How to Tell Kooky Nuts in the Addiction Field

Addicton and alcoholism myths

Posted May 13, 2008

1. When you say, "Wine reduces heart disease," kooky nut says, "Grape juice does too."

No it doesn't. All forms of alcohol prolong life for most groups (those at risk to die of heart disease). All forms of beverage made from the genus Vitis (grape plants) do not have this effect - just the alcoholic ones. Religious variation: Jesus didn't drink wine at the Last Supper (like every other Jew in the bible did for Passover) - he preferred grape juice, like the kooky nut telling you this story.*

2. Kooky nut says: "If you take heroin long enough, you MUST be addicted."

And what about all those people in hospitals taking narcotics more concentrated than street heroin for weeks and months at a time, who then eventually reduce self-administered doses of analgesia (the standard response)? This myth, unfortunately, is sold at the highest levels of drug research (e.g., by Nora Volkow of the NIDA) because they know their jobs depend on their endorsement of zero-tolerance science.

3. If you have any kind of a drinking problem, kooky AA nut says, "You're in the early stages of alcoholism."

Let's see - you can either have blackouts, loss of control, and all those other things AAers say prove you're an alcoholic, or else you don't have them, which likewise proves you're an alcoholic, because you're going to get them. This is a favorite argument of alcohol counselors who are themselves alcoholics, who use the irrefutable logic - "That's what happened to me!" (Warning: Never argue with a kooky nut - it can be dangerous for your health and for their mental health.)

4. Kooky nut says, "No alcoholic ever succeeds at reducing their drinking. If someone does do so, then they were misdiagnosed as an alcoholic (see pt. 3)."

In the most famous kooky nut study ever published (in Science yet), Mary Pendery showed that alcoholic patients who received controlled drinking (CD) treatment had relapses. However, the original study of these patients indicated that CD patients fared better than those receiving abstinence treatment at the same facility, whom Pendery neglected to examine (although admitting they did very poorly). With one patient everyone agreed became a moderate drinker, Pendery endeavored mightily to prove he wasn't really an alcoholic originally, despite ending up in a VA alcoholism ward. At a national conference, Mary Pendery attacked my article in PT pointing this out. (Warning: Being a kooky nut can be dangerous to your health - Pendery took up with an alcoholic patient who underwent abstinence treatment at this facility, and he killed Pendery and himself while extremely intoxicated.)

5. Kooky nut says, "If AA helps even one patient, then I'm for forcing people into it."

Well, apricot pits have cured some cancer victims. The way we usually test clinical efficacy is to assign people with a problem randomly to different treatments, perhaps including no treatment, and compare their outcomes. This has been done several times with AA - in every case, AA participants fared worse than other subjects, including those receiving no treatment! Moreover, coerced AA patients may suffer significant negative events - up to and including suicide - as well as having their personal integrity violated. But who cares when you're a kooky nut?

(March 21, 2009): * And fruit juice actually causes heart disease: "One big myth is that fruit juice is a healthy part of our diet.  Wrong."  Drinking one glass of fruit juice a day has been linked tio higher rates of diabetes and heart disease, even including "the fancy new fruit juices like acai berry or pomegranate juice."