Issue # 75 - September/October/November 2013

Viewing the news through the lens of alcohol and other-drug addiction

PTSD and awful behaviors have been in the news frequently this year. However, journalists are failing to connect the dots between severe outcomes of PTSD and alcoholism. The Army isn’t getting it either; with their resources for study and research, it should know better. The overarching theme of this issue of TAR is awful behaviors are being misdiagnosed as having their roots in PTSD where the root cause is actually alcoholism. I think you will find the subject both timely and timeless.

Alcoholism in history is a secondary theme; I’ve long maintained that one cannot make sense of either current events or history without understanding the disease. In this issue we show the anti-communist “velvet” revolution and, for better or worse, abortion-on-demand might never have occurred without alcoholics.

I’ve also written an obituary on a great man, David Keirsey, who had a profound influence on my thinking and my life.

Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report in which we interpret the news through the lens of alcohol and other drug addiction. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:

1. Top Story of the month along with runners up, persons under watch, enablers, disenablers and more
2. Review or Public Policy Recommendation of the month
3. Dear Doug in which a recent letter to "Dear Annie" or other "help" column is rewritten, with responses given from the unique perspective that alcohol or other drug addiction best explains the misbehaviors described
4. Alcoholic Myth-of-the-Month
5. Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month, usually where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.

There is something for everyone!

Addiction Report Archives here

© 2013 by Doug Thorburn

The blog is open to your comments. We’ll be interested in any thoughts you, our loyal readers, may have.

Books Here

Another Shooting Spree, Another Addict: Aaron Alexis Kills 13, Including Himself, at the Washington Navy Yard

Aaron Alexis, 34, who went on a shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard in September, was known by friends and neighbors as a personable guy who was rarely angry. He began attending a small Buddhist temple in 2010 and became a “model” tenant and employee of one of its members, Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of the Happy Bowl restaurant. Suthamtewakul reported Alexis paid his rent on time and was “always very quiet and smiling.” A pastor, Jason Williams, 37, who knew Alexis through the Happy Bowl, described him as “one of the most polite people I’ve ever met.”

However, several mental health “experts” say he exhibited textbook symptoms of schizophrenia; in August 2013 Alexis called authorities, telling them he was hearing voices and being followed by people using a “microwave machine” to disrupt his sleep. U.S. law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that he’d been suffering from “a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder.” His father told detectives investigating a prior incident in Seattle that his son had “anger management problems related to post-traumatic stress,” complained about alleged mistreatment by the Navy and claimed to be a victim of discrimination.

While some friends saw him drinking “heavily” and using profanity, he didn’t seem angry “very much.” Yet Alexis was arrested in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a vehicle in what was described as an anger-fueled “blackout.” As explained in Alcoholism Myths and Realities, “blackouts” are caused by alcoholism, which also frequently triggers “anger.” Therefore, since he was a known heavy drinker the odds that this was, in fact, an alcoholism-fueled blackout with concurrent alcoholism-fueled anger are overwhelming. Ten months later Alexis got drunk, leapt off some stairs at a nightclub and broke his ankle. He destroyed some furnishings at a nightclub in 2008, pleading out for disorderly conduct. He was arrested for discharging a firearm in 2010 in an apartment, where a neighbor, who was already living in fear of Alexis, ended up with a bullet hole in her floor and ceiling. Alexis, already an acquaintance of Suthamtewakul’s through the temple, complained about the “noise” the neighbor made; Suthamtewakul invited Alexis to become his tenant. In January 2011 Alexis received a general discharge from the Navy “after a series of misconduct issues,” after which he became a part-time employee of Suthamtewakul’s. These incidents leave little doubt that the correct diagnosis was substance addiction and that his paranoia, lack of sleep, blaming others for his problems and all of his misbehaviors were symptoms of alcoholism.

Multiple alcoholism authorities cited in Drunks, Drugs & Debits point out that where heavy drinking and problems co-exist, the underlying causative problem is alcoholism. Even if he didn’t identify it as such, Suthamtewakul confirmed this diagnosis in describing his tenant and employee Alexis as a “hardcore drinker.”

Alcohol and other-drug addiction frequently mimics or triggers mental health disorders. Whether it is mimicked or triggered doesn’t matter; alcoholism usually comes first. Recovering addicts tell us they usually triggered their alcoholism during their first drinking episode, average age 13. Because they hide their use, observers cannot get cause and effect right when bipolar disorder or schizophrenia occur years later.

Alcoholism is often called the “hidden disease,” not only because addicts frequently hide their use, but also because enablers protect addicts by keeping their secret. In addition, most addicts are “functional” over most of their drinking careers and, therefore, in the eyes of close people could “never” be alcoholics. Additionally, alcoholism masquerades as a variety of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, sociopathy and bipolar disorder. One of these is post-traumatic stress, which Alexis’ father said he suffered from.

Post-traumatic stress used to be called shell-shock and, later, battle fatigue syndrome or combat stress reaction. The disorder (PTSD) is loosely defined as a severe anxiety disorder that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or risk of death. As is typical in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, the psychologists’ bible of personality disorders), PTSD lacks clear symptoms, but loosely requires “re-experiencing” bad situations, such as having nightmares, and avoidance or emotional detachment, including not doing things that were previously enjoyable or going to places that remind soldiers of combat. The description adds there “may also be…a strong urge to use alcohol or [other] drugs.”

