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About us

Catonsville Addictions was set up by the recovering community….for the community.

Our aim is to beome the one-stop-shop for mutual aid addiction recovery – with the same principles of the step methodology and mindset that already works so well



Robert’s connection with the mutual aid support he received, when beginning his own journey on the road to recovery, was so strong, it inspired him to create an independent community around it.

Robert Sanders



Celebrating addiction recovery and acknowledging it’s positive force in our lives


Expert opinion pieces on the latest developments in addiction research


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Inclusive of all the mutual aid communities, CA, AA, NA, etc



When I first started, I was broken. The support I got from the community was overwhelming.


I learned the hard way - I cannot do this journey alone.

We are stronger together.


This community forms one of the many spokes, of my recovery wheel - I couldn't live without it.

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An open letter to addiction

Dear alcohol,
I guess I’m writing this from me, but also on behalf of recovering alcoholics and addicts everywhere.

Alcohol, you came into my life from an early age, when I saw Pop using you, and falling for the illusion that you were his friend, when things weren’t going well with Mom, or work was overwhelming.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but even in those very early days I was learning…that you were something we can fall back on, if need be.

Over and over, I saw him turn to you, in everyday life. To deal with work. To deal with what that f***ing neighbour said. To help you feel better after the run in with so-and-so.

This was how subtle your intrusion in my life became, but it was the start.

As a teenager, I always thought it strange that my friend’s parents never drank til delusion, or never spoke about wine or beer at the end of each day.  It was a part of my family’s life.

In my teens, I got drunk as much as I could, with friends, at the park, anywhere I could. When stress from school or at home was too much.

I was more serious in my early 20’s after dropping out of college.

The workload was overwhelming and I didn’t really *need* a college diploma, if I had you….right?

When I got my first accountancy job and initiating myself in the world of work I didn’t really need you at first, but the deadlines, and the pressure of corporate life saw me slip more than a few times.

Drinking late into the night, meant rarely being on time. I should have foreseen all the work investigations, drama, and ultimate dismissal, but honestly I was just too clouded, all of the time, by that point. Sadly, you had me in your grip.

In hindsight, when I review everything that happened after the divorce and being single again, I guess I can conclude that it’s not specifically you, alcohol, that I’m mad at.

Even after you killed Pops in the end.

I’m actually more mad at myself, that I fell for you.

I believed the lies and the promises, and the allure of the temporary escape from…..well, everything in my life.

I know now, that it’s in my weakest moments, especially in those moments, that you whisper to me.

But I’m now able to see myself, and my life, differently, at those moments.

I can decipher, in a way, that whatever you’re telling me, whatever lies you want me to believe, are just not true about me.

Having just one drink *will* hurt. It will hurt my entire recovery, myself, and my family.

No more. The damage you’ve caused me over the years and tears, has been enough.

And while I know times are never easy, and that there’s always the rough in life, I can handle it differently now.

I’ve worked *so hard* to set up my plan. My ongoing sobriety plan, my journal, my support network.

When I finished my program at the clinic, I was so determined to get it right this time that my worker told me it was the most comprehensive plan they’d ever seen anyone write.

My peer review got exactly zero recommendations or suggestions for improvement.

I’ve learned that you, alcohol, will always be there.

I’ve learned that the things we *perceive* as negative, will always be there.

But the part of me that wants to survive, will always be bigger than those things.

I’m ready for you, if you come.

But now, I want to get on with my life.

Alcohol…..this is goodbye.


Is alcoholism really a disease

medical genetics

We can’t run commentary on addiction or alcoholism without talking about the age-old debate – is alcoholism actually a dis-ease?

There are multiple different perspectives to consider on this:

– The medical model – The traditional medical model considers only the physical effects and debility of alcoholism, and it’s implications in terms of the physical illness it seems to cause.

In this case, it does seem as though alcoholism could be defined as a disease – it has a progressively negative effect on the body, on neurotransmitters in the brain, on mental health such as depression and anxiety, and on physical debility and a person’s day-to-day ability to function –> it can be considered a disease.

Alcoholism does also seem to have a correlation (not causation) with genetics. Undeniably, the sons and daughters of alcoholics seem to have a greater tendency to themselves become alcoholics, lending some weight to the idea that it is passed from generation to generation through genetics, in the same way as some diseases can be.

– The 12 steps/Big book model – The 12 steps and Alcoholics Anonymous model tends to perceive alcoholism as a disease of the mind, and, to a lesser extent, the body.

The steps and methods taken to overcome the disorder are not relevant to this particular conversation, but the *idea* that alcoholism is a disease seems to have been adopted by the AA and step movement, presumably because they have found a good purpose in doing so, and it has proven useful in individuals’ recovery outcomes.

The consensus seems to be that alcoholism is indeed an incurable disease- a progressive illness which has no cure, only ratifying or mitigating measures.

In other words, an allergy of the body, and a weakness of the mind.

Although, surely it would be difficult to conclude that *every* single individual afflicted with alcoholism suffers with a physical allergy to the substance.

– The individual model – There is so much controversy surrounding this idea, indeed, that in most addiction rehab treatment clinics, it often becomes difficult to manage a group of individuals, completing a therapeutic plan, with contrasting beliefs of this nature.

For instance, two individuals seemingly at the same stage of alcoholism, can have wildly contrasting views on this subject, depending on their current level of denial, self-aceceptance of their addiction, progress therapeutically on the underlying issues causative of their addiction in the first place, and so on.

In this way, each individual must draw their own conclusion, that benefits them most, at their pariticular stage of the addiction recovery journey.

