Today I have the honor of interviewing Vivian Eisenecher, author of “Recovering Me, Discovering Joy,” and a sought after speaker, mentor and writer since 1996. Her other published works include articles for “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and Woman’s World. Her inspirational …

7 Comments to
Recovery From Addiction and Depression: An Interview with Vivian Eisenecher

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  1. As an atheist in recovery, I find that theistic spirituality is pushed too hard and too often. This much to the detriment of those who are trying to recover from depression and/or substance abuse without relying on yet more “stinkin’ thinkin'”, to ironically use AA’s terminology.

    If people find solace in a god, that’s great for them. But when they push it as if it’s The Only True Way to recovery, it both crosses the line and crosses others’ healthy boundaries as well.

  2. Dear Gregg,
    I don’t feel that a belief in God is “the only way out” of depression and substance abuse. And I don’t believe I’ve said that in any of my writings. I’m sorry you made such a deduction from the article.

    I know for a fact that there are many atheists in recovery. May you find much happiness in your continued recovery.
    Take care for now,

  3. Wow Gregg I really think you read my mind. Also being an athiest I really don’t feel like I need god to feel whole.

  4. Hi, Vivian:

    Thanks for your reply. I surmised your position from the part which talks about *authentic* success, which necessarily included a theistic spirituality. But I clearly misunderstood your position. Thank you for the response!

  5. hi,
    i found this interview quite encouraging. i have visited vivian’s website and i might buy and download the ebook.
    but like gregg, i am wary of investing my time in ideas that are mirrored in 12 step programs even though such programs may be capable of helping many god-centered people.
    vivian’s website IMO suggests that she is a very worthwhile christian motivational speaker. if that is your cup of tea, go for it.
    although i am probably an atheist, i do not consider this an important issue and never given it enough serious thought that i would ever attempt to refute or condemn the spirituality of others which is very helpful to them.
    i am not a christian and if there is a god he or she has a lot to answer for when i see him.
    my limited–and i do say limited– understanding of 12 step programs is that these involve direct personal supplication to a supreme being. and i do not doubt that this will have practical results even if there is no such being because it organizes ones thoughts under very adverse circumstances where any plan is better than no plan at all. and if loving god can teach people to be more compassionate towards each other then i am all for it.

    but given my mental health problems, i do not think it would be instructive in my case to substitute one delusion for another even if it gains me social acceptance and access to many more charitable resources. that’s part of what makes me crazy i guess.

  6. She is passionate about -reducing- the stigma of mental illness

    By how much?

    You could stop asserting it, that would reduce it by one voice.

    In turn that would stop anyone who reads your words from echoing them.

    It is easy to stop. Please do.

    Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor

  7. Hi, 314159pi:

    I agree with you that belief in the divine is not something I would want to debate if it seems worthwhile and helpful to a believer’s recovery. But I do find it crosses my own boundaries when others assert that addiction is a “spiritual disease” or that belief in a higher power is a key step to recovery.

    From the AA meetings I’ve been to, I find that they vary. Some attitudes are “take what you can, and leave the rest” while others are very insistent on a belief in some sort of higher power. I’ve been told that that higher power can be anything, even a lightbulb! While I understand that this was an attempt to comfort me, I ultimately found it an insult to my intelligence.

    I also find the quasi-prayers and the reference to God (even if it’s just “as you understand Him”) to be very off-putting. But even religious views aside, I have other issues with AA and did not find it at all helpful, such as the progressive disease model of addiction, the lack of cross-talk, the war stories, and the proselytizing necessitated by the 12th step, just to name a few. In fact, for me, I’d say AA was less than helpful – it was somewhat harmful.

    I’m glad it’s around to help others if they like it. But it should never be pushed as the only way.

    Sorry if this post is getting off-topic.

  8. gregg i do not think you are off-topic because this interview advocates using aa for recovery. i m glad you took the time to share your own aa war story with me even if you don’t like the war stories told at aa about alcoholism.

    no irony intended. we engage in what we find relevant to our own lives.

  9. I applaud and agree with everything you said. It validates my own experience with depression and mental illness. I was particularly glad to see your comments on spirituality and the implied notion that recovery can be a pursuit of joy.

  10. I arrived at this article seeking inspiration and sadly am disappointed. Severe depression makes it impossible to consistently practise perseverance, resilience,
    openness, compatibility, enthusiasm, self-esteem,
    or spirituality.

    If Vivian Eisenecher had all these god given gifts I doubt that she was ever severely depressed in the first place. The very nature of depression is that ones life-force is extinguished.

    I have suffered crippling depression and at such times have found the most basic of activities impossible to perform. Those with depression often feel worse because they are unable to summon healthy behaviours such as perseverance or resilience. This article serves only to exacerbate an already existing sense of powerlessness.

    Real solutions save lives.

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