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[be good]

july 2013 , Issue 1

los angeles

The Sobriety Issue How the 12-Step Recovery Program is Struggling to Find Relevance Among a Growing Non-Religious Population


JULY 2013, N° 01



credits Photography/video/editing/reporting Destiny A. Lopez additional photography Associated Press, Peter Gueras Magazine template Layout Gianluca Carraro COLLABORATORS Ashley - SMART Recovery, Dr. Marc Kern - Alternatives of Beverly Hills, Harriet Beit T’shuvah, J. Jenkins, Peter G. of Los Angeles, CA., Alisa Orduna - Home for Good full sail university thank you Jeff Sharon, Meredith Cochie, Erica Barker, Christi Davis, David Painter, Eileen O'Malley special thank you Katherine Jenkins, Jeff & Becky Radant, Christopher Todd, Jean-Philippe Riol, Galina Guerassimova, Remington Hayes, Shanel Anderson, Neelam Sharma, David Dudley




010 014

012 july 2013/contents 008_ the nones

Where does L.A.’s non-religious go when they seek sobriety?

010_we, agnostics

How A.A has addressed it agnostics followers then and now

012_calling dr. drew

Has Celebrity Rehab given 12-Step a bad name?

014_in the case of Peter G.

How one local found sobriety in dual diagnosis


016_ hollywood anonymous

Temqui aut qui officate ditis et laFicia quam est

020_secular sobriety

Lorum quae verit velecerferis ut veratatia n/ Abo. Dus. Pero et odi tem net archit aceperunt.

024_biet t’shuvah

At this Jewish-based rehab center, all are welcome.

026_5 ways to l.a. sobriety

From yoga to volunteering, here are 5 ways to overcome relapse.

030_the cost of addiction

How does the cost of addiction move from addict to tax payer?



020 030

be good does the k-town art walk a Vimeo Doc Short

[be good] los angeles Fall 2013

Peter Gueras


the sobriety issue minimal_7

the nones An increase in Los Angeles’ non-religious population leads to the call for 12-step alternative programs

by Destiny A. Lopez


he unaffiliated or “the nones,” individuals who have no religious affiliation, are on the rise.And not just in Los Angeles, but across the United States. ccording to the Pew Forum, one in five American have no religious affiliation. Twenty-one percent of Californians identify as non-religious or atheist. And among the Los Angeles Latino population that are native-born young adults, 20 percent identify as non-religious.

he mention of a higher power within the 75-year-old, 12-step methodology appears in step two. For the nones, its a struggle to accept the notion to have a higher power and to admit and accept the notion of being powerless. Atheists, like author Marya Hornbacher, found her way through Alcoholics Anonymous without wavering her beliefs, calling the experience humbling. However, not all find their way through traditional meetings and seek other alternatives like unofficial AA, groups catering for agnostics and atheists, or non-12 step programs like Seculars for Sobriety.


inding a philosophy, whether 12-step or a 12-step alternative, that works for the individual is the key to sobriety. ccording to a University of Geneva study, “The 12-step program seems to be problematic and contraindicated for people who do not profess to be spiritually or religiously oriented, For an individual to make a strong recovery with a recovery group, he or she must connect with the philosophy of the recovery group.”


Source: wiki/Irreligion minimal_9

we, agnostics T

the tangeled hiistory between A.a. and agnostics

he riff between Alcoholics Anonymous and its secular members has a history as long as AA. AA was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Both were members of the Christian revivalist movement during the age of Prohibition. There were actually three founders. Jim Burwell, while regarded second to Wilson and Smith, was one of the first members on the east coast and contributed concepts that still survive in A.A. today. The most notable being AA's Third Tradition: "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."


urwell, an atheist, openly challenged Wilson and Smith’s religious approach to meetings, but respected and enjoyed the group’s want to achieve sobriety. "I started fighting nearly all the things Bill and the others stood for, especially religion, the 'God bit,' said Burwell in his memoir ‘Thirty Years Sober. “But I did want to stay sober, and I did love the understanding Fellowship." In 1941, Burwell would bring bring AA national attention to AA in a Saturday Evening Post interview.


ven though Burwell was outspoken about his atheism to the point of leading a secular AA meeting separate from Wilson and Smith’s meetings, he was instrumental in bringing AA to Philadelphia, Baltimore and San Diego. owever, recent incidents in Toronto and Orange County demonstrate how the riff between the religious and secular still remain within A.A.

n 2011, agnostics AA groups Beyond Belief and We Agnostics were removed from the official Toronto Alcoholics Anonymous list. In 2012, another motion was passed against the reinstatement of both agnostic groups to the official AA roster. In Orange County, a local attempted to start an AA meeting for freethinkers, but was met with hostility. Members told the locals they would not list his freethinker or any other agnostic meetings.


oday, there is an agnostic movement within AA. More than 90 unofficial agnostic AA meetings are held across the U.S. We Agnostics, with a revised version of the 12-steps, does “not ask you to believe in anything except belief that recovery is possible.” Local We Agnostic meetings are held in Culver City, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Santa Monica and Studio City. by Destiny A. Lopez 10_minimal


f when you honestly want to, you have little control over the amount you take... you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. We Agnostics, Chapter 4, Alcoholics Anonymous Handbook


by Destiny A. Lopez

calling dr. drew Five cast members are dead. The show is canceled. What has Celebrity Rehab done to 12-Step?



