Issue #60 - December 2010

Because of the billions of options on the Internet, it’s become far more difficult to successfully advertise this letter. We’d really appreciate your forwarding it to your family, friends and associates and suggest that they subscribe.

As an off-the-subject but timely recommendation, please check out this FEE essay, which tells the true story of Thanksgiving. It illustrates the resounding success of free markets and enforceable private property rights vs. its opposite, statism, and is far more interesting than the myth we learned as school children. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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

© 2010 by Doug Thorburn

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

By the way, call us (800-482-9424) for deals on books you won’t be able to refuse. (They are also available, of course, at or They make a terrific gift to teens and anyone thinking about becoming professionally or romantically involved with someone else! (…including other drivers, landlords, tenants, employers, employees, neighbors…)

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Biographers and Reviewers Often Miss Possible Alcoholism: Author Roald Dahl, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Stock Trader Jesse Livermore and Chinese Writer Lu Xun

There are many descriptive words and behaviors suggesting alcoholism in the subjects discussed by journalists, historians, biographers and book reviewers. “Partier” is an obvious one; “charismatic” less so, but usually every bit as telling. Occasionally the subject is described as having been “reduced to drinking himself to death,” as reviewer Magette Wade in Barron’s described Frank O’Connor while his wife Ayn Rand carried on with her far younger lover Nathaniel Branden, but such clarity in a review usually occurs only in cases of late-stage addiction. Every so often what is to us obvious is disclosed near the end of a review, as Michael J. Ybarra did in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the work and museum of Zhou Shuren, who devoted his life to bringing a communist revolution to China under the pen name Lu Xun.

Lu, who dropped out of medical school after two years because he felt literature was the way to change the spirit of his fellow Chinese, has long been considered China’s first modern author. A surprising number of writers have been alcoholics, probably because, as hypothesized in the winter 2007-2008 edition of Wealth Creation Strategies in a piece entitled, “How do Alcoholics Get Away with Financially Abusing Others?” damage to the rational brain centers allows the part of the brain that controls emotions, which is undamaged by alcoholism, to more readily connect with others. This allows alcoholics to express extremes of fear, hatred, sorrow, passion and love that make for great and emotionally-satisfying writing. Devoting one’s life to a cause and being a great and influential writer would hardly seem like clues to alcoholism to non-addictionologists. Neither would an act of treason committed while studying in Japan on a government scholarship: Lu shaved off his ponytail, which all Chinese men wore as a symbol of submission to the emperor. Yet, in the second-to-last paragraph of the article, Ybarra touches on a possible explanation for the life of Lu Xun when, in describing the Lu Xun Museum in Shanghai, he laments that several aspects of Lu’s life go un-mentioned at the museum: “Lu’s drinking, his marital problems and his disagreements with Communist orthodoxy.” Had Ybarra understood the disease, he might have identified Lu as an alcoholic (“drinking” is rarely mentioned in historical figures unless the “drinking” was a problem) or included the fact that Lu’s father died of alcoholism, which might have caused Lu to react and compensate in ways that often mimic alcoholism.

