Another sad suicide due to Alcoholism, and crazy conclusions on web forums. Audrey Conn (Audrey Kishline)
I am always sad to read about somebody taking their own life after a battle with alcoholism. Many alcoholics battle with inner demons, and the suicide rate for those with alcoholism is high, especially for those who used drink as a way of blotting out the reality of life, so they did not have to deal with it.
I was really sorry to see that Audrey Conn (Audrey Kishline) who founded “Moderation Management” committed suicide before Christmas. I did not know her in person, simply online. Audrey was involved in a fatal car crash after drinking in 2000, killing two people and this was often used against those who try to push moderation as a solution for problem drinkers. She had actually rather courageously told moderation management members that she was leaving the group, to follow an abstinent based solution which in her case was AA. She was an AA member at the time of the crash and the small group of “keyboard warriors”, or “trolls” who are anti AA, and who spend their time flaming AA members, (and anyone else who disagrees with them) on any internet forum still open to them, often claim that it was AA’s fault that she relapsed. This is a conclusion, they have come to as a result of prejudice against AA, and not one based on any facts. The pro AA type trolls like to mention she was the person who talked about moderation for so long and founded moderation management, as a justification for her not being abstinent at the time of the crash. It ends up with two groups of people with narrow minded views attacking eachother and ignoring the effect of alcoholism.
The guilt after the crash in this case, must have been terrible, especially after being seen as a key figure in a recovery organisation. She served prison time and had trouble getting her life back together afterwards. I am sure all these things contributed to her making the sad choice to end her own life, rather than some of the ridiculous reasons being pushed on comment boards who will use any tragedy, as a method to bash a recovery solution that did not suit them, or one that they followed. These “keyboard recovery commentators”are always ready to blame a recovery solution, rather than themselves and their choices, for any problems they face in life. This is an unrealistic view. AA is certainly not psychotherapy, but some people are going to suffer serious depression, whatever recovery support they choose, as a result of reacting to situations in their life.
Recovery is always going to throw up some big challenges, and many people will not be equipped to deal with them, or may have to learn by their mistakes. There is also a lot of poor information about recovery which sometimes influences those that need better help, and some groups are not doing enough, to attract people to join them. I think things will change, and the internet will bring alternative ideas that can really help people change. One of the big problems in getting change to happen is getting people in the recovery industry to embrace other approaches, and that will only happen when they read about the success of a method, not a string of negative comments about a group, that more than two million people choose to attend, because they feel it helps them.
Unfortunately, the internet also brings out the worst in some people, who feel empowered to attack or flame others at any opportunity. The flaming generally does not impress most people, only the a tiny group, that get a little feeling of power, by annoying somebody else. This can have an unfortunate backlash, such as, people may well be put off attending a “Smart Recovery” group, when the way they discovered “Smart Recovery” after it was mentioned in passing, by some idiot, ranting on about AA being a religious cult with links to the Nazis, on some “recovery” message board. I certainly would not have wanted to sit next to a person like that in a meeting, when I was starting out! I dread to think what some people who are new to recovery think if they find some of this rubbish online that is driven by emotion. It probably put them off investigating some of the more rational solutions out there, and actually plays into the hands of AA members who call people who do not follow their spiritual path “dry drunks”.
Gabrielle Glaser Piece.
Here is a link to a good write-up about the Audrey Conn story by Gabrielle Glaser, who I would describe as generally critical of AA and the 12 step solution, but not a basher. That is similar to my own view, which is based on my own experience of AA, which had good and bad sides to it. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/11/addiction-drunk-driving-and-suicide-the-bizarre-life-of-audrey-conn-founder-of-moderation-management.html
She talks about the effects of depression in the piece, especially how it affects women in recovery, and gives a balanced view of the background leading to this tragedy. She uses quotes from Andrew Tatarsky, who is a MM board member and who has written some great books, as well as Scott Stern, a Manhattan Psychotherapist, who was a friend of Conn’s. Both of these people have made it clear in the past, that they are not people who wish to be seen as AA bashers, although they both obviously treat people with different methods to 12 step, that are evidence based.
