, and lots of visual cues around my workspace and home (color-coded stickies).

I really, really wish drugs worked better for me, because it looks so much easier.

Yeah, routines sure help. I also TRY to put everything back in its own spot, but i always kid myself I can remember every location of everything, and do not need that.

Exercise routines are also helpful (again, if I do not get bored/distracted 5 mins into it... meaning I have to go somewhere where I can only do activity x. Like the climbing gym, or a martial arts class.

Drugs are not easier at all. Like I said, it's still walking a tight-rope. Also like is being pointed out, brains are differently. I do not get the paranoia from 14+ years of Cannabis use, most people develop it after so much time, or have 0 tolerance and get it from occasional use.

And like I stated, it just puts me in a mode of "focus on one thing". It still doesn't want me to actually start doing something I have to, but I don't get distracted too much from what I'm doing.

So YMMV.. as always. I'd promote regular exercise and routines like you mentioned to start with. You should really look into L-Theanine however. Exp if you drink coffee. It takes off the edginess off caffeine (or any stimulant), while you still get the mental stimulus (focus). When I drink a whole pot of green tea, which contains a good amount of caffeine, my heart rate is even more relaxed than normal.

I have been taking chelated magnesium twice a day and it has helped a bit in lifting the "fog" sooner so I can sit down and start working.

L-Theanine sounds intriguing, is it in all green tea variants or do I need some special higher quality leaf?

What are your thoughts on dabbing? (wax + metal nail)

thanks for sharing your story and perspective, it helps a lot.

Throwaway account here.

I was a "high functioning" alcoholic; 35 years in the software business, and I've worked for companies I know you've heard of, and you've almost certainly used my products. 15 years ago I was drinking 750ml of liquor a day. Lost a few jobs, was living in filth, and was about to be homeless.

Long story made short, I got into detox and then AA, changed pretty much everything in my life that wasn't working and haven't had a drink since. First couple years were intense, and I still go to AA meetings every week. It's a maintenance thing. I know I can't drink again.

It can get better, but you can't do it yourself. If you're a heavy drinker, get medical help in the first few days because withdrawal can kill you. I think you'll find your employer amazingly helpful and supportive.

[I'm extremely skeptical of solutions that involve other substances. I guess if it works, it works, but I'm not going to get much out of talking to you about it.]

My father died of alcoholism and whatever we said to him or do wouldn't change a thing in his mind. That's a very strong addiction and he didn't stop even when doctors told him he's in terminal phase. I believe the change has to come from inside of you and you must identify where it all started and what was it's trigger and treat that first.

I have nicotine issues but I stopped smoking in favor of e-cigs. Nicotine is not that bad, the cigs are killing you not nicotine itself.

I also find doing sport to change my mentality a lot. You start looking different, you value yourself more when your body changes and you won't want to go back. Give it a try. Good luck to you!

I'm in your same boat, nicotine is part of what makes me what I am, I feel totally depressed and unable to function without it (tried, for months).

I followed your same trajectory (cigarettes -> ecigs), then found Swedish snus, much much simpler than ecigs (no batteries, liquids, etc.), 100+ yrs of history so no unknown long term side-effects, and all the nicotine you need plus some. You might want to give it a try, and stop inhaling stuff. :)

Snuus is linked to mouth and throat cancer IIRC. I'd try prepacked ecigs such as green smoke, they're more expensive than liquids but very convenient and same form factor as a cig.

The parent comment implies that they are worried about unknown potential health consequences of the relatively new ecig products and would rather deal with the product with known risks.

I too have found out that sports and especially endurance sports (etc., long distance running, cycling) helped me gain more control over my body. If nothing else whenever I go for a long distance bike ride I tend to be in more peaceful and steady state both mentally and bodily (e.g., steady heart beat). This in turn helped me keep focus and not be impulsive.

I'm just like you -- a developer with an addiction. But my addiction is different... and illegal. I'm not motivated unless I'm high on fake aka K2. If you haven't heard of 'fake', it's basically a really strong marijuana with research chemical additives.

Since gas stations started selling it 3 years ago, I became addicted and when they were banned from selling it I had to find more. I found it online and have been ordering it every since. I leave work early sometimes so I can go smoke it. The only downside I've noticed, is that I'm less sociable (in person) because of how I look when I'm high (red eyes, droopy eyelids) and it makes me tired extremely fast. Sometimes I will wake up at my computer desk wondering when I fell asleep or how long I've been out. I'm sure it's probably not good on my lungs either, but I smoke cigarettes so I'm used to knowing I'm harming my body internally. I just love the way it makes me feel, almost like a reward. I use it as an award for coding something beautiful. "Oh that code actually worked?! Time to smoke."

I hope we both find help. We need it.

Wow, I'm impressed some of you guys share information about your personal weaknesses. AFAIK this is one of the big steps towards dealing with your problem, so congratulations already.

Also, FWIW, my wife is a behavioral therapist and already treated a number of addicted people. She says you learn this kind of "bad" behaviors if, given a problem, they are the "only" or "most successful" behaviors you know and you repeat them for a long time.

Treatment then is to identify

- why you think it's the only behavior you know or the most appropriate

- what your definition of a "successful behavior" is

- what are other appropriate behaviors

- how to deal with situations in which your "bad behavior" usually occurs and how to substitute the bad by one of the good ones.

Disclaimer: I have no psychological background whatsoever, this is just my view on the things.

The good news is that it's not a hopeless cause, even though it might seem that way. I used to think that mine was.. totally genetic and thus incurable; that I was doomed to the same death-by-alcohol fate as many in my biological family, so why bother?

The only people who can understand are those who've been through it and found a way to put the brakes on. It's worth testing out.. my test found the world a whole lot better with the brakes fully engaged at a complete stop, so that's where I've been for a while now.

There are people out there -- young and old, men and women, wealthy and poor, god freaks and atheists alike who've done it. Find them, listen with an open mind and among them there will surely be someone you can relate to who can help you learn about what worked for them.

>>> I used to think that mine was.. totally genetic and thus incurable; that I was doomed to the same death-by-alcohol fate as many in my biological family.

Mine actually was and I watched helplessly as one of my parents went to the brink of death before sobering up. It was a huge wake up call for me. I went cold turkey and never looked back.

I feel like I was lucky. It happened to me when I was at a crossroads. I had landed a nice corporate gig, finally had health insurance and a decent pay check. Everyone I worked with was like me. Young and loved to party. I could've easily gone either way.

After watching the near destruction of our family, I just felt like this was waiting for me if I kept going down the path I was on. In a sense, I was able to see my future before me, and had the wisdom to simply say, "This is not what I want. This is not something I want to put my future family through."

>>>> my test found the world a whole lot better with the brakes fully engaged at a complete stop, so that's where I've been for a while now.

Amen brother. Glad you found the strength and courage. Hopefully OP will too and make a go of it to get clean.

I've been dry for over 10 years and I don't touch the stuff at all, ever. For me, it was the only way I could and feel confident it wouldn't come back and get me.

151 days ago you said you'd been clean for a year and a half - what happened?

I have 16 years sober after ending homeless and literally in the gutter (no millions passed through my hands but it was still a lot.) I had been fighting with it for 20 years watching everything and everyone slip away as you have. This is better than that.

Yes, it was AA that supported me through it. No, I am not religious now and wasn't then. I was just willing to suspend disbelief long enough to try something. I am at a loss to explain why it worked but that doesn't matter.

Despite what many people think AA requires no faith or belief of any kind beyond acceptance of the fact of your situation.

Many read "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity" as a statement of belief in a spiritual solution. It is not that at all, it is merely a hypothetical that is pretty hard to deny on the face of it. Bill and Bob were really, really smart.

Take that hypothetical, suspend disbelief, do the recommended prayer and meditation with the caveat "I don't know if this has any real meaning but, whatever" if you need that and see what happens. That's what I did. I don't question the mystery of my recovery I just marvel at it. You can choose your eventual spiritual path or none at all later in the game but you have to have a game left to play to do that.

In summary, believe nothing but try anything.

I don't know if you'll see this, but I hope you do.

I've struggled with addiction and I've made decisions that I'm ashamed of and disgusted with. There was a period of my life when I was also hopeless. I thought that I had lost everything. In a sense, it was true. (Rather, I destroyed most of what I had and subsequently lost the remaining pieces.)

Despite all of that, it does get better. It took me far too long to accept that.

The fact that you are posting here tells me that on some level you are ready to get better. Recognition of the problem begets hope.

Maintaining an attitude of "it doesn't get better" turns out to be a recursive function. Since lives are finite, the base case turns out to be total self-destruction.

At each time step, each recursive call, sustained hopelessness only begets more hopelessness.

Not only do the effects of addiction and hopelessness compound, but you get a first row seat. You watch the function expand, you see every call. You literally destroy yourself in a slow, humiliating, dangerous, and deliberate fashion.

A friend of mine liked to quote a man named Albert J. LaChance, he wrote: "Addiction is a slow form of suicide- suicide on the installment plan."

Whichever metaphor you choose, one thing is clear: changing your attitude is a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for recovery.

You are obviously intelligent, so it should go without saying, there is no avoiding the fact a chemical addiction is a uniquely difficult problem to solve. Fortunately, it is a problem that a great deal of science is expended upon. And there are many ways to receive medical treatment.

Tedious self-help meetings and hollow platitudes are NO substitute for scientifically validated medical treatment. In your case, it is essential that you have medical intervention while you detox.

(Self-help is very helpful to some, and it does have a reported effectiveness of (last I heard) 10 - 50% (surely, a study carried out with utmost statistical rigor!)

Self-help meetings aren't right for me, but I will vouch for their occasional effectiveness.

Should you choose to follow the self-help branch of your recovery timeline, be aware that the self-help phase comes after the detox branch. All future recovery branches of your recovery timeline form after the medical detox node.)

You need medicine and science right now!

Alcohol withdrawal can kill late stage addicts. You wrote six months ago that you attempted a cold turkey solo-detox and experienced DTs. Those suck. They are also a sign that you need to be extra cautious in your recovery.

When you go to detox, go to a licensed recovery center where a doctor can monitor you. Usually this means a hospital equipped with mental health facilities. An ER will suffice if you are out of other options or are having seizures. You can also go to a rehabilitation center (with a competent medical staff)! The last option might start your detox and then segue into a 28 day (or longer) program.

