Our 5-Day Research Based, Outpatient, Couples’ Program For Alcohol Abuse Basically, whether one of you has a drinking problem, or you both do, the solution is going to involve both of your or there probably won’t be a solution. Why is that?
Deprogramming There are numerous Facebook groups whose primary purpose is to help people “deprogram” from AA and the 12 Step “mentality.” There is a serious need for this because our culture and much of our political system has become saturated with the notion that abusing alcohol is a “disease” or at least an “allergy.” That you can never recover. That “AA is the only way.” And a host of other ideas that are not only false but prevent you from obtaining the appropriate short term help, but can also keep you trapped in a cult for decades!
What Cookies and Alcohol Have In Common This Sunday’s New York Times Op/Ed section had an article exploring the connections between brain chemistry and various forms of “addiction.” Summarized, it comes down to your brain’s D2 receptors, which light up with pleasure when dopamine hits them. If you have fewer receptors, or have diminished them through excessive alcohol, drug, or high fat/sugary foods, you will be more inclined to seek pleasure through even more excessive use/abuse. That sounds like bad news, except that, on the positive note, our brains are highly plastic and can be reset to derive pleasure that doesn’t involve calorie dense processed foods, alcohol, or drugs.
Ruminating – A Woman’s Factor in Alcohol Abuse Women, more often than men, find themselves in a downward spiral fueled by “if only” perseverating. If only this hadn’t happened, or if only I had, or hadn’t, if only, if only, if only. While some men fall into this depressing trap, they are more inclined to do something, for better or worse, and even doing the wrong thing is less problematic than doing nothing but going around in mental circles asking why, why, why?
Differentiating Between the Misuse or Abuse Of, and the Dependence On, Alcohol and Why It Matters The mythology, perpetuated by AA and 12 Step rehab programs, is that if you are having problems with alcohol then you are either an “alcoholic” or an “alcoholic in denial.” This is an example of the classic “if the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem has to be a nail” analogy.
“Changing For Good” 23 years ago Prochaska, DiClemente, and Norcross’s classic work on how people actually change first came out. Since then it has helped both individuals and clinicians chart strategies which lead to actual, permanent changes in a person’s life. How did they do this? They did what’s known in academic circles as a forensic study, a fancy way of saying they found people who had actually made changes and asked them how they’d done it.
Alcohol Use Will Expand to Fill the Available Space We see a lot of people who have recently retired, are facing retirement, or suddenly find themselves no longer needing employment. Additionally we also work with a number of women whose roles as “stay at home moms” evaporated when the last child went off to college. These people’s ages and circumstances vary widely – from professional athletes whose careers end in their 20s, or earlier, to physicians who have worked into their 70s and beyond. Others made dramatic gains in stock offerings, some inherited wealth, and others were very frugal or enjoyed excellent pension plans.
Sex Revisited Periodically I write about SEX since it is one of the most common topics that come up with clients. Whenever we are working with couples, whether they both have a “drinking problem” or when one is here to support the other, we do at least one mono-gender session. By that I mean that the man does a 90 minute session with me while the woman does one with Mary Ellen. Here are a typical utterances:
Recently I traveled back east to the little town north of Pittsburgh where I went to High School. While I was there I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in 53 years. A retired art teacher, he said, “I don’t want to talk politics, but I do want to say that when we were growing up and going through school, there was a lot of animosity. We were mostly first and second generation immigrants’ children and grandchildren.”
Disempowering Yourself? We frequently see clients who are feeling disempowered, or at least diminished, in their personal relationships. Usually this is with regard to spouses but can also be with families, parents, in-laws, and others. It can happen to both men and women and, unhappily, we can do it to ourselves. Some of this pattern, and it is a pattern, usually starts in childhood when we are, in fact, powerless. With maturation we become more empowered and gain control over more of our personal lives – remember the effect a driver’s license had?