Alcoholism That Isn't a Disease
NOT a disease to someone lying in a hospital bed with seventeen seconds of life left after struggling with cancer for many years. Neither is morbid obesity, opioid addiction or exercise bulimia. Nope, none of these voluntary habits are diseases in the same way that when your heart simply explodes in your chest, and you drop to the floor dead.
Sometimes it takes a while to learn the most obvious things.
Alcohol and sex both create magical escapes from the horrible truth that you’re gonna die someday, someday soon, and it’s hard to enjoy much of anything with that grim reaper laughing just behind you and biding his time because he’s got all the time in the world, all the time in the universe for fuck sake. Whereas you, whether you’re getting shitfaced drunk or shooting your wad onto the big breasts of an imagined or actual lover only lasts for as long as it lasts and then you glance back over your shoulder and the reaper still stands patiently waiting.
Celebrity Death Celebration
An excerpt from Sexy Drunk Christians
Almost every sitcom dedicates at least one episode to a character needing a twelve-step group. The media played a significant role in convincing America that alcoholism and addiction are fatal, incurable diseases based on AA. Often addicts and alcoholics, depending on whether they or their insurance can afford the cost, stay in resort-like recovery centers while other patients go home or enter crummy hospices to die. Some insurance companies cover a $20,000 monthly recovery center stay multiple times. The federal government spends billions fighting drug addiction, mainly using AA treatment despite having a controversial, difficult-to-prove effectiveness rate. The same Christian bias that fuels this recovery industry and bends Hollywood to tell its tall tale is responsible for the deaths of celebrities and other famous individuals.
Actor and comedian Chris Farley, famous for his Saturday Night Live routines, died at age 33 from cardiac arrest from a drug overdose. Farley sought treatment seventeen different times and stayed at the famed Hazelden treatment center a week before his death.[i]
Musician and singer Kurt Cobain, famous for his band Nirvana, died at age 27 from suicide after escaping a treatment center.
Musician and singer Andy Gibb, famous for his role in the Bee Gees, died at age 30 from drug and alcohol complications. Gibb spent many months in and out of treatment in the mid-1980s and died shortly after being released.
Entertainers are not alone. Politicians, athletes, and powerful families fall prey to the Twelve Step treatment dazzle, exemplified in Kathleen Buhle’s memoir If We Break. Buhle’s story discusses her marriage to Hunter Biden and dealing with his drug addiction and alcoholism, revealing the collision of Christianity and Twelve Step Theology that results in the all-too-common failure of the recovery industry. Through Buhle and her struggles with an alcoholic-addict husband, we see the marriage of AA and Christianity as well as the media and social bias towards the AA cure.
Buhle came from a Catholic working-class upbringing, spent sixteen years attending Catholic school, and worked in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps during college. Like many Christian women, she became a housewife with no career, a mother of three before age thirty, and dependent financially on her decision-maker husband. Primed by her Christian upbringing to accept the Twelve Step Theology, she will lose twenty years married to a philandering addict.
Years into the marriage that provided a privileged life, his addiction worsens, culminating in his first stay in rehab. After that stay, we see the total loss of autonomy caused by the Christian worldview that makes women subservient to men:
…he sat me down and told me we owed a significant amount of money in taxes. He said he wasn’t worried, and neither should I be. By this point in our marriage, I knew almost nothing about our finances. As our family grew and our expenses increased, I had dug my head further into the sand. I liked simply asking Hunter for money rather than discussing where it was coming from. So I took the tax news without question.[ii]
The same dependence taught by her Christian upbringing reinforces her belief in the efficacy of Twelve Step therapy. Buhle and her husband access expensive doctors, sobriety coaches, and addiction recovery organizations for society’s wealthiest. The so-called experts, rich from an addiction industry built on failure, provide her unimaginably mundane, ridiculous advice. She receives the standard recovery industry twelve-step mantra of staying uninvolved in her husband’s recovery, to which she tries to adhere, but following this advice targets her for more torment when learning about his lies and extramarital affairs. Years of drug abuse, prostitution, and rehab pass until Buhle finally ends the marriage after her husband started a relationship with his dead brother’s wife.