We aren’t as lucky when reading Victor Niederhoffer’s review of the classic Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, Annotated Edition, by Edwin Lefevre, with extensive annotations by investment advisor Jon Markman and a foreword by hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. While Reminiscences, told in the first person, is a fictionalized autobiography of the legendary trader Jesse Livermore, Markman, in his annotations, fills in the details of Livermore’s real life. From 1910 to 1920, despite extraordinary abilities and insights (an appendix contains 100 key tenets to Livermore’s trading method which, when used properly, professional traders say can be extremely profitable) Livermore repeatedly went bust due to excessive leverage. Despite having built a $100 million fortune by 1929, he went bankrupt for “at least the fourth time” in 1934. The $2 million in excess debt he owed at the time included “promised payments” to a dancer “for keeping him ‘cheered and amused,’ and a liability for breach of promise to a former secretary.” Niederhoffer, who himself has made mistakes that cost him his fortune at least twice, explains that Livermore “did not seem to learn from his mistakes” and repeatedly overspent, used too much leverage and generated way too much in the way of commissions relative to the risks he took. He went bust for the last of at least six times in 1940 at age 63, when he committed suicide. Niederhoffer—and Lefevre before him—could easily have begun the story of Jesse Livermore by saying, “Let me tell you about the life of a trader whose alcoholism impelled him to develop trading methods that led to great wealth, yet who repeatedly displayed impaired judgment in ways that cost him his fortune many times over. Because of egomania rooted in alcoholism, Livermore built great wealth. Because of a sense of invincibility rooted in alcoholism, Jesse Livermore took unwarranted risks and lived an extremely volatile life.” Yet, alcoholism—the behavioral clues to which are far more numerous than in the description of Lu Xun—while never mentioned as likely or even a possibility, is clearly the best explanation for the path his life took.

A review of Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl, by Donald Sturrock, in The Economist, is another example that includes numerous behavioral clues to alcoholism, as well as many euphemisms for the problem without naming or even considering the possibility. The biography, while sympathetic to Dahl, is “also attentive to his many flaws,” which is code for possible alcoholism. His macabre tales won critical acclaim; the greatest horror story writers arguably were two alcoholics, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. Sturrock described Dahl as a “grandiose, mercurial, capricious” man who in many ways remained childlike, all classic descriptors of alcoholics. Despite an editor’s admonition that he shouldn’t ignore “the rules that govern the world of children’s books” when writing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl continued to flout most such rules. The reviewer (The Economist articles are all written by unnamed staff) connected the dots between Dahl’s dismissal of what adults thought about his books and the fact that over the years he fell out with many of his closest friends, and even that Dahl could be “a bully,” but didn’t suggest the most likely underlying reason for his flaws, grandiosity and capriciousness, a “rules don’t apply to me attitude,” bullying and the gradual loss of many friends: alcoholism. It’s unlikely the biographer did, either, even if he remembered watching him “opening several of the hundreds of cases of 1982 Bordeaux…that were piled up everywhere in his cellar. The wines were not supposed to be ready to drink until the 1990s, but he paid no attention. ‘Bugger that,’ he declared. ‘If they’re going to be good in the 1990s, they’ll be good now.’”

The last in this review of reviews is on one of the great business success stories of all time: the founders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. The title itself, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, includes a combination of descriptors that often end up being clues to hidden alcoholism: extraordinary success and betrayal. Saverin’s equity stake was “diluted for reasons that he strongly objects to” and the two founders had a “falling out.” A “fraternity-house atmosphere” governed the start-up’s early days, which included drinking contests in competitions designed by Zuckerberg to recruit new programmers. This is the sort of description that should make the antennae of any addictionologist rise, even if so far we lack absolute proof that addiction explains the early success of Mark Zuckerberg. Since the natural history of alcoholism takes decades to play out, we will know only in the fullness of time—and then only if we are either lucky enough to have a biographer who understands the role that alcoholism often plays in creating a subject worth writing about, or unlucky enough to watch an alcoholic tragedy unfold.

Thorburn Addiction Report Archives

Runner-up for top story of the month:

Former “Partridge Family” star and teen idol David Cassidy, 60, arrested on suspicion of DUI after he was observed weaving on and off the road a number of times by other motorists at about 8 pm. Cassidy told a trooper he’d had a glass of wine with lunch and a hydrocodone (opioid painkiller) about three hours before the arrest. The fact that Cassidy was “unsteady on his feet,” “swaying while standing,” registered a .14 per cent blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer and had a half-empty bottle of bourbon in his car suggests he forgot to mention the drinks he consumed between lunch and 8 pm (in fact, assuming he’d been drinking since noon and that he weighs about 160 pounds he appears to have omitted almost ten additional drinks). Cassidy is adamant he was not hammered and his rep, Jo-Ann Geffen, said he was “definitely not drunk” and “would never jeopardize anyone on the road…he’s never been arrested in his life before for anything.” That’s what enabling does: it lets people become 60-year-old drunks rather than 60-year-olds with 30 years of sobriety. Worse, it often leads to tragedy, which only uncompromising disenabling (the phrased coined in Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse) can prevent. (Note: I know someone who knows him and his family very well. My source asserts the enabling of serially poor behaviors has been ongoing for at least four decades.) Memo to David: your behaviors haven’t been as outlandish and obvious as those of your Partridge family brother Danny Bonaduce. Keep it that way by getting sober, before it’s too late. Your mother would appreciate it.

