Breaking free of 12-Step Dogma re Opiates and other Addictions


Was a professional beach volleyball player, very very active exercise bulimic, exercise addiction have had 4 foot surgeries, and big ones, 2 knee surgeries, and am now 56, 2 days away from 57. On and off opiates for 25 years, post operatively and when surgeries went south due to doctor malpractice.

Been thinking about opiate epidemic alot and the thread that runs through depression, despair and addiction, because I fell in that trap. I ended up taking an unusual way out, not the traditional dogma and so forth. I’ve been to so many different programs OA, AA, group therapy and hospitalization for same, surgeries from overexercise, and being that as an actor, thin was in..1970’s, Post Twiggy Lauren Hutton Culture, the opiates…well they snuck through the side door when cocaine was the main attraction. It follows, in this case, I needed an alternate egress of escape.

Same with my Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) I got from my atypical antipsychotic, one that they don’t prescribe much anymore it’s so neurologically aggravating, according to comparative studies of these products. I have these uncontrollable movements, also bad for pain, especially if you have it.

This conditions are one big knot of iatrogenic (Caused by drugs, medical treatment or medicine itself) disorders, particularly psych drugs. The fallout of all of it, especially the side effects of widely popular, highly profitable medication is the big elephant in the room. I hate to use this overused catchphrase, but it’s stigma. Even though the drugs caused these problems, I always felt I was the disease.

Just like with the opiate epidemic. Who wants to stand up and say that they never want to get high again but at the same time can’t imagine a life without  Even thinking about it is abysmal. Who wants to commit to quitting, something they can’t commit to? Plus, people are in legitimate pain, at least, I was.

There’s a whole new way of looking at Addiction and some of the limitations of the traditional, one size fits all, punitive ‘the program.’ Don’t get me wrong. If it weren’t for AA I might not be alive, but there are some things about it I’m glad I left behind.

Black and white thinking, for one. Paternalism, for two. Little digs at the soul such as “Once an Addict Always an Addict” not helpful to me.

On the other hand, the big book of AA is one of the most inspired texts on the planet. I believe it was a divine act, or Bill and Bob were savants of one sort or another. As Bobby Womack sort of sang in “Across 110th Street”  ( Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,”) You never know what you’ll do until your back is…I’m going to go look that lyric up right about now. Music is Medicine to me.

Allison Strong

About being a ‘Professional Patient’


Re: Finding work as a Patient Advocate, or Ambassador, or “Patient Influencer” paid or unpaid.

Last time I posted it was about drumming up some extra dollars by promoting what’s called ‘disease awareness’ or speaking on behalf a drug that’s benefiting you personally. I  promised you a series on this subject. I’m delivering, starting now.

As you probably know, Doctors often work for drug companies or manufacturers of patented medical devices, as recently reported by the New York Times and other major media outlets regarding Memorial Sloane-Kettering’s chief medical officer (CMO), Oncologist Dr. Jose Baselga, who failed to thoroughly and completely disclose his financial ties to industry, particularly in the arena of research. The public outcry regarding the financial pressures brought to bear on the Medical field, something called ‘Institutional Corruption,’ is well-documented in Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove’s book, “Psychiatry Under the Influence.” (Whitaker wrote “Anatomy of An Epidemic” and “Mad In America,” and crusades for social justice in the treatment of mental illness. His blog, Mad In America, or MIA, is easily findable online. Also, if you’re curious about a medical professional, everything you need to know down to the catered lunches is ‘supposed’ to be on Pro Publica’s “Dollars for Docs.” Dr. Baselga forgot to mention a few arrangements he had, more than a few times, it’s said.

My point? Doctors aren’t perceived as trustworthy as they were in the fifties and sixties, when they did commercials telling people of studies proving cigarettes weren’t harmful. Back then, a white lab coat could sell anything.

For a while Drug companies used celebrity spokespeople to push their products, like Sally Field, Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mom), Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson, (Enbrel for his Psoriatic Arthritis), but research shows an inverse relationship between fame and relatability. Just because someone is well-known doesn’t mean you’ll go out on a limb and ‘Ask Your Doctor if Drug X is Right for You.’ What they’re looking for these days is the real patient, the everyday person, doing every day things, and the depth of their story.


Patients with otherwise unremarkable lives, like me, or you, are the last bastion of credibility.

The Drug Companies, Ad Agencies, PR Firms, Patient Advocacy Groups, they all want to hear our stories, whether they are stories of success or stories about our struggle. My next post will tell you where to find a few people who are constantly looking for us.

Extremists on the Opiate Epidemic


I agree, other than the catastrophic wave of crack cocaine and all its’ collateral damage, this ‘epidemic’ is the likes of which I’ve never seen. I don’t even understand it. Last week, in the New York Times, one of the letters to the editor called for a complete 90-day suspension of ALL prescription of opiods to outpatients. This would limit pain relief to patients in the hospital.