Alcohol is perhaps the most dangerous drug to detox from. (Perhaps surprising to some, you won't die from heroin withdrawals.)

You can (and should) get medical leave from your employer for treatment. I'm fairly certain it's illegal for them to deny that. (Since you are a competent developer, I'm assuming you work at a company with benefits.)

If you do not have health insurance, please contact your local medicaid office.

Please do this. For your the mother of your child, for your kids. For the person in the future who you will come across who needs help with their addiction. But most of all, for you.


This last part is my favorite aspect of hacker news. I get to tell someone that they are wrong.

I used to have your attitude. I even attempted suicide. By the grace of faulty nylon, I'm still here.

"It doesn't get better." <- That quote is factually incorrect. I'm just one instance of its disproof.

Now, to break Hacker News guidelines with extreme prejudice:


If you don't post an email in your profile in the next few hours so that I can talk to you. Via email, skype, phone, whatever. I will reply to my comment with an email address so that you can contact me when you are ready to talk and/or seek treatment.

He means drinking doesn't get better, so stop drinking. He doesn't mean "life itself."

> He means drinking doesn't get better, so stop drinking. He doesn't mean "life itself."

I feel like you either didn't read my comment or you didn't read OP's comment history. It's not as easy as "...so stop drinking." Someone who has gotten to OP's stage in their addiction has a tough road ahead. It's a road that takes more than rote Hacker News pedantry to traverse.


It's reasonable to assume that anyone who would write the OP or the comments in their history, could use some perspective on stopping drinking and the machinery of recovery life.

You can't possibly know what the OP meant. But I strongly suspect that it wasn't a casual: "Hey everyone, drinking is not so hot down the line, so stop now!" It is a request for help. I could be wrong, but maybe someone else might realize that it is possible to recover from the point where you might think that "drinking doesn't get better."

> ... He doesn't mean "life itself."

I'm not smart enough to know what you mean by that or what the OP actually meant with their post. This leaves me wondering: Someone has a cry for help, and this is the best comment you can come up with? I hope we aren't going to argue whether or not it's a cry for help. Though, that's probably the real issue here. I can retract my comment if you find that it is not up to spec. Pedantry above all else.

Okay, fair enough. I can't claim to know his precise meaning, unless he personally clarifies. That's my interpretation of his words, in the form of: {

  var it = "drinking";
  corollary(it, "stop ${it}, because ${it}, doesn't get better");
} ...but you certainly could be equally right, given his reference to Phil Katz.

My hopes are biased towards OP trying to make the statement: "do stop drinking", but hopefully not living in such a state where he believes, and proclaims a statement such as: "life is not worth living"

>Alcohol withdrawal can kill late stage addicts

This is correct and very very important. Your brain is physically changed. Alcohol's primary effect is the increase in stimulation of the GABAA receptor, promoting central nervous system depression. With repeated heavy consumption of alcohol, these receptors are desensitized and reduced in number, resulting in tolerance and physical dependence. When alcohol consumption is stopped too abruptly, the person's nervous system suffers from uncontrolled synapse firing. This can result in symptoms that include anxiety, life threatening seizures, delirium tremens, hallucinations, shakes and possible heart failure.[55][56] Other neurotransmitter systems are also involved, especially dopamine, NMDA and glutamate.[12][57]. Please do it with professional help, in a hospital setting. An addition recovery/psychiatric hospital, not a "normal" hospital. Search online or in the yellow pages. You may have to travel some to get there. I've seen many addicts withdraw and some have no problem, but some have life threatening seizures and other absolutely terrible physical symptoms. I heard one person say "this is the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life!" Also, not being able to leave prevents you from drinking to stop the symptoms, they are locked facilities, when you sign yourself in you agree to be there for at least 3 days. The hospital will provide you with proper aftercare as well, tailored to your needs. They will also control your symptoms with medication, depending on what the symptoms are. You get checked up on constantly. Getting the psychiatric care from the hospital (and followup) will help you get to the root of the problem - why you drink - and you can treat that, instead of just treating the addition itself.

All this care is generally covered by insurance.

If you aren't very religious, please skip AA and all the twelve step programs. They are really offensive to atheists and non believers. (I have read part of the AA "big book" and had to stop because I couldn't take any more. The section on "what if I don't believe in God" was especially offensive) Seek CBT or other non-twelve step treatments. Again, the hospital will help with finding a program for you and referring you there, often taking care of the paperwork for you.

You have acknowledged you have a problem and wish to get help. This is the most important step. Please note: this will not be an easy journey, this will be difficult. You will have to work for it. You probably will have to change many things about yourself, including your thinking.

Good luck and I truly wish you the best. I am always happy when addicts get better, I grew up with an addict parent, and I know what it can do to yourself and others around you.


AA is NOT religious.

It says throughout their books + literature that the only reason it uses the word "god" sometimes is because it's an already well-known concept of what a 'higher power'.. or 'power/force greater than yourself' can be. That entire concept, and the basis for one of their steps, is essentially getting you to stop trying to control the things in your life that you have absolutely no control over (i.e. I can't control what your response will be so therefor I shouldn't worry about whether or not you understand what I'm trying to convey).

There ARE christian based recovery programs but unless you're already a very STRONG christian I'd stick to any number of organizations like AA or S.M.A.R.T recovery.

Btw there is no section on "what if I don't believe in God" in any AA literature... so i'm confused with why you're making shit up when this guy clearly needs real help & not just your speculation. AA worked for me, S.M.A.R.T recovery worked for a close friend, and I'm sure other programs out there have their success stories too.

Using wikipedia as a source for how someone should treat a medical condition (alcohol withdrawal) is not only misleading but in this case dangerous.

Think of addiction like LSD. For those who have experienced it there is no explanation necessary..for those who haven't there is no explanation possible (loosely paraphrased from "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass).

you americans are so silly :D


> Atheism and other devout believers in a purely physical, meaningless and non-spiritual reality are pretty susceptible to things like alcoholism and born-again Christianty.

[citation needed]

Here's some nonsense I just made up:

"Christians and other devout believers in a purely spiritual reality are pretty susceptible to things like alcoholism and becoming atheists."

See how easy it is!

>I bet half of these atheist middle class kids running amock on Reddit are married and church-going by the time they hit 40. As soon as their own mortality starts catching up with them they'll have questions that image memes and front-end frameworks just won't answer.

Oh cute, the old "there are no atheist in foxholes" argument. Oh and it's gotta be church-going, you know Christan. My husband was shot at plus watched two friends die in Iraq and still remains an atheist.

>If you're in tech and you're feeling the lonely, empty void, well, for fucks sake, that's what the entire industry is banking on the future being like.

Um, no.

>AA is very effective.

[citation needed]

Can it work for some people? Yes. Is it effective as a whole for everyone? No. Is it better than other treatments? Probably not.


>People need spiritual lives

No, some people need a spiritual life, not all people. I certainly don't.

The rest of your comment didn't make any sense to me.

A good point, put as offensively as possible, loses it's luster.

I believe that spirituality has a place, but that spirituality is pointed toward more by Goedel Escher Bach than the Bible, or the Koran, who's description of God is so filled with contradiction (a just loving God that will burn you for eternity no matter how you lived your life, if you don't mouth certain words?!), I'm not really sure what people even mean when they say "I believe in God."

Spirituality in practice, to me, means meditation. And meditation is a wonderful exercise in culling down one's experience to an absolute minimum. If your mind is an organic computer, then meditation is an intentional starving of input. This extreme, austere environment reveals details about the low-level operation of your mind that is fascinating to discover. Empirically, it's useful too, because you can view your experience with ever greater objectivity. And it's mostly inexplicable, in the way good spiritual experiences are. Highly recommended.


I didn't get the point across at all. I'm too fired up emotionally about this topic. It'll live much better as a song.

Wow, interesting perspective.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this comment. This is effective actionable advice for the OP with a positive attitude. HackerNews comments from low karma kids aren't dead!

Craig Ferguson did a good piece about his alcoholism, a year or two that went missing from his life, 15 years of being sober, etc.

It's really good, and there might be something in it for you:


I struggle with nicotine, caffeine, and porn. I take Chantix and run at the gym which in combination helps a great deal, but I still relapse now and then on the nicotine. The others I seem to have overcome completely. I had to change my life and I also found spirituality, something I had denied due to insecurity and unwillingness to accept others. I wish you luck.

I had a gap in my professional career where I didn't code nor worked with computers very much and I saw a decrease in addictive behavior.

Can we blame programming or isolation when coding, is this a professional disability?

Too bad that there is no real interest in studying this issues from a psychological/sociological point of view.

Personally, in my experience, I have found it to be because of the constant thinking and amount of concentration required. Our brains use a disproportionately large amount of our bodies resources and I believe this leads to large amounts of stress when done too much. I'm a big believer that programmers should not code more than 4 hours per day so that our minds have enough to rest and recover properly.

That reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut: "We’re only smart four hours a day."


I think we all have only so much willpower and the more we work the less willpower we have to resist temptation. I find it much easier to resist that choc chip cookie when I am not working hard than when I am in the middle of some huge project.

Depends what kind of work, I had a gap in my IT career but I worked all this time, some physical labor and helping and caring for my old-aged grandparents.

Exactly this is my speculation: spending time in front of a computer coding has some adverse repercussions on your mental health.

If social media does it, why not coding?

I don't think is a willpower issue, I think it is more of a surrounding environment issue. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park

If that is true, then just think of how much willpower we have to exert in modern society, from the novelty and escape that the browser provides to the candy bars in the supermarket.

I read about a study some years ago that posited that, indeed, willpower is something that you deplete and have to recharge.

I am thinking to move to India or Nepal somewhere near temples to clear my mind and body with books and stuff, Am I doing right ?

From my experiences in India, you might not find it clears your mind. India can seem like complete chaos to people from the West, and it kind of is. You don't have to go somewhere to find peace of mind, though. Have a look at Mindfulness - its central tenet - roughly - is that we spend too much time living in the past and the future, when we can be happy if we just accept where we are right now.

Where are you currently living ?

You're not alone. I live in a world of perpetual insane stress, and continuously self medicate through the not-so-winning triangle of cigarettes, coffee, and weed, in quantities that'd make a mobster blush. I've had my fair share of victory, and I feel more than my fair share of loss, but don't we all.