I like the final comment on the piece by Scott Stern
It is important to note that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lists MM, in conjunction with a web-based program callednational registry of evidence-based treatment programs. A.A. is not included.While neither MM nor A.A. worked for Conn means only one thing: they didn’t work for Conn, Stern said. “There’s a spectrum,” Stern said. “It’s not that you’re either this or that. What this tells us is that we should put more effort into creating more choices.”, in its
Define yourself by which recovery group you go to, and hate all others!
Some people do actually seem to almost define themselves by which recovery group they have chosen to use and despise all others! They also put other people into categories and generally look down on others who use a different solution, to try to beat the same problem. This is not a healthy outlook in my opinion, as situations change, and recovery approaches often need to be modified along the way. Some of these people spend a lot of time on online message boards rather than taking part in normal activities, and end up with a pack mentality that is often far from reality. There are certainly issues with groups such as AA, but they are not generally as dangerous as a few would like to make out. Most people are capable of making a rational choice of leaving or staying quite quickly, depending on if it suits them. I had dinner with a former AA member last week, and it was obvious that being an AA member for over ten years, was one of the things that had kept him sober. It is also true to say he faced problems in AA similar to my own, which had hit me much earlier in my journey, and we have both done something about it, and changed approach. All the arguing, finger-pointing and flaming gets in the way, of people putting forward good ideas that would appeal to a wide range of people regardless, of which approach they take.
Many people make really poor decisions in early recovery (and sometimes later on), that can cause dreadful problems. These problems are normally bigger if the person has relapsed or is drinking a lot. These people need support and not to be held up as examples of people who have failed, because they used a particular recovery method, by ignorant members of an “Anti AA” forum that has little support. That is a cruel response, but a common one, if you read any of the many ridiculous comments by people on the Gabrielle Glaser piece or this in “thefix” http://www.thefix.com/content/remembering-audrey-kishline. It is shame that this hatred that festered on poorly run internet forums, that are ignored by most intelligent people who can see through the conspiracy theories and ignorance, has spilled out elsewhere. I am glad I do not have rely on type the people who use a tragedy, to score points off each other, for support in recovery. They are not out to help others in recovery, but are simply people with a twisted view of a support group, that several million people have found beneficial, which they wish to destroy, because it did not suit them.
My thoughts for what they are worth.
I’m certainly no health professional, just somebody who has been through the recovery process and come out the other side living a better life. A suicide is always dreadful, but this one brings home the message about how vulnerable we all are, if something in our life happens that we are not equipped to deal with. For me, the most tragic thing about this is that Audrey certainly knows so many good people in the recovery world, and has attended various types of recovery groups, both evidence based and spiritual, and still could not find a suitable solution. That puts the dreadful statistics for recovery in perspective.
I have felt dreadful at times, and it took me a long time to make much progress. Many in the “Anti AA” world feel that everyone will do better if they follow a CBT type solution from the start. That was not actually my experience. I tried one on one CBT counselling when I was thirty, and did not really understand what it was about and was resistant to many of the things being suggested, such as fitness and general wellbeing techniques – I carried on smoking and distanced myself from healthy groups. I did not really make progress with CBT until 10 years later, after a year of attending AA, which I was rapidly viewing as a short-term thing for me, and was prepared to make changes to my life. I feel that I am lucky to have found a way that suited me. Some people are not so lucky, and others do not have the necessary motivation to change.
A link to another post about trolling here http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/internet-addiction-trolling-recovering-substance-addiction-problems/
A link to an earlier piece on depression and AA after the death of Robin Williams which also resulted in some bad comments on certain websites. I do link to a rather disturbing AA piece in this but do not blame every suicide on AA likee some people choose to.