Alexis’ father likely saw all of these symptoms, but the disorder didn’t have to take form in awful behaviors; these occurred only because the “strong urge to use” took form in actual use. Addictive use increases the odds of serious misbehaviors or other problems by an order of magnitude. This is implied by Captain (Ret.) Paul “Bud” Bucha, Medal of Honor recipient June 2010, who is quoted near the beginning of the Army’s report on alcohol and other-drug use and crime in Army 2020: Generating Health & Discipline in the Force: Ahead of the Strategic Reset Report 2012:

“Anybody that’s been to the gates of Hell has [post-traumatic stress]. It’s something you have to remind yourself of if you find yourself drinking too much, snapping at your kids, snapping at your wife. Go seek help. It took me 30 years to do so. Look for it now, and most important, stay sober.” (Emphasis added.)

Four “vignettes,” anecdotes of soldiers’ problems and substance use immediately following Bucha’s admonition, clearly indicate addictive use co-occurring with manslaughter, suicide and attempted suicide. Most of the rest of the anecdotes in Army 2020 either directly or indirectly indicate addictive use of alcohol and other drugs in connection with serious misbehaviors. Any of Alexis’ drunken episodes could have been included in these anecdotes.

Army 2020 found that “many health and disciplinary issues, ranging from post-traumatic stress (PTS) to illicit drug use to suicide are interrelated.” It proves that “crime generates more crime; misdemeanors are a precursor to more serious crimes….Misdemeanors and lower levels of risk taking behavior such as traffic offenses, for example, have proven to have serious and even fatal consequences.” Get Out of the Way! How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence shows that seemingly minor traffic offenses are frequently symptomatic of a DUI and, today in the U.S., a DUI is a near-certain indicator of alcoholism. But Army 2020 doesn’t get cause and effect right, even though addictive alcohol and other-drug use is frequently included in Army 2020’s tragic stories and statistics. The story of Alexis is a microcosm of what is in this Report.

All sorts of problems in the military are blamed on PTSD, from sexual assaults, violence, murder and suicides to heavy drinking itself. Yet, nearly every story of PTSD in its more horrific manifestations reported in Army 2020 involves someone who drinks heavily or uses other drugs addictively. From countless stories of recovery—where observers don’t have a clue that afflicted people could have ever engaged in awful misbehaviors—we know that without active addiction there are nearly zero misbehaviors, much less serious ones.

I originally set out to integrate murder, sexual assaults, PTSD and substance addiction, using Army 2020 as the backdrop, hoping it would conclude that alcoholism is the usual cause of other problems, or that it exacerbates those problems. Army 2020 gets many things right (and it’s a goldmine of statistics and stories), yet its authors could not make this obvious leap. Until it does so and such a finding is acted upon by intervening in the progression of addiction, especially in service members who witness horrors overseas, there will be more Aaron Alexis-style mass murders and countless other tragedies.

Runners-up for Top Story of the Month:

According to Rorke Denver, a reserve Navy SEAL team lieutenant commander, former SEAL teammate and military sniper Chris Kyle, 38, worked “with other veterans, folks with PTSD, trying to help them get better.” Kyle was known to take such troubled veterans to gun ranges, shooting and hanging out for therapy. It was one of these, unemployed Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh, 25, who shot and killed Kyle. While officials couldn’t confirm whether Routh suffered from PTSD, Denver fielded questions from civilians who “couldn’t understand why Kyle would have taken someone with PTSD to a shooting range.” Routh had been in mental hospitals twice during the year preceding the murder and told authorities he has PTSD. However, he was first taken to a mental hospital only after he threatened to kill his family and himself. His mother told police he had been drinking when she reported the threat; authorities found him walking nearby shirtless and shoeless and smelling of booze. In another incident, his mother reported a burglary involving Routh in her own home; among the stolen items were nine pill bottles.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in his 2009 book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, Kyle “hinted at the struggles he faced…mentally replaying the times he’d been shot, brooding over his mortality….” He took prescribed drugs to help him cope with the stress after his tours of duty were over. Kyle and Routh both may have suffered from PTSD. The difference between them was Kyle was not an alcoholic, while Routh clearly has this disease. Alcoholism exacerbated the destructive aspects of PTSD and unfortunately cost Kyle, who didn’t understand this risk, his life.


Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, previous chief of the Air Force sexual assault prevention branch, arrested on suspicion of “drunkenly” groping a woman outside a bar near the Pentagon. While charges of sexual battery were dropped, he still faces charges of assault and battery, which carries the same punishment but requires a lesser standard of proof. The fact is, if he was drunk and the trial proves he assaulted the woman, by my definition of alcoholism first proposed in Drunks, Drugs & Debits and refined in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics (a genetic disorder that causes afflicted people to biochemically process alcohol in such a way as to cause that person to act badly some of the time), Krusinski clearly has the disease of alcoholism. While that would not excuse his behavior, at least it would explain it.


In the “we cannot predict how destructive a practicing addict may become, or when” department, three youths (allegedly) murdered Christopher Lane, an Australian college athlete in Duncan, Oklahoma because they were “bored.” James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, are charged with murder; Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, faces lesser counts. Edwards’ sister, Danielle Crudup, 20, watched him change for the worse: his “sweet demeanor” turned sour about six months before the tragedy, as he began unleashing a “vile stream of braggadocio, sexism and racism” over social media. “I don’t understand. God, I wish I could have just got to him. I tried to talk and talk and talk to him, and it just seemed like he wouldn’t listen.” Danielle, he triggered substance addiction about six months ago. He couldn’t listen.


Under Watch:

In an early 2009 piece on white collar crime, The Economist magazine mentioned something those who have read my books would predict: “Many [Club Fed and other white collar] prisoners suddenly discover, post-conviction, that they had a drinking problem….” I would add that those who don’t figure this out might benefit from greater introspection. In the spirit of The Economist’s discovery, a recent story follows for which the evidence of alcoholism is in the crime itself.

