“Character Defects,” stigma, and morality in twelve step programs

Is the twelve step language of “character defects” stigmatizing? Excessive moralism is a genuine danger, but there is an important ethical dimension to recovery from addiction.  Recently, I read a cri du coeur by someone who felt betrayed by twelve step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Alongside other accusations, the author claimed that AA … Continue reading “Character Defects,” stigma, and morality in twelve step programs

Why I am not a person with “substance use disorder”

How our discussion of addiction became trapped in the flawed terminology of the DSM 5 and why it’s important that we escape.  The topic of addiction and stigma is currently receiving long overdue attention. Some important studies suggest that terms like “substance abuse,” “clean,” “alcoholic,” and “addict” reinforce negative judgements among health care providers and … Continue reading Why I am not a person with “substance use disorder”

Getting through a day…

If I were to single out one thing that I find difficult to explain to outsiders, it’s how radically my sense of time and priorities have changed. Overall, I am doing pretty well. I am researching and writing, working on my marriage, planning new undertakings, doing some hard work in trauma therapy, and putting my … Continue reading Getting through a day…

Alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and me

Reflections on alcoholism and mental illness inspired by Esmé Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias. This past week, I finished reading Esmé Wang’s graceful and unmooring collection of essays, The Collected Schizophrenias. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (roughly speaking, a fusion of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia), Wang grew up in northern California and studied at Yale, where she experienced … Continue reading Alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and me

The Addict’s Manifesto

A review of Ryan Hampton, American Fix: Inside the Addiction Crisis and How to End It (All Points Books, 2018) A necessary and moving call to action. But we need more nuance in our discussion of anonymity and more critical reflection about the intersection of addiction and racism. How can we convey the magnitude of … Continue reading The Addict’s Manifesto

Safe spaces, alcoholism, and being a professor

This past week, my partner and I were invited to a regular lunch organized for people in recovery at the campus we are currently visiting. We were intrigued, but had no idea what to expect. Held on a different day each month (to include people with diverging schedules), the lunch takes place in a private … Continue reading Safe spaces, alcoholism, and being a professor

Reflecting on Alcohol and Academic Events (with some modest suggestions)

In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Emma Pettit tackles a true “minefield”: the central role played by alcohol in socialization and professional networking at major academic conferences such as Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association. Her conclusion is that our current practices are unintentionally problematic. Organizing professional events around drinking can … Continue reading Reflecting on Alcohol and Academic Events (with some modest suggestions)