Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Aug 2015
As this month’s issue of Counselor is dedicated to women, I am including only questions from female readers.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I think I am addicted to anonymous groups. I have been a recovering alcoholic for twenty-five years and I go to AA meetings twice a week. However, I also go to Al-Anon even though I don’t have a family member or partner who is an addict. I just feel that I have the tendency to be codependent. I also go to sex, love, and fantasy addiction meetings sometimes and ACoA meetings as well.
I don’t have any family nearby, although I do have a boyfriend and a career. Do you think it is possible to be addicted to recovery groups? And if so, what should I do about it?
Yes, I do think it is possible to become addicted to addiction recovery groups. I always use the same criteria in helping people determine if they are addicted to anything. Spend two days alone without a meeting. What emotions arise within you if you aren’t running around going to groups every night?
When people are in early recovery, they may need ninety meetings in ninety days. However, if you find you cannot sit with yourself alone as a spiritual practice, going to groups may be a way of avoiding your feelings. You don’t say whether you are in personal therapy, but I would encourage you to at least work with a meditation teacher who can help you develop a mindfulness-based practice to slow down your prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain from where we make our cognitive decisions. In the CAT scans of Buddhist monks the brainwave patterns in their prefrontal cortexes were far more powerful, implying a higher level of external & internal thought. Their brains had enhanced focus, memory, learning, consciousness, and “neural coordination. In addition, the monks had no anxiety, depression, addiction or anything of the sort.
I would also encourage you to contemplate what family means to you and perhaps look at joining a charity and balancing the recovery culture you are saturated in with giving back in a whole new way that is unfamiliar and not focused on addiction.
For example, organizations dedicated to helping single mothers with their children in shelters might be very empowering. I am not telling you to give up your AA meetings; I am only suggesting a little balance and self-inquiry into your anonymous “groupitis” and what is driving it.
Peace to you.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am a mental health counselor in the Midwest. A colleague at the center I work at gave me a recent issue of the magazine. I found it very interesting, especially looking at intimacy disorders. You mentioned in one of your columns that you are an astrologer and that Jung was a proponent.
I have two questions: Do you practice Vedic astrology or western astrology? Is it possible to see if someone could have an intimacy addiction from looking at their chart?
I practice western astrology. I have actually been asked this question by several readers, so let me clarify. There are three planets in our galaxy that were discovered after the Indian system of Vedic astrology was created. Those three planets are Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. In western astrology we call them the transpersonal planets because the electromagnetic field that surrounds each of them has a very powerful impact on our individual electromagnetic fields—the ones that surround our etheric and physical bodies. This comingling, if you will, has an evolutionary effect on our mind-body-soul connection.
I have witnessed clients suddenly quit an addiction they have struggled with for many years during a Uranus transit, for example. Conversely, I have seen clients relapse under Neptune and Pluto transits. I use this information to provide a reframe for their relapse not to give them an excuse, but to take away the shame and blame and use Jungian archetypes to understand the purpose or gift that the relapse may be providing to go deeper into the psychotherapeutic and spiritual journey. I also track my clients’ dreams more closely when one of these planets is impacting them. Dreams are often rich with messages for a clear direction or at least a context for understanding the process you are in.
Hope this helps.