Beanie Babies billionaire Ty Warner, 69, who reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to federal tax evasion in connection with undeclared Swiss financial accounts. He went to great lengths to conceal the accounts, including holding $94 million under another name. While unreported income totaled more than $3.1 million and unpaid tax on the account came to $885,000, Warner has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $53.6 million,* the largest publicly-reported civil penalty ever in the U.S. crackdown on undeclared offshore bank accounts. Warner also faces up to five years in prison and additional criminal tax fraud penalties.

Thinking that one is more powerful than the U.S. government is a symptom of alcoholism. Tax evasion in general, but especially on this scale, requires inordinate risk-taking in which typically only alcoholics engage (see TAR issue # 54 for examples). Warner also makes large philanthropic donations, which are not inconsistent with alcoholism (see TAR issue # 47 for an example). Alcoholism is often helpful in creating fortunes such as his: it fuels a willingness to take risks others won’t take. Consider Mel Gibson, whose fortune multiplied with the production of the very risky “Passion of the Christ,” and Ted Turner, who most observers thought was nuts in thinking an all-news television station (CNN) could ever make money.

In 1986 Warner mortgaged his home and invested his life savings to found Ty, Inc. He launched Beanie Babies in 1993 and later founded Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, which owns the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, the Four Seasons Resort in Santa Barbara, California, the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California and the Kona Village resort in Hawaii. Anyone this successful and wealthy (his estimated net worth is $2.5 billion) who goes out of his way to hide a mere $3.1 million in income from the U.S. Treasury almost certainly has distortions of perception, grandiosity and a feeling of omnipotence, all of which is nearly always rooted in alcoholism.

* The foreign account non-disclosure penalty is typically 50% of the highest balance in the account over the preceding six years; there were probably additional, smaller foreign financial accounts. While I don’t condone hiding income, the penalties even for “voluntary” compliance are draconian; see the Top Story in issue # 49 of Wealth Creation Strategies.


Codependents of the Month:

Danielle Crudup, whose brother James Francis Edwards Jr. was charged with the murder of the Australian college athlete in Duncan, Oklahoma, qualifies. However, so do most of the youths’ friends and relatives. Michael Dewayne Jones’ girlfriend’s mother said, “He seemed like nothing more than a regular kid.” Yet some friends feared he was using meth; his weight had recently plummeted. Chancey Allen Luna’s mother became so concerned he was using meth she purchased a drug-testing kit. Luna’s aunt and uncle, with whom he was living for a time, forced him out for smoking pot. Yet Luna, who had a history of fighting, “was raised with God and went to church when we went, four times a week,” according to his grandmother. After the murder and before they were apprehended, the boys headed to the town courthouse, where Edwards had to sign a probation agreement from a prior larceny case. According to the New York Times, he “stepped out of the car, calmly greeted his father, kissed a friend’s baby on the head and walked inside.” The problem with addicts is they nearly all act like Jekyll and Hyde, regardless of how young they may be—and it’s Dr. Jekyll who the family and friends knows and loves.


Studies of the Month:

Since PTSD is caused by traumatic events, especially those with a high risk of death, suicides among members of the military “should” be linked to combat. In a study published by the American Medical Association that at least partly debunks this idea and, therefore, the belief that PTSD causes suicides, data show 52% of troops who committed suicide while on active duty were never assigned to combat operations. A Los Angeles Times interview of relatives and friends of five service members who committed suicide found that none had ever been in combat, but four were involved in marriages or romantic relationships that were over or nearly so. Crumbling relationships are often rooted in alcohol or other-drug addiction, and nearly always so when involving someone facing disciplinary problems or legal trouble, as some of these service members were. But Army 2020 (cited in the Top Story) contradicts the idea that anything other than alcohol and other-drug addiction is the underlying cause of most suicides. It concludes that “alcohol abuse and illicit drug use [aka, alcoholism] places individuals at 8.5 and 10.1 times higher risk for suicide.” Yet researchers had “no clear reason why the suicide rate has been increasing.” How about alcoholism and, especially, as Army 2020 reports, massive increases in prescription drug use—which often is readily identifiable as addiction?


The National Academy of Sciences recently published a study that found drivers of fancy autos rank last in road manners. They are less likely to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and more likely to cut in front of other drivers at a four-way stop. In a nod to my friend Bob M., who has long observed this, BMW drivers are the worst, according to one of the researchers, and Prius drivers were also more likely to commit “infractions.” Unintentionally confirming what the addiction-aware might suspect—that fancy autos and poor manners go hand-in-hand as clues to alcoholism-fueled egomania—the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported the worst culprits are 35-50 year old males driving blue BMWs on Fridays around 6p.m.—no doubt after beginning happy-hour weekend. I have long observed that Friday afternoons are the worst in terms of obvious DUIs, and much worse than Saturday evenings. Watch for fancy autos at the end of the work-week—they could be dangerous to your health and well-being.


Good Dad of the Month:

“I was a monster. I’m a better person now that I’ve got children.” So said Sir Elton John, revealing that being a father helped him overcome his “infamous” temper. No, Sir John, being a father helped keep you sober, which you’ve been for 23 years. Staying sober and improving on your sobriety by further deflating your ego turned you from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll and helped you consign your temper tantrums to a past, drunken life.