I've tried stopping my various vices, but without treating the stimulus loop, it's nigh on impossible. When I step off the grid and go travelling for a month... I suddenly no longer feel the need for any of them. This is a huge relief to me, as it means I realise that this behaviour isn't something endemic to myself, rather a habituation as a result of the feedback loop I allowed to grow.

Step out. Do something totally different. My promise to myself that I will do this, and soon, is the only thing keeping me remotely sane. At the very least, hit the road for a month and see somewhere new, meet someone new, and see if you're the same person. You might be surprised.

As someone who likes a smoke (Weed & Cigarettes) and is currently trying to lead a healthier life I feel your pain buddy!

Have you ever tried just cutting down? Even just a little bit? I don't believe in this "Just stop and never drink again" rubbish I think it has to be done in baby steps.

Anyway, hope you're okay and whatever you do don't go the religion route. It's a dangerous path to tread especially with the types who run these things.

Not sure about that. I gave up smoking 10 years ago and the only way (after giving up 100's of times before) was to give up, grit my teeth and sit it out. Otherwise you're just prolonging the agony.

Your brain lies to you to try and get you to smoke so that it can get it's nicotine fix...

I think we've all been at a place where we feel that we're using something a little more than we should. Please remember that addiction is a behavior. When you talk with a psychotherapist and get real professional medical help, which you absolutely should, they will help you identify the triggers that cause you to drink. Maybe you're stressed and drinking allows you to relax. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and drinking lets you feel in control. Maybe your parents were alcoholics (mine were) and your drinking fills a void. Whatever it is, there's a real reason for your drinking and uncovering that reason is the key to your sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs have a high drop out rate (about 50% within the first 90 days) and are not backed by science, so you should talk with an addiction medicine doctor first (and go through an appropriate detox program).

That said, what makes 12 step programs effective is the support community you build in them, so find some people you feel safe talking with and who you can call anytime. In fact, find as many of them as you can. You have ~200 people on HN who took the time to comment, so there's a start.

It's very hard to deal with such an issue all by yourself. Hope you get therapy or coaching , something to ease your burden . It can definitively get better with time. Drinking is notoriously hard to shake off because it is sanctioned in so many situations for adults. I know this sounds crazy , but maybe join a group ( Art of Living, Hare Krishna, Sai) where you are forced to be constantly surrounded by people. These are safe ways of delivering a mental jolt while being surrounded by empathetic folks.I don't subscribe to them , but suggest use them as a tool and it's not hard to shake them once you are cured) . OR volunteer somewhere in a group that takes your mind off. Sorry I seem to be hawking Indian spirituality - but these groups that I mentioned readily accept anyone - and make them feel at home. Am sure other ethnic communities in the USA also offer similar.. All I am saying is a mental jolt, and gentle empathetic friends and family can cure , last but not least, a qualified therapist.

Being part of a group will accelerate your recovery , drain your negativity and heal. Talk is cheap so I will stop here.

All my support. I lost my mother recently to alcoholism.

You have identified your problem. You can still recover, but get some external help!

You are probably aware that there is a very high risk that unless you get control of your habit you will die of it. Massive drinkers can develop memory issues - brain will develop lesions, short term memory will become poor. Not so good professionally. There are several high-risk medical complications that are likely. You might develop a liver cirrhosis. I hear this is extremely painful. You might get cancer. Also, painful.

Seriously, terminal alcoholism is something you really, really want to avoid. My mother spent the last month of her life psychotic in a hospital bed and before that she basically lost all control of her bowels. Reading had been one of the joys of her life but her memory became so poor that in the last years she could not really follow books (she did crosswords, though).

It's just not that you feel shit for drinking, the drink will turn you into a living husk in the long term. You will probably need psychiatric as well as physical treament. Get help. Any help.

As another poster mentioned, addiction is about getting away from some kind of unbearable inner pain. I'll share mine, what I did to get deaden it, and how I finally healed it. I'm 31 now, have a wife, exciting job, close friends, and most of all, I'm happy.

My pain comes form severe bullying; I got beaten up literally every day as a child for three years. After that, I finally got transferred to another school, but the damage was done.

I used video games, porn and promiscuity to deaden the pain. That distracted me from starting a career, and I ended up living on the street for six months.

I tried pretty much everything to heal myself.

* What did not work *

- Religion; God did absolutely nothing to my pain away. Religious counselors were very judgmental and made me feel worse, and their advice just caused new problems. - Cults; They had interesting teachings that were partially very entertaining, but Ashtar Sharan had nothing but a Galactic shrug to offer my very real suffering (I would have been prepared to actually believe in Ashty had he actually helped me, but it was clear that he did not) - Meditation; It helped, but only temporarily. When I missed my meditation session the pain came right back, and I grew distant from the world. - Yoga; Like meditation, it did help, but it took such great lifestyle changes I just didn't feel like me any more. I'm a child of the West, and Yoga is radically different. - Sex; obviously, sleeping around is a great distraction and can be genuinely fun, but when it's addictive it hurts in the end and you draw other people into your drama. - Counseling; Wallowing in my pain with a guy who think everything is a fascinating freak show made things much worse.

* What worked partially

- Cannabis; Smoking weed actually worked better than meditation to give me temporary relief. It also made me confused when used heavily. - New Age; There is a lot of partial truth floating around, if you avoid the obvious marketing ploys. "Think And Grow Rich" is pretty good, and so is "The Science of getting Rich". Basically, the idea is to sit down and think about stuff you want in detail. It has a similar calming effect to meditation, and can lead to actual creative problem solving. It did not, however, significantly heal my hardest pain points. But the idea of "you can reach your goals" kept my trying. - Pressure point tapping; EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is pretty good, it can stimulate and permanently remove some trauma. It has its limits though, and I felt like an neurotic idiot tapping my wrists all the time.

* What really worked

- Philosophy; Getting a genuine core philosophy and actively deciding my values gave me a lot of strength. - Openness; being extremely honest about my shortcomings with deserving people lead to a form of intimacy that makes the trauma not seem so bad any more. - "Taking the pain"; This is not the same as sucking it up. It is feeling like crap, and accepting that I am feeling like crap right now, without suppressing it. Practicing this takes the "fear of the fear" away. This is probably the real benefit of meditation when done properly, but I didn't need to sit on a cushion to do that. - Self-acceptance; This one is the kicker. I no longer slapped my wrist for slacking on the job, or being not as nice as I could be. Paradoxically, this lead to me not slacking on the job, and being nicer. It also helped find my niche, where my shortcomings don't matter. - Dimethyltryptamine (DMT); An illegal psychedelic drug, it has been used as indigenous medicine for centuries. This is the only way I have been able to permanently release my worst and oldest pain points. I stopped smoking spontaneously after a couple of trips, and have noticed a sharp raise in my productivity and overall wellbeing.

Obviously, this is just my story, but I hope that some points might help you, or someone else.

Did you use the DMT solo or under guidance?

National Geographic channel had a program on recently about how DMT and LSD are making a comeback for curing addictions and painful pasts.

I used the DMT solo after doing thorough research.

Thank you for sharing your experiences in detail. Brave of you, been through similar experiences myself. It really is a jungle of methods out there.

"As another poster mentioned, addiction is about getting away from some kind of unbearable inner pain"

Could you please give ideas how to id that pain?

To be personally specific, my mother never told me positive things, always comparing me to some perfect ideal, and I also was beaten up for not good grades. These seem a "perfect" explanation from what I've read, but still I don't really see them as the cause of my procrastination, addictions, and feeling tired, sometimes down, and with no energy. ..So, any ideas how to id my pain, if I have one? Thanks.

I'd recommend journaling. It helped me to look at a bunch of feeling words [1] and write down how I am feeling.[2] Then ask why. Finding the answer to why may take a while. Also, there are several layers of why. (Ex. "Why do I watch lots of movies?" "Because it feels sort of relational and kind of numbs the loneliness." "Why?" "Because it is difficult for me to do actual relationships" "Why?" "I think maybe I don't really know what love is and so I act self-oriented." "Why?" "I don't feel like I've have received unconditional love" [loose example from my own life recently])

After you id the pain, if it's because someone hurt you, you need to forgive them, otherwise, you'll get bitter. If the pain is old, you may need to look for the bitterness (expressions of cynicism, complaining, criticizing, and anger may be good areas to explore). It hurts to give up the bitterness and anger, but in my experience life is a whole lot more enjoyable if you forgive people. If I'm honest about it, the times that I am bitter or angry at someone are really miserable.

If your pain is caused by absence of love, I don't know what to do about that yet. As a Christian, I feel like regularly experiencing God's unconditional love is key to fully healing our pain, but I have not walked completely through that yet.

[1] http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~prewett/archive/FeelingWo...

[2] It helped me to write letters to God honestly expressing how I was feeling, including about him, it provides a concrete framework. If you do this, it helps to assume that he is a loving father (since that is what he claims to be), otherwise you might just transfer your anger to him and end up equally stuck.

For people that can't relate to Christianity, and still need some help with the "forgiving" thing, I can recommend compassion meditation, aka Metta meditation.

It's not quite entirely secular either, because it often has roots in Buddhism. Still, you can easily practice it without needing to adapt any Buddhist teachings. I'm not a Buddhist and I don't desire to become one, but some of the practice is quite useful :)

I'm just pointing it out because I really agree with prewett, that forgiving (all sorts of things and people) is a very powerful and positive thing to do. Much more so than I expected before I practiced Metta meditation for a while--it was just one of many different series of meditation types/styles we did with our meditation group. It's had a very profound and long-lasting effect on me, also quite different/orthogonal to the benefits one gains from typical mindfulness meditation. Which I can also recommend btw, but the effects of the compassion meditation seem that more tangible, like it taught me things. Maybe that's just me though.

Think about various experiences, and observe the patterns by which your body becomes tense.

If the pattern matches a chronic condition, that is your cause.

Therapy can help a lot for these problems. Therapists are trained to recognize unconscious reactions of their clients and then bring those reactions into consciousness, so they can be dealt with by the client.

If you want to do it yourself (not recommended), the first step is usually to notice patterns in your behavior - what do you try to avoid, when do you fall into addictions, etc. Also compare that to what other successful people do - do you find that some things are trivial and no big deal to other people, but cause you to turn into a blubbering mess? You're looking for intense anxiety here, which is why this is so difficult to do yourself - most people instinctively shy away from things that make them anxious, but here you have to deliberately seek them out.

