July 2006 / Issue No. 22

Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:

1. Top Story-of-the-Month
2. Review-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

There is something for everyone!

Before we get to this issue’s columns, I want to extend my sincere thanks to those Internet friends who recently came to my defense. Two negative reviews of How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages were posted on www.Amazon.com on the weekend of June 17. I wasn’t as concerned about the fact that one reviewer (appropriately named “Al Koholic”) blasted me for being “a money grubbing charlatan who will write any kind of quack nonsense to make a few bucks” or the other (who could be the same reviewer, writing from a different computer) for having “no credentials or knowledge of alcoholism” as I was over the fact that the one-star reviews brought down the overall 4.5 star rating. I quickly emailed about 30 people who have sent me private testimonials and “thank-you’s” for explaining their nightmares with practicing alcoholics, asking that they post reviews. Within days there were nine new ones, all five-star and all from people I have never personally met. I am truly grateful.

My favorite line out of many is, “Doug Thorburn tells it like it is — if you do not like the truth that is in this fine book, then you are probably an Alcoholic.”

I almost hope that Alcoholism Myths and Realities: Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease similarly gets a bit of negative attention. I’m not sure I agree with the marketing adage, “There’s no such thing as negative publicity,” but I always strive to turn lemons into lemonade.

The World Cup, Alcoholism, Violence and Racism

ImageThose whose biological processing of alcohol causes a self-favoring view of self think they are better than others. This distorted perception, dubbed euphoric recall, teams up with acetaldehyde (or is perhaps part of the same process) and damages the neo-cortex, the seat of reason and logic. The resulting behaviors take wide-ranging form, from belittling others to robbery, rape, murder and hatred.

The idea that alcoholism-driven hatred can take form in racism was briefly explored in Drunks, Drugs & Debits and How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics. Former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver became sober and recalcitrant long after he threatened a holocaust against whites. Benjamin Smith, who went on a shooting rampage against Jews, Blacks and Asians in Illinois and Indiana over 4th of July weekend 1999, had previously spent a year in drug counseling. An alcoholic, Buford Furrow, attacked a Jewish community center in Granada Hills, California in August 1999. Richard Baumhammers, who shot six non-whites in April 2000 and frequented white supremacist web sites, was reported to have used 17 different prescribed psychotropic drugs. Reports of racism combined with heavy alcohol or other-drug use convinced me early on that racism is not only unnatural, but also rare without a psychotropic drug addiction. This culminated in myth # 65 in Alcoholism Myths and Realities: “He’s no alcoholic; he’s just a racist,” where I wrote, “I have known a number of racists and others who used racial slurs, eventually finding alcoholism in almost every case.”

This can be particularly dangerous in those with leadership aspirations. An alcoholism-damaged neo-cortex seems to increase the ability of the unconscious emotional mind, the limbic system, to tap into the needs and instinctual drives of others. One such drive is a desire to “belong” which, along with survival, is at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs. Some alcoholics have an ability to convince masses of followers that they can help them fulfill these needs by belonging to what, in essence, becomes their herd. I have hypothesized that this is usually how riots begin and cults are created. And if there are problems in society, what better way to become Supreme Leader, whether of a nation-state or your neighborhood, than by blaming another class of people for the problems of your people, real or not?

World Cup fans (and, no doubt, many players) drank with wild abandon during the recent competition. According to German bar keepers, British fans in Nuremberg were reported to have “practically drank us dry”. One bar keeper said, “Never have I seen so many drink so much in such little time.” Many of the players’ wives and girlfriends who danced on chairs and smashed glasses at bars later appeared to have trouble walking; one barkeep reported he “had made a fortune out of the players’ girls drinking.” British party girls claiming, “We are here to help England win the World Cup” led several all-night boozathons. The revelry, the part we didn’t see on TV, has been extraordinary.