Under watch:

In an early 2009 piece on white collar crime, The Economist magazine suggests there may be some truth in 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 behavior itself.

U.S. Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY), found guilty of violating 11 House ethics rules by the House Ethics Committee. Among the 11 violations was a failure to declare about $75,000 in rental income from a Dominican villa over a several year period, which is truly egregious since he is a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing tax law. Rangel, 80, walked out at the tail-end of the proceedings claiming he had not been given a chance to retain new lawyers for his defense, which the ethics panel interpreted as meaning he was no longer contesting the facts underlying the allegations. The panel, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, reached a unanimous conclusion on 10 of 11 counts. The 20-term congressman, after parting ways with his legal team to which he paid $2 million for his defense, had the temerity to ask, “How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” Based on numerous behavioral indications of addiction and the methodology detailed in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in Its Early Stages—including his expansive use of manipulative charm, being in a position that allows the capricious use of power, engaging in risky behaviors ($75,000 of unreported income?!!! In his position?!!!), pontification, the use of twisted logic, flouting rules and convention, seemingly a great liar and possibly committing felonious behavior (even if not convicted of such in a court of law)—the Drug Addiction Recognition Expert ® would ascribe 80% odds of addiction without proof of use. The other 20% of the time there is another plausible explanation for such gross misbehaviors, including untreated severe codependency, which occurs in some children of alcoholics. According to The Economist, he accused his father of being “absolutely no good” in his memoirs, at the age of 5 or 6 he tried to stop his father from beating his mother, and “when his father walked out and his mother had to travel to work, young Charlie was sometimes left with uncles who got drunk and lost him.” One way or the other, the best explanation for Charlie Rangel’s misbehaviors is alcoholism—if not in him, in someone (or many) who greatly affected him.

Alcoholic victim of the month:

Lauren Ann Freeman, 21, killed after leaving a concert on the Sunset Strip allegedly by Ryan Bowman, 34, the Australian franchisee for “Girls Gone Wild,” in a hit-and-run. Shortly after buying the franchise rights in 2007, Bowman announced plans to sponsor a cruise for high school graduates who would be “plied with alcohol” and filmed. He claimed he didn’t want to promote nudity, but admitted “that’s a byproduct” of the heavy drinking he intended; he scuttled the plans due to public outrage. Surprise, surprise: Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said alcohol “most likely played a role in this tragic event.” Although Bowman and “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis reportedly haven’t done business in years, the story in the April-May 2007 issue of TAR suggests birds of a feather.

Co-dependent of the month:

Judge DeAnn M. Salcido
, who agreed to resign from the San Diego County Superior Court after being censured for a pattern of intemperate behavior toward lawyers and defendants, which included mocking and making rude and off-color comments from the bench. She admitted to making “inappropriate remarks of a lewd nature…[while] proceedings were being filmed” as part of a pitch to a Hollywood producer for her to star in a reality television show. A pattern of such inappropriate conduct and attempts at self-aggrandizement are indicative of alcoholism. However, it’s also possible her long-time codependency to her husband, Edward Salcido, could explain her behaviors. Recall that codependents can, on occasion, appear crazier than addicts as they get lured into their games. In seeking a restraining order after Salcido grabbed her “roughly,” DeAnn said her husband had “abused” alcohol and prescription pain pills in the years since a serious accident and that “his behavior had become increasingly erratic and irrational.” Memo to DeAnn: since, as most recovering alcoholics tell us, they usually trigger alcoholism during the first drinking episode as early teens, late-onset alcoholism is exceedingly rare. You were most likely living with alcoholism for as long as you were with Edward. The great alcoholism authority George E. Vaillant explained the effect this can have on codependents: “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.” While Edward’s alcoholism and your codependency may explain your behaviors, please take a look at yourself as well.