Then, once you've got a clue to where the problem might be, you're looking for a thought that seems to skitter away every time you think of it. For example, I had an issue with needing to be certain about everything, and everything needing to be cut & dried facts. The idea that I may not be perfect, that there were some things I didn't know and never would know, was completely anathema to me. So every time I found myself in such a situation, I'd immediately try to force certainty, either by learning as much as I could and jumping to a conclusion, or by avoiding the situation entirely. When I tried to hold the idea of not being perfect in my head, my psyche would rebel, and thoughts would pop into my head like "That's for weaker minds. I wouldn't be myself if I didn't know everything."

Once you've got the thought that always tries to skitter away, hold onto it and face it directly, no matter how much your consciousness rebels. Usually they'll be some sort of intense emotional reaction - you'll start crying, or you'll want to punch something, or you'll feel like your life is ending. That's why movie dramas (eg. Good Will Hunting) often have some teary scene at the therapist's office. Naturally, you will probably want to be in a safe, private place for this.

You'll want to hold onto that thought until you feel completely spent - it doesn't actually take long once you've IDed the issue (20 minutes to an hour is my experience), but it's exhausting. You should feel "lighter" afterwards though, like your body has been through rough exercise but your mind is freer and no longer weighed down by whatever was troubling you.

Good luck. It's much easier with a trained therapist - or actually, I wouldn't say easier in the sense of "less painful", but you spin your wheels less on false theories about why you are the way that you are.

I have been sober for 6.5 years. I was a blackout drinker, and then ventured into narcotics. I thought that it all used to be fun. I did it to fit in, find acceptance, feel a part of. But at some point that changed for me. Using was no longer fun at all, it was more like work. I never felt "just right" but rather was always chasing the dragon. I got to that place of hopeless despair. Its a place not unlike where Dante passed in the Inferno with the sign that reads "Abandon Hope all Ye who enter here". Everyday I would wake up in fear, and with guilt shame and remorse. When I wasn't using, I was thinking about it, planning how I was going to get it next, imagining what it would be like- how it would "Be Different this Time". Always the same torment and insanity. At that point, i would use to feel numb.. to not feel anything at all. I didn't want to think about myself, or what I was doing. I wanted to just escape and not feel.

I turned 21 in rehab, in po-dunk Rock Creek, OH. Only after a few weeks clean, and the bitter irony of where I was in life, did I have that "moment of clarity" and have a little bit of willingness to accept that I was powerless over alcohol, and my life had become unmanageable. AA does not have a monopoly on recovery, but it has worked for me. We suffer from a spiritual malady, and our recovery is contingent upon a daily reprieve. "what am i doing today for my recovery?" I think you are posting this because you need to know, and you need to hear that everything will be ok. There is hope, I promise that you are NOT Condemned to live with active addiction. Know that you are going down a path that is not unique, so many before you, who have done worse things, and lost more things, and suffered longer have gone been in your shoes. And for them too, there is way to beat this disease. Anonymity is the greatest form of Humility. We are just people helping people, from one addict to another, I can empathize with you, I know how you feel, I have felt those pains before. Call an AA central office near where you live, send me a message if you need help

Please find a meeting near you. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/

No, please don't.


There are more effective, non religious, evidence based treatments for addiction.

Edited to add: Penn and Teller covered AA here: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yUG9dr6SZSY

Also: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/75-years-a...

Wow, that Penn and Teller thing is horrible. About 3:30 when they're reading from the AA book -- "I admit that I am powerless over alcohol" as Teller makes fun like it's the stupidest idea ever. A lot of the people you'll find in AA really do need to admit they're powerless over alcohol. That's no joke.

But Penn and Teller readily admit they've never had a drink in their lives (it was a choice we made, a path we never decided to go down, so screw you losers that aren't total teetotalling illusionists).

The comments here in general demonstrate a general lack of understanding of addiction. It's not a choice, it's a disease, and the prognosis is generally shitty. I'm not saying AA is the end all be all (it's not), but holy shit, don't be so dismissive of an organization that saves lives by trying to give people strategies they can use to avoid drinking. I'll put it this way -- if alcohol (or any recreational substance) is fucking up your life, I don't see any harm in seeking out a support group of people who have dealt with similar issues and have gone on to lead normal lives. There's a lot of suffering people out there that refuse to take that first step because they believe bullshit like it's something they can fix themselves with magic.

And for all the people bitching about how AA is religious -- it's not! The "higher power" thing is more of a philosophy than a religion. This philosophy essentially says alcoholism is a disease, individuals are generally powerless to control it (as evidenced by the lack of an addicts ability to control it in the past), and they will need the help of some kind of "higher power" to avoid drinking. What's the nature of this higher power? That's for you to decide. It could simply be AA as an organization, a higher power that will help with support to prevent you from drinking. I dunno, there's a few books about it, but my point is -- it's not religious!

>And for all the people bitching about how AA is religious -- it's not! The "higher power" thing is more of a philosophy than a religion.


I've read the AA "big book" (enough of it that I could stand). It is a religious book. The part about non-believers is especially offensive - to me. It quotes from the Bible, it explicitly refers to the Judeo-Christian God. Many court have ruled people can't be forced to attend AA meetings because it violates the first amendment's freedom of religion clause.[1] If it wasn't religious organization, then it wouldn't.

AA can actively harmful - to some people. This whole "go to AA if you have an addition as a first step for everyone" is complete and total nonsense.

If people seek AA, struggle with the concept of a higher power, you know GOD, they might think they can't get better. If you are religious, seek AA, if you are not, don't. I disagree completely that AA is a universal treatment. It is not.

As I said before - I know an addict, he avoids getting help because he believes that the 12 step programs are offensive. (I share the same opinion - however I acknowledge they work for some people and that's good - I just disagree they should be the "go to" programs for everyone) He knows AA doesn't work for him, but he doesn't know there are non-religious programs and people who have gotten better without religion.

Preaching AA as a first step or a cure all is harmful to these people.

Do I have personal experience with addition - absolutely. I was never an addict, but I grew up all my life with an addict parent.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous#United_Sta...

United States courts have ruled that inmates, parolees, and probationers cannot be ordered to attend AA. Though AA itself was not deemed a religion, it was ruled that it contained enough religious components (variously described in Griffin v. Coughlin below as, inter alia, "religion", "religious activity", "religious exercise") to make coerced attendance at AA meetings a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the constitution.[88][89] In September 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that a parole office can be sued for ordering a parolee to attend AA.[90][91]

Try going to an AA meeting and saying you're an atheist--you'll find plenty others present.

Your friend avoids getting help because he's an addict, not because he's offended by the 12 step program.

You would suggest doing nothing in the absence of a perfect solution? That is awfully convenient if you're a fan of getting high...

>Your friend avoids getting help because he's an addict, not because he's offended by the 12 step program.

Completely and totally incorrect. He has tried AA, and was completely disgusted with it. He just thinks if he tries to get professional help again, it will be like AA and he doesn't want that. Quitting on his own hasn't worked out yet, he's tried.

>You would suggest doing nothing in the absence of a perfect solution?

OF COURSE NOT! I never suggested it, I didn't even imply it. I said "Preaching AA as a first step or a cure all is harmful to these people." I didn't say it didn't help some people, of course it does. I am saying if you have an addiction people jump to "AA" like it is a cure all or the only route. They don't evaluate the patient to see what is right for them. Even doctors don't do this to a great degree. There are other non-region based programs out there, they need to be considered on equal footing as AA, introducing the wrong person to AA can turn them off of getting help at all. Right now it is "I have an addition" then the answer is "Oh well just go to AA."

>That is awfully convenient if you're a fan of getting high...

What are you talking about? I don't get high.

> Try going to an AA meeting and saying you're an atheist--you'll find plenty others present.

So some can get past some parts of AA, some also cannot. Big deal.

LOL such denial. Your friend just likes to get wasted and doesn't want to really stop. He would just like the consequences to stop while still being able to get wasted at his own accord.

Being powerless over alcohol is similar to saying your powerless over a nuclear bomb going off next to you. You have the power not to pick up the first one. Once you start it sometimes can be really hard to stop, and admitting that is the key to not starting. And for most drunks theres no point in drinking one or two drinks anyway. the point is oblivion.

I'd recommend these guys - https://rational.org/index.php?id=1

I second that.

After having trouble with alcohol for over 10 years, I quit about a year ago. On my first day of not drinking I spent a long time reading rational.org, and parts of it were very useful to me.

I have to say, I've been feeling better and better over the entire year. Thinking more clearly. Better perspective on life. Hanging out with people I enjoy, and not spending too much time around people I used to drink with who drag me down.

In a way I could see that drinking was a problem at the time, but a year of not drinking (though also not complete sobriety ;) ) has put into perspective that it was a HUGE problem.

One side note that I think others here will relate to: Even when I was inebriated, I had very strong cognitive abilities in some areas, and I used that to convince myself that I could "handle it." I couldn't tell that my medium and long-term perspective was being thrown way out of whack.

As much as I love watching Penn and Teller I wouldn't take their opinion, as presented on TV, seriously on anything. They have no interest in objectivity or to seek out valid counter arguments. Their attempts to make it look like both sides get an equal chance to present their ideas are pathetic. They care nothing about educating their viewers on the nuances of what are often complex issues. All they want is to present entertaining polemics and scathing diatribes (and maybe some nudity), objectivity and consequences be damned.

And I'm saying this as someone who is not only a great fan of Penn and Teller, but also someone who almost always finds myself on their side in the arguments they present.




A Cochrane Review of eight studies, published between 1967 and 2005, measuring the effectiveness of AA, found "no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA" in treating alcoholism, based on a meta-analysis of the results of eight trials involving a total of 3,417 individuals. To determine further the effectiveness of AA, the authors suggested that more studies comparing treatment outcomes with control groups were necessary.

One indication AA isn't based in science - it is supposedly a panacea, a cure all for whatever ails you. There is literary HUNDREDS of different twelve step programs, one for everything!

AA is also harmful because it make members say the are "you have hit rock bottom, your life is out of control, you are powerless against your addiction." This is harmful to people who may otherwise seek help for harmful drinking habits that haven't become a full blown addiction yet. It is also very degrading for some people.

Control groups are quite hard to come by...

Indeed! This makes proper research hard.

My apologies for my harshness, but wow, those links were horrible. The non-video links are really the most vapid kind of argument-free partisan blogspam, filled with guilt-by-association logic, and overstating their conclusions.