It’s tough to distinguish between young non-alcoholics and addicts when all are drinking. However, those seemingly having the most fun and partying all night are the more likely alcoholics. I’ll never forget when it dawned on me, half-way into writing my first book, that my ex-wife—who was not my inspiration to understand alcoholism—could stay up all night at our parties, while I just wanted to go to sleep, and that perhaps this heavy drinking was linked to her occasional misbehaviors. It took another year or two for me to realize that while she could control her use for weeks and even months at a time, every so often she’d go off the deep end. By my redefinition of alcoholism, which requires a loss of control over behaviors rather than use, I slowly realized she had early-stage alcoholism and that without these bouts of alcoholism-induced nastiness our marriage would have likely endured. No one else knew what went on behind closed doors. The same is true for many of these party-hardy World Cup fans.

There are some, however, who are more obvious. A Scot, who was arrested for lifting his kilt and flashing his manhood, resisted arrest, started a fight and tried to bite a police officer. Over 120 English fans were arrested and detained overnight in Stuttgart after taunting passers-by and throwing bottles, glasses and chairs. Authorities, who responded quickly, intended to show that “aggressive drinking, violence and harassment will be nipped in the bud.” Over 130 mostly German fans were briefly detained in Cologne after scuffles began. More than 400 German and Polish fans—properly described by CBS News as hooligans—were arrested in Nuremberg. Police repeatedly described being targets of “drunken fans.”

In one of its most vile forms, alcoholic madness can result in racism even in sports. FIFA, soccer’s Zurich-based world governing body, recently said there has been a surge in discriminatory behavior toward blacks by fans and other players, especially as more Africans and Latin Americans have been signed by elite European clubs. Hanging banners reflecting racist beliefs and tossing bananas and banana peels are common occurrences during matches in Spain, Italy and the former Eastern Bloc. French coach Raymond Domenech accused Spanish fans, who whistled and booed during the French national anthem, of shouting racial epithets and monkey chants at his black players. Luis Aragones, Spain’s coach, was fined in 2004 for making racial slurs against French star Thierry Henry. (While I can’t blame him, it didn’t help that Henry reacted by reportedly flipping off the Spanish team after the French beat them June 27.) Uwe-Karsten Heye, a former German government spokesman who now leads an anti-racism organization called “Show Your Color” warned non-whites to avoid certain areas of Germany, particularly small and medium-sized towns in Brandenburg, which were dubbed “no-go” areas. While not every alcoholic reacts this way, racism is a great way to blame other classes of people for one’s problems, such as failing to get picked by a top team because a person of a different color beat you out.

In late May, before the World Cup began, a 16-year-old was charged with attempted murder after he injured 28 people in a frenzied assault with a knife. Police were reportedly “unable to determine a motive for the attack” at the public gathering. He was reportedly “drunk.” The trouble is, the motive is right in front of us: an alcoholism-driven need to wield power, which can take bizarre and exceedingly destructive forms. The assault set the stage for the thousands of less tragic attacks occurring during the World Cup, from hooliganism to racism.

Runners-up for top story of the month:

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, inflating his ego by snubbing his nose at a far more powerful adversary, shooting off a Taepodong-2 along with several lesser missiles on the 4th of July and within minutes of the launch of the Space Shuttle. For more on Kim, see our occasional new feature below entitled, “Co-Dependents of the Month.”

Pit bull owner Pam McKee, 52, arrested in San Bernardino, Ca. on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine, after 27-year-old Shaun McCafferty, of Anaheim, Ca. was mauled to death by a pack of her pit bulls. It’s not clear why McCafferty was staying at the desert compound, which was littered with 50 junked cars and other refuse, but I would suggest that birds of an alcoholic feather often flock together. While pit bulls can be gentle, because of their powerful jaws they are often trained to be attack animals. Such “pets,” as well as more exotic breeds including tigers and alligators, are a signal symptom in the owner of a need to wield power and, hence, alcoholism.

Paul Flores, the only suspect in the disappearance of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart ten years ago after a college party, in court for his third DUI arrest. Campus police (Smart lived in an on-campus dorm) refused to take a missing persons report two days after the party, even though she’d left her ID and prescription medicine in her dorm room. The delay in starting the investigation of Smart’s disappearance may have resulted in disappearing evidence, leading to California state legislation requiring prompt reports of missing students by campus police departments. The investigation is still open, but police have basically admitted they need Flores’ testimony to close in on him. Flores, who lawyered up near the outset, refused a polygraph test and took the fifth before a grand jury.