On Feb. 17, 2013, country singer Mindy McCready became the fifth deceased cast member of VH1’s "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." Shortly after McCready’s death, Dr. Drew Pinsky defended himself and his staff’s role within the Pasadena Recovery Center. After much media criticism and the stain of a previous malpractice investigation, on May 6, Dr. Drew announced that he has no plans to continue Celebrity Rehab. Is 12step to blame? Should anyone be held responsible for the so-called Celebrity Rehab curse? J. Jenkins, a former program manager of a nationally recognized non-profit organization, investing several years assisting recovering addicts back into the workforce, weighed in on season three of Celebrity Rehab. Season three holds the distinction of having the most deceased cast members, which includes McCready, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and former Real World cast member Joey Kovar. While the deaths of the cast members alarmed the media and other addiction professionals, Dr. Drew defended the intentions of Celebrity Rehab. "One of my hopes was, in bringing Celebrity Rehab out, was to teach people how dangerous addiction was," Pinsky told CNN. "If I was doing a show on cancer there would not be much surprise when my cancer patient died. In fact, we'd celebrate a few years of good quality life. People don't understand

that addiction has virtually the same prognosis." After announcing the cancellation of the show, he revealed the toll that the show has taken on him. “I’m tired. It’s very stressful and intense for me,” Pinsky said on Zach Sang and the Gang . “To have people questioning my motives and taking aim at me because people get sick and die because they have a life-threatening disease, and I take the blame?" Jenkins feels that while Dr. Drew and the staff of The Pasadena Recovery Center are not responsible for the deaths of the Celebrity Rehab five, the cast members benefited little from the time spent there. In the case of Mike Starr, who died in 2011 as the result of a prescription drug overdose, Jenkins felt the facility failed. “You have Mike, who they believe is having a psychotic break. Clearly, Mike needed grief counseling and needed to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. You have to know your patients in order to treat them,” said Jenkins. “I know that we don’t see everything due to editing, but, overall, it gives you an unrealistic impression of the rehabilitation process.” According to Jenkins, Mike Starr’s death should

have not been surprising. “He had overdosed previously how many times before? In my impression, he had a death wish. He was always talking about death and his dead friends. He was blocking everyone out and listening to his dead bandmate. Did not anyone see that coming?” Mindy McCready, who has suffered a head injury, had a seizure while the cameras were rolling. It took over a minute for the resident tech to come to her aid. Both Mike Starr and Joey Kovar were agitated by the presence of the cameras. Tom Seizmore, later added to the cast in episode two, ended up attending meetings alongside his ex-girlfriend, Heidi Fleiss. Former Miss Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche, who had appeared on Dr. Drew’s Sex Rehab, was brought into Pasadena Recovery Center to treat her meth addiction in a coed environment. A February article from The Fix called for Dr. Drew to “get with 21st Century treatment” or cancel the show and take its 13-percent fatality rate along with it. The article also called attention to Dr. Drew’s treatment philosophy, which includes abstinence and no medication. Jenkins not only felt that the show is a misrepresentation of the 12-Step program, but a misrepresentation of rehab in general. Especially since the cast members are compensated


during their 21-day rehab stay. “You do not pay addicts to be in therapy,” said Jenkins. “They could use the money to buy drugs. It is another way to enable. If I’m running low, and I have a habit, I would not refuse it. It’s an unfair, unrealistic incentive. People have to want to get clean. Everything seemed a little too easy. “ Dr. Drew, being a 12-step advocate, reveals very little of the process in Celebrity Rehab. The treatment shown as in on Celebrity Rehab actually strays greatly from The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Drug Treatment. The show's biggest diversion from the Principles and 12-step is the violation of anonymity itself while in rehab. “It does not truly depict 12-step. I didn’t see them working the steps,” says Jenkins.” It would be unfair and not accurate to blame the 12-step method for people relapsing or dying as a result of their addiction. The 12-step program may have not been the right program for everyone, but that’s not the fault of the program itself. The only thing Celebrity Rehab is guilty of is giving reality TV a bad name.”

by Destiny A. Lopez

in the case of peter g. How a former addict and agnostic found sobriety through dual-diagnosis.