Bad Moms of the Month:

Lisa Rosales, 43, and Lisset Llauro, 39, for variations on a theme. Rosales blew a .18 percent* after police were summoned to the parking lot of Richards Middle School in Fraser, Michigan for blocking traffic and allegedly attacking another parent for asking her to move her car. She was going to pick up her 13-year-old daughter but was instead whisked away in handcuffs on charges of DUI and possession of a controlled substance.

Llauro was stopped by an officer in Miramar, Florida, who saw her run over plastic lane markers in the student pick-up line at Silver Lakes Elementary School. She appeared disoriented, reeked of alcohol, had slurred speech and (allegedly) failed sobriety tests. Judge John “Jay” Hurley sentenced her to random alcohol and other-drug testing and commented, “It looks like you’re picking up your kids while you’re impaired by something and that’s very concerning.”

The questions the addiction-aware might ponder are how many times did Llauro and Rosales pick up their kids while under the influence without being caught and how many others do this without ever being caught? Hint for the addiction unaware: a lot more than you’d care to believe. You may want to pick up a copy of Get Out of the Way: How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence to disabuse you of any misperceptions that these cases are outliers.

* A .18 percent reading requires the consumption of, for example, a bottle and a half of wine over six-hours for a 120-pound person, or two and a quarter bottles for a 200-pounder over the same period.


Bad Law Enforcer of the Month:

Ronald D. Combs, 59, a senior Gainesville, Florida city attorney, charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, prowling and resisting arrest after a woman called police to report a prowler in her bedroom. When he saw she was awake, he fled, but not before she got a pretty good description to give officers, who tracked him running through back yards: he was wearing a skull cap, running shoes—and nothing else. He had to be subdued with a Taser. Ouch!


Enablers of the Month:

Montebello, California Mayor Christina Cortez, whose husband Ruben Guerrero, 44, was booked on suspicion of selling meth and narcotics near a school. After his arrest Cortez said she was disappointed and shocked. However, she shouldn’t be: there were three publicly-known clues to the idea that Guerrero was capable of anything. First, he was convicted of DUI in 1999. Second, arson investigators examined a “suspicious” fire last year that burned Cortez’s Chevy Suburban, which Cortez said was mostly driven by Guerrero. Third, Montebello Councilman Frank Gomez sought a restraining order against Guerrero, saying Guerrero had threatened him. For every public behavioral clue to substance addiction, there are likely dozens if not hundreds of hidden/non-public ones. Ms. Cortez, you saw plenty of other clues and should have been expecting anything of Mr.Guerrero.


According to the National Enquirer, an unnamed “well-heeled buddy” of O.J. Simpson reportedly intended to make the winning bid for Simpson’s former Florida home in an online foreclosure auction (it’s not yet clear who made the winning bid). The friend, who idolizes Simpson, said if he didn’t win the auction, he’d set Simpson up in an oceanfront condo he owns. While I don’t ordinarily cite a story unconfirmed by any other source, the Enquirer has had some amazing scoops. If this is correct, this is one of the greatest acts of enabling an addict ever. We’ll see if it pans out.


Retrospective Find of the Month:

Alcoholism authority George E. Vaillant brilliantly analogized what living with an alcoholic is like: “Outside of residence in a concentration camp, there are very few sustained human experiences that make one the recipient of as much sadism as does being a close family member of an alcoholic.” As sick as the family may appear in terms of observable behaviors (as I put it in Alcoholism Myths and Realities), some good can come of it, as Tony Robbins has proven.

Tony Robbins’ “Powertalk” audiotapes were an enormous aid in 1996 in helping me to recover from having lived with an alcoholic fiancée. At the time I figured Robbins was simply a brilliant iNtuitive Feeler, a personality type that excels at helping people become all they can. (For an explanation of the four Temperaments and 16 personality types see Keirsey's website.) When, in 2004, I tried to get an interview with Robbins I learned enough about his background to realize he was likely a child of a severe alcoholic. At the time, I could find nothing in the public domain that confirmed this.

Now there is—and by his own testimony. In the September 2013 Playboy interview, Robbins says, “I grew up in a family where both my parents were alcoholics and users of prescription drugs. At the age of 11 I’d go to the pharmacy and convince the pharmacist that my mom had lost her Valium, and he’d refill it.” She chased him out of their home with a knife when he was 17. After stumbling around for several years and reading all the self-help books he could get his hands on, he learned how to turn anger and rage into drive, “because just being angry wouldn’t have changed anything.”

I often say, “Thank God for the alcoholic in my life.” Without her I never would have viewed people’s misbehaviors, current events and history through the lens of alcoholism, which is to say I never could have understood people’s misbehaviors, current events and history. The experience drove me to develop models that turn inexplicable into explicable human misbehaviors, something only an iNtuitive Thinker, someone who thinks abstractly and who craves an understanding of the universe, could likely have done. I’ve a hunch Tony Robbins would echo the sentiment, because it drove him to develop tools, including changing one’s emotional state, only an iNtuitive Feeler could have done.


Retrospective Look of the Month:

I’ve never had such difficulty in writing a top story as the last issue’s piece on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman controversy. Only afterward did I realize it was the only Top Story I’ve written that was in “real time;” along with grotesque omissions and outright lies by the media, this made research and coming to definite conclusions difficult at best. I found additional support for Martin’s addiction shortly after TAR went out: his corpse was found with skittles and watermelon juice. These are two of three ingredients for an intoxicating beverage; the third is Robitussin cough syrup containing codeine and/or promethazine. A non-prescription version contains Robitussin with dextromethorphan (DXM); both versions are commonly “abused” by teens. One of the known side effects of repeated “robotrippin’” is anger and a violent temperament. This homemade drug, called by various names including “purple drank,” ”lean” and “sizzurp,” is so powerful and causes so much agitation in its users, it’s known as “poor-man’s PCP.”* Between the likelihood of Martin’s addiction, use of “sizzurp” and the report that Martin was proficient in mixed-martial arts, he may have been capable of killing Zimmerman with his bare hands.