However, by walking the link-graph for a while from one of your links, I found this, which seems to contain some useful detail, and seems to agree with the bias of the articles you linked: http://www.morerevealed.com/library/coc/chapter7.htm It claims that the evidence is pretty terrible overall, but there is some evidence that AA is worse than no treatment. Hmn.

I wasn't able to bring myself to read the terribly-presented websites of the suggested non-religious alternatives. Ugh. Since you claim there are "more effective, non-religious, evidence-based" alternatives, could you point to some evidence? In particular, evidence of "more-effective" and "evidence-based"? That'd be super super useful to people!

And the P&T bit is almost entirely rhetorical dirty tricks. You can pick any minute of it where Penn is speaking, and find several logical fallacies and rhetorical innuendo. (The interviews vary greatly in logical clarity.) Though I agree with one thing Penn is ranting about: courts (or employers) mandating AA attendance is highly objectionable, on several levels.

I'm very interested in this subject for two reasons; I'm a devout atheist, and I've seen an enormous improvement in the life of a loved one directly chronologically following that person's involvement with AA. It's just a single anecdote, and anyway perhaps there was no causation in this correlation, but it has definitely piqued my interest in whether AA can work, and how, and why, and what it has to do with religion.

I've found that when one attends an AA meeting, one meets a lot of people who claim to have been profoundly improved by AA... but I realize that maybe that's just because the success stories stick around and populate meetings for 4 or 40 years. Maybe it works really well for some, but maybe the success rate is terrible.

Successes notwithstanding, even if they might be rare (or common! I dunno!), I would agree there are many valid criticisms about AA. As one of P&T's interviewees points out, they resist change, and have no feedback mechanism to improve themselves. There are advantages to dogmatism, but disadvantages too. But I will say that, at least in the lefty-leaning SF Bay area, it is quite possible to be an atheist at AA. But it's still America, so if you randomly sample the population, you're gonna find a lot of professed Christians, and so an atheist at AA is going to need to have considerable tolerance of other people's (crazy wrongheaded) opinions. I would say that it's not a religion, but it is a club full of religious people, talking about things that they think are related to their religion. Maybe the SFBA is atypical.

I haven't experienced chemical addition personally, and I don't know anything about the effectiveness of other programs, but if there are atheists out there avoiding AA-like programs for religious reasons and would like to talk about reconciling those things, my email is in my profile.

"but I realize that maybe that's just because the success stories stick around and populate meetings for 4 or 40 years."

What on earth makes you think they're the success stories?

That'd be like saying "this physical therapist is awesome; there's a guy who sprained his ankle 4 years ago who's still seeing her regularly for treatment."

Well, there's a few reasons I think that.

First, because that's how most people, measuring these things, define success. For example, the Penn&Teller clip the parent post linked explicitly treats cessation of attendance as failure, and uses this as its sole justification for claiming that AA "does not work". You're welcome to see this as evidence that P&T are full of bullshit.

Second, those people declare themselves to be successful, by their own lights. They might be wrong, but I suggest that our first approximation should be to believe them.

But the third and more-important reason is more complicated. I don't claim to be an expert on AA on any level, but with my very limited data, I'm starting to believe that a better analogy than yours is this: "this gym is awesome... people keep coming back to maintain their muscle tone and cardiovascular health!" And for me - as a non-drinker - the alcoholism part is just the tip of the iceberg.

what makes you an expert?

I have a friend with a drink problem and I persuaded him to give this a try. However he is the kind of person who attracts negative people like a magnet. Within a couple of weeks he was drinking more than ever because he met people via AA with more severe addictions than his and they just pulled him down to their level. I'm not saying AA isn't effective - just that it may not always be the best solution for everyone.

Religion is no better substitute to alcoholism!

The vocabulary of AA is unfortunate. It has a historical underpinning (AA is essentially a single-purpose offshoot of an oddball "first century Christianity" feel-good movement) and it is incredibly difficult to find a way clear of the "AA cult" within AA. While I don't like it, I can (to a limited extent) understand it - people who have recovered are highly reluctant to mess with the program as they understand it.

That said, there are a lot of us atheists (and, of course, people whose religious/spiritual beliefs, if they have them, are incompatible with the ever-present whiff of Christianity ) who have managed to recover in AA. The steps (with one exception, explained later) can be divorced from the idea of the supernatural, and actually boil down to an effective cognitive/behavioural therapy. (They have been re-written many times, but because of frictions with mainstream AA, it's difficult to find the secularized versions published anywhere outside of the agnostic/atheist groups.) The only fly in the ointment, I suppose, would be the fifth step, which requires one to posit an all-knowing entity. It doesn't require believing that one exists; it's more a recognition that trying to hide things from yourself, to rationalise things that aren't rational, or to take on more blame or responsibility than you honestly ought to own is futile and counterproductive.

There are more than a handful of us working to fix this. I wish I could say the battle is an easy one. Frankly, one gets a little tired of hearing (after nearly thirty years sober) that if I don't get God, I'll get drunk - from people who are still riding the pink cloud. If one looks hard enough, one can find rational people and groups in AA; one day, they may even be listed with the other groups (as we generally were until just a few years ago). I'm going to put on my optimist hat in the meantime and read the big push-back as the death throes of something whose time has passed.

>can be divorced from the idea of the supernatural, and actually boil down to an effective cognitive/behavioural therapy.

So lets stop it with all the mumbo jumbo crap and go to real CBT.

The one part of AA that can't be simply transferred to a professional therapeutic setting is the peer support. There is absolutely no substitute for a large enough number of people who've been there, done that and puked on enough T-shirts that a sizable handful can tell you your very own story (with the dates, times and names altered somewhat). Learning how to live after the drinking (or other addictive behaviour) goes away is hage as well, and it's an ongoing process that takes years. Most "treatments" only take you to the point of feeling better, and it is far too easy to mistake feeling better for being well.

As I said in my previous, there are a whole bunch of us working on getting rid of the "mumbo jumbo", but we're unwilling to throw the baby out with the bath water. Those of us who've been around for long enough have seen the difference between merely quitting and a sustainable lifestyle change often enough to understand that merely removing the self-medicating behaviour is asking for a lifetime of the symptoms one was attempting to medicate. That is not enough for anyone. We've also seen how long it takes to go from black and white through various bit levels of greyscale to a full life of colour and nuance - the whole damned universe changes suddenly on a regular basis for about the first five or six years.

The problem I've seen with alternative efforts is that they either concentrate on a "quick cure" (a short-term effort that is supposed to take you through a lifetime, but winds up being about as effective in practice as leaving AA behind the moment you think you've got a handle on things) or treat the substance abuse as a separate concern from the rest of life. The problem tends to be that for some value of "better", life is better for the drunk on the other side of the bottle cap than it is on this side. That's what needs to change, and that's what a rational approach to AA provides.

>The one part of AA that can't be simply transferred to a professional therapeutic setting is the peer support.

Have you ever been to CBT or DBT? I have (not for addiction, for psychiatric illness). It is specially and absolutely practiced in a group setting, with peer support. There is also a one-to-one part too, with a professional. I was in inpatient hospitalization, outpatient hospitalization, and less intensive treatment.

>Most "treatments" only take you to the point of feeling better.

Wrong wrong, couldn't possibly be more wrong. I have personal experience, as I've said. Stop it with the scare quotes around treatment.

>treat the substance abuse as a separate concern from the rest of life.

This absolutely positively does not happen in a clinical setting. I've been in "behavioral health" treatment (which includes addiction) for many years. There have been addicts in my CBT/DBT groups. People don't stop getting help unless they want to stop. If they need more CBT, they stay. If they need it again, they will start it again. If they need to see a therapist (one that specializes in addiction mind you) more often then they are, they do. Treatment is entirely up to what the patient wants and needs. Nobody progresses at the same pace.

+1 on this. Religion can take you down some dangerous paths too. Stick to scientific and medical methods.

I agree. It is also important to avoid the pseudoscience in the scientific establishment though; for example, the entire psychiatric manual has been thoroughly discredited in the 70s, but that is not communicated openly.

it's good that aa uses the 'god as you understand him' which most people just use that as meaning 'something outside yourself'. its a way to have a consciousness shift and perception change away from negative self talk and see reality as it is not as you interpret it. it can be religious for some, it can just be 'the great unknown' for others. really makes no difference. just that theres something other than your own mind telling you the answers in your head with great authority. its really just a mind trick/hack to get out of a thought loop that leads to harm.

>it's good that aa uses the 'god as you understand him' which most people just use that as meaning 'something outside yourself'.

Have you read the AA "big book?" If you have it is very clear it refers to the Judeo-Christian God with many quotes from the Bible. Its section on non-believers is completely offensive (to me). It basically says "accept god or die."

it does explicitly say god as you understand him - but i do know what you mean. its a shame that get's in the way for you tho, as there are alot of tools in there that if put to use - does provide alot of relief - alot more than drugs and alcohol provide.

>it does explicitly say god as you understand him

Sorta. Read here: http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_tableofcnt.cfm tell me it refers to any other God.

The "as you understand him" part is somewhat a cop-out.

Only monotheism here!!

>as there are alot of tools in there that if put to use - does provide alot of relief -

For some people, yes. For other people, it is offensive garbage.

> Its section on non-believers is completely offensive (to me). It basically says "accept god or die."

There is no section to non-believers. There is a chapter to agnostics.



"if that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experi- ence will conquer. To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alter natives to face. But it isn’t so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life —or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted."

That's a paragraph not a 'section to unbelievers'. The chapter is titled "We Agnostics". Theism, agnosticism, and spirituality are not synonymous. It's sad that you find AA to be such a threat that you created an account exclusively to 'refute' the comments in this thread with vitriol and militant secularism.

> It's sad that you find AA to be such a threat that you created an account exclusively to 'refute' the comments in this thread with vitriol and militant secularism.

What are you talking about? My account is 254 days ago with 1658 karma.

I am not using "militant secularism", I am presenting AA as it is, a religious organization. People like to pretend it isn't one. AA can and does work for a lot of people. That is good! It also doesn't work for a lot of people. The only thing I object to is saying AA is a cure-all or saying AA is the only game in town when it comes to addiction.

Religion isn't the cure for everyone. That's all I am saying. Some people will get behind it and it works very well for them. Some people will find it vial. We are all different.

