Almost any of us can stop drinking for two weeks, or thirty days, or even ninety days. Sometimes even for a year. But then we find ourselves right back where we started before this “vacation from alcohol”.
No, you didn’t fail, you just learned something about yourself and changing behaviors. Guess what? Contrary to what everyone thinks they know, alcohol isn’t the problem!
That’s right – it’s an immediate solution to some problems, but one that’s gotten to be more of a trouble than whatever real problem it fixed.
Why? Please remember, we don’t abuse alcohol because we’re “diseased” or “powerless” or stupid. We abuse alcohol because it works!
But it only works in the short term, and it also prevents us from actually fixing what problems we’re avoiding by self-medicating.
Giving up alcohol is easy, but changing ingrained behavior patterns isn’t. Nor is fixing real problems. That’s why virtually all treatment programs fail – they still act as if alcohol was the problem.
But you know better, and so do we.
That’s why we only accept one new client a week, and only work with individuals (or couples, and, occasionally, families), never with groups.
It’s also why we do intensive follow-up because the problems have to be fixed when and where they occur – and that’s in the context of your actual day-to-day life!
Isn’t it time actually leave alcohol abuse behind and live your life free, not just of alcohol, but those other problems that have dogged you for years?
That’s what we thought. So, let’s get started! Give us a call and we can discuss you, your life, and your custom tailored solution.
In this section of our April 4 Newsletter we presented a detailed description of our 5 Day Full Recovery Retreat program. What follows is an expanded description of our program for couples – the only one in the country – and why it works so well regardless of which spouse signs up!
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, which is just one of the reasons 99% of programs exclude spouses.
But there are other reasons, too.
If you’ve ever been to couple’s counseling you know that it almost instantly turns into a two on one event. With three people involved it’s almost inevitable that that’s going to happen. The result, of course, is zero progress, or worse, since any issues are obscured by this new triangle – him, her, therapist – and who gets the therapist on “their side” first.
We learned how to avoid that dynamic a long time ago – we work as a team with you as a couple. Makes it tough to hide behind the “you ganged up on me” excuse – and usually gives each of you an empathic advocate to boot.
But that requires skill and experience on our part – more things treatment programs with their para-professional, “in recovery”, counselors aren’t going to spend money on. Remember, they aren’t interested in your success – only in minimizing their bottom line and maximizing the odds that you’ll be back for another round.
All of that aside, the most important part of our couples model is based on the fact that no one has to wait on the spouse with the drinking problem!
That’s right! Instead of calling us and demanding to know how you can force someone else to stop drinking – which is impossible – you can begin the process of changing your behavior in the ways that are most likely to motivate your spouse to end his or her alcohol abuse.
Frankly, we have never had a husband or wife call and schedule a week with us to begin detaching from a spouse, without the spouse in question “suddenly” deciding it was time to come along and get help themselves. Funny how that works.
Why does it work?
Einstein noted that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.”
When it comes to spouses (really, any family member) and alcohol abuse, couples become locked into predictable patterns and both of you, more comfortable with predictability than you are change, engage in this endless “you’re the problem, you go first” dance that never goes anywhere except around in the same old circle.
Most of us have also, at some level, incorporated the idea that alcohol is the problem and that if the drinker would just stop then everything would be okay. It would be nice if that were true, but it’s just another of those treatment industry myths, designed to placate family members, victimize clients, and reduce success rates.
Instead, the reality is that alcohol abuse is a short term coping mechanism that sabotages ever fixing real problems – things like loneliness, boredom, anxiety, anger, and passivity. It these underlying, and fueling, conditions are not addressed then one is indeed doomed to forever being “in recovery” (a catch phrase that readily translates into “your can’t make me grow up”) and spouses are either doomed to 1) playing second fiddle to the bottle, 2) joining in, or 3) escaping to a real life of their own.
But before you decide on option #3, escape, – and we really don’t recommend #1 or #2 – don’t you think you should give actually fixing the problems a shot? That’s a lot cheaper and less disruptive than divorce – and usually leads to a far more interesting real marriage than our clients have ever known before.
Please! Don’t settle for occupying second place behind your spouses bottle, or even worse in most cases, behind AA or Alanon, and don’t leave yourself wondering if your marriage might actually have been saved if you’d only invested that 5 days with us before you gave that lawyer a retainer for three times what we charge (and with many, many more billable hours to come).
The call is free! The consultation is free! And the odds are excellent that at the very least you can create a far better future for yourself without incurring the cost of a lifetime of nagging doubts as to whether or not you did the right thing.