Which leads us to the ultimate context around this question – pragmatism – i.e. alcoholism can only really be defined as a disease by boundaries in which it is actually useful to do so.

Does it appear to be useful, for those attempting to recover from alcoholism, to consider it a disease?

In some cases, yes, since for some people it acts as a deterrant to pick up.

For others, no, since they have no understanding of the medical model of addiction, or this explanation offers no incentive to get better or dis-incentive to stop abusing alcohol.

And the final, biggest frame to consider this question from is –

Is alcoholism a disease….well, compared to what?

A value judgement about anything can only be made when it is compared to something else.

Is alcoholism a disease when compared to, e.g. AIDS? Probably not.

Is alcoholism a disease when compared to the common cold? Almost certainly.

This is clearly a loaded question, which will be argued for the foreseeable future to come. WE must surely accept there is no one definitive answer that fits in every circumstance.

In my opinion, the most appropriate approach is that of the individual – all of our beliefs, values, and personal truths about alcohol and alcohol addiction, are constantly evolving, as we each progress in our individual journeys through it.

For me, if it serves you in getting well, at that particualr time, to believe it is a disease, then do so.

And likewise, if it does not, or it no longer serves you, then do not.

Overcoming Alcoholism Without Rehab


How do I move beyond alcohol addiction without rehab?

There are numerous reasons people ask this question.

– you can’t afford private rehab, like Abbeycare
– you’ve done it already and feel you’ve learned enough
– you don’t have time to spare from the rest of life, to give to a rehab process

One of the main benefits of paid addiction treatment, in a secure facility, is the idea that they have a specific, and tailored approach to alcoholism and drug addiction, in which the variuos aspects of care required, are connected together, and provided under one roof.

Need help with a piece of therapeutic homework? The therapists are on-site.

Looking for reassurance about medication or detox? The medical team is available to help.

Beyond the joined-up approach a private program can offer, there are aspects of the care provided that CAN be replicated outside an addiction clinic. Not all, but some.


Perhaps the most difficult to replicate since it requires medical specialists, there are some local healthcare authorities better placed than others, in terms of space available for alcohol/drug detox, and the speed and thoroughness of the assessment process.

For instance, in the UK, obtaining alcohol detox from a local authority body is usually a long and challenging series of assessments, with absolutely no guarantee of being offered a place at the end.

After keeping a drinks diary, working with a keyworker over many months, demonstrating your enthusiasm to get well, and completing a number of assessments, 18months later, you may be offered something suitable. Or you may not.

The best approach here is to repeatedly demonstrate willingness to work with the healthcare provider, attend meetings, and find a sympathetic medical professional who understands the urgency for detox and your plans for afterwards.

The more diligently you have planned supports etc for after-treatment, the more likely you may be, to have your detox approved.

In the States and elsewhere of course, the system is private and insurance is required in almost all cases.

As you might imagine, coverage for addiction treatment is sparse, and limited to only the most expensive policies at the top tier.

Some policies will cover (e.g) the detox element of recovery only, and work on a week-by-week basis.

Others do not cover addiction at all.

In all cases, approaching your doctor or GP should be your first port of call, to understand the options that may be available.


The rehabilitation portion of a private treatment centre usually revolves around therapeutic input, in various forms.

There should be a core psycho-therapeutic approach used in a given clinic, often CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) is used in combination with other complementary therapies such as massage, reiki, reflexology, homeopathy, energy therapy, etc.

Usually a program will also contain psycho-educational work, on the nature of addiction, how it manifests, it’s physical and emotional manifestations, and it’s impact in your life.

Life event work, to compare situations of previous triggers for alcohol or drug use, life histories, etc are often used to bring the cause and impact of addiction in your life, into perspective.

How do we replicate these elements, into your recovery, sans-rehab?

This is more tricky.

The reason is again, that whilst such therapeutic tasks are done “in-house” under the care of a clinic team, the risks reduce, not only of side-effects from physical detox etc but also of potential emotional abreactions, which must be handled by a professional.

Progress you make, whilst under the care of a psychologist or therapist on an outpatient basis, can fluctuate from week to week, as life presents you with stressors that may challenge the progress you made last week, in therapy.

The best option here is to find a trusted local therapist, to work with. Expect progress on an out-patient basis, to take longer than it would do, in a residential setting.

Ask for extra help about identifying and avoiding addiction triggers.

Ask about extra support that may be available out-of-hours, if you need it.

This is not so much about finding the right psychological therapy approach to use, but more about finding an individual to work with, that you’re comfortable with.

If you need additional mental health support beyond therapy, e.g. for psychiatric diagnosis, ask your therapist for a referral.

Likewise, additional body-work complementary therapies can be found locally.

Add these in to your schedule, and stick to it, as overcoming addiction, by whatever means, is often about re-introducing structure and function into your life, where previously there was chaos and confusion.

Maybe you’ll pick up yoga, pilates, or another form of physical therapy.

How To Make It All Fit Together
If you were in paid treatment, you would expect there to be a daily schedule, for each day in rehab. This would include a structured approach to ensure each day has a healthy mix of physical .v. emotional work, and a balance for exercise, socialising etc too.

It’s time to be extremely practical at this point.

Long term addiction recovery will mean a massive change to the pattern of your day to day life.

So, put together a structured plan – as detailed as possible – about what your daily life in recovery will look like.

What supports will you have? What will your day consist of? When will all of this happen?

The more practical you are at this stage, the easier it will make it, when it’s time to follow-through and actually do what you’re supposed to.

Replicating addiction rehab treatment in the environment outside private care is difficult.

But using the above guidance, you may be able to recreate, and focus on, the elements that will be crucial to your long term recovery success.

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