Golfer John Daly who, in what may go down as the best euphoric recall-induced quip-of-the-year claimed, “I’m not an alcoholic. I can still drink—but only beer.” Let’s see…he’s been in rehab three times, lost over $50 million gambling, was married four times before age 35 and has engaged in front-page epic drunken binges and sexual misadventures. The world will be watching you, Mr. Daly, for proof that the alcohol in beer is truly different from that in Jack Daniels.

Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, Dem. R.I., the subject of last month’s Top Story, quickly pleading guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs, ordered to attend weekly meetings of AA and submit to random drug tests under a probation agreement. Congressman Jim Ramstad, Rep. MN., standing by Kennedy’s side on the courthouse steps after the plea, announced, “As a grateful recovering alcoholic of 25 years, I’m pleased to be his sponsor.” Ramstad endorsed my fourth book, Alcoholism Myths and Realities: Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease, saying “Every policymaker in America needs to read your book exposing the myths of chemical addiction...Hopefully, your book will help educate those who write the laws so we, as a nation, can do what works—prevention and treatment!” Let’s hope that Ramstad’s sobriety rubs off on Kennedy.

Keyboardist Billy Preston, dead from kidney failure at age 59. Preston had several No. 1 solo hits, but is perhaps best-known for his afternoon spent on a London rooftop with the Beatles in what became their last concert, filmed for “Let It Be.” Little Richard hired him for a European tour in 1962; the Beatles were Little Richard’s opening act. Preston was the musical guest on the first-ever “Saturday Night Live” and appeared as Sgt. Pepper in the 1978 film, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” His long-time drug problem surfaced in 1992, when he spent nine months in rehab. Unfortunately, it didn’t take and he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating probation. Apparently unable to remain sober for extended periods, he pleaded guilty in 1998 to insurance fraud.

The daughter of Duane “Dog” Chapman, star of A & E’s “Dog, The Bounty Hunter,” Barbara Chapman, dead after a crash in a stolen vehicle near Fairbanks, Alaska just hours before her father Duane married his co-star, Beth Smith. Barbara was with a male friend, who lost control of the vehicle at 90 mph. The initiated among us might take the vehicle theft and their speed as clues to methamphetamine addiction. Indeed, a meth pipe was found in the wreckage. Barbara, who was 23, leaves behind a 4-year-old son.

Duane has apparently been a clean born-again Christian for 27 years after having been arrested 18 times, the consequences of which included time in prison. He is a classic addict turnaround, having been responsible for some 6,000 captures of mostly practicing addicts acting badly. After consulting their surviving children and their minister, Duane and Beth decided to go ahead with the wedding, his fifth and her second, as a celebration of Barbara’s life who, like almost all other addicts, was probably a decent human being during periods of clarity.

Under watch:

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, backing out of his $115 million pledge to the Harvard University School of Public Health over a year after it was first promised. According to Christopher Murray, director of Harvard’s Global Health Initiative, Ellison reiterated his commitment in November but Harvard had been unable to communicate directly with him since then. Mr. Ellison claimed “the deal was never signed because Larry Summers [president of Harvard] abruptly announced that he was leaving the University.” He resigned in February, not abruptly, but after months of contention amid differences with faculty members. Summers had offered to stay involved with what was to become the Ellison Institute for World Health. Based on the pledge Ellison was named the seventh most generous donor in the U.S. in 2005. The planned Institute has been put on hold and three senior managerial staffers, hired on the basis of the promised gift, were discharged. According to Forbes Magazine, Ellison, married and divorced three times in what have been called “turbulent” relationships and described by various biographers as a charming egotistical capricious ruthless lying back-stabbing megalomaniac, is the 15th richest person in the world.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who revoked the concealed weapons permit of retired sheriff’s Captain Ken Masse two days after Masse’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat Baca in the June 6 election. Baca accused Masse of “inappropriately using department data to contact deputies at home during the campaign.” Police agencies, according to The Los Angeles Times’ citing of Masse’s attorney Dieter Dammeier, “usually take such action only after retired officers are accused of criminal wrongdoing or other evidence indicates they could pose a danger with a gun.” Similarly, Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona suspended his rival in the election, Lt. Bill Hunt, and demoted two employees who supported Hunt during the campaign.

