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How to Spot Hidden AlcoholicsReview - How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics
Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in Its Early Stages
by Doug Thorburn
Galt Publishing, 2004
Review by Dick C.
Jan 20th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 3)

The book is presenting a new technique directed at the Professional Counselor Community as well as the layperson. The author operates a Web Site, The reviewer visited the site to familiarize himself with the credentialing of the author. The author is listed with an EA and a CFP.  The EA allows the author to represent taxpayers as an "Enrolled Agent" in tax disputes. This status is allowed after a two-week course on IRS OIC issues. The CFP is an acronym for a Certified Financial Planner.  No other credentialing was found on the Web Site.

The author through this website has taken the self appointed position of an expert on the subject of "Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages". It looks like the author is attempting to repackage the terms used in the Recovery World of "Wet Drunk or Dry Drunk," The latter being someone not currently consuming alcohol or drugs.  This is really nothing new. Any experienced professional fully recognizes the differences and the symptoms associated.

The author claims to have attended AA Meetings for a period of approximately one year. That is where he has assimilated much of his research and conclusions. It should be pointed out the AA Meetings are closed to the general public and everything discussed is held anonymously. At the beginning of each meeting it is read that this is a closed meeting of AA. The only requirement for attendance is a desire to stop drinking.

Apparently the author attended these closed meetings under a guise that he was an alcoholic. This brings into question the viability and or reliability of the research data.

It is of course possible that these were open meetings, in which case there would be no reliable research data. Nothing of any intimate significance is discussed at open meetings.

As a result of his research the author has developed what he has titled "The Thornburn Substance Addiction Recognition Indicator". This is a paper test that he has developed and assigned questions, answers, and conclusions. The basis of the questions are, in fact, the accepted descriptions of the symptoms of addictions. The author purports that at the end you can add up the score and make scientific conclusions. I find this both interesting and non-practical. In any case the conclusion lacks scientific support. As a footnote we would point out that the author has cast this test and ensuing results over 130 movie stars. The inference is he may have given them counsel. In any case from afar he has determined, using his test, that they are all chemically dependent. This is a truly new recovery tool and technique making these type determinations from afar.

I think it is important to continue to stay focused on the basics of what the scientific community has determined at this point. Alcoholism is a disease that is determined by a genetic disorder. Not everyone has the gene deficiency.

Those that do will quickly develop and exhibit the "Symptoms of the Disease". It has been further determined that not all people will exhibit the same symptoms. It has also been scientifically determined that the genetic disorder is multi-generational and will skip generations. Nothing in the author's "Test" addresses the genetic disorder or lack thereof. Rather the author makes a feeble attempt at immortalizing himself though his findings and his test.

The recovery community has been in existence since the late 1930s. It is the only known adjunctive therapy to these addiction issues. This was accomplished across the backs of many many volunteers giving of themselves unselfishly to perpetuate this method of recovery. About every fifteen minutes there is a well intending person, in this case this author, who believes he or she has made a new discovery. In every case it turns out to be nothing but the past and its successes repackaged.

The appearances are that this author is operating a commercial website that markets all of his theories and flawed studies. In other words it is more about self-indulgence than providing new information.

I submit as an alternative point of view that anyone believing that they are being made a victim need only to attend their nearest ALANON meeting. There will be one within blocks of wherever you are. Commit to at least six meetings. I promise you that you will come away with the answers you seek.

In the pursuit of balance I would offer this. The book does a good job of elaborating on the symptoms of the disease. For anyone that wants to know exactly what the symptoms are, this book describes those in detail.

Addictions are at best horrible diseases. They affect not only the addicted but also anyone who comes in contact with them. The more intimate the contact the more devastating the results are to all parties. It is certainly recommended that if you even think you are in that type of situation you must take immediate remedial action. If you do not know what action to take, any professional counselor will quickly advise you. Seek them out!




© 2005 Dick C.


Dick C is a retired business executive. He is himself a recovering alcoholic with twenty years of continuous sobriety. During this time Dick C has spent much of his time in the process of helping others. At one time he was an elected Delegate in the recovery movement. He writes under a pen name to maintain his anonymity. This is a very important part of the overall recovery process.  Dick C currently has three published books on the subject of recovery. They are written from the perspective of the addict as opposed to an observer. This review is presented as the reviewer's opinions. He does not represent any organizations or other entities. 

Doug Thorburn sent the following response on May 28, 2007. 

The review of my book How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics by Dick C. is defamatory. The highlights of the misleading information and outright lies about me and my book include:
1. The EA status is not allowed after a two week course. It is allowed after passing a rigorous two-day exam on tax law given by the IRS and then passing a background check. The pass rate for the exam is roughly 30%. I was in the top 21 in the country in 1979 when I sat for the exam. The fact that Dick C. distorts what an EA is should alert the reader that everything else he says should be suspect.
2. At most, only a tiny fraction of any courses that an EA might take or the work that an EA does is related to OIC issues, unless the EA is one of the few specializing in Offers in Compromise.
3. I am not a "self-appointed" expert. I am a researcher whose work is recognized and endorsed by noted chemical dependency experts and addiction authors, including Terence Gorski, Katherine Ketcham, Dr. Douglas Talbott, Dr. Forest Tenant, Claudia Black and many others. I have spoken before some of the top chemical dependency professionals in California on a number of occasions, including members of the California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators and the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.
4. I have not repackaged any terms. I have redefined them, including in particular the term “alcoholism.” I and am totally unaware of what Dick C. might mean by "Recovery World of 'Wet Drunk or Dry Drunk'".
5. I never attended closed AA meetings without the full consent of the participants. Dick C. is confabulating here, as in almost everything else he says about me and my work.
6. Many AA meetings are "open," which comprise most meetings I attended.
7. I never attended closed meetings under the guise that I was an alcoholic.

8. Dick C. is totally incorrect in stating "nothing of significance is discussed at open meetings."
9. Dick C. completely ignores the hundreds of private discussions I had with recovering alcoholics, which is where I got the most crucial and insightful information about alcoholism (in effect, consensual closed meetings).
10. I have not "cast" my test and identified over 130 movie stars as alcoholics. Lucy Barry Robe used the MAST and ID'd several hundred celebrity addicts; I simply use the observable evidence to identify a high likelihood of addiction in stars and non-stars alike. And, I'm right about 80% of the time which is what makes How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics so revolutionary, insightful and useful.

 You do your readers a grave disservice by publishing this garbage. I challenge anyone--including so called "credentialed" experts--to debate me. I certainly don't know everything, but the fact that I came from outside the field has given me a completely different perspective than others, which has allowed me to create a number of ideas that no one else has ever before written. I continue to come up with creative new insights into the minds of addicts in my online

 My work is viewed by those who've read it--which Dick C. has obviously not--as a communication "bridge" between alcoholics and non-addicts, the latter of whom don't have a clue about the disease. In communicating the idea of alcoholism to those who have never before been educated on the subject, I am providing an invaluable service for non-alcoholics. I have letters from many of these non-addicts to prove it. At the same time, I have explained alcoholism to alcoholics in a way that has caused many of them to tell me, "Doug, you understand this disease better than I do--and I lived it."

 Dick C.'s review is defamatory, which means it's wrong. Anyone who actually reads my work will attest to this.

© 2007 Doug Thorburn

Doug Thorburn, EA, CFP, Author


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