Enabler of the month:

Jo-Ann Geffen
, David Cassidy’s rep, who was adamant that Cassidy was not hammered even though he obviously was. Note to Ms. Geffen: all you can do by such grotesque enabling is hasten Mr. Cassidy’s death sentence, not to mention put the lives of other innocents at great risk.

Retrospective find of the month:

In the June 2010 TAR Top Story on the BP oil spill, I wrote: “As so often happens, this tragedy may be a result, at least indirectly, of multiple addicts. An Interior Department report alleges that staff members of the Minerals Management Service accepted gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography. It reports a ‘deeply disturbing’ culture of ethical failure and cronyism between government and industry. Two employees have admitted to using illegal drugs and an inspector admitted using crystal meth and said he might have been under the influence the next day.” I recently stumbled upon an article, buried in my files, from September 11, 2008 titled, “Federal Oil Officials Accused in Sex and Drugs Scandal.” It reported on Employees of the Denver office of the Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, who were accused of “a culture of ethical failure by allegedly accepting gifts from and having sex with industry representatives.” It went on: the Department’s watchdog described a party atmosphere in which some of the employees “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relations” with those they were supposed to be watching over in a more professional capacity. The watchdog’s (apparently) earlier report said, “We discovered a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity.” Based on such evidence of obvious and rampant addiction in the staff of a regulatory agency, a Drug Addiction Recognition Expert ® might have suggested actions that would have gone a long way in preventing the BP oil spill almost two years later.

“Invincible” act of the month:

Interim city administrators of Bell, California, who could not provide documentation setting the exorbitant salaries for which the city has become famous because, as Bell’s interim chief administrative officer Pedro Carrillo said, it “simply does not exist.” As a result, eligible salaries for purposes of calculating pensions will drop to those provided for by the city council long before the escalation in salaries. Former city administrator Robert Rizzo will be entitled to retirement benefits based on a salary of $85,200, about one-tenth of his last yearly pay, which results in an expected yearly pension of about $70,000 rather than the $600,000 he was expecting. His former assistant, Angela Spaccia, who made more than $375,000 a year, will not be eligible for pension benefits on any of her Bell income, while ex-Police Chief Randy Adams, who made $457,000 in his last year with Bell will instead have a pension based on about $85,000. Bell City Council members who were paid $100,000 yearly will see eligible salaries shrink to about $8,000. It’s possible the new administrator made documentation approving salaries disappear; on the other hand, since that would be a crime, perhaps the documentation, as he implied, never existed. As discussed in the August 2010 TAR, the odds of pervasive addiction among Bell officials is high, which gives credence to the idea that those officials felt so invincible they never bothered with such trivial formalities as actual minutes establishing or increasing salaries.

Irony of the month:

John Daly
, upset over the fact that restaurants around the country are naming drinks after him (especially one containing sweet-tea flavored vodka and lemonade). This is the same John Daly who, by his own admission, drank a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day when he was 23, was removed from an airplane by airport security for harassing a flight attendant while drunk, who has been divorced three times since becoming a professional golfer and whose fourth wife, Sherrie Miller, spent five months in the slammer on federal drug charges. According to Wikipedia, where his life reads like a classic in the annals of alcoholism (reports of domestic violence, lawsuits, compulsive gambling, multiple marriages and prodigious charity work, which is not uncommon among wealthy alcoholics, perhaps in penance for poor conduct elsewhere in their lives), Daly not only recently lost over 100 pounds but also—ironically enough—is (currently) sober. Memo to Mr. Daly: if you stick to drinking Arnold Palmers I imagine restaurants will stop serving the John Daly, but the damage you’ve done takes time to undo.