San Jose, California Mayor Ron Gonzales, indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges. He is accused of illegally helping waste contractor Norcal obtain an $11 million contract increase, of misusing public funds and destroying or falsifying government documents. One of the Mayor’s former allies, Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, suggested that Gonzales step down and recommended that the 10-member City Council, four of whom have called for his resignation, strip the office of “all vestiges of power and authority” if he refuses. The indictments threaten to wreak havoc in the government of California’s third largest city.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, entering prison near The Hague, Netherlands, where he will await trial on United Nations charges of war crimes in which hundreds of thousands were killed, raped or mutilated. The charges stem from his alleged backing of rebels in Sierra Leone, who terrorized victims by chopping off their arms, legs, ears and lips during the country’s 1991-2002 civil war. This is the country where rebels gave children as young as seven cocaine, amphetamines and fear-reducing tranquilizers. These children would then go on murderous binges for days without stopping. Unfortunately, journalists rarely understand the importance of identifying alcoholism in their subjects. Several readers with some insight into the Dark Continent agree with my comment that alcoholism could explain its modern history (Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse). Unfortunately, the idea that Africa’s despots are and have been alcoholics will likely remain unconfirmed for the foreseeable future.

Prison guard Ralph Hill, 43, dead after an exchange of bullets at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida with a team that was serving arrest warrants on Hill and five other guards. The remaining five guards were subsequently indicted in a contraband-for-sex-with-inmates scandal. According to my research, the lowest off-the-cuff estimate of the percent of prison guards who are alcoholics in any prison is 50%, with many interviewees claiming 80%. This is the sort of thing that happens when alcoholism in law enforcers is allowed to continue unchecked.

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. Thus far, many have done 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 proactively intervene.

Co-Dependents of the Month:

The six nations attempting to control Kim Jong Il’s North Korea qualify for codependents of the month, and perhaps the decade. Like any other addict, Kim makes numerous promises he never keeps. Like other codependents, those dealing with him try negotiation, logic and reason. As pointed out in Alcoholism Myths and Realities: Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease, “Attempting to negotiate with a brain affected by alcoholism is like trying to be rational with a reptile….The brain of the practicing alcoholic, soaked in acetaldehyde, is not a rational one. The addict cannot see that his troubles extend any further than your toes, which he will crush if given the opportunity.”

Aside from the countless behavioral indications of alcoholism in this despotic control freak and despite the secrecy surrounding his regime, there are several pieces of evidence of actual addictive use: 1. Japanese women invited to attend one of Kim’s numerous parties report that he drank heavily. 2. One of the biographies of Kim, North Korea Through the Looking Glass by Kongdan Oh and Ralph C. Hassig, reports that he relies on a “kitchen cabinet” of friends and family members, “especially trusting a few close relatives and drinking buddies.” Having “drinking buddies” at any age much over 30 is a classic sign of alcoholism. 3. “The New Yorker” described the farewell lunch at the 2000 summit in which he had at least ten drinks and said, “As far as drinking goes, I’m a better drinker than Kim Dae Jung,” South Korea’s leader. Ten drinks in four hours would put his BAL at about .18 per cent. There’s much more on Kim in the October 2004 issue of www.ThorburnAddictionReport.com. I continue to maintain that Kim is the most dangerous man who has ever lived: an alcoholic despot with nuclear weapons who is attempting to develop the means of delivery, or who may sell them to terrorists in order to fund his totalitarian regime.