Something this extreme would likely never happen, because the drug lobbies are too powerful. However, it’s scary anyone is even contemplating it!

I’ve had chronic low back pain since 2004. I’ve tried 3 types of physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture 2x, and 10 different ‘interventional’ pain therapy injections.

Expensive and ineffective.

The last ‘test,’ which was for Coolief, worked and gave me 40 hours of 100% pain relief, but Medicare doesn’t cover it. I’m no longer on opiates, thanks to safer alternatives with less side effects.

However, if they want to put a dent in this epidemic, Medicare and insurance need to cover the denervation procedures that work, otherwise all this talk is nothing but scare tactics and hot air.

An example of ‘Dialectical’ (in DBT) 1st Hollywood SuperAgent Sue Mengers

This was the late Sue Menger’s favorite picture of herself, smoking up a storm at her desk. She smoked other stuff, too. 

With all the hype around DBT, alot of people wonder….what is dialectical? It’s hard to explain. It sorta means two opposite things can both be true, and to learn to walk the middle path while accepting the opposites or dichotomy.

A recent Vanity Fair Hollywood Edition there were quite a few examples of ‘Dialectical’ Types…but let’s start with Sue. It’s said she was the first person who could have all the talent packaged in a film and work a deal to give the actors a part of the back in…the box office receipts in percentage points.

Sue Mengers was all women. Like the boys in the boys club, she was from the East Coast, came up from the William Morris Mail Room but later went out on her own. She was tough like a Man.

She had to deal with male directors of the old school, however.  She knew just how to work them.

This was during the 70’s. When Otto Preminger, who directed “Gone with the Wind” objected to an actor on the basis that he ‘was a fairy,’ she looked the old man straight in the eye and said, “No he isn’t. I slept with him myself.”

Mengers had fabulous parties. Everyone who was anyone was there. She launched the career of Richard Gere. Candice Bergen. Gene Hackman and tons of other examples.  She saw something in talent others didn’t see and fought tooth and nail to get them work.

That’s what an agent is for. I’ve begun my agent search for my books. I have at least two I want to write. I gather names, find out all about them and then send out a stealth attack …hoping what I offer is what they’re looking for. But sometimes, agents don’t know what they’re looking for until they’ve been hit over the head with a two by four.

Anyone else looking for a literary agent?

Why I’ve been Dark…..

Yeah, I’m writing a book on my favorite topic, a cause so crying out for coverage I can’t stand it. It’s inflammatory, political. Side effect not sickness. Something (a product) causes it. Or supposedly does. (I’m open to other theories. You know how quickly medicine changes).

The topic I wrestle (or wrestle) with the most is Tardive Dyskinesia, a side effect of antipsychotics. It’s gaining traction on Television with “The Good Wife’s” Michael J Fox’s character, Louis Canning, who has TV, or the ‘patient/perp’ storylines on “Law and Order.” TD comes up there in a clarion call crying out that for the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, justice can never be served. Well, it can get dicey out here on the outside of penal institutions as well.  It’s just that no one wants to hear about it just yet.


Mentally healthy people get prescriptions for Antipsychotics. In 2015, 60 million RX’s for antipsychotics were written, (according to QuintilesIMS, a global tech and data solutions provider for the healthcare industry.

These drugs are helping, it seems, everything under the sun, from anorexia to insomnia, OCD and anxiety. Who doesn’t want to feel better, right? I take one myself.


 Glowingly ‘madvertised’ on TV with enervating names that suggest Results (Rexulti) The World is Your Oyster (Geodon) Able again, (Abilify)….and that’s fine. These are good drugs and certainly an improvement over the mood stabilizers that ruined people’s kidneys. The thing is…they work so fast and so fully we forget to check the flip side. And there always is one.


If you are having uncontrollable movements and think you might be on one of these drugs….there’s finally an FDA-approved treatment for our 55 plus year old, long neglected syndrome, Tardive Dyskinesia. Another one, a second, (when it rains it pours) is supposed to be FDA-approved (or not) on August 30th.

I’m going to try one.

If YOU think you need a TD specialist, as opposed to a TD ‘Denier’ to check you out (and there are TD ‘Deniers’ out there, sad to say), here is a state-by-state link.


Hopefully, it will help you out. And yeah, I’m still bipolar…pulled out of my last ditch in March. I think DBT skills really helped. More on that later.  It’s good to be back.



Ruffling a Few Feathers..Recovery Beyond AA’s 12 Steps

sobertruthunbroken brain


Ironically, lately, I have been having to ‘work a program’ on a work situation. Acceptance, doing it their way. Removing my ego and proactive nature and allowing them to tell me what THEY want. Working on my ‘attitude of gratitude’ that I have a home to learn and grow in my writing.

Then, this post kinda knocking the program comes out. What am I supposed to do….ignore it? What do you think? Am I obnoxious or what?