Chutzpah of the month:

David Weaving
, 48, who is serving a 10-year sentence for killing 14-year-old Matthew Kenney while the boy was riding his bike, suing Kenney’s parents for letting their son ride without a helmet, which has caused Weaving “great mental and emotional pain and suffering” and inhibited his “capacity to carry on life’s activities.” Weaving was driving 83 mph in a 45 mph zone when he struck Kenney. It should come as no surprise to learn that he has five arrests for DUI over a two-decade span. The fact that he was not “convicted” of drunken driving in the incident doesn’t make it so.

Quote of the month:

, whose real name is Stephen Glover and best known for the extreme stunts he’s performed as part of the crew of MTV’s “Jackass” describes his road to sobriety in an interview with Nicki Gostin at “I was out of control. People were starting to say I was going to be dead soon, and they were probably right….Most of the crew of ‘Jackass’…came to my apartment and forced me into a psych ward. …They locked me up…and while I was in there it kind of dawned on me that it was time to do something.

“California has a 51/50 law, where if people are deemed to be harmful to themselves or others you can lock them up for 72 hours in the psych ward. They did that to me. When I got to the hospital and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to explain that it was all a big misunderstanding [i.e., bullshit his way out of there], I became really belligerent and [began] throwing chairs, so they changed my status to 52-50, which means a two week hold. I had two weeks to think about my situation. It only took seven days for me to come to terms with the idea of getting help.

“[Still,] I can’t say I even really hit my bottom until I’d already been sober for 100 days. After 100 days the fog really cleared enough for me to realize it was me [and not everyone around me] who needed [help].”

Steve-O has been sober for two-and-a-half years. Whenever someone tells you an addict needs to hit bottom before they get sober—implying we can’t help them to that bottom—tell them about Steve-O. When a codependent thinks everything will be hunky-dory after a couple of months and life will be back to normal, tell them about Steve-O. I’d say, “Tell them about any addict,” but they haven’t all told their story in the way Steve-O has—even if all the stories are the same.

Sometimes, it takes an addict:

Bob Guccione
, who founded Penthouse magazine, dead at 79 after a several-year battle with lung cancer. A cartoonist who once attended a Catholic seminary, Guccione started Penthouse in 1965 in England and introduced the magazine to the American public in 1969 at the height of the feminist movement and sexual revolution, taking risks most of us would never consider. He was married four times, which by itself indicates an 85% probability of alcoholism. Guccione was listed in the 1982 Forbes 400 ranking of wealthiest people, having amassed a net worth of $400 million by building an empire under the General Media Inc. umbrella, which included book publishing, merchandising divisions, Viva magazine (featuring nude males aimed at a female audience), Omni magazine (which focused on science and science fiction) and Longevity (a health advice magazine). Guccione later lost much of his fortune on bad investments and risky ventures, which alcoholics often do. His staff described him using a classic alcoholic euphemism, “mercurial.” He even clashed with one of his three sons over the direction of his son’s music magazine, Spin, which the elder Guccione helped launch and later decided to shut down, forcing his son to secure outside funding. In short, the evidence strongly suggests the best explanation for Guccione’s successes and failures is alcoholism, even if we lack absolute proof.