E. Pierce Marshall, son of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall ll, who married former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, dead from a brief and extremely aggressive infection at age 67. Last month’s “Runners-Up” discussed the younger Marshall’s battle with Smith over his father’s oil fortune, where I asked, “Who else but an alcoholic could link the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, the IRS and a Playmate all in one story?” Now the younger Marshall’s heirs get to take over, further complicating matters. (Some may inquire how this would make Marshall a co-dependent. The term as I use it describes someone in a committed relationship or connection with an addict, which does not require enabling.)

Actress Hillary Swank, who said her divorce from actor-husband Chad Lowe was partly a result of his “substance-abuse problem.” She explained, as do so many codependents: “I knew something was happening, but I didn’t know what. When I found out, it was such a shock because I never thought he’d keep something from me.” That, Ms. Swank, is what addicts do. According to Swank, Lowe is sober now, but, as is so frequently the case, it’s apparently too late to salvage the marriage.

Enabler of the Month:

The Law, which offers only limited choices for the California State Commission on Judicial Performance in meting out consequences for errant Officers of the Court. The commission decided that Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz can continue to preside over criminal hearings even though he was arrested for driving under the influence with a Blood Alcohol Level of .18 per cent and repeatedly tried to get preferential treatment and avoid being arrested because he was a judge. The Commission censured Schwartz, which is reportedly the most serious punishment short of being removed from the bench. Perhaps, a compromise in the law is in order: a judge can return after a year (or two, after his brain heals from what should be automatically assumed to be longstanding alcoholism) with random and regular testing, with one failure resulting in automatic removal.

Review: “Broken Trail”

AMC’s first full-length original motion picture, “Broken Trail,” which originally aired in two parts on June 27 and 28, was deservedly the most-watched program in the network’s history. Print Ritter (Robert Duvall) and Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church), Print’s nephew, were two horse wranglers driving a herd of 400 mustangs across wild country with gorgeous backdrops from Oregon to Wyoming in 1898. The movie received well-deserved rave reviews from critics and viewers alike.

The obstacle the two cowboys unexpectedly faced was in having to free and protect five Chinese women from their kidnapper, who was selling them into prostitution. The kidnapper was an obvious and vile alcoholic. Yet not one reviewer, professional or otherwise, thought the motive force behind the iniquity was worth mentioning; only that good, honest and honorable men saved the day. Yet, without alcoholism, monsters would be few and far between and there would likely have been nothing to save the women from. Therefore, although most would never guess from the reviews, the story is rooted in the alcoholism-driven need to wield power in a particularly cruel way and, perhaps perversely, in the idea that non-alcoholics would never have had the opportunity to prove their mettle without this extreme form of alcoholism.

“Broken Trail” is a feast for the eyes and ears. It is well-written and gives an excellent taste of good vs. evil and right vs. wrong—of non-addict virtue vs. alcoholism-fueled depravity.

Brief snippets:

Robert Duvall played Lt. Col. Bull Meechum as the lead hero-heavy in 1979’s “The Great Santini.” Most viewers might think Meechum, “The Great Santini,” just couldn’t stand losing because “that’s who he was.” Most viewers would be wrong. His need to win was fueled by alcoholism. Duvall’s portrayal is a classic by a truly great actor.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrayed Carl Brashear, the first Black to enter the Navy dive school and earn the Navy’s Master Diver certification in 2000’s “Men of Honor,” an excellent movie on a number of levels. Brashear overcame many obstacles, one of which was prejudice and racism in the upper command, which included Master Chief Billy Sunday in a marvelous performance by Robert DeNiro. I began innocently watching the movie, slowly realizing that Sunday was exhibiting all sorts of behavioral indications of alcoholism. During a commercial break I checked the Internet and, in one review, read, “When his diving career is cut short, Sunday turns to drink” and ends up in rehab. More accurately, “When his diving career was cut short, Sunday could no longer successfully inflate his ego, resulting in a spiral down into more obvious late-stage alcoholism.” Well, at least one review alluded to alcoholism; others don’t even mention it. In fact, the movie couldn’t have been made without it. Alcoholism caused power-seeking misbehaviors, one of which is racism, creating the chief obstacle Brashear had to overcome. The evidence is that Sunday’s racism dissipates after his stint in rehab. An excellent portrayal of poor conduct fueled by alcoholism followed by recovery and amends makes this one of the great unsung alcoholic movies.

