What goes on in alcohol rehab (Hazelden)?

Don’t need answer fast, this honestly isn’t me. I’ve Hazelden is one of the ‘good’ alcohol rehab places that doesn’t rely on AA or at least it’s not mandatory. Is this true?

I happen to despise AA and think it’s a load of shit that doesn’t belong in a medical facility in the 21st century.

I had no idea my friend that went to this facility had any sort of problem. Of course, I wasn’t around him 24/7, we’re casual friends who talk politics and sports. Perhaps he was drinking a lot or perhaps got guilted into it. There’s always those types who see a second glass of wine with dinner as the same as slamming a bottle of Jack Daniels for breakfast and then going to work heavy equipment.

So, what don you think he’s going through? I hope not non stop 12 step stuff. I assume there’s talks with mental health experts and probably doctors. Those who abuse alcohol for years can do physical harm to their bodies.

I think it’s stupid to not allow access to social media. It’s voluntary, not prison. I do understand he’s not having his insurance pay that kind of coin to spend 12 hours a day posting crap on social media and they want to respect the privacy of others in there.

He makes a good salary but I doubt he’s in Palm Springs hobnobbing with celebrities. I assume it’s mainly boredom.

First, it’s not about the quantity.
For some people that second glass of wine with dinner may be the tipping point. Maybe they get morose and start to hurt themselves. Or they loose their inhibitions and engage in risky behaviors. Physical addiction is just part of the problem. It’s usually the collateral damage from associated behavior that sends a person to rehab.
And, yes, at some point your friend will be bored. He will experience the whole gamut of emotions. But, he wont be bored from lack of things to do. There will be therapy. All kinds of therapy. One-on-one with a therapist, and group therapy (both large and small groups). And there will probably be a twelve step meeting (or many) happening that he can partake in if he wants. Physical therapy, occupational therapy. . .Usually, there will be only a one-on-one, and a group that are mandatory, but there will be plenty of opportunity to keep busy and he will be encouraged to do so.

As for the social media rule. Privacy is part of the reason, but it’s more about disconnecting with the outside world. In the beginning he will also not be allowed to have his phone at all. No phone calls, no emails, no message boards, no contact! he’s there to work on himself.

  1. Detox & medical evaluation
  2. Lots of nothing broken up by group therapy sessions once or twice a day (which is a counselor coming in and saying, “let’s talk about XYZ” today) and periodic one-on-ones with a counselor
    2a. Take up smoking
  3. One on ones with a psych if you’re really out there
  4. Part of the point is to cut you off from your normal everyday shit
  5. Meals are pretty much the highlight of the day, drama is provided by the occasional freakout or people get caught fucking
  6. There can be woo/AA, it all depends on the philosophy of where you go. Hazelden has both listed on their website, can’t tell how hard they push it.

No, it isn’t prison. But part of going to rehab is agreeing to abide by their rules, you sign away certain rights in order to receive the treatment. If not you are free to leave the program or will be asked to leave.

I had a friend who went to a private dryout camp for a month or so. He was not a mean drunk or anything. He just drank steadily all day every day and was suffering serious liver disease. He and his wife would spend a weekend at my house (for a scientific conference) and he would buy a 40 oz. bottle at the duty free as he crossed the border on Friday afternoon and by Sunday night it was empty.

He tried AA but he couldn’t take all that “give yourself up to a higher power” crap. I never asked what went on in the dryout camp, but I assume he did some investigation and it wasn’t like AA. At any rate, it worked. Five years after, he started drinking a glass of wine or a beer with dinner and was able to confine it to that. A number of times, we spent two weeks in Barbados together and I can swear that he drank very moderately while we were there. So whatever they did, it worked and there was no 12 step stuff.

One of the reasons for banning social media, according to someone I know who volunteers at a dry-out place that does not use the AA model in the sense that it is not religious, but DOES believe in the AA principle of sober people supporting other sober people.