One web site speculates there was enough time between Zimmerman’s first call to 911 and the shooting for Martin to walk the round-trip to his dad’s home and back to take on Zimmerman. It presumes he walked home to ditch some marijuana cigars called “blunts” and that he came back, looking for a fight. If Martin was an addict, he was always looking to inflate his ego. One of numerous ways to do so is to beat the crap out of someone. Therefore, this is a very plausible hypothesis.

* I watched a video of a police officer shoot someone on PCP ten times before the man finally stopped coming at him.


Alcoholic Pig of the Month:

You might think this would be a segment on someone like Robert Rizzo, the former City Manager of Bell, California, who was brought up on charges of corruption several months after he was arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol content of .28 percent and who looked like this just after his arrest (and whose arrest on charges of corruption is chronicled).

However, this story is actually about the animal, one of which drank at least three six-packs of beer over several days in a remote area of Australia, ransacked a campsite and got into an altercation with a cow. Fionna Findley, an official with the government of Western Australia highway division Main Roads, told reporters her crews were not equipped to deal with feral pigs, especially when they are drunk. She should have added, stay away from drunk pigs, non-human or otherwise.


Euphemism of the Month:

Distraught,” as in: “A distraught man yelled ‘This is my beach! My Social Security number is 555-55-5555’” while driving erratically in a beach parking lot before plowing his car into the ocean. As his passenger bailed out of the car and fled into the bluffs on a beach near Long Beach, California, the driver bailed and swam out to sea. Lifeguards plucked him out of the surf and held him for police. The only question is which drug (or drugs) does that euphemism stand for? Is it, “A man high on meth yelled…” or “A drunk man high on PCP yelled…”?


Naïve Politician of the Month:

California Governor Jerry Brown, vetoing a bill that would have added repeated alcohol and other-drug offenses as reasons to deny gun ownership for ten years by those with two DUIs or other misdemeanor substance “abuse” convictions within any three-year span. Brown explained, “I am not persuaded that it is necessary to prohibit gun ownership on the basis of crimes that are non-felonies, non-violent and do not involve misuse of a firearm.” Brown appears completely unaware of the fact that a DUI is a near-certain indication of alcoholism and alcoholics are capable of anything, including using guns to commit mayhem. He also seems unaware of studies supporting this, showing that a gun owner with even one misdemeanor conviction, such as a DUI, is five times more likely to commit a violent crime with a firearm than an owner with no prior arrest record.

Army 2020 discussed extensively above cites The Army Substance Abuse Program (Army Regulation 600-85, which Army 2020 refers to as the Army’s Risk Reduction Program). The Program lists 21 factors that need monitoring to prevent an escalation into high-risk behavior that can “result in adverse health and disciplinary consequences.” Army 2020 points out that the majority of high-risk behavior is “criminal in nature.” The 21 factors listed in the Program include accidents involving more than $2,000 in damage, alcohol offenses of all sorts—including DUIs and public intoxication—and even traffic violations such as speeding and non-alcohol-related reckless driving. Interestingly, the factors also include financial problems and eviction notices, which the addictionologist in us would predict. Mr. Brown, you may wish to reconsider your veto.


Retrospective Disenabler of the Month:

Miss Kay, who was thrown out of their home for three months at one point during Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s hard-drinking days, after standing “by him when he was drinking and staying out all night.” Robertson came close to losing everything, including Miss Kay, who wanted a divorce. Phil “found God” and begged her to take him back—no doubt with a promise to get and stay sober. Without Miss Kay’s tough love, which even she didn’t immediately offer (as is so typical, this was, apparently, a last resort), Robertson likely never would have built his “Duck Commander” brand into a multi-million dollar enterprise and Duck Dynasty into the most popular reality television show ever, drawing 12 million viewers for the show’s Season 4 premiere in summer 2013.


Sometimes, It Takes an Addict:

Velvet Underground co-founder, front man and lead guitarist Lou Reed, dead from liver disease at age 71, six months after a liver transplant. His “dark vision” helped the 1960s rock band become one of the most influential of its time. Greg Harris, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said that Reed’s work “provided the framework for generations of artists;” many consider him the “grandfather of punk.”

There is little doubt from an addictionologist’s vantage point that he was already a full-on addict in his teens. According to biographer Victor Bockris, he threatened to throw the “mother of all moodies if everyone didn’t pay complete attention to him” as he “tyrannically” presided over their middle-class home. That’s classic alcoholism-rooted narcissism.

Although they dissolved in 1970, Velvet Underground’s four albums, plus two others released in the mid ‘80s, profoundly influenced world history: according to David Feith and Bari Weiss in the Wall Street Journal, “In the 1970s Czechoslovakia’s anti-Communist movement coalesced around a Velvet Underground-inspired rock group called the Plastic People of the Universe. The Communist government branded the rockers enemies of the state....Playwright Vaclav Havel documented [the band’s] trial and imprisonment in 1976, then published the ‘Charter 77’ human-rights manifesto and eventually led the Velvet Revolution against Communism in 1989.” Havel later acknowledged the name derived in part from Reed’s band. When they met in 1990, Havel asked Reed, “Do you know I am president because of you?” Now that’s influence.