I’ve included a complete review of both movies at www.imdb.com as well as on the blog at www.addictionreport.com.


Dear Doug: Closet Abuser

Dear Doug:

My wife, with whom I am going through a divorce and battling over custody of our 7-year-old, would love take my child away. If I asked for proof of paternity, she might succeed, because she continuously cheated on me and the child might not be mine. She wants alimony and child support, which she would lose if our son is proven to be someone else’s, and I don’t bring it up.

The trouble is my wife provides no supervision for our child when he is with her. He goes for days without bathing or even changing clothes, he’s lucky to get macaroni for dinner and he has been seen by neighbors in her front yard at 3 a.m. while she’s asleep, intoxicated, or not even home. I am the only stable influence in my son’s life and do not want to report the situation to Child Protective Services for fear she will have a paternity test. Neighbors have only gone so far as to tell my wife’s mother of the neglect, but in her eyes, my wife can do no wrong. Please help me.


Father of a Neglected Child

. . . .

Dear Father,

Other columnists might suggest you could be awarded custody even if you are not the biological parent, that you document proof of neglect and that you talk to your lawyer. They’d even mention that your son’s safety is paramount. But there is much more that you need to understand so that you can take action with a clear conscience.

Your child is not simply neglected. He is experiencing psychological abandonment of the highest order, which is emotional abuse, along with physical abuse at least to the extent he is not getting proper nutrition or sleep. Your wife appears to be sexually promiscuous, even to the point of leaving your 7-year-old at home alone in the middle of the night. This is typical of households in which there is a poly drug addict, particularly one who uses methamphetamine.

You need to understand that there is no coaxing or arguing or logical discourse possible with your wife. She needs consequences and she needs them now, before it is too late. Document everything you can and take it to your lawyer, law enforcers and Child Protective Services. And read Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse, which will give you the gut feel for addiction that you desperately need and help you understand that your wife is capable of any deviant behavior while she is a practicing addict. Only then will you be able to uncompromisingly disenable.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, June 2, 2006.)

Prevent Tragedy Foundation

"To you, that angry, horn-blasting tailgater is suffering from road rage. But doctors have another name for it — intermittent explosive disorder — and a new study suggests it is far more common than they realized, affecting up to 16 million Americans"

So wrote Lindsay Tanner, AP medical writer, reporting on a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study was based on a national face-to-face study of 9,282 adults who answered diagnostic questionnaires. Dr. Emil Coccaro, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Chicago’s medical school and one of the study’s authors, said that treatment with antidepressants and behavior therapy is helpful in treating the disorder.

This is junk science at its finest.

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration studies have proven that 50% of tailgating is associated with DUI, which in turn is an almost certain indication of alcoholism in today’s United States. The analysis of road rage in Get Out of the Way! How to Identify and Avoid a Driver Under the Influence, clue number 3 under the category “A Supreme Being Complex (I am God),” makes a supported case that 75% to 100% of air rage and, therefore, road rage, is linked to alcoholism. Since alcoholism is the precursor to such rage, antidepressants and behavior therapy do nothing to treat this purported disorder.

So called intermittent explosive disorder is reported by staff writer Janet Cromley of The Los Angeles Times to more typically manifest in a person getting “furious at a spouse or child for a minor disagreement over something as mundane as dinner not being served on time or neglected chores.” I know many recovering addicts who admit that between drinking episodes they would yell at their spouse, kids or pets over such things. As Ketcham and Milam put it in Under the Influence, “When the alcoholic stops drinking, all hell breaks loose. Blood vessels constrict, cutting down on the flow of blood and oxygen to the cells. The blood glucose level drops sharply and remains unstable. The brain amines, serotonin and norepinephrine, decrease dramatically. Hormones, enzymes, and body fluid levels fluctuate erratically….These chaotic events cause fundamental disruptions in the brain’s chemical and electrical activity…the resulting pandemonium creates numerous psychological and physiological problems for the alcoholic, including profound mental confusion...“ No wonder hardly anyone—including researchers—is linking alcoholism to the behaviors described.

