About The Clean Slate Addiction Site
The Clean Slate Addiction Site is dedicated to bringing you a sane, sensible, and helpful view of addiction/substance abuse. The core belief here is that the experience* of addiction is driven by choices and beliefs, not a disease. On this site you’ll find:
- the latest addiction news analyzed from this perspective
- self-help tips on how to end your own substance use problems
- tips on how to help a loved one with a problem
- references to programs, helpers, and books who reject the disease model of addiction
- reviews of programs books and videos related to addiction
- a knowledge base of important research
- information on, and explanations of “self-change”
- refutations of the constant barrage of disease propaganda
- a critical look at the common knowledge and myths of addiction
- a common-sense approach that works
About Steven Slate
Hi, I’m Steven Slate, the author of this site. As a person who once had a problem with substance use, I bring not only my current research into the recovery culture to the table, but also my personal experience. I went through 5 years of conventional treatment and 12 step group participation, without any long-term success. Finally, I found successful long term change with the influence of The Saint Jude Program program developed by the Baldwin Research Institute. I was taught things that made sense to me by that program – that I did not have a disease, but was freely choosing to use substances heavily as a means to be happy; and that I could freely choose to stop using substances heavily. I learned how to end my problem through my own thoughts and choices, and I’ve been free from substance use problems ever since. I served as the lead instructor and director of the St Jude Retreat House, where I helped hundreds of people to end their substance use problems and move on with a better life. While there, I also contributed to further development of the course materials and textbook. After a few years, I pursued some new life goals elsewhere, but continued to help peole with substance use problems independently, teaching my own curriculum integrated with a coaching process, and worked briefly with renowned addiction expert Stanton Peele to adapt his Life Process Program into the same type of approach. Now, I’m back with Baldwin Research, heading up our New York City office. If you’d like to visit my office, and learn how I can help, you can find more info about that at this link: Cognitive Behavioral Education.
I’ve had too many friends and relatives who weren’t so lucky to find a solution, many of whom are no longer with us. It really drives me nuts to see people learn to be powerless and helpless at conventional treatment programs and 12-step groups, so I started this site to spread the truth about addiction, and help others to avoid the fate of an endless struggle and cycle through ineffective programs and flawed methodologies of addiction treatment.
I hope you find the information on this site empowering, and I want to assure you that you are completely capable of making different choices about substance use at this very moment, and you can solve your substance use problems permanently – with or without my or anyone else’s help. You are a human being, you have consciousness, you have volition, don’t let anyone else convince you that you’re animalistic, powerless, or diseased – change will be yours if you focus on a brighter future and put in the work to get there.
The cleanslate.org offers information and views on addiction. I do not give any medical advice other than this one sensible piece of advice: If you think you may need medical detoxification from drugs or alcohol, see a doctor or go to a hospital immediately. This site, and any services offered by Steven Slate, are not medical services, addiction treatment, or rehabilitation, in any way. I take the position that addiction, meaning a destructive pattern of substance use, is not a disease, but instead a freely chosen set of behaviors. Therefore I can not offer medical treatment or a “cure,” nor do I think anyone else can medically “treat” a set of choices. I can only offer information on what I believe about addiction. I think these ideas and information are helpful – it is what allowed me to end my own destructive pattern of substance use. I explain the logic behind my opinions, and offer up supporting research wherever possible, but please don’t take my word as gospel and don’t be under the impression that I am a doctor – I am not. Let this information inspire you to do some digging and critical thinking yourself.
This site is sponsored by no one other than me, Steven Slate. You may notice that I review some books and programs on this site, but I am not compensated in any way for recommending these. The only service I recommend on this site which I do have a financial interest in is The Saint Jude Program (as of October 1st 2011), but I receive no referral fee of any kind for promoting it.
thecleanslate.org will never share any personal information of our users with anyone.
Please use our contact page if you have any questions.
I welcome all comments, especially honest debate. I do very little moderation of the comments – basically if someone is revealing too much personal information about another person, I will delete the comment or completely erase it when it comes to my attention. Some people may or may not give what is deemed to be medical advice in the comments section – take that with a grain of salt folks, it’s the internet, exercise judgment and always consult with a doctor when it comes to medicine. I reserve the right to remove any comment for any reason, but you’ll notice I don’t really do it, even the ones expressing much hate for me personally are left up. Spam will not be tolerated and is aggressively blocked. As a result, some of your comments may get caught in the spam box, and they’ll probably be lost forever – if you don’t want that to happen, then don’t try to sell gold watches and viagra on my blog!
The world of conventional addiction treatment and alternative views/methods of help for substance use problems is a treacherous jungle. While the currently accepted treatments are insane, those working on the fringe are at times even more insane. Lest anyone misinterpret my personal views on the various issues involved, I will clearly state them here and now.
Conventional Treatment – On the whole, statistically, conventional treatment programs don’t work. When compared with the general population who never receive treatment, these methods generally show no added effectiveness to “doing nothing”. Of course “doing nothing” often includes doing something – but the “something” is going through natural processes of change. Prolific addiction researchers such as James Prochaska PhD have concluded that for people who successfully solve their substance use problems, the processes of change experienced by those who do not receive treatment are exactly the same for those who do receive treatment. So in my mind, with treatment proving to have no better rate of success than “no treatment”, and the principles of change being identical with the success stories from either path, I conclude that it’s not worth anyone’s time to attend traditional programs for the treatment of addiction. Beyond that, in many cases, treatment success rates are worse than doing nothing, often lead only to endless cycles of more treatment, and usually instill feelings of helplessness and powerlessness which serve to derail natural processes of change which would have occurred had the subject not attended the treatment program. With that said, I believe that some elements of conventional programs can be helpful – it’s not all bad – but I believe the bad outweighs the good in the treatment world, my reasons for that can be found all over this site. Therefore, my opinion on conventional addiction treatment is that it should be avoided.
