Addiction · LGBT · Mental Health · Random thoughts · Recovery

It is OK to be smart in recovery

There are certain one liners in 12-step recovery that absolutely drive me crazy. My least favorite is that “you can be too smart to get sober but not too dumb.” I understand the overall meaning of this. It is about ego and being humble. However, the context in which it is often used is to place judgment on people. At the meeting tonight the person sharing was someone with long-term sobriety and he was saying how he has seen people who have come in and got more philosophical and into psychology and the sciences and then couldn’t maintain their sobriety. He then provided the above infamous one-liner. The way I interpreted this rubbed me wrong. This is saying basically if you explore, question, and study, you will get drunk. Just because you seek to learn more about the sciences does not need to equate to drinking.

I honestly think recovery is complicated and complex, just like people are. It would be easy to say, just get some spirituality or religion, and that will keep you sober. This works for some and for some it doesn’t. AA and 12-step recovery work for some but for many it doesn’t. The same is true for SMART recovery and the many other treatment methods out there. There is no single best treatment recovery method because if there were, there would be higher success rates and everyone would be doing that. The percentage of people who succeed in AA is most likely less than half. The odds for those with an opioid addiction maintaining recovery are even lower. I will probably spend my life studying addiction and like the others before me will not find a singular answer.

One of the most interesting theories of the cause of addiction that I’ve read lately deals with attachment. Specifically insecure attachment types. I am very much looking forward to researching this more. Part of the reading I had started to do on this talked a bit about the LGBT community. They were stating that the LGBT community has greater odds of developing an insecure attachment type due to internalized homophobia and minority stress, which also creates PTSD-like symptoms.

One article that I was reading was a study about how people with insecure attachments faired in a 12-step type community program. It talked about how insecure attachment types are associated with higher trait loneliness. In one study 53% of the alcoholics had severely impaired attachment systems. The study found that retention in group therapy can be impacted by the attachment style. Those with avoidant attachment remain on the outskirts of the group in an attempt to keep emotionally distant from the other members. They also often form negative opinions of others in the group. Those with attachment anxiety would often people please to avoid feeling abandoned or rejected and view group interactions as more hostile and avoid closeness with others. The study found that high anxiety attachments showed higher rates of relapse. Avoidant attachments had higher retention rates in groups than less avoidant individuals. They also had lower relapse rates (Marshall et al., 2018).

I related so much to this article. I want to read a lot more about attachment theory with addiction and the impacts of internalized homophobia.


Marshall, S. W., Albery, I. P., & Frings, D. (2018). Who stays in addiction treatment groups? anxiety and avoidant attachment styles predict treatment retention and relapse. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 25(4), 525-531. 10.1002/cpp.2187

Cover Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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