A rock star from the ’60s shares more in common with a priest than one would expect.
For the first ever Alcohol and Drug Studies Informational Summit, held on Sept. 30 at the Student Center, former “Canned Heat” band member Dr. Frank Clayman-Cook and Father Jack Kearney gave a lecture on alcohol, drugs and addiction.
Before the lecture commenced, attendees introduced themselves to each other while snacking on catered sandwiches and coffee. While the audience mainly consisted of students from the Alcohol and Drug Studies Department aspiring to be drug and alcohol counselors, friends and family members also attended.
“A friend of mine is in the school program studying and so she brought me along here today,” said Ruby Wert, a recovering alcoholic. “I’m interested in furthering my knowledge.”
Once everyone settled into their seats, Orlando Rivera, an instructor in GCC’s Alcohol and Drug Studies Department, introduced Clayman-Cook as the first speaker.
Clayman-Cook, a senior faculty member at the New Center of Psychoanalysis and a private practitioner in West Los Angeles, has stayed sober for 30 years.
Before becoming a psychoanalyst/psychologist, Clayman-Cook played drums for the band Canned Heat during the ’60s. Three of its members died from substance and alcohol abuse. He started his career as a psychoanalyst and psychologist at the age of 37, shortly after making a vow to quit drinking.
“I started as an older student . I was older than most of my professors who gave me B’s, which was a lesson in humility,” said Clayman-Cook as he addressed the audience. “I certainly see a number of older students here and I congratulate you for starting out on a new career because I believe what keeps people youthful is the ability to change. My hats are off to you.”
To define alcoholism, he referred to the first step in AA’s 12-step program. According to its fact file, the first step is “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
“Now I saw a lot of people, certainly as a musician, who could not control their drinking and using,” said Clayman-Cook. “But connecting that to the idea that one’s life is becoming unmanageable is another step.”
“I knew I could not control my drinking and using . the problem was I could not connect my drinking with my life becoming unmanageable,” he explained.
As an ex-alcoholic who now holds a master’s degree from UCLA, he credits Alcoholics Anonymous for his transformation.
“If I was not a member of the program [AA], I probably would not have been able to traverse that route,” he said.
After admitting his bias for AA, Clayman-Cook went over the two things one should expect from an alcohol program. “What a program needs to do is two things: One, detox. And number two, connect to a 12-step program, a support system that will hold patients for the rest of their lives.”
With concern to the underlying causes of alcoholism such as childhood trauma and heredity, he said it is a mistake to believe that addressing these causes will alleviate alcoholism.
“Freud’s first concept of cure was that when the unconscious is replaced by the conscious, people get well. Wrong! Just simply wrong,” he said. “Making the unconscious conscious does not cure the disorder.”
He used malaria as an example. He asked the audience if a person with malaria can be cured if he found the mosquito that bit and gave him the disease.
“No, of course not,” he answered.
“We have to stop the use of alcohol first and then we can start to go in-depth fully into the persons psychology and make their lives more comfortable. The goal of psychoanalysis is to teach them new coping skills.”
Without appropriate coping skills, individuals remain locked in a pattern of substance abuse to relieve discomfort, which only worsens the problem.
Addressing marijuana use, which is illegal under federal law but legal in several states for medicinal purposes, Clayman-Cook illustrated its associated symptoms.
“There’s the idea that marijuana is not habit-forming and there is really no downside to it. Well, I have treated a number of adolescents . that develop a motivational syndrome as a result of smoking marijuana,” said Clayman-Cook.
“Just at an age when ambition is important, when young people are entering college where they are smoking marijuana on a daily basis . is really destroying young peoples’ futures.”
After wrapping up his lecture, Clayman-Cook quietly took a seat as Father Jack Kearney took center stage.
Kearney, a priest at the Good Shepherd church in Lakewood/Long Beach, also acts as president for the California Association of Alcohol/Drug Educators (CAADE).
Founded in 1984, CAADE is a non-profit organization, and claims its’ mission is “to promote continuous enhancement of addiction services in the community, including prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support services.”
Kearney’s lecture addressed the issue of whether addiction really is a disease.
With the use of Power Point, he presented several causal models, being the moral model, psychoanalytic model, social learning model and the disease model.
According to the moral model, the cause of addiction is a weak will to resist temptation. Under the psychoanalytic model, character defects are the cause. The social learning model suggests bad parenting and a corrupt environment cause addiction. These three models have one thing in common, “badness,” as Kearney put it. In other words, they are the “scumbag model.”
The disease model, on the other hand, focuses on a body organ, recognizes its defect, and displays symptoms stemming from the defect found in the organ. Kearney chose a femur as the organ and a fracture as the defect. The symptoms resulting from the defect found in the organ. Kearney chose a femur as the organ and a fracture as the defect. The symptoms resulting from the fracture of a femur are screaming, bleeding, deformity and disability.
His presentation argued for the use of the disease model as the surest way of finding the cause of addiction.
“Because of this [the disease model], Dr. Clayman-Cook and I are alive today,” Kearney exclaimed. “A 150 years ago we would have been dead in a old folks home by now. This model should double peoples’ life spans.”
Under the model, the brain is the organ. Its defect is corruption of the midbrain, also known as the “snake brain” or “survival brain.”
The midbrain as characterized in Kearney’s presentation is “not conscious, handles the next thirty seconds, and is a life-or-death processing station for arriving sensory information.”
When a drug is administered, it hijacks the midbrain’s survival system. Normal needs such as eating, sleeping and engaging in sexual intercourse are no longer imperative. The drug becomes the key to survival.
So according to Kearney, the defect found in the midbrain is the deregulation and imbalance of dopamine levels caused by stress, which lead to loss of control, cravings, and the constant use of drugs despite its negative effects.
Kearney hoped that his presentation gave the audience “a deeper understanding of the disease concept, how biologically it is absolutely an illness.”
For more information on the Alcohol and Drug Studies Dept., contact Program Director Benjamin C. Salazar Jr. at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5513.