Former San Francisco Police Chief Alex Fagan Sr., whose 30-year career ended in scandal, dead from a heart attack at age 60. Described as a cop’s cop, Fagan was decorated for valor eight times before being named chief in 2003 by then-Mayor Willie Brown. Victor Makras, a San Francisco police commissioner during Fagan’s rise in the ranks, said “If you had an incident, you’d want him to respond to your 911 call. He cared. And he knew how to take care of business.” In 1976 Fagan helped to save 30 men from a fire at a gay bathhouse and in 1979 he swam 200 yards to help save a suicidal woman in San Francisco Bay. However, such heroism and overachievement not only do not preclude a darker side rooted in long-standing alcoholism but, as pointed out throughout these pages and more elaborately in Drunks, Drugs & Debitsactually may dramatically increase the odds. In 1990 he was arrested after threatening an officer who responded to a report of an argument between Fagan and a female companion. While never charged, the department sent Fagan to alcohol rehab. In 2000 he was “apparently intoxicated” when he struck another vehicle and, after exchanging information with the other driver, abandoned his teenage daughter at the scene. Gavin Newsom, who became Mayor in January 2004, asked Fagan to step down as chief and become head of the city’s Office of Emergency Services. His tenure there ended within months after details surfaced of a drunken brawl with his son that resulted in his son’s arrest, which apparently inspired in Fagan a need to get sober. At the time of his death, he hadn’t had a drink in six years.

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, where possible, proactively intervene.

“FDA Bans Mixing Caffeine, Alcohol”


So read the headlines on the latest attempt of the nanny-state to control the use of drugs, in this case caffeine-infused alcoholic beverages. As usual, they are targeting the wrong thing.

The powers-that-be are attempting to control use. This is futile. Any alcoholic knows he can feel wide awake by drinking a cup of Joe, having an Irish Coffee or simply popping a NoDoz. Yet, the FDA persists, claiming “there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public-health concern.” Memo to the FDA: so does alcohol by itself, especially if the drinker has the disease of alcoholism.

The move follows a series of highly publicized incidents in recent weeks in which underage drinkers and others were hospitalized after consuming Four Loko, a 23.5-ounce beverage containing 12% alcohol by volume, which is the equivalent of over four and a half shots of 80-proof liquor. One student in New Jersey consumed three tins of Four Loko and “several” shots of tequila in the space of an hour, which resulted in a blood alcohol level of .4. This can be a lethal dose for a non-addict, who would generally be flat on his face long before consuming half that amount.

Alcoholics, students and otherwise, were adding caffeine to their alcohol well before Four Loko came along. There have likely been many tens of thousands of similar incidents prior to the current spate in which alcoholics have created their own caffeine-infused beverage. With Four Loko and similar drinks, it’s just more obvious. Now, with such beverages banned, alcoholics will simply go back to what they were doing before: substituting NoDoz or a regular Starbucks, with 260 mg of caffeine. All we are doing is papering over the real problem, which is the fact that millions of alcoholics go undiagnosed and untreated because law enforcement is too busy dealing with symptoms rather than meting out consequences for misbehaviors and, where addicts have proven to society an inability to use safely, coercing abstinence. Instead, they’re making the public think that something is being done when in fact the underlying problem isn’t even being addressed.

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Alcoholic husband dates the wife’s best friend

Dear Doug:

Several months ago I asked my alcoholic husband, John, to leave the house we share with our children. His life continues to spiral out of control even after a stint in rehab.

Throughout, I have confided in my friend Stephanie about our marital woes. Recently, John asked if I’d mind if he began dating. I told him to go ahead—but guess who he asked out: Stephanie. I couldn’t believe it when she agreed; worse, she sent me emails that were filled with inappropriate language in which she described her feelings for him.

After I let them both know of my anger, they broke it off. But neither of them understands why I feel betrayed. Are there any words I can use to show them what was so wrong about their behavior?



Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might suggest that you not waste your words and instead keep your mouth shut. The futility of trying to explain your reaction will only drive you crazy. You already told them how you feel and you got what you asked for: they broke off their relationship. Other columnists might also suggest that if you must say something more, use these words: “I can think of no two people better suited for one another.”

