Unique Answers to Your Individual Circumstances We have always worked with individual clients – and occasionally couples – never groups! “Treatment Programs” love groups! Groups are cheap, fill time, do not require competent professionals (quite the opposite), and ignore your individual circumstances, strengths, interests, abilities, goals, and options. Is it a surprise that these “programs” fail you 85% – 95% of the time? It’s also true that most of you already know that that route isn’t for you. Still, knowing what isn’t right, doesn’t automatically lead to what is – especially since what is effective has been undermined by over six decades of rehab propaganda and social brainwashing: “You’re powerless!” “It’s a disease!” “You can never recover!” “AA is the only way!”
Assertiveness! Balanced lives require a certain amount of vigilance – what recent jargon refers to as “mindfulness” and thirty years ago was packaged as “self-awareness” – but regardless of the label, it comes down to paying attention. However, paying attention doesn’t get you very far if you don’t do anything with the information you are squirreling away. “I know I should…,” repeated several times, is the mantra of those who’ve paid attention enough to have collected the data, but have failed to implement change based on the accumulated information.
Additional Follow-Up Answers I appreciate all of the time and effort so many of you have put into helping to adjust our practice to more closely meeting your needs and preferences. Making services available to you is, obviously, a primary concern but exactly what that looks like is less readily apparent. For example, one reader commented that an important part of his benefiting from our work with him was the time away from home it gave him to focus, reflect, and distance himself from the problems associated with his drinking. He hoped we wouldn’t abandon the face-to-face, in person, model we have so successfully perfected.
Sometimes things just seem to happen. Yesterday, Mary Ellen and I spent a long lunch discussing various changes to our practice. Of course I’d also asked for comments, thoughts, questions and recommendations in last week’s Newsletter. When I got home I found the following in my email: Responses to Last Week’s “A Favor, Please?” As we are in the midst on changing our model – at least the delivery parts – for 2020, it would be helpful if you would give us your suggestions.
Awhile Back I got a Call… As happens now and then, I answered the phone with my usual greeting, “Good morning, this is Dr. Wilson, how may I help you today?” “You’re killing people,” an angry male voice screamed. Over the years I have heard this in various forms from both men and women. It comes down to our work threatening them because they “know” that AA and the Steps are the only things that “work.” Usually after they rant for awhile they slam down the receiver, usually with idle threats of one sort or another. That’s usually the end of it.
This issue marks the beginning of Non-12 Step News’ 13th year of weekly publication! This then is #577! It’s hard to imagine that I have been writing these roughly 750 work informational mailing for 12 years without a gap, and without reprinting even one (though it’s been very, very tempting, I freely admit). Also, there are those readers among you who have read nearly as many as I have written. Including former clients who find them to be all the weekly reminders, support, and/or information they need to maintain the success they have achieved.
Confidentiality – Yes It Matters, and No, You Won’t Know it Until It’s Too Late If you are concerned about your self-medication with alcohol, you also need to be concerned about seeking help. The problem is that too many of us wait too long and then have to make decisions and choices when we are in a crisis. That being the case, we overlook the fact that a “diagnosis” of “alcoholism” will negatively affect many areas of your life for the rest of your life. Among the other effects, the label will prevent you from pursuing many professions requiring licenses and certification including physicians, nurses, and other health care workers; positions which require security clearances; upper level management positions; political positions; and so on. Labeling will also make it difficult for you get health/life insurance; travel to certain countries; destroy you in child custody disputes; and stigmatize you for life.
When you begin to understand that drinking is a coping mechanism gone awry… For many, drinking began as a cure for anxiety. After all, alcohol remains the best anti-anxiety drug ever developed. It fast, cheap, effective, legal, and socially promoted. What’s not to like? Before that big party, date, meeting, sex, presentation… Nothing like a drink or three to take the edge off. But for some, the self-medication continues and expands to cover other circumstances. It can be a way to avoid unpleasant emotions, interactions, people and situations, Drink enough and you “aren’t there” and even if you are you exist in a protective bubble.
The “ABC’s” of “CBT” The shorthand edition of incorporating CBT into your arsenal of coping skills comes down to: A: Activating event – which is anything that happens to you, large or small.\; B: Your Belief about the event; C: The Consequence of the event and your belief. A simple example – watching a sporting event. When the event is over, we either feel good or bad depending upon our belief about the outcome. If our preferred outcome is realized we feel better than if it isn’t. Notice that our emotional response depends on our belief about the result rather than the result itself. After all, half the people watching are pleased and half disappointed regardless of the outcome or the fact that everyone saw exactly the same event.
Managing Your Emotions Rather Than Allowing Them to Manage You. S.M.A.R.T. Recovery is essentially based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or its more recent incarnation, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). In either guise the basis is the same – your thoughts and behaviors create your emotional responses, not the other way around. Manage your distorted emotions and you’ll have less reason to seek refuge through self-medication. Most of us are familiar with the pattern that runs, “I’m anxious so I have to drink to settle down!” or “I’m depressed….” Or angry, or suffering from marital discord, or……. All of these are usually self-induced conditions which we then “have” to self-medicate.