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Who should step over the threshold into 12-Step rooms

the.guard Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Who should step over the threshold into 12-Step rooms

In this 2 minute video clip, the well known addiction therapist, Dr. Lew Abrams, LCSW, gives a simple definition of addiction.

Dov gives feedback:

I feel this clip is precious, clear, and honest. I have spoken with Lew a few times and everytime I do I am impressed with him even more. (I wish that he were still seeing patients full time because he was one of the people who I had been referring people to, until he reduced his case load a few years ago).

Obviously, the missing ingredient for many people on GYE who think they may need the 12-Steps is the loss that he refers to. The people in very early stages (as he describes so beautifully in this other clip of his) simply don't have any real loss. This is the sticking point, of course, in sex addiction as it is mislabeled for the majority who come to GYE. As I have been posting since the first day I came to the website, they are not addicts. Lew makes this exact distinction and names it has the key in determining who is an addict. In that other clip he brings out the very important point that true loss isn't always exhibited in physical terms, but sometimes in terms of destroyed self-esteem or of eroded Trust in a relationship.

Of course, so many come to the website by referral from rabbis who are sincerely interested in helping their student or parishioner quit masturbating or using pornography since it is a sin - because of its extreme religious gravity, there is an assumption and fantasy that there is true loss here. For isn't the sinner losing his entire world to come? Isn't he committing a sin that's the worst possible sin one could ever perpetrate (see some of the other sources posted here)? Naturally, how can we as religious minimize the horror of what is going on, and not call the masturbation/porn use that's going on, 'unmanageable'...even if there is no real loss going on at all, as Lew is referring to.

And that's what separates the non-addicts on gye from the addicts - not whether the guy is masterbating three times a day every single day or just once every 3 or 4 months. And not whether he is seeing prostitutes or 'just acting out on the screen'. Lew is trying to explain who should and who shouldn't step over the threshold into 12-Step rooms.

Once this is understood and expressly stated on GYE, things will go more and more easily for the addicts, and for the non-addicts. Until Lew's points are understood and practical implications of them are faced, things will remain murkier than they need to be.

Yaakov Responds:

Thanks for your feedback.

You wrote: "Once this is understood and expressly stated on GYE, things will go more and more easily for the addicts, and for the non-addicts. "

How would you, state this idea of "loss" in a way that non-addicts would still be motivated to try all the tools on GYE, but they would know that they don't belong in the 12-Step program? And that addicts would understand they do need the 12-Steps. If you had to express this idea to them in just a few sentences, how would you write it?

Dov Responds:

Ok, be'H this is the shortest I could make it, but at least it's clear:

'Hitting bottom' means that I can't stand life while behaving this way, any more.

But as long as my main problem with my acting-out behavior is the troubling reactions of others to it ("Hashem will be angry/punish me or my kids," "wife will divorce me/disrespect me," "society will reject/arrest me"), then I truly believe that the biggest problem I have is not my acting-out behavior. Rather, my great problem is the will and behaviors of other entities. This is not the "loss" that Lew refers to, at all. Rather, the only true loss in that case is that my favorite behaviors are being jeopardized and punished by someone else. I may be a sincerely religious fellow and wish I'd stop sinning - but whether I am aware of it, or not, my deepest desire and goal will remain: not getting caught doing the things I like best.

This is not the "loss" that Lew refers to when he explains the motivation and creation of the 1st step in 12 Step culture. And this is often why some people 'get it', and some don't.

Of course, most people who are sincerely religious would never admire the true 1st Step. For, in it, the addict is more motivated by his personal pain than by Hashem's Will as expressed in the mitzvos. And from any religious perspective, that's just a shame - and should be. So I ask people who this bothers, to temporarily switch the drug to alcohol for a the equation less problematic when the drug is (like alcohol) not a sinful act, in itself? If it's now easier for them to swallow, then they do not yet begin to understand the pain of addiction. And I suggest they should not be working in any capacity with potential addicts. Even if they should help them for a short while, they'll only bring the addict and his or her family more confusion and pain while things get worse and worse over the long term.

All the love and concern in the world, will not substitute for understanding.

Yaakov's final comments:

Thanks for sharing this. I think it fits in nicely with the idea that Pharaoh (who symbolizes our ego/addiction) needed 10 increasingly painful plagues until he finally had enough REAL pain to let go of his addiction (the Jews).

And even then, he experienced a "relapse" and chased after them to the sea, until he saw his end coming and finally said "אנוסה מפני ישראל כי ה' נלחם להם במצרים", I must run away NOW from my addiction or I'm dead.

Well, in his case, it was too late. But let's hope that the real addicts among us don't wait to hit rock bottom.