Most young and single people probably want to find a partner they can live with in a loving relationship. And there is absolutely no reason why recovering addicts and alcoholics, once they have developed some emotional balance, should not love others, marry them and have children.
This will probably involve re-learning the places of getting acquainted, because recovering addicts and alcoholics are not usually at ease in drinking spots like pubs and clubs. Yet there are other places where boys meet girls. There are swimming pools, dances, beaches, holidays, evening classes, offices, launderettes, restaurants, concerts (pop and classical), libraries, church and synagogue groups. But the most obvious place to meet people is at work.
How to make contact with strangers is something most young people learn in their teenage years. Those who have turned to drugs may never have learned this. So be prepared to feel a little shyness as you begin to lead a normal social life.
‘The first time I made a date in sobriety, I worried about it for days beforehand – what I should wear, what I should do, whether I could kiss her,’ says Michael, a thirty-eight-year-old recovering alcoholic with three years’ sobriety. ‘I was full of panic. Imagine it! Worrying about a little kiss. I had screwed my way round the world in my drinking, but now I was full of anxiety about a date!’
Of course, you will also meet others at NA and AA meetings, and many NAs or AAs do marry each other successfully. However, it is risky taking up with an addict or an alcoholic who has been continuously clean and sober for less than two years. You might find yourself involved with a drug-using addict or a drinking alcoholic – and that will be no fun at all.
Some addiction counsellors take the view that even clean and sober addicts should think carefully about marrying each other and having their own children. As addiction seems to be passed on genetically, they may be giving their children a double dose of the addiction gene.
Sometimes the search for a partner becomes an obsession. ‘If only I can find the right person, then all my troubles will be over . . .’ thinks the addict. They are hunting for a partner to solve their problems, just as they used drugs to do so.
This kind of substitution is an extraordinarily bad start to any relationship and is likely to end in unhappiness. It is important to remember that depending on any person for your happiness is unhealthy – no matter how reliable, kind and competent that person is. Only when you can live happily alone, and your self-worth comes from within, are you fit to live happily with another.
What are our basic assumptions behind ameliorating psychotic effects? We should check our desire to medicate all extreme states, otherwise we propagate an inadvertent form of communism, a collective ban on abnormality. We know that there are many individuals suffering in extreme states whose processes are potentially mind expanding, whose behavior is highly critical of western technological society and who, given the proper help, could be constructive culture changers. Some may even become future therapists.
If we medicate such people, we may be avoiding our own myth of truly helping. Are we giving medication because it is really the process of the individual or are we sometimes giving it because we no longer want to think about the complex situation of our patient or about the basic premises of our profession?
Being a psychiatrist today means being part of a revolution in medicine. Psychiatry, more than any other branch of medicine, is faced with the limitations of causality. As a student you once challenged the basis of your profession; its flaws confront you no less glaringly today.
A central term in psychiatry is ‘psychosis.’ In this text psychosis is defined as a process reversal without a metacommunicator. The primary process which was originally adapted to a given family or community is, for a number of reasons, reversed with the secondary process long enough to change the way in which the individual experiencing the reversal is observed by others. Instead of a primary process which is adapted to the reality in which one lives and which is periodically disturbed by a secondary process, we have a new and surprising primary process which is unrelated to the consensual reality and disturbed by reality orientation.
The definition assumes that the individual in an extreme state experiences a highly patterned process and that psychosis is one of many processes characterized by temporary process reversal. This definition requires you to be aware of your own state of awareness and that of your city. It also demands knowledge of the individual client’s idiosyncratic messages and signals.
This definition has cross-cultural applications as well, since it examines the individual’s feeling, thinking and relationship to the world independently of their cause. Specific western terms for an extreme process such as schizophrenia may now be compared with apparently analogous disease entities defined in other cultures, since all psychoses are reversals of a culture’s primary process.
Thus, if law and order, cleanliness, tidiness and hard work are characteristic of a given culture, a person will be psychotic if he tends, for a long period of time, to be unlawful, disorderly, unclean, untidy and lazy. In a culture where intuitiveness is accepted, fantasy is not likely to be considered a symptom of disease.
Good news for those addicted to regular exercise routines: there is no evidence that physical activity prolongs the duration or severity of a cold, or that inactivity will cure you faster. In fact, there is some evidence that moderate exercise can boost the immune system and help to relieve nasal and sinus congestion. It makes sense, however, not to overdo exercise when you feel less than par, since excessive exercise can be an immune suppressant and may increase the fatigue that usually accompanies viral infections. It also makes sense to put your activities on hold if you are running a fever, since vigorous exercise will only further raise your body temperature. If you are contemplating exercise while fighting off a cold, listen to your body and do only as much as it seems to tolerate easily And try to avoid getting chilled. Those who swim should take extra care to keep water out of their nose, eyes, and ears.