And, an obituary for a great man and extraordinary influence on my life and ideas: David Keirsey, RIP

It’s unlikely anyone has had a greater influence on my life than David Keirsey. Not only did his work on personality type and temperament, primarily through his first book Please Understand Me (PUM), help make sense of other people’s behaviors, attitudes, abilities, interests, beliefs, preferences and core needs, which are frequently so dramatically different from mine, but a single comment he made to me personally was instrumental to my work in addiction. Without his almost off-the-cuff remark, I likely would never have developed the idea that behaviors are the key to identifying likely alcohol and other-drug addicts long before addictive use is confirmed.

My then-fiancée (the addict who inspired a need to understand addiction) and I met with him, with several members of his family, for a late snack after a talk he gave. At the time, I may or may not have suspected active addiction in the fiancée, but I certainly hadn’t confirmed it (as described in Drunks, Drugs & Debits, she hid her use well and the therapists with whom we counseled were clueless). She identified herself under the Myers-Briggs personality type paradigm as Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judger, or INTJ (that’s what I am; I hadn’t yet figured out that chemistry is unlikely if not impossible between those of the same type), then ENTJ (an Extroverted NTJ) and, after taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, INTP, an Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceptive. David observed her for a time, took me aside and suggested that I consider the possibility her innate type was Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceptive, or INFP.

At the time I was taken aback. I knew many are mistyped because they incorrectly answer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questions (or those on Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter) in a style inconsistent with underlying innate type, often due to either stress or learned behaviors. I hadn’t considered the possibility that a student of Type and Temperament, as she was, would respond incorrectly—and I hadn’t yet figured out she was a full-on alcoholic or that stress-induced alcoholism dramatically increases the odds of an incorrect self-assessment. Keirsey summarized it succinctly: do not believe what Type a person says he or she is; instead, as he put it, “One must observe behaviors.”

After doing just that for nearly a year, I realized Keirsey was right. The best explanation for her behaviors, at least the healthy ones and her innate abilities, was clearly INFP.

I scored Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger, or ISTJ on Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter the first time I took it, likely because I was, at the time, under non-alcoholic-induced psychological stress. I consistently score INTP on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator due to poorly constructed questions asked on the Judging/Perceptive (J/P) dichotomous scale.* I realized that if sober people could respond to questions inconsistent with innate personality type, alcoholics certainly would. Stress distorts how people answer questions about themselves; therefore, the results are distorted. Lying, cheating, stealing and manipulating require repeated violation of one’s values, which is intrinsically stressful; therefore, alcoholism always causes intense stress and the results will nearly always be off the mark. I realized that although an addict may relate to a description of his or her scored type, such self-assessment cannot be trusted.

My crucial insight from Keirsey’s observation was an extrapolation: the idea that “one must observe behaviors” to learn the truth not only could be, but must be applied to the identification of likely alcohol and other-drug addicts. In fact, because distortions of perceptions and memory make substance addicts incapable of self-assessment (a singular fact gleaned from a one-line comment in Vernon E. Johnson’s seminal work, I’ll Quit Tomorrow**), observing behaviors is much more helpful in spotting alcoholics than in identifying true personality type (which non-addicts, at least, get right more often than not in self-assessments). The hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle misbehaviors I’ve found to be indicators of likely alcoholism might never have been uncovered had it not been for David’s remark.

Of course, I had to apply the idea. If I hadn’t already learned that my own type is unique, I might have figured everything I was thinking had already been done. But I learned from David that my personality type, one of 16, comprises only 1% of the population. Because Type and Temperament are so central to how we think, I understood how differently my thinking and the way I think about things is from 99% of the population. And I realized the odds that others of my type had experiences similar to mine were remote. Knowing and understanding my Type led me by baby steps to proceed into an area that was completely outside my prior fields of expertise, because I realized no one else was likely going to do it—and, after reading every book on alcoholism that I could get my hands on, found no one else had done it. ***

If all Keirsey had done was to lead me to the pivotal insight about alcoholism and the crucial one into my own Type, his influence would have been profound. There was, however, much more. As mentioned at the outset, PUM helped make sense of people through the logical grid of Type and Temperament. His work helped me in both my personal and professional life. I figured out what Types I am attracted to and could live with for a lifetime, which was instrumental in helping me find my wife, Marty. I began using it in communicating with prospective clients in ways that increased the odds they would become and remain clients (for example, by changing words and terms where I could in my client engagement agreement from “thinking” to “feeling” words). The value of Type and Temperament in screening for prospective employees is second only to the work in addiction that Keirsey made possible.

In his later years, Keirsey announced he wanted to write on madness, a subject that can be understood only in conjunction with an understanding of alcoholism. His student, Eve Delunas, wrote Survival Games Personalities Play, as if Type gone awry explained sick people. I connected the dots between “games” and personality disorders, nearly all of which are driven by alcoholism; the disorder takes shape as a function of one’s Type. This, too, was a key insight, on which much more work should be done. Ironically, Keirsey provided the essential tools by which to understand madness, even if he never grasped its roots.

Unfortunately, while Keirsey’s work, with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is used extensively by corporations and government in team-building, it largely remains out of the mainstream. Many psychologists mock it as “pop” psychology, I believe because so many are inaccurately typed, making the tool appear little better than astrology. Used properly—which means confirming innate Type by knowledgeable experts in Type and Temperament—Keirsey’s ideas are unparalleled in helping one to understand healthy human behaviors and beliefs, as well as predict core underlying needs, preferences, natural abilities and interests. They are on par with understanding alcoholism in assessing appropriate matches for lifelong mates, partners, employees and employers. When the value of Type and Temperament is fully recognized, it will be used in devising appropriate educating styles and education foci from pre-kindergarten, which will help to make for ever-more fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, this will be left to future generations to figure out. Regardless, Keirsey’s memory will live on.

