Early Intervention Most people, having been indoctrinated by AA and the Steppers, haven’t considered the possibility of early intervention. No, I’m not referring to the sharks who circle around desperate families promising to host an “Intervention” and get your loved one packed off to a “rehab” facility from whom they get a hefty kickback and whose success rate is less than if you’d done nothing. I’m talking to you, the person who is becoming aware that your alcohol consumption is becoming uncomfortably intrusive in your life.
Deprivation vs Indulgence For many of us, drinking has become a major part of our “reward system.” Whether it’s seen as compensation for completing a difficult or trying task, or celebration for winning or commiseration for losing, the list of ways we have factored alcohol into our lives’ events is astonishing – especially when we attempt to eliminate it.
I Confess to Being Mystified. Mystified is a condition I am very familiar with in my life, but not so much in my work. But now that we have transformed our program to accommodate more of you, many of you are still reluctant to take advantage of even the free services and consultations – options which would allow you to make an informed decision as to what – if anything – to do about you drinking concerns. It would also give you an excellent opportunity to decide whether or not we might be the right option.
Weather, Weather Everywhere! Snow, rain, tornados, avalanches, and all the rest. When the external calamities extend across the nation, never mind the political ones, it’s easy to ignore or medicate our own personal internal storms and conflicts. The difference is, the external ones will eventually abate. Not so the internal ones. And change creates internal strife – even change for the better – and most of us resist getting the short term help that eases transitions and reassures us. So we plod along waiting for circumstances, others, and/or the world to change.
“Yeah, but. Yeah, but. Yeah, but.” We recently received a call from a woman who said that we were the perfect program for her. One designed specifically for women. Individual, no groups. Research, no AA. We were even the right age, meaning no overage adolescents as clients and staff. “And?” I asked. “But I don’t want to travel,” she said. “You don’t have to,” I said. “That’s why we redesigned the program so you could do it all via distance delivery.” “Yeah, but I need to get out of town,” she said.
Choice or Disease? There is a welter of choices available to you when it comes to unraveling your misuse of alcohol. Your understandable inertia isn’t helped by all of the conflicting and, usually, bogus information you are bombarded with on a daily basis. This is, of course, compounded by the fact that you usually aren’t in the best of circumstances for making a thoughtful and informed decision. How could you be when most of the information you might use is misinformation designed to lure you into “programs” that are designed to fail, though they are regularly touted on TV, in the movies, in novels, and in every sort of media?
Spectator or Participant? Talking to a former client this morning, the topic arose: do you want to actively participate in your life or do you simply want to passively watch it evaporate? That is a serious, and often ignored, consideration that is directly tied to your drinking habits. The client’s former preference was to spend his Sunday afternoons sitting in his neighborhood bar with several cronies drinking and watching golf/football/baseball/soccer/curling/etc. These are all “spectator” sports, meaning, the vast majority of people, millions usually, are watching a few dozen people actually do something.
What Do You Really Want? It’s nearly impossible to attain a goal, or make a life changing decision, if we don’t know what we want. As simple and self-evident as this may seem, it’s actually deceptive. Why? Because we usually state what we want in negative terms. Terms like “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to reduce my drinking,” or “I want to quit smoking.”
How Most of Us, Whether We Drink or Not, Are Adversely Affected by AA and the 12 Step “Rehab” Industry The fundamental problem is AA mythology so pervades our culture that we have all become infected with nonsense that passes for fact. Let’s look at a brief, if deadly, example. Most physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and therapists have virtually no training in dealing with alcohol related problems. Any training they have received has been straight 12 Step mythology: “anyone who drinks ‘too much’ is either an ‘alcoholic’ or an ‘alcoholic in denial’. Alcoholism is a life-long, progressive disease, which can only be controlled – never cured - by adhering to the AA program.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and “Alcoholism” A currently popular “magic bullet” for curing our misuse of alcohol is CBT. As magic bullets go, it’s far better than most, actually addresses the anxiety and non-clinical depression (dysthymia) which are frequent underlying conditions we medicate with alcohol. Additionally, it is a primary component in SMART Recovery’s program which offers a much better exit from “alcoholism” than AA or any of the other “programs.”