Many people I know have replaced their drug addiction with a religion addiction and have become intolerable to be around. My brother in law is the worst.

I would also strongly recommend against using religious counselling of any kind. It may work, but a rational world view is an extremely high price to pay.

I hope it does get better for you

My mother died when I was in my early 20s after years of addiction to alcohol.

She had her ups too, which made it hard for all of us to see everything fall apart again and again.

Until there was no coming back.

No AA, family support and interventions unfortunately ever helped her long term.

I hope you will find some reason to quit, even if it's just knowing that you can get your kids back - even if it takes many years.

It took me many years to "forgive" my parents (they died within 6 months of each other), realising there was no forgiving needed - they had their struggle and unfortunately failed.

Still saddens me that my own kids have will never know their grandparents.

I hope you will live to enjoy your grandchildren.

Well. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636959 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/

The original study on nurses in Israel estimates the probability for stressed people to give in to addiction to be 150% more than average.

Coders are liking this culture of burn in/burn out like junkies anyway.

It is clear our way of working is health hazardous. I never saw another profession more despising that much CHSCT or usual working wisdoms or health protection.

In my former (game company) the alcohol was even bought by the company every friday and it was poorly accepted people refuses to share a toast. And I saw the casual boozing a lot in a lot of places.

The average drinking in computer development and drug use {when I include the graphists designer} are way above the average of my supposed to be unsafe with all these junkies suburb. I don't come from a favela, just one of the «banlieue» that gives nice rioting picture on CNN/fox news every 10 years.

The work culture in IT is the most dangerous and irresponsible I never saw. No respect for anyone, neither workers, nor providers, nor sometimes customers.

It makes me sometimes feel as if I was working with psychopaths, and I did my conscription, so I met psychopaths. But soldiers made me feel more secure.

btw, alcoholic, the same way other people do sports.

I don't care, I don't brag about it, I try to improve it by myself and it works. Neither proud nor guilty.

Bad practice 101: drinking alcohol on your work place.

I kind of see it as an occupational disease. And for every new jobs I try to voice myself against these practices. And it fails because I am over «reacting».

Now, I don't care.

I have become passionate tea drinker and can suggest it to anyone. I also spend time during tea drinking to meditate for a moment. Recently even perform gongfu style tea preparation.

If you want to talk to a recovering alcoholic, get in touch. I've been dry for 9 years.

TL;DR - Seek counselling to drill down into the causes for this behaviour.

I had a drinking problem for 10 years, I am/was a successful systems engineer. I think I know how you feel.. Do you maybe find that you are living a life which doesn't belong to you? Or put another way, are you just "spinning"? For me, I would go on enormous binges of drink and drugs for 3 days, then abstain for 2 weeks or so. I fixed it by "pressing play" on my life again, which involved selling my house, and going on an adventure in another land. Ended up doing the same job, but my environment was so different, new language, culture, etc.. I stuck with counselling through this time and found a keen sense of introspection. Ultimately, I drilled down to the real problems that were manifesting the symptoms such as drinking, junk food, drugs, excess pr0n, etc... they were all methods to regain "control" over a situation I felt powerless over. Ironic, really, as with drink and drugs we actually relinquish our control.

Not sure if this post is going to help you, as indeed everyone's situation is personal to them, but the common factors persist with such self-abuse situations.


I think a lot of people can be helped by going on an adventure like their own Rat Park http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park

This is a male outlook and take this for what you will, but I'm a programmer, and I've found that so much of overcoming addiction (drinking and porn, mainly), bad sleeping cycles, and raw anxiety, social or otherwise, comes form improving your sex life. For me this doesn't mean monogamy, or at least I haven't met a girl in some time I'm ready to be exclusive with, mainly because I've become aware of just how many fish there are in the sea... but rather treat yourself to a dynamic and varied sex life, with multiple women. It's both a rush and a centering, re-energizing force. It fulfills biological needs and challenges you to be a better person. It's not easy, i.e. it challenges you to be a better person.

If you're feeling overly stressed, be real with yourself, do I have the sex life I want to have, am I missing out on some life experiences here? Be aware of how your sex life can relate to frustrations, addictive patterns, etc. because there is a real relationship, and it should not be discounted as a source of whatever problems you're having.

This is a really easy thing to say, but it's hard to snap your fingers and be instantly surrounded by willing sexual partners if you're stuck in a rut.

I agree... It is a chicken-egg kind of problem.

Fortunately there are concrete steps men can take to improve their sex lives, and sometimes just taking basic steps is enough to get you on your way.

I don't think this is great advice for a person struggling with addiction. I'm not saying you can't have multiple partners and an active sex lifestyle but I would suggest finding, being, and giving love in a committed relationship as a much healthier goal.

because you know, women exist to give you a rush and re-center you. nothing's better than ton of pussy when it comes to treating your various addictions and sleeping/personality disorders.

Hmm... ok I see how this looks like "I'm objectifying women." Perhaps this was carelessly worded - although I will say you're imposing a double standard if you think women don't objectify or use men for the reasons you mention.

I mean 'sex life' to mean the sex, the intimacy, and the companionship. There's no misleading of intentions. They are awesome relationships that improve both participants. If you're just 'chasing pussy', as you interpreted it, you're clearly not going to be fulfilled.

I was also a software developer, not as successful but was living in a nice flat in downtown, but I ended up getting fired a few times within the year.

The first time it was smoking heroin and cocaine. Lasted about 2 months. I used to do it at work too because I was addicted. Shortly after getting fired, I smoked crystal meth to get through the heroin withdrawl. This is how scary heroin is, I was addicted after the second time I picked up. With the help of a marijuana dealer, I got clean after he cut off my heroin dealer. I'd call like crazy but he would no longer sell it.

I still remember laying on my bed on my 25th birthday, withdrawing from heroin, thinking how seriously I fucked up. It took a few months of feeling complete apathy until I began to improve. However, I still relied on tobacco and weed to get through the hard stuff.

Few more months later I found another job, higher paying and less stressful. However, I began drinking this time. Half a bottle of vodka everyday after work and smoking weed before and after work. I'd come over with a hangover everyday and I eventually couldn't keep this up for long.

Fast forward to now, I'm totally clean from any substance. I have absolutely zero fucking desire to repeat what has been a complete wreckage of my financial savings, losing my flat, and a waste of time.

What does worry me is the health effect it might have, especially the street drugs I took during this short period of time on top of the weed and alcohol. I'm alright now but I still can't wash myself of the guilt and the regret. However, it keeps me well away from it.

Looking on to the future, I am willing to be successful, and I realized that I can't do it with dependence on drugs and alcohol. I simply couldn't allow it to get in my way.

So sorry to hear that. I hope you can still overcome it.

My theory is that addiction is best "cured" by replacing it with something better. That could be doing more satisfying things in your life, but perhaps also simply a less destructive addiction, like playing video games.

I think if you make it into a willpower challenge you are probably doomed to fail, in fact it might make it worse because you'll feel like a bad person for presumably being "weak" (having no willpower). I think modern understanding is that for willpower challenges it is better to arrange things in such a way that the challenge becomes easy (like having no alcohol at home), rather than making it a contest of iron will.

I really enjoyed the books on Willpower by Kelly McGonigal and and by Roy F Baumeister. I suppose just reading such books won't cure an addiction, but perhaps they could be of interest to you.

I'm sorry, it's easy to talk since I never had a severe issue like that. But I had a lot of therapy - what always stuck most were the points when I learned to accept myself.

Well, I would suggest as well starting with reality: give yourself time, do not rush your recovery.

One needs, I guess, professional help, and the understanding that, probably, you will need a lot of time to overcome the addiction. Willpower (what Aristotle calls 'virtue') in a specific aspect in which one lacks is difficult and hard to acquire. I guess it can be done but it is just a guess. Something very important is, to me, to give real value to your little successes every day and never to despair (when one is an addict, there is little 'will' in his addictive behaviour, this is exactly the problem, to develop a 'will', and this is very much like getting physically stronger: you will not make it in a day, but any step helps).

I really hope the OP makes it and ends up having a happy life, which is a free one. He has my prayers.

First of all, it's great that you are sharing this publicly. It's a big first step to recovery. I can't tell you much as I'm only 31 and I enjoy alcohol, sometimes in larger doses but it's part of my culture and local way of life.

I can only tell you that beating the thing called "alcoholism" is to decide to stop drinking. That's it. My father after many years did it, one day, just like that. No one belived him. He's over 60 now and enjoys alcohol in very normal way. My friend, also 31, quit drinking completely 3-4 years ago and he was a person who drunk unbelievable amounts, even to me, just crazy. Now because of health problems he's 100% sober and he's fine! He's happy and can enjoy everything he was doing before.

So. People will tell you that it is a disease, that you are sick and you won't be able to quit on your own.. Wrong. It's only about you, your decision, your life. Take care and ask yourself some hard questions. Self-awareness and self-acceptance is the key.

FWIW I used these techniques to overcome tobacco addiction and stress related mental/physical problems:

i) Sport, cannot be stressed enough how benefitial it is for human body any kind of regular sport activity ii) Change of current habits, which might be in turn conducting you to your current situation iii) Travel for an extended period or regularly, will effectively break your acquired habits and may open your mind to new ideas (it changes the perspective) iv) the jacobson method of progressive muscle relaxation, which can be as effective as anti-depressants and that's no marketing talk. at least it worked for me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_muscle_relaxation

I've found Martial Arts helpful to get myself out of my head and take the edge off the monkey energy that isn't being released through my sedentary, code -> video games -> sleep lifestyle through the working week.

In particular, pick one that's as close to actual combat as possible. MMA is great, but perhaps too intense. I've started training brazilian jiu jitsu and can't recommend it enough. Something about fighting for your life against someone who could easily put you to sleep/manhandle you that's therapeutic.

Sam Harris blogged about it here: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-pleasures-of-drowning

I wish you all the luck in the world in getting past this.

Lots of good options posted here, lots of good insights.

I'd like to see more discussion about the enzymes needed to metabolize alcohol. AFAIK, it's very much a genetic matter: some people (or, of note, peoples) just lack the genes needed to process it in a manageable manner, tend to feel the effects with greater intensity than others, and thus find it much faster to go too far and harder to get out of that state and not go back. Those who have it can enjoy a few without further compulsions; those who don't dare not a drop. All this, of course, is poorly expressed and based on fragments I've gleaned. Anyone have a better analysis, and perhaps a way to test for this genetic predisposition to alcohol tolerance or lack thereof?