My friend, for the sake of full disclosure, got sober through AA, and worked the program seriously for 9 years, believing in a higher power, but left over differences regarding taking antidepressants (many people in AA regarded taking a daily antidepressant as a “drug addiction”). She discovered she could stay sober without AA, but with antidepressants; she’d been drunk, and trying to get sober, in and out of AA for three years, sober in AA for 9 years, and is now sober out of AA for 19 years.

Anyway, social media: according to her, it is inevitable that everyone trying to get sober has two people in their lives (usually more than one of each, but at least one of each kind); one is the person who is HIGHLY skeptical of any kind of rehab, and calls it brainwashing, “drinking the Kool-Aid,” and refers to people in the program as “sheeple,” etc.; the second is the drinking buddy who does not want the person to get sober. This person will have to face their own potential for being an alcoholic if their buddy has it, plus, they lose their buddy.

The rehab center must separate the people in rehab from these “friends.” Hence, banning social media.

Some in AA think antidepressants are an addiction? Are they morons or what? You don’t take antidepressants to get high. It solves the problem that causes many people to start drinking in the first place. Depression.

So, if you have depression, you should just suck it up? Yeah, that worked for me for twenty years. Not.

How odd. I’ve been to thousands of AA meetings over the past 35 years and encountered this sort of behavior only rarely, and even then only held by a very few quirky people, who were easily ignored. Probably half the membership has been on some sort of psychiatric med at some point in their recovery.

AA itself has no opinion on the use of medications or any other outside issues. Its members’ primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

I’ve been to AA meetings where people who were addicted to drugs were sent there by the court because there were no NA meetings in the area. In those meetings a couple the AA members and people who should have been at NA were at odds with each other over whether they should be allowed there or not. Alcoholics looking down on druggies as scum, druggies calling the alcoholics wife beaters. And groups on both sides telling each other to calm down.

At one meeting a guy was there explaining how he had a rotten tooth that needed pulled and his dad gave him some of his pain meds to get him through the weekend until he was able to get to the dentist. A long heated discussion erupted over whether alcoholics or druggies should ever be allowed to take pain medication. I thought a fight was going to break out.

To be fair, this happened in the early 1990s. That might be relevant. There are probably people in AA now, who were not even born then, and in 1992, Prozac and its ilk were pretty new. Usually back then, people got either tricyclic antidepressants or antipsychotics-- and rarely, but it happened-- amphetamines in conjunction with the antidepressant. So there was both potential for abuse, and street value of the prescriptions.

I still think it was wrong-headed.

But at any rate, my friend, I’m going to call her C, never told anyone she was taking meds. She just had to hear people at meetings expounding of the virtues of staying away from the, and saying stuff like “A drug is a drug.”

C just got fed up with the silent attacks, that felt personal even when they weren’t; it could be people would have shut up around her. I also could be they would have silently judged her whenever they saw her.

My point was more that she stayed sober for, at the time I am writing, nearly half her life without AA.

Many, many years ago I worked in the rehab industry. It’s not just AA. There really are people who think taking ANY medication is dangerous and for a recovering addict it’s a slippery slope into hell.

We occasionally had patient who for medical reasons (including psychiatric mental/brain reasons) really did need to take medication in order to function, but had a person(s) in their lives determined to “wean” them off all drugs whatsoever. Or they got kicked out of AA for not giving up this or that required medication.

Yep, basically - use your support group/willpower/get right with God/whatever but anything but a pharmaceutical.

As you said: morons.

Yes, the problem is when one (or more) of the members gets the notion into their head that “sober” means nothing whatsoever that might be the least bit psychoactive. Or that people in recovery should NEVER get pain meds for any reason, even if they’ve suffered a severe accident or undergoing major surgery. Not always AA - there was an instance in Chicago of a doctor who nearly preformed a Cesarean on a drug addict without anesthesia due to misguided notions about addiction and sobriety (other people on the scene intervened so the label was given proper pain control for the procedure).