Note that serotonin decreases dramatically. The antidepressants recommended by Coccaro target serotonin receptors in the brain. And the last I checked, the number of people who have undergone successful treatment for anger who were not in a program of recovery from alcoholism was near zero.

The disorder, if it exists at all, is rare. More often, plain and simple, it’s alcoholism.

Amazing Antics: Stories of Alcoholism-Driven Behaviors™
Story from “This is True” by Randy Cassingham, with his “tagline:”

"THE DUH BOAT: Thomas Williams, 20, and two roommates decided to go rafting on the Colorado River near Vail, Colorado. Instead of hiring an experienced guide, they bought a blow-up raft from Wal-Mart. Instead of life jackets, they brought along a couple of 12-packs of beer. The river in the area they chose includes "Class III" rapids. An experienced guide saw their raft overturn and rescued them -- barely. "I was under for so long I just blacked out," Williams said, vowing he won't go back on the river unless he's properly prepared. On the other hand, he says, he seeks out thrilling sports such as skateboarding and bungee jumping. "If I didn't do that stuff I'd be a lazy couch potato," he said. (Vail Daily) ...Give him another chance and he could be a mashed potato."

“Engages in unnecessarily reckless behaviors” is the first clue listed in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages, in Chapter 5 under the category, “A Sense of Invincibility.” If any of these young men have triggered alcoholism, they likely did so by their middle-teen years and there have since been dozens or even hundreds of other clues to their addiction that close people have observed. We can’t know how many more chances they will have, but those who care about these men—who appear to have the judgment of young adolescents—would be doing everyone a favor by identifying the disease and intervening now, before it’s too late.

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2006 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. See http://www.thisistrue.com for free subscriptions.)

Visit www.thisistrue.com for free subscriptions


To view reader's comments on last month's Thorburn Addiction Report and Doug's responses please visit the Thorburn Weblog at PrevenTragedy.com.

Doug frequently posts alcoholism-related articles, as well as his responses, so be sure to check back often.

Thorburn Weblog

Doug's new book, Alcoholism Myths and Realities, is now available at
GaltPublishing.com, Amazon.com and bookstores near you.

Rave reviews include:

"Every policymaker in America needs to read your book exposing the myths of chemical addiction...Excellent book."
— Jim Ramstad, Member of U.S. Congress (MN)

"My father died of alcoholism. His father died of alcoholism. Three generations of alcoholism is enough. Now is the time to abandon superstition and pseudoscience, to debunk the myths surrounding alcoholism, and to apply science to solving this problem. Doug Thorburn's book is a model example of how this should be done. Read it and be prepared to change your thinking on this important topic. When enough of us understand what is really going on with alcoholism, society can make the shift from treatment to prevention and intervention."
— Michael Shermer, publisher, Skeptic Magazine and columnist, Scientific American

Buy your copy of Alcoholism Myths and Realities for only $14.95 or get the whole collection PLUS a two-hour audio cassette from Galt Publishing for just $49.95 plus tax and shipping. That's a $72.75 value for only $49.95.

To order online, click the following link (be sure to put "TAR SPECIAL" in the comments section of the order form.) Orders can also be placed by phone: 800-482-9424 OR fax: 818-363-3111.
If you wish to pay by check, send the appropriate payment with your shipping information and the words "TAR SPECIAL" in the "memo" section of your check to: PO Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327.

To purchase any of the above Thorburn books, go to www.galtpublishing.com

Click here to test someone you know for behaviorial indications of addiction.

Have you visited the Prevent Tragedy Foundation" The Prevent Tragedy Foundation is a tax-exempt 501c-3 organization, the goal of which is to educate the general public on the need for early detection of alcohol and other drug addiction. The Foundation is intended to answer a question that has been all-but-ignored by similar organizations: what does alcoholism look like before it becomes obvious"

Click here to visit the Prevent Tragedy Foundation


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Copyright 2006 Doug Thorburn All Rights Reserved.

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