1249 Vine St

by Destiny A. Lopez

hollywood Anonymous

Where people usually come to get noticed, others come to kick their habit. All while remaining anonymous. The first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting held in California was in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 1939. Today, there are nearly 4,700 local meetings following the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous. This includes Narcotics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Sex Anonymous, among the 300 different types of 12-step-based programs under the AA

umbrella. No matter the addiction, there is a 12-step program for it and available in English, Spanish, Russian, French, and Korean. In 2007, nearly 250,000 Los Angeles residents reported heavy drinking in the past month. In 2010, 60,000 residents were admitted, into either alcohol or drug rehab facilities.

According to AA, the purpose of anonymity, besides protection and equality among the group, is to “place principles before personalities.� Next to Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood has one the highest concentrations of 12-step meetings held in Los Angeles County. These meetings take place in community rooms, schools, cafes,


libraries, churches and retirement centers. Local participants, from Vine Ave to Fairfax Blvd, remain on a first name basis.

7501 Hollywood Blvd


4527 Lexington Ave

8000 Sunset Blvd

1313 Edgemont St


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proporid iam pridet acchiliam ne audam maximunum atatilis me porevilicae capere mus vir hortius meditimus, quo ac moena, ta, condis. Tumurni ussulibus hui pris. Risupio vervilistiam num re quonsi st L. Apere quam omnihilis cont nocupiem audem per iac factam tellari missilin aucto iam in sus et, que esimiu me comnius, mo utebat, Caturo iam inum sed ius vidi, crenatumente publicu pplicas tessus. Is eritantiam ium hacchuit vidiurio, Sum seque prem. Cestrum dolore qui dolenda ndaerrum verum que nime dolupti doluptas eum quam lis adit peribus, ab is inciam cuptibus aut evelici diatiur? Apel essi blacest am quidelia cus idus quiam estorit atatiur mil exeri sincit et, ento cus solut facernatiunt hictiiscil ius dolorio eossinti venet, si num versperi beatendae dolenim porereh entias miliatem quos molore plat. Uga. Itatur aboris rae re, occum quosae dernatur, volorio nsequatio tem fugiat quia velia vellam, undae. Ullis quunt. Doluptaerio conseces dolora voles mi, ut am il ipienitia ipsandi blaborum vellesti cus.

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4950 Sunset Blvd,


secu lar sobr iety by Destiny A. Lopez


SMART Recovery and Alternatives of Beverly Hills are just two 12-step alterntives available to Los Angeles locals. Their founders tell their story of sobriety and how they have maintained it without a higher power

The largest and most recognizable 12-step alternative recovery program is SMART Recovery. Working alongside their fourpoint program, the program’s mission is “to offer no-fee, self-empowering, science-based, face-to-face and online support groups for abstaining from any substance or activity addiction.” SMART Recovery, originally incorporated as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network in 1992, has meetings available in all 50 states and 13 countries, including China, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Ashley Phillips, a meeting facilitator and regional coordinator in California and Arizona, found SMART Recovery while seeking an alternative to 12-step programs. Even though the 12-Step Method did not suit Phillips, she does remark how in recent years, some 12-Step programs and rehab facilities have started to incorporate cognitive therapy, holistic approaches and encourage the integration of medication.

In 2012, The Fix spoke with Tom Horvath, who facilitates the SMART Recovery method at his rehab facility, Practical Recovery. SMART Recovery does not advocate either abstinence or moderation treatments and does not view relapse as a failure. “In fact, that is one the biggest benefits of a SMART Recovery meeting. If we are talking about SMART now, people come back and they talk about their slips and their relapses,” said Horvath. “Those are some of the most powerful meetings. We do not honor sober time the same way that 12-step groups do with tokens and chips and so forth. Everybody is sad that you just had three months and you relapsed, but let's hear about what happened so that we can all learn from it.” For more information regarding SMART Recovery, visit


Psychologist Dr. Marc Kern, once a member of the volunteer Board of Directors of SMART Recovery, is now the Clinical Director of Alternatives. Alternatives is a 12-step alternative facility operating in Beverly Hills, Calif. founded by Kern and Dr. Adi Jaffe, a UCLA trained addiction expert. Kern, along with Audrey Kishline, is the co-founder of Moderation Management. M.M. is a secular-based non-abstinence program focusing on controlled drinking, and helping one define whether they are a problem drinker or an alcoholic. The notion that 12-Step is the only way is a notion that Dr. Kern calls absurd. Addressing addiction as a combination of social, genetic, economic and behavioral factors, Kern discusses the disease and behavior argument pertaining to current studies.