I hope you will feel better.

My problem is simply I can't go to bed on time. I try many times, forcing myself to go to bed but I just can't. I always stay up late and even when I feel sleepy I can stay awake =. I am getting tired of staying awake all the time. :(

Maybe your problem is you haven't yet designed a life to fit your odd sleeping habits. :-)

Have you consulted a sleep specialist? Have you tried practicing proper sleep hygiene?


Try Alan Carr's "Easy Way To Stop Drinking". Addiction perpetuates itself partly through false beliefs, this book goes through and debunks all of them. I used his guide to quit smoking, and it was really helpful.

I can absolutely second this, I read his smoking book and quit immediately after I put it down, laughing all the way... it really is the winning formula for addiction!

And do you currently smoke?

Hey man, hang in there.

Everyone in this thread has different advice from different experiences. Different things work for different people. Here's my advice: tell your friends to hold you accountable, ask them if you can call or text them when you're feeling vulnerable. Hell, move in with a friend if you're currently living alone. If you don't have anyone like that in your life, join a group like AA.

Humans can be solitary creatures if we let ourselves, and when solitary the world looks very different. Surround yourself with positive relationships and open yourself to them so they can help hold you up.

Fellow code-monkey, startup founder, alcoholic here -

It DOES get better. Shit I burned my entire life to the ground. Incredible salary (not to mention investments/savings), a house, fiancee, etc.. I had the whole fucking american dream and wasn't even 25. It felt though like the next thing I knew I was waking up and I was 29, having systematically destroyed everything in my life and was living off what little was left on my last non-maxed out credit card....eventually attempted suicide but my drunken ass failed at even that! I can't even begin to describe how un-comprehensibly demoralizing my life had become. In the absence of alcohol I'd shake uncontrollably which eventually led to auditory + visual hallucinations -- Some very scary shit! My neighbor took me to the ER one day after I stumbled down some stairs & promptly went into a full seizure in the waiting room....after a few days in their detox ward the simple logic of "What I had been doing wasn't working.....Maybe I should try a different approach," I found myself on a plane headed to a rehab out in Pasadena, CA where I remembered a few friends had been to (and were living the life I wanted). The entire experience from that moment on saved my life. That first year wasn't all peaches and cream but I quickly found my balance of life/work/family...got back all the relationships that mattered & the work/money eventually followed. I've seen the same shit happen to easily hundreds of others. Hell, I personally know a solid dozen VERY successful, well known posters/startup hero's on HN who are recovered alcoholics/addicts.

Please shoot me an email.. even just to chat... unholygoat@gmx.com (it's forwarded to my real email)

If you don't want to email me or Snail_commando at least checkout this site (It's a giant forum/directory of all the many different types of help out there & can put in in touch with all the various resources that are local to you).


Anyhow man, I hope to hear from you...there's an entire world out there of people who have lived through the madness and chaos and can help you do the same. -b

I work with high performers as a coach and have worked with a number of people on Hacker News who have posted problems. I'm experimenting with opening up a room in my home in Palo Alto for a 31 day emersive coaching / lifestyle upgrade experience.

We'll reboot all of your daily habits in a way you could never do on your own; you'll have a 1 on 1 coach who has worked with some of the most successful people and organizations on the planet; you'll develop a deeper sense of who you are and connect to intimacy as a spiritual path; and you will have more impact on the planet.

I've yet to have a client tell me that the investment with me wasn't the best of their life.

If you (or any of you) would like to talk to see if this opportunity would be a fit for you, be in touch anthony @ 175g . com

We would start may 1st.

I see this being best for someone who is going through a breakup, a transition, has a habit / addiction they'd like to overcome, has recently exited a company and is feeling unfulfilled / unsatisfied, or otherwise needs to reconnect to the aliveness of life.

OK so I'm just going to put this link out there. I can't do a write up like his but what he said moved me to make some changes in my life. It was a fresh perspective on how to beat some of my own failings through successful habits. Anyway. here ya go. http://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/comments/1q96b5/i_jus...

After reading a lot of the comments I think it would be useful to create a distinction between a drinking problem (loosely defined as someone drinks to much, has negative consequences, etc) and addiction (loosely define as strong, life threatening withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings).

I've heard addiction defined as a "Confusion of your survival instincts" caused by prolonged exposure to a drug which seems to be an adequate and accurate description of addiction.

I believe that regular exercise and switching to a proper diet (paleo) helped me give up on alcohol altogether.

I'd recommend you start kicking you own butt: go to http://www.nerdfitness.com/academy-overview-page/ and subscribe, start building a routine. Stick to it and you'll quickly see that abusive drinking isn't just an option.

I am an alcoholic sober for 7 years. You know you have a problem and that really is great because then you can address it. If you need to talk to someone, find me on twitter @glanotte and we will find a way to get in touch.

If you don't want to talk, get to an AA meeting or if you don't think you can control yourself, check into rehab. Strike while you care about it, don't wait for yourself to start making excuses.

You should check out the documentary "Pleasure Unwoven" for the psychiatric/brain aspects of addiction http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Unwoven-Explanation-Disease-A...

Fwiw, I'd like to share some the way I approached alcohol, after going through some times where I drank more beer than water.

Now, I still drink from time to time, but it is easier for me to decide not to drink in a given situation.


All I can tell you is that It really can get quite good after you stop drinking. Not always right away, and of course, not all the time. But I really am grateful that I am able to enjoy life as much as I do. While I regret my time as a derelict, I think I might have needed that to convince myself to stay stopped now that I have quit. ( for quite a while now)

The thing that helped me the most was to simply accept that I was not alone in my pain/struggles. For far too long did I imagine that my pain was unique. Once I opened up to friends I found, to my surprise, that many people were going through a very similar type of strife. Accepting that you are not alone is a major first step towards recovery.

I'm a 32 year old software developer and I've been sober for over 6 years now. Had a horrible drinking problem, that got progressively worse since my teen years.

Today, I have a wife and two sons and I don't miss drinking one bit. But I had to get pretty low to stop. Everyone's bottom is different, I was lucky that I hit mine so young.

That's surprising because at least in my case I discovered when I was a teenager that boozing and coding don't mix. Even small amounts of alcohol make it hard for me to concentrate on any amount of programming, and so that is why I rarely consume it. I just like coding more than boozing.

Nah, even blind drunk, I've been able to write bulletproof, complicated code. Stuff that checks out the next day as perfectly fine - furthermore, stuff that I can remember the entire thought process behind. It differs from person to person; some people simply can't think or remember clearly at all when drunk, some other people have a "Ballmer Peak" https://xkcd.com/323/ - I'm not sure why, but I think it might have to do with mild amounts of alcohol relaxing their mental processes and helping them get over certain mental hangups that trip them up, normally. Other people have a Ballmer Plateau, where the alcohol allows them to enter a meditative state of complete and utter mental focus, allowing them to be fully lost in their work, and to work at 100% capacity as long as the buzz lasts. Sort of a working "trance", if you will, freeing them from all procrastination.

I suspect this is a large part of the allure for many ADHD-types; the freedom from procrastination is something they're afraid they can't otherwise achieve.

I know this sort of thing is the case in a lot of fields which require similar "non-procrastinative focus for hours on end". Writers, artists, animators, musicians - all of these have tons of people who struggle to knuckle down and put in long hours without a buzz going. Stephen King talked about this a lot in his autobiography - I could quote a lot of other anecdotes from other people, but his really had a personal effect on me.


I struggled with this myself (I drank for maybe 6 years in/after college, and I drank pretty hard for a few of them). It sucks because I can't recommend anything to help anyone; what worked for me was not "actionable".

What cracked it for me was when the enjoyment lost its edge; over time it just got harder and harder to hit that 'sweet spot' of the perfect alcohol buzz, and the hangovers got crummier and crummier. Finally just ... deep down, subconsciously, I was gut-reacting to the prospect of a drink with more anxiety than anticipation. That was the end; I just lost the will to try, from too much associative-emotions of pain and fatigue investing themselves in the idea of drinking. Just like that. I didn't even have to go cold-turkey; I have a drink every few months, and even just a couple drinks leaves me feeling just "crummy" enough the next day that this emotional association won't go away, and it seems to have quieted (almost) all the urges to drink I used to have. I have no fear, whatsoever, of falling off the wagon because when I do drink, I no longer feel that unstoppable compulsion to take my buzz even higher - that alone was the element that made me an alcoholic, and it's gone.

I'm happy to say I'm cured forever ... but goddamn I wish I could give that to other people.

Dude... Don't feel bad, you join the ranks of 1000's of lottery winners, except you have skills... You're the 1% if not in net worth... definitely in brains... Do something

Did the addiction have anything to do with the fact that you are a software developer?

Good advice, but I doubt that developers would be especially prone to alcoholism.

drinking is just a symptom - real problem is between your ears. you drink to quiet it. until you find a replacement you are fucked. you can't just 'stop'. maybe for a few days or weeks or months, but the consequences of your drinking won't really change.

I agree with this, it more than likely started to suppress or replace something and then became an addiction.

I would also strongly advise you go to a doctor before trying to stop. If you have been a heavy drinker for a long time, you will have physical withdraw effects. Doctors can prescribe a short run of Diazepam which will help with the physical effects and also sedate your addiction a little. Don't take it for more than a week though, or it will become your new addiction.

I didn't take this advice and stopped overnight which could have been incredibly dangerous. I risked fits, seizures and all sorts.

If your drinking is costing you more than money its usually a problem. Alcoholism is an equal opportunity employer. Are you Willing to take action to stop drinking ? You are not alone; there are many who have similar experiences. Many of these problem drinkers made a decision that today was going to be the day that they started to save their own lives.

Get through the tough, deadly part, then look into Ibogaine treatment in Mexico or Canada.

Hang in there, bro.

my 2 rules: 1) never drink alcohol alone 2) never drink alcohol to lessen hangover

same here, i like to drink scotch

I hate the fact that I cannot attach my real name or handle when writing on this topic, but that's just the way things are right now.

Today is my 180th day sober. If you asked me a year ago if I'd be dead or six months sober in a year's time, I'd have gone with dead.