She grows up Catholic, marries a Catholic, and becomes a good Christian housewife and mother. When she needs career choice assistance, she turns to her priest mentor at her Catholic college. When burdened by problems with her husband, she turns to the wise male family psychiatrist. Locked in a patriarchal way of thinking, she turns to her husband’s brother before her friends and family.
When her husband succumbs to alcoholism, Buhle stands by him –– for nearly twenty years. Her support network comprises mostly of men and addiction experts polluted with junk science abased to the twelve-step methodology that, as we know, evolved out of a cultish Christian society named the Oxford Group that claimed to also cure alcoholism by “turning your will and life over to the care of God.” Primed by her Catholic upbringing, Buhle follows recovery industry nonsense to a large degree, as seen in her description of a conversation with an addiction specialist:
I wanted to talk about Hunter’s addiction, but she wanted to talk about me. I didn’t understand at first when she said that I needed to take care of myself. Nor did I understand when she tried to make me see that I couldn’t force Hunter into recovery. “Your addict has to make the decision to get sober,” she said. “You cannot force him.”
Buhle appears to have fallen prey to the same Twelve Step perversion of thought that makes her blame herself as though she is the one filled with the character defect of pride for wanting her daughters to understand she was trying to help her husband,
…in my self-consumed fear, I still wanted the girls to understand how hard I was trying to help their dad. Do you see how good I am? Do you see my efforts?
Buhle appears to suffer the same spiritual disease of alcoholism, caused by her selfishness and “self-will run riot,” just as Melinda D. of New Hampshire clarifies on Al-Anon’s website (the Twelve Step program for the alcoholic’s loved ones). Melinda says Al‑Anon taught her to work on changing herself, “not saving others” and that she “had become as sick as” her alcoholic fiancé who died from “progressive drinking.”[iii] Before this great lesson, she “lived in reaction to someone’s drinking since birth,” which somehow made her spend her life trying to save others, to alleviate her fears.[iv] Now gifted with this “new awareness” she could accept her powerlessness “over alcohol and all people, places, and things.” She claims now she feels serenity: “a gift from God.”[v]
The same cure that failed to save her husband is the cure the nonalcoholic wife needs to recover.
In the bizarre world of recovery, the alcoholic’s cure also fixes the alcoholic’s damaged family: the Twelve Steps.[vi] In the case of Buhle, whether she attended Al-Anon is unknown, but for certain her direct exposure to recovery and the Christian worldviews while orbiting her husband’s addiction infected her with self-incrimination,
But what I didn’t say was: I’m mad at you. You lied to me. You made me feel I was crazy. You blamed me. I didn’t explain everything he’d put me through. In the end, it shouldn’t be surprising that he never realized his addiction’s impact on our family, because I never really told him.
Her admission of responsibility highlights the profound self-blame instilled by Christianity and Twelve Step spirituality that teaches everyone they are the ones wrong for not praying properly, not being faithful enough, or not working the program properly. Buhle ends her marriage, begins finding independence, and hopefully rejects Christianity and Twelvesteppery.
Kathleen Buhle’s story is not an outlier of an otherwise successful addiction and recovery system but the rule. For millions of women, faith in Christianity sentences them to subservience to men and makes them susceptible to a recovery industry built on AA, but let’s not forget Hunter Biden. Biden is also a victim, having escalated to harder drugs, destroyed his marriage, hurt his children, damaged his career, and ended up in the political spotlight as a conservative target –– after multiple (expensive) rehab attempts.
Buhle and Biden exemplify the current addiction industry’s deep-rooted, blinding AA bias barring even President’s sons, their wives, movie stars, entertainers, athletes, and the super-rich from reasonable care for life-threatening addiction.
What the fuck does that mean for everyone else?
[i] Nashawaty, C, (1998). Chris Farley's sad, drug-fueled final days. Entertainment. https://ew.com/article/1998/01/09/chris-farleys-sad-drug-fueled-final-days/
[ii] Buhle, K. If We Break (p. 89). Crown. Kindle Edition.
[iii] Melinda D. (2022). I Cannot Save Others from Drinking. The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA. https://al-anon.org/for-members/the-legacies/the-twelve-steps/
[vi] Compare the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon https://al-anon.org/for-members/the-legacies/the-twelve-steps/ to the Twelve Steps of AA https://www.aa.org/the-twelve-steps
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman