Hidden Drinkers Come Out of the Closet on Internet's Highest Traffic "Alternative" Alcohol Recovery Message Board

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Problem drinkers, in particular, find a solution with this innovative approach to treatment and online community that fits their comfort level.

Think "boozer" or "lush" and the image that comes to mind may be of a staggering drunk. But few people realize that for every late stage alcoholic there are four problem drinkers, and not surprisingly those individuals don’t feel they fit the stereotype of a traditional alcoholic. So naturally, they don’t seek conventional approaches to treatment.

What many of them have been doing is solving their dirty little secret themselves by persuading physicians to prescribe an off-label medication called topiramate (Topamax) and using it in conjunction with a controversial new therapy they claim has liberated them from their battle with the bottle. They’re also opting out of local fellowship based meetings in favor of an online get-together where they can connect anonymously to discuss their progress with like-minded individuals. Many of them haven’t even admitted to their spouses what they’re up to. According to website stats, over 1,300 visitors log on each day to the dozens of forums linked from http://www.mywayout.org, with hundreds simply "lurking" — or reading the messages of others, but returning regularly. And those numbers are growing fast.

The program, dubbed "My Way Out" after a book of the same name, is gaining popularity and was featured recently in The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek Magazine. Its foundation is based on a medical protocol using topiramate as an anti-craving agent. It also supports the use of self-administered hypnotherapy recordings, a specific formula of nutritional supplements, and a light exercise regimen. Much to the chagrin of those who consider complete abstinence the gold standard in an alcohol recovery program, this one condones moderated drinking for those who feel it is appropriate.

Controlled drinking is a daily topic of discussion. Others include details about former drinking characteristics, the perils of parenting while addicted, filling time once spent drinking excessively, and kinky dreams attributed to withdrawal.

"The benefit to these individuals of speaking freely and openly about their shared experiences in addiction cannot be overemphasized," says Dr. Linda Garcia, MD, medical director of the My Way Out program. "Some people find the same sort of fellowship in AA meetings or other 12-step programs, but we have to respect that others are simply uncomfortable within that environment. We find highly functional problem drinkers in particular often prefer a safe, anonymous forum in which they can share thoughts they have never expressed, even with those closest to them in their daily lives."

Visitors to the discussion board are global, says Carone Sturm, owner of Capalo Press, whose company published My Way Out last spring. She says the bulk of traffic comes from the US, Canada, UK and Australia, but Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, China, and dozens of other countries are also represented

The therapy was developed by Roberta Jewell, author of My Way Out, who says she initially had no intention of creating a medical program for others. "My goal after twenty years of suffering in silence was to save myself," she says. "But I knew I was on to something once I tried it, shared it with others, and ultimately got the support of many within the medical community. Clearly we know we have something that works. It’s all very, very exciting."

Contact: Kellie Hyder

Capalo Press




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