Alternative Programs – Programs billed as “alternative” may not be much better than conventional programs, and in many cases may be worse. Such programs often are run in the same spirit as conventional programs (with a focus on confrontation, control, humiliation, ego-busting, and punishment). Or, rejecting the damaging disease and 12-step models and approaches, they may replace them with equivalently harmful concepts which keep the client focused squarely on a biological cause – such as programs which claim that nutritional deficiencies or “toxins” are the cause of continued addiction. While conventional programs usually put the responsibility for change on medical staff and god, alternative programs often miss the point of providing an alternative to this, and simply place the responsibility for change on god – both leave the troubled individual waiting for a miracle to save them. Moreover, some define themselves as alternative simply because they’ve added yoga classes, energy healing, and other new-agey components to the normal menu of treatment methods. Therefore it is my opinion that not all alternative methods are good or recommended by me. You’ll see that I’m very picky with what I actually endorse.
Medications – It’s important to recognize that in my criticism of treatment, I view detoxification, medical treatment for drug-related illnesses, and the treatment of serious psychological disorders/illnesses as being distinct from “addiction treatment” or “recovery”. I do not discourage anyone from seeking the former accepted medical treatments – but I do discourage people from seeking the latter. The medical world has shown that it can effectively treat what may be referred to as the acute stage of addiction, the physical part of it. I whole heartedly endorse some medical detox procedures (but will not discuss specific methods), and other pharmaceutical therapies which can stave off initial cravings and effects of withdrawal. I encourage anyone who may have a drug/alcohol related illness (e.g. cirrhosis) to see a doctor for it. I encourage anyone who has suicidal thoughts or perhaps problems with anxiety, etc, to seek psychiatric help for these problems. However, I view these as side issues, and know that even when people are cured of physical withdrawal symptoms, or have made progress in dealing with anxiety, they may still go right back to the problematic pattern of use known as addiction, and that this is the “choice” I talk about when I say that addiction is a choice – and this is the part of the problem the medical treatment system has consistently failed to address effectively, and which they are fundamentally incapable of treating due to the nature of the problem. It is treatment for the wider problem of addiction, the choice to use substances excessively/problematically which I oppose. I do not oppose treatment for related medical/psychiatric problems where it can be effective. I do not have anything against medication for these problems, and none of my talk about choice should ever be interpreted as telling people not to use medication. Medications have their proper place and uses, but I do not think that any medication or medical procedure will permanently solve the problem of “poor choices” which lies at the heart of “addiction”.
Alcoholics Anonymous, related groups, and Twelve-Step philosophy and methods – This site does not exist to “bash” AA. However, the purpose of the site is to offer alternative views of, and solutions for, addiction. The 12-step way being the norm, and generally not being effective, necessitates criticism on my part though. So I will criticize it, without hesitation, whenever appropriate. It’s not fair that everyone should be fed the 12-steps and told that it is the only way when there are clearly better options available. I take the position that the 12-step ways are ineffective at best, harmful and counterproductive at worst – and the the organization as a whole, is a dangerous cult. With all of this said, I do not hold this against all 12-step members. Many of them do not behave or even think in a cult-like manner. Many of them are fine people. I don’t know how they do it, but I think there are many with such strong personalities that they are able to resist all of the madness and use the group for support. That’s good for them, I salute them, and I would never try to convince them to leave the group. However, I would suggest that anyone thinking of attending a 12-step program of any kind should simply stay away from it, and don’t bother getting involved.
What to do – If I’m opposed to so much, then what am I actually in favor of? Unfortunately, most of the information I find shows that their is no good help available. This may leave some readers thinking that there is no solution, or that it leaves them in the position of having nothing to do to make change happen for themselves or a loved one in need of help. I am in favor of any program which teaches the principles of self-change. That is, I’m in favor of applying what we know really works to help people to change. This may be learned in some of the books I’ve listed on my help page. Such books give you something to do. I wish I could give you huge lists of places to go to get effective help based on principles of self-change, unfortunately though, there are very few programs where you can go away to a residential facility to make a much needed change in environment (for extreme users) while you learn about this model. Nor is it easy to find a therapist, counselor, or coach who will be in the same non-disease, non-12-step, pro self-change/choice model mindset. If such professionals make themselves known to me, I’ll be happy to list them here. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find ways to accelerate the process of self-change – I give a few leads on my Find Help Now page, and hopefully you’ll gain insight on the principles of self-change by reading the various articles on this site.
* Note: I say “experience” of addiction, because there is no objective state of “addiction” in which people actually can’t control whether or not they use substances. People may feel as if they can’t control themselves or feel as if they are “powerless”, but this is a feeling, it is an experience. The experience of addiction is based on the belief that substance use is one’s best viable option for happiness and/or the belief in powerlessness/addiction. However, objectively, they are in full control, and if they decide to initiate different thoughts and beliefs, they will make different choices. “Addiction” does not even exist as a real entity – it is a subjective experience of life.