Lee Ann Kaskutas, a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group, has faced skepticism from colleagues for studying A.A., in part because of the numerous spiritual references that go with the 12-step program. It puts A.A. on “the fringe” in the minds of many scientists, Kaskutas said.
Kaskutas, a self-proclaimed atheist, said that the 12 steps bear fruit regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs. “If you don’t believe in God, the way it weasels in is in the help and behaviors that the 12-step group inculcates.”
Helping others, Kaskutas said, “is the internal combustion engine of A.A. I think that is the connection to spirituality.”
People feel better about themselves after helping someone else, Kaskutas said. “So it’s reinforcing—when you help somebody, I think your brain chemistry changes.”
I was listening to On Being this morning and was struck by this one quote. I think this could be paraphrased into something that fits perfectly with why we have such great staff who put so much ourselves into our work here:
For me, thinking about living in a city like Chicago where you just — honestly, in a society like the one that we’re in and the world that we’re in with such extraordinary disparities between those who, you know, if you’re in a block in Chicago, you’re born in one ZIP code, you are, you know, destined for a school that has over 50 percent dropout rate, you’re destined to be four times more likely to be incarcerated, three more times to be, you know, unemployed. So I think, for me, this work is in part a way to deal with the anxiety, the spiritual anxiety, of those disparities that I can’t feel religiously comfortable in simply accepting that type of division in the way we live our lives.
How would it sound for Dawn Farm? Here’s a stab at it:
For us, thinking about being an addict in a society like the one that we’re in and the world that we’re in with such extraordinary disparities between the kinds of help that addicts get, you know, if you aren’t from a wealthy family you’re destined to be referred to a crappy once a week public outpatient office (if you’re lucky) that has no hope, no love for addicts and no connection to the recovering community, or, if you’re opiate addicted, referred to a methadone program based on the assumption that you’re not capable of full, drug-free recovery. Even if you are from a wealthy family, it can be dumb luck whether you end up in a hopeful, compassionate treatment setting or a program that takes $25,000 for you and does little more than pump you full of Suboxone. So I think, for us, this work is in part a way to deal with the anxiety, the spiritual anxiety, of those disparities that I can’t feel spiritually comfortable in simply accepting that type of division in the way addicts live their lives and receive help.