The effectiveness of the 12-step recovery method has some under scrutiny by such publications as the Los Angeles Times and Wired. A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health study revealed the recovery rate is higher for alcoholics who achieved sobriety on their own. Only 13 percent of alcoholics seek or receive any help, whether it be rehab or going to support meetings. Both Phillips and Kern, struggling with their addictions at different times in their life, crossed paths looking for treatment alternatives. Neither Phillips or Kern denounces the 12-step method or 12-step fellowships, giving an important insight to the world of addiction. The best remedy for sobriety is choice. “Although the Alcoholic Anonymous approach obviously has helped many people," said Kern, “it did not help me.” For more information about Addiction Alternatives, visit


"The fact is people want to get this monkey off their back...but his notion that one size, being the 12-step method, fits all is absurd."


by Destiny A. Lopez

Beit tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Shuvah

Tucked away in West L.A. is Beit Tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;shuvvah, a rehab facility and sober house that blends Jewish spirituality, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step philosophy and the creative arts. Founder, Harriet Rosetto,a believer in faith-based treatment, says all are welcome.


<3 at first bite a YouTube Series

[be good] los angeles Fall 2013 Peter Gueras minimal_25



5 Ways to S 26_minimal

Stress and social situations, as told by Dr. Nasir Naqvi to The Fix, are the two most common triggers of relapse. In May of 2013, The Huffington Post reported that a Gallup survey ranked Los Angeles as the most stressed city in America. How can a local maintain their sobriety among the 4 million residents that are coming and going on a daily basis? Ironically, Los Angeles was ranked the fourth-best sober living city. The reason? There is a lot of opportunity to maintain a positive social life away from triggers and towards the beginning of maintained sobriety. According to the Fix, Los Angeles hosts 3,100 support meetings every day. It is recommended by most recovery centers, especially in the early stages of sobriety, to find a group support system. Attending support meetings can aid in keeping one focused and build new, positive relationships. It is possible, however, to find support outside of meetings and among the great urban outdoors. Last year, CNN reported on ex-addicts staying sober through physical activity. Despite Los Angelesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reputation as a car city, bikes have increased in popularity. Just this past April, CicLaVia hosted a 10-mile closure of streets to allow 100,000 bicyclist to tour Los Angeles from Downtown to the beach. Yoga also has a large following in Los Angeles and has made itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way into some treatment centers. Yoga incorporates meditation and relaxation exercises, which has been shown to aid addicts during recovery and during sobriety.


Stay Sober

by Destiny A. Lopez





Kyczy Hawk, a certified teacher for Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, told the Huffington Post that yoga saved her from relapse. There are several local donation-based yoga centers, such as Santa Monica’s Bryan Kest Power Yoga, or Runyon Canyon’s hosted yoga classes. Adopting a pet from a local shelter, as done with Pets for Patriots, has shown to provide love and loyalty to someone who needs positive reinforcement. Jackass’ Stephen “Steve-O” Glover also found sobriety after he adopted two shelter dogs. Glover told Yahoo that his pets gave him a new sense of purpose. Another solution is to volunteer your time at an animal shelter or to take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities throughout the city. L.A.Works provides a network of volunteer opportunities throughout Los Angeles County. Sobriety, while it can be maintained through exercise or activities, can also be found and maintained through the service of helping others.


The Cost of

by Destiny A. Lopez

Having access to the right treatment can save tax dollars and lives.


f Addiction


Skid Row, a one-and-a-half square mile section of Downtown Los Angeles beginning at Fifth Street and San Pedro Street, contains one of the largest stable populations of homeless people in the United States. On any given night, 3,000 to 6,000 people sleep on the streets of Skid Row. These people may pay the price of chronic homeless, eventually, with their lives or mental and physical health. Local tax payers pay with their pocketbook towards a broken and inefficient system originally meant to aid those who have fallen on hard times. Los Angeles County has a chronic homeless population, those with disabilities, drug or alcohol issues, or repeated stints of homelessness. And there are those that are taking action. United Wayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Home For Good, a local non-profit working to end chronic homelessness by 2016, evaluates the effect of homelessness on the city of Los Angeles. "Over $800 million is spent each year county wide to manage the homeless population," said Alisa Orduna, Program Officer of Home for Good. And in 2009, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich laid the groundwork to begin moving 78 identified drug dealers out of Skid Row. With some accomplishment under his belt, Trutanich was met with a slow legal system. Due to delays, the Skid Row population increased by 1,600 individuals by 2011. To Home for Good and Trutanich, eradicating the homeless population and removing the drug culture from Skid Row means more than just cleaner streets and placing people in permanent housing. These plans can save lives and save local taxpayers millions of dollars each year by placing people in the appropriate care needed, whether it be permanent housing, rehab or mental health facilities. For locals struggling with addiction, the proper public services in place could spare them from Skid Row.



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The Train Issue [be good] August 2013

los angeles


Peter Gueras

Issue 001: The Sobriety Issue  
Issue 001: The Sobriety Issue  

How the 12-Step Recovery Program is Struggling to Find Relevance Among a Growing Non-Religious Population