* I’ve analyzed the reason why the J/P questions are faulty in an unpublished essay.

** “It is impossible to find out the subject’s behavior by questioning the subject.”

*** Some authors described a relative few behavioral indications of alcoholism, but fell short of developing a comprehensive list.

Note to family, friends and fans of the above: the benefit of the doubt is given by assuming alcoholism (they are either idiots and fundamentally rotten, or they are alcoholic/other drug addicts—which would explain the misbehaviors). If alcoholic, there is zero chance that behaviors, in the long run, will improve without sobriety. An essential prerequisite to sobriety is the cessation of enabling, allowing pain and crises to build. Instead, many do everything they can to protect the addict from the requisite pain, making these news events possible. The cure for alcoholism, consequential bad behaviors and, ultimately, tragedy, is simple: stop protecting the addict from the logical consequences of misbehaviors and, where possible, proactively intervene.

Jeffrey Rosen reviews the book Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade by Clarke D. Forsythe

Reading about historical figures and history through the lens of alcoholism is a mind-altering experience. History is radically transformed by alcoholics relative to what would otherwise be, without their influence. In nearly every field outside of science and mathematics, far more dramatic changes to history have been initiated by alcoholics than by non-addicts. A tiny sampling includes Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (assassin John Wilkes Booth was an alcoholic, as was Washington police officer John Parker, whose “need for a drink on the night of the assassination was so strong that he deserted his post outside the President’s box, left the theater, and went to a bar,” leaving Lincoln defenseless*) and John F. Kennedy’s Cuban missile crisis (few if any non-addicts would have taken risks the poly-drug addicted JFK took). Beethoven and John Lennon changed the history of music; Henry the 8th committed atrocities against wives and Josef Stalin committed unspeakable acts affecting millions of people; Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemmingway radically transformed art and literature. As first pointed out in Drunks, Drugs & Debits, one cannot make sense of history without understanding the distortions of perception and memory that lead to the egomania, reckless risk-taking and abusive behaviors rooted in early- to middle-stage alcoholism, frequently taking form in the actions of multiple players.

The case of Roe v. Wade is but one of these history-making events created by multiple alcoholics. The case was brought by an alcoholic, Norma McCorvey (whose legal pseudonym is Jane Roe), who falsely claimed she had been raped, signed an affidavit to that effect and then became completely uninvolved in the three years of trials leading to the infamous Supreme Court decision. (As an aside, she’s now a very sober and pro-life Ron Paul supporter.)

Forsythe, according to Jeffrey Rosen, set out to answer the question of why the Supreme Court ruled with such sweeping scope that, at the time, it “isolated the United States as one of approximately nine countries that allow abortion after 14 weeks and one of only four nations (with Canada, China, and North Korea) that allow abortion for any reason after fetal viability.” He explains that abortion was essentially made a constitutional right because, while Justice Harry Blackmun wanted the parties to reargue the abortion cases (Roe v. Wade and its lesser-known companion case Doe v. Bolton) the following year, Justice William O. Douglas “threatened to publish a scorching dissent unless Blackmun agreed to decide the cases without reargument.” Rosen suggests Blackmun agreed only because of Douglas’s “prolonged tantrum,” as James Simon referred to it in his book, The Center Holds. There is no mention in the review that Forsythe has any idea that two alcoholics effected an outcome with such scope. ** Yet the clue is in the very words Rosen cited: “prolonged tantrum.”

Infants engage in tantrums. Adults generally do not, but when they engage in some adult version usually they are attempting to wield power capriciously. Such wielding of power is symptomatic of alcoholism.

While it’s challenging at best to prove alcoholism in well-known political figures (for why this is true, see the Top Story of issue # 57 in TAR and, even, Supreme Court justices, plenty of evidence often can be found in their personal lives. In the case of William O. Douglas the evidence is breathtaking in its style. At age 55, after 30 years of marriage, he divorced his wife and married his mistress. At age 65 he divorced his second wife and, five days after the divorce was final, married a 23-year-old law student. At age 67 he divorced yet again and married a 22-year-old former cocktail waitress/college student. Lucy Barry Robe, in her magnificent Co-Starring Famous Women and Alcohol, found that as the number of divorces increase, so do the odds of alcoholism; after four divorces the likelihood climbs to at least 85%. Considering the misbehaviors that addiction causes, which adversely affects the marriages of every alcoholic, a contrary finding would be stunning. Anecdotally, I have found the larger the age difference between spouses, the higher the odds of addiction. When we consider the need of the addict to inflate his or her ego the explanation is, for the addictionologist, self-evident: marrying an older man, especially an extremely successful one, is very ego-gratifying to a younger woman; marrying a young woman, especially an attractive one, is quite ego-gratifying to an older man who can say to other men without speaking, “Look at my hot babe!” In addition, the older man can more easily control the younger, less experienced woman, something many if not most alcoholics would set out to do.

Various reports work to substantiate a diagnosis of alcoholism in Justice Douglas. He had a “massive” desk drawer that was difficult to open because it was “stuffed” with so many whiskey bottles. His two children resented him for, among other reasons, having received a “Father of the Year” award when he was, according to them, “a cold, harsh and uninvolved parent.” Resentment is common among alcoholics and, probably, equally as common among their unaware victims. A number of sources describe Douglas as a “deeply flawed character,” including Harvard Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz; his article includes numerous publicly-known power-seeking behaviors that, to the addiction-aware, strongly indicate alcoholism. Finally, in Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas (the title alone serves as a clue to alcoholism), Bruce Allen Murphy describes Douglas’ “dishonesty and mistreatment of family and employees, his womanizing, drinking, hypochondria, and his paranoia.”