These are choice words and really not a bad response. However, I’d first point out that your husband’s rehab failed. If he had remained sober, his life wouldn’t continue to spiral out of control. Then I’d ask: what do you expect of a practicing alcoholic and another likely one? Addicts, in their insatiable quest to wield power over others, sometimes act in ways that drive us crazy. We need to keep in mind we’re dealing with brain-damaged individuals with whom we cannot reason. That’s why we must, if we have any hope of staying sane, simply say to ourselves, “He’s an alcoholic. He’s doing what alcoholics do.”

(Source for story idea: Ask Amy, November 1, 2010.)

PrevenTragedy Foundation

The San Fernando Valley Dental Society newsletter recently included a question, directed to Suicide expert and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina Ronald Maris, PhD: “Dr. Maris, I have heard that dentists have the highest suicide rate. Is this true?” Dr. Maris responded, “Wrong question. Dentistry, or any occupation for that matter, doesn’t make you kill yourself.” That’s true. However, Dr. Maris continued. “What causes suicide is a subtle mixture and interaction over time…of…mental disorder (especially depressive disorder), substance abuse (especially alcoholism)...hopelessness, cognitive rigidity…social isolation or rejection (including divorce…), repeated stress and negative life events…neurotransmitter…imbalances and dysfunctions (mainly in the prefrontal cortex), unemployment, impulsivity, [and] sleep disorder….” While Dr. Maris, to be fair, mentions several other “causes,” all of the above—mental disorders, hopelessness, cognitive rigidity, social rejection, divorce, stress, negative events, messed up neurotransmitter activity, damage to the prefrontal cortex, unemployment, impulsivity and sleep disorders—is an excellent list of common symptoms of and, therefore, clues to alcohol and other-drug addiction. Dr. Maris, as do so many, confuses causes with symptoms. (Dr. Maris is a Board-certified forensic suicidologist, Past-President of the American Association of Suicidology and author of 20 books on suicide. It’s incredible that he confuses so many conditions peripheral to substance addiction as being the cause, when the root cause in so many suicides is alcoholism.)

Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month
Story from “This is True” by Randy Cassingham, with his “tagline:”

“PLANT MURDERER: Police in Bradenton, Fla., pulled over a suspicious vehicle. The driver, Paul Ewing, 35, admitted to officers he was damaging his neighbor's yard because the neighbor owed him $200. He said he had been tossing water balloons filled with herbicides into the neighbor's back yard, and he used a water gun filled with herbicides to squirt on plants in the front yard. Damage to the landscape was estimated to be at least $250. Ewing was charged with driving with a suspended license, and criminal mischief with property damage. He posted $500 bail. When police asked why the neighbor owed him $200, Ewing confessed it was for drugs. (Bradenton Herald) ...Live by chemicals, die by chemicals.”

Drug Recognition Experts can determine which drug or drugs are in the system via a series of physical tests, largely centering on the eyes (especially pupil size). It’s not as easy to do by observing behaviors, but there seems to be a pattern of behaviors revolving around each drug. Playboy Magazine had a quiz in the October 2008 issue, “How to tell what drug your friend is on,” in which the reader was asked to match “your friend says” with the drug “he is on.” The results are striking and, I think, quite accurate. If your friend says, “Do you think I should punch that cop? I think I should punch that cop,” he is most likely on methamphetamine. If your friend says, “Are you going to eat the rest of those Fruity Pebbles?” he is most likely smoking pot. “Spare some change?” suggests the person is a heroin addict. My files of antics are labeled by drug: meth, alcoholic, pot and cocaine. The most destructive addicts are almost all either alcoholics or meth-heads, with the latter leading by a mile those whose behaviors we would consider most bizarre.

Sometimes addicts make it easy for us. Whenever we shake out heads and wonder, “What the heck is that person thinking?” we can ascribe 80-90% odds of psychotropic drug addiction. Paul Ewing made it easy to identify addiction and, even, his likely drug of choice.

(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2010 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 twice the stories—I highly recommend


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"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.

Click here to purchase any of the above Thorburn books

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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Doug Thorburn, P.O. Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327-7777