Somehow I kept my current full time developer job through the past five years, but over the last decade have lost one job, bankrupted a company I co-founded and had my wife leave me. I offer the same advice as OP: Stop drinking now. Telling yourself you'll stop at some arbitrary point in the future won't work. The long term consequences are ugly; My teeth and skin are fucked up, my short term memory is cracked, and it's only been the past six months of my adult life that I've not been pissing away every paycheck. But I feel a lot smarter now than I was a year ago.

I decided I wanted to stop, and so I did the only thing I could: I moved away from the self-destructive social scene and habits I had been wallowing in. I just up and left (luckily could work in another city).

But keep in mind that post-stopping is really hard. I feel so productive and sharper now that it's ironically depressing; I know I wasted years and threw away dozens of opportunities. There are friendships where I fear I'll never be able to repair the damage that drunk me caused, but I will try. In the past month or so I've finally been able to man up and contact some of them to tell them what's happened. Some I owe money. I will fix this. Even if they still won't forgive me.

Having someone to talk to and an avenue to vent is essential. Big lifestyle changes helped me, especially getting out of the environment where I could get away with drinking like that every day and working from 11 or noon still drunk.

Other people here have mentioned the medical ramifications of quitting. It's no joke. I didn't quit until I feared dying from quitting as much as I feared dying from continuing. Maybe this is the choice you have now. I hope you choose life. After all, that's why we're here.

From my experience of quitting:

Read up at the Crippling Alcoholism subreddit. Lots of good resources on quitting. See a doctor, get evaluated and say, "I need help." If tapering helps, do it. I tapered for four days before checking in. It's different for everyone, but I had night terrors, sweats and I heard voices. This lasted a couple of weeks. Get medication for anxiety. But don't stay on it long. I'm back to having the occasional anxiety attack, but that's better than puking on my laptop once a month or so. Eat better, lose weight. Focus the addictive part of your personality on fitness goals. I've lost 2.5 stone so far. I almost feel like a person again.

Message me if you want.

There were examples in Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit about people that have managed to turn their life around. Probably it is worth taking a look at.

Also - as a person that has struggled with (thankfully) only weight - there are no silver bullets.

It's good that you have at least realized, for the all tings you did. There's nothing impossible if someone actually tries it. I wish you luck :) Hope you''ll soon get what you have lost.

Get help. Don't put it off.

Kinda makes me wonder why the hell so many people are tryna tell me to slow down. Seems like motherfuckers should be shuttin' the hell up and enjoyin' the show

Keep calm & write awesome code


aint' you heard of the ballmer curve baby dick

That's sad, but you are not doing drugs - you can quit easily, just do it! Try to do sports or stuff like that, travel.. Seriously, alcohol is disgusting if you drink it every day.

I have a hooker problem, no joke. Since we are talking about addictions here?

The only difference between alcohol and "drugs" is that alcohol is legal. It's one of the most addicting drugs you can find[1].

Withdrawing alcohol improperly can also lead to permanent brain damage and death[2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal_syndrome#Pr...

That's sad, but you are not doing drugs

serisously, this nonsense has to stop. Alcohol = drugs and whoever tells otherwise doesn't properly understand what drugs are and how they work on your mind and body. Note: I tried a lot of stuff out there, and in the end alcohol is just one of the others, sole difference being it's 'accepted', sort of (btw same is true for quite a lot of the prescription things as well)

- you can quit easily

it's not that easy at all, highly depends on your mindset

just do it!

at least that makes sense :]

To you and others - i didn't know it's not a drug. It was my opinion, apparently wrong. Thanks for clarifications! Will do beers only on fridays then!

> To you and others - i didn't know it's not a drug. It was my opinion, apparently wrong. Thanks for clarifications! Will do beers only on fridays then!

But it's not an opinion, it was a factually incorrect statement. There is a distinction.

The only reasons people categorize the two as different are societal, cultural, and legal. Not by any empirical, scientific standard.

In the end it is a chemical that has an intoxicating, mind altering effect on the body. Which is, by definition, a drug.

Acting as though alcohol is somehow "not a drug" or that alcohol addiction is somehow distinct from "drug addiction" is unproductive at best, lethal at worst.

Alcohol is a drug. Unlike most other drugs though, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening and often requires hospitalization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal_syndrome

Speaking as a recovering addict and alcoholic, trivializing alcohol addiction and the effort it takes to recover from it is both incorrect and potentially harmful.

Speaking personally, alcohol has been incredibly hard to break away from and did as much or more damage to my life than my other drugs of choice.

Speaking more scientifically, alcohol withdrawal has the potential to kill you if you don't seek help[1]. It's absolutely miserable even when you don't die, of course.

I understand that people can be addicted to all kinds of things, and that some addictions such as gambling have the potential to ruin lives just like substance abuse. However, alcohol is a powerful, absurdly common, physically addictive substance.

Quitting was necessary for me, but a phrase like "you can quit easily, just do it!" is wrong to the point that it's almost offensive.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal_syndrome

Hm, how to differ "i'm addicted and can die" and "i just like beer"? Is there obvious symptoms ?

I mean for someone like me it was pretty obvious. At some point you don't drink for a day and you get the shakes, or you realize that you're getting blackout drunk every weekend, or friends make comments about how much you drink, or a whole host of other things. I spent a few years living in denial, but I knew years before I stopped that I had a problem.

I don't know of a great way to answer the question "am I an addict?" that doesn't require some serious introspection. That being said, one thing I often tell people is that if they're honestly, seriously concerned that they're drinking too much and if they're asking me whether they're an alcoholic, it's something worth looking in to.

Before I abused alcohol, I abused prescription stimulants. Sometimes I'd take them and then spend hours browsing wikipedia reading about their addictive potential, or reading about how abuse of stimulants was spreading across America. It was a pretty obvious warning sign.

The reason I know I'm an addict is because once I start drinking/popping pills, I really can't stop myself. I keep drinking until I pass out, or keep binging on pills until I'm out and I haven't slept in days. AA has the saying "one [drink] is too many, and a thousand is never enough", and it certainly applies to me. Most addicts I've talked to feel the same way.



Signs of alcohol abuse

    You have problems at work or school because of your drinking, such as being late or not going at all.
    You drink in risky situations, such as before or while driving a car.
    After drinking, you can't remember what happened while you were drinking (blackouts).
    You have legal problems because of your drinking, such as being arrested for harming someone or driving while drunk (intoxicated).
    You get hurt or you hurt someone else when you are drinking.
    You keep drinking even though you have health problems that are caused or made worse by alcohol use, such as liver disease (cirrhosis).
    Your friends or family members are worried about your drinking.
Signs of alcohol dependence or addiction

    You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
    You need to drink more to get the same effect.
    You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
    You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering.
    You have given up other activities so you can drink.
    You keep drinking even though it harms your relationships and causes health problems.
Other signs include:

    You drink in the morning, are often drunk for long periods of time, or drink alone.
    You change what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think that doing this will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk.
    You feel guilty after drinking.
    You make excuses for your drinking or do things to hide your drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores.
    You worry that you won't get enough alcohol for an evening or weekend.
    You have physical signs of alcohol dependence, such as weight loss, a sore or upset stomach (gastritis), or redness of the nose and cheeks.

>but you are not doing drugs - you can quit easily

1) Alcohol is a drug.

2) Even if it wasn't, non drugs can be very addicting and harmful - gambling, shopping, porn, etc.

Alcohol is addictive. More so than pot for instance, which is often classified as a drug. To be honest, alcohol is a drug also. This is not just my impression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_dependence#Addictive_...

Or.... you could practice moderation?

Alcohol does not make you into a problem. You make yourself into a problem, and lump alcohol in with all the other things that you could blame it on.

Grow up. Be accountable to yourself. Don't externalise blame.

how to fix every problem ever:

1) grow up

2) ???

3) problem solved

But seriously, people suffering from addiction or other "only in the mind" problems are told this all the time. We wish we could just "grow up" but for some reason we fail again and again.

At this point, we have a choice: do we look at our history of past failings and realize that "grow up" is not an effective (or particularly actionable) strategy, or do we continue to beat this dead horse until it magically works?

Accountability? Really? You haven't seen the problem first hand, have you? Alcoholics can be extremely depressed people, clearly aware of the fact that they are doing it to themselves.

The question you have to ask is what if you cant control? In normal circumstances, all is good - you go home after a happy night. But what if you cant stop after 2 or 3 drinks, everyday. What if alcohol is your recourse when life hits you with a brick. Yes, I hear your speeches about self discipline etc., but they dont make sense anymore. If at all anything it makes you all the more sad.

Its almost a coin flip. Some times, the right stimulus from loved ones comes in. Something more interesting captures your imagination. But may times, it doesn't. It feels like a cruel joke by the almighty or a nasty bug in the mind that takes you down the path of self destruction into oblivion.

I think the OP is if you want to err, do it on the abstinence side.

How is OP externalizing blame? He's just identifying a problem he has.

I'm downvoting your post for the completely unnecessary hostile language and unfair accusation. OP did nothing to warrant it.

Out of interest (genuinely) do you also think people suffering from depression should just pull themselves together?

I downvoted GP assuming that indeed the GP would tell a depressed person to "stop externalising a blame" and "grow up".

Which is actually quite a good advice for depressed people. Repeat it enough times and watch suicide rate grow rapidly... And depression rates declining!

On a more serious note, people need to understand that the perceived "only in the mind" problems are actually illnesses which are much more deadly than many physiological ones. And that, by telling such things as "stop externalising a blame" (which depressed person doesn't do, anyway), you become partially responsible for the suicide if it happens. Yes, YOU GP are responsible, stop externalizing a blame and live with it. Or better yet, stop spouting nonsense.

Having suffered from very mild depression from time to time, my view on people suggesting that depression not be seen as an illness is that it's something of a red herring, at least in terms of practical solutions.

If in some strange world someone decided that a broken leg wasn't a medical condition, it wouldn't change the impact if had on the person suffering from it. Someone still couldn't run it off just because it's not deemed a medical condition.

Similarly people may view depression as an illness or not but that shouldn't make the believe that reclassifying it suddenly means that someone can just pull them self together.

Speaking personally in the situation I was in you could certainly tell me that but the very best that would have happened is that I could have pretended to be OK for a bit, before relapsing worse than before (which happened several times, not because people told me to pull themselves together but because life just didn't give me the bandwidth to do anything else).

Similarly telling an alcoholic that they're wrong about the nature of their problem does next to nothing to actually address it - it's just meta discussion.

That was quite unhelpful. And it should have been a comment.

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