The correct answer, then, as to why the Supreme Court ruled with such sweeping scope (Forsythe’s question, which Rosen repeated as central to his review) goes much deeper than the idea that Blackmun ceded to Douglas’ demand that the case not be reargued. Forsythe and Rosen got the “tantrum” but failed to get the “why” behind the tantrum, which is crucial if history is to be understood. The Supreme Court ruled with sweeping scope because an alcoholic decided that’s what he wanted and a majority of justices ceded to an alcoholic’s tantrum.

* James Graham, The Secret History of Alcoholism, p. 118.

** Forsythe points out that under a regime of states’ rights there would have been a continuation of dozens of experiments in various degrees of restrictions on abortion (a dozen or so would maintain abortion on demand, another dozen would prohibit abortion except to save the life of the mother and thirty states might place greater restrictions than allowed under Roe), and that the ruling massively increased the power of the federal government to the detriment of states’ rights. Consider the war on drugs to get an idea of how this decision has greatly reduced experimentation in other areas of governance.

Drug-addicted felon-dad

Dear Doug:

My four-year-old daughter’s father hasn’t been in our lives since she was born. Out of the blue, he sent her a birthday card and mentioned he might “pop in” to see her at some point. Since he didn’t bother to show up in court for our divorce hearing, he may not be aware that the decree stipulates “no contact.” I didn’t give her the card, but I wonder if this was wrong. By the way, he has a bad drug problem and has been in and out of prison.


Cares about her daughter


Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might suggest that because of your daughter’s age, you should not show her the card. However, he is at least reaching out, which calls for a response. They’d tell you to send him a copy of the court order, tell him any communication must go through you and he’d better not “pop in.” Then such columnists would blow it: they’d say if he is truly motivated to have a relationship with your daughter, you should work out a way to do this.

No you shouldn’t.

If he was sober, he would have written to you and apologized for his misbehaviors. You must assume he is not sober and, therefore, a danger to both you and your daughter. You should contact the police to see if anything can be done other than your “no contact” order, which is the sort of order that’s frequently violated to the great detriment of those it’s supposed to protect. Do nothing to encourage him or let him think he’s got a shot at seeing you or your child any time soon. He must earn that right, which will require at least several years of sobriety.

By the way, the first sentence suggests, by itself, a near-certain indication of addiction: parents don’t become uninvolved in a child’s life without alcoholism.

(Source for story idea: Ask Amy, October 15, 2013.)

“[A good, good kid who had two recent DUIs] was an unlikely candidate to be caught up in the [lethal] rivalry.”

So wrote Ben Bolch and Richard Winton in a Los Angeles Times piece entitled “Giants-Dodgers rivalry turns ugly off the field again,” regarding a man, Jonathan Denver, in L.A. Dodgers attire being stabbed to death after a game in San Francisco after an altercation with Giants fans. While it’s possible Denver didn’t taunt the four Giants fans believed to have been involved in the killing, this may be yet again a case of addict v. addict, as often occurs in the criminal justice system. While friends and family all agreed Denver was “a good, good kid,” he was arrested twice this year for DUI. While the killing is horrific, it’s possible Denver said something or motioned in some way that he wouldn’t have if he’d been sober. A non-alcoholic would be an unlikely candidate to be caught up in lethal rivalry; an alcoholic is the perfect candidate.

Story from “This is True” by Randy Cassingham, with his “tagline:”

Overdrawn on Intelligence: James Andrews, 43, tried to use the ATM at his bank in St. Petersburg, Fla. When the ATM said he had no money in his account, he went inside to find out why. After the teller said he had a negative balance, Andrews allegedly passed a note to the teller demanding $1,000. The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of money, and Andrews left. When police found the getaway car, they discovered it was owned by a friend who claimed he gave Andrews a ride to the bank, but didn’t know he had robbed it. Police were quickly able to track Andrews down and arrest him on charges of strong-arm robbery, and possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Andrews allegedly told police he needed the money to pay off a drug debt. (MS/Bay News 9) ...That last sentence explains everything before it.”

Randy, once again, gets it. If there is alcohol/other-drug addiction, nearly all the misbehaviors in which a person engages are symptoms of underlying addiction.

On a number of occasions, I’ve mentioned that stories of tragedy would do more to inform the unaware of the role of addiction in creating the tragedy if they began with, “John was an alcoholic. Here’s how his addiction ruined others’ lives….” This story, for example, “should” have read (with some made up “facts” for dramatic impact and because they would fit the profile): “James Andrews, 43, is an addict whose drug of choice is crack cocaine. His addiction is costly, worse since he often no sooner gets a job than he is fired and has an ex-girlfriend to whom he owes child support. In his yet latest gambit to steal funds for his drugs, he conned a ‘friend’ into giving him a ride to the bank and then, according to the friend, lending him the car (which doesn’t exactly comport with the story, but the friend could be an addict too and, well, try getting a story straight from two addicts). After trying to access funds via the ATM at his bank and finding he had no money in his account, he went into the bank, confirmed he had a negative balance and then demanded $1,000 from a bank teller. Police tracked him down after finding the ‘friend’s’ getaway car. After scaring the bejeezus out of a bank teller and God knows how many motorists, Andrews was charged with strong-arm robbery and possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.”

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2013 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. If you haven't already subscribed to his newsletter—the free one at least, or the paid one I get, with more than twice the stories—I highly recommend it:


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