No one else works with couples because no one else can. It’s that simple.
Yet “success” frequently depends on spouses working together to solve whatever conditions the drinker is self-medicating. It’s even more important when you’re both drinking.
So what does working with us look like?
First we work as a team – whether you are an individual or a couple. That in itself is unique and also helps insure your success.
How? You get the benefit of our experience, both personal and professional. Mine as the ex-drinker and Mary Ellen’s as the family member frustrated by dysfunctional family dynamics. When working with couples this means you each have someone who understands your part of the problem.
That’s right – judges may no longer legally send you, or anyone else, to AA. Unhappily, a lot of judges, along with lawyers, haven’t gotten the message, or even more commonly, judges continue to order people to AA unless you object.
Please note, all of these courts have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religion or engages in religious activities:
Yes, we work with couples. It doesn’t matter who has the alcohol problem, or who initiates the solution.
Why? Because successfully ending alcohol abuse depends on changing your behaviors in your day-to-day life and that means altering your relationship with your spouse. Remember, alcohol abuse is a “context” problem – it exists to fill a need within your daily life. Ending it means fixing the underlying problems so you no longer need to self-medicate for short term relief or avoidance.
Changing your activities and behaviors, however, is also going to affect everyone around you – especially spouses. Therefore, excluding your spouse from the treatment process pretty much dooms you to failure.
“Two things will be believed about any man whatsoever, and one is that he has taken to drink.” -Booth Tarkington
It isn’t unusual for people to seek treatment for their alcohol abuse problems when divorce is looming on the horizon. Indeed, probably two thirds of our clients come to us with crumbling marriages. What is surprising is that at a few of these clients don’t really have an alcohol problem and many of the rest are abusing alcohol, but aren’t alcoholics.
It is common for people who have remained sober for a year or two, to begin to wonder why they are continuing to attend various groups and meetings. It’s a good question. While some people may need, or prefer, to continue their participation, others can safely occupy themselves with other activities. The question is, which are you?
The answer is easy, though the change process may not be. Generally, those who can kick the 12 Step Habit are those who have something other than alcohol to build their lives around. As obvious as that may sound to many of you, it isn’t a given.
The “Bucket of Crabs” is one of our favorite analogies. Pulling crabs out of traps on Kodiak Island, we’d just toss them into a big bucket – no need to put a lid on the bucket.
Because as soon as one crab would start to climb out, the other crabs would drag him, or her, right back down into the bottom of the bucket. There’s no escape to life back in the ocean.
And that keeps happening until all of the crabs end up in the steamer.
Most Of Us, Understandably, Deny Our Alcohol Problems
People generally avoid looking too closely at their alcohol use. Over the long haul this can lead to problems, both real and mythical, that early and productive awareness might have helped avoid. The problem here is the mythology – not alcohol itself.
Most of us have been mislead into believing that the misuse, or over use, of alcohol is a progressive and irreversible condition – a terminal “disease” for which there is only demeaning and unending recovery, a condition many understandably consider worse than being a drunk. Before consigning yourself to hopelessness, or powerlessness, see where your alcohol use falls.
Adult Children Who Drag Their Parents Down With Them
Nothing is sadder than the “over-age families” we see. These “children” are in their 30s, 40s, 50’s and sometimes 60s; their parents in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. “Children” who won’t stop drinking or using, and their parents who can’t stop forking over the money that makes the alcohol and drug possible. Dependent adult children dragging parents down with them.
Of course you can easily to see the problem from the outside. Why would an “adult child” stop drinking when they can squeeze thousands of dollars a month out of old mom and dad and keep right on doing what they’ve done their whole lives? And how can mom and dad say no when their “child” will be homeless, their grandchildren hungry? Besides, it’s a disease, isn’t it? How can they deny their sick child?
Virtually all current treatment for men’s alcohol abuse and alcoholism is based on the generally ineffectual AA/12 Step model. Even when alternatives are offered they still tend to be based on a “disease” model which isn’t applicable for over 85% of the men looking for some sort of help with their alcohol abuse.
The first problem is that most “programs” were created by AA adherents who are very threatened by the very idea that their way isn’t the only way – even though their way has less than a 5% success rate. Frankly, doing nothing – the spontaneous remission rate – has a better record than that.