AA has no opinion about a variety of things that directly affect addiction, and little to no self-regulation, allowing those with little to no actual training to guide those who seek help.

And yet, credible scientific assessment of it seems to indicate that it works.

I think the aggressive antipathy toward AA shown my some in this thread is misguided. It’s not a hierarchical organization with official policies.

There is good evidence that addiction responds well to group therapy. Addicts from all walks of life tend to go through similar patterns of dysfunctional behavior, and it is powerfully therapeutic to discover that your experiences are not uniquely devastating, that there are people out there who understand and empathize from their own experience what you are going through. Seeing people who have been exactly where you have been and yet did survive, found a way to live.

It’s almost certainly true that professionally supervised group therapy (which is a principal component of all rehab programs like Hazelden) would be superior to AA if it were available to all addicts, all the time. But that’s simply not practical. AA is informal unsupervised group therapy - and for many addicts, that’s much better than no therapy at all.

This is true, but you are making the perfect the enemy of the good. These are informal self-organizing groups, and addicts (including recovering addicts) probably have far more character flaws than the average person. So there are certainly dogmatic or obsessive idiots in some groups, who are convinced that their way is the only way. Just like in all of life. Nobody should go to an AA meeting expecting that everyone there is wise, nobody should suspend their critical thinking skills. But that’s why the focus in all good AA meetings is about talking about your own experiences, not telling other people how to behave. It’s the commonality of experience and mutual empathy that is the principal benefit, they are not didactic self-help seminars.

I trust Mercotan’s input on this thread more than anyone’s, but speaking as someone who’s grown up in a family of alcoholics, around friends who are alcoholics, and as someone who’s periodically gone to excess myself, I think the bottom line is that there’s more than one way to treat alcohol addiction. But social support seems to be a huge factor. Alcoholics need people around them to help keep them honest. That’s not always a sufficient condition, but it’s usually a necessary one, I think.

My late sister battled addiction periodically throughout her life, but she went to AA and was clean for years before other issues started to overwhelm her psychologically and pushing her toward years of unending substance abuse the last 10 years of her life. She had sponsors who steered her in the right direction. Life events unfortunately pushed her away from those sponsors and more inward, and in the end, she simply stopped giving a fuck. But AA can and does work. Not for everyone, though.

I don’t think this is paywalled, here’s a link to an excellent article in The Atlantic about the failures of AA https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/the-irrationality-of-alcoholics-anonymous/386255/

Here’s YouTube 30 minute video of the author discussing her work. https://youtu.be/GckafT6xJXc

It’s truly amazing that all we really have in the USA is AA, based on 1930s woo. And, of course, the spiritual not religious crap is pure nonsense. My OP was based on hope that at least there would be a chance my friend would get something more than just AA since rehab ain’t cheap.

Again, I have no idea how much he drank, perhaps the pandemic helped cause it. Perhaps he’s got some Puritan family or other friends who got sucked into the AA cult and spends 25 hours a day telling everyone they’re an alcoholic.

You seem to be In a bit of denial as to the extent of your friend’s drinking, probably because you didn’t notice it happening. I’ve have a friend I see twice a week who went to rehab that I only ever saw drink a couple of times with dinner. And a friend died of alcohol-related problems last year that none of knew had a problem beyond age-related dementia.

This very well could be true, obviously I’m not with him 24/7. I still think there are way too many AAers who use it like a hammer and see everyone as a nail.

Part of that is the “everything is a nail” AA types are the loud and noisy ones - you don’t see the quiet types who keep to themselves and don’t volunteer their participation/addiction issues of every minute of every day.

I have encountered these types of AA members, but honestly they’re very much not typical, and the rest of us shut 'em down. I’ve certainly contradicted their statements by saying “that’s not how I do it. and I’ve stayed sober for a few 24 hours now”. If they push back, the fact that I am an old timer with decades of sobriety may get mentioned, and that tends to shut 'em up.