“If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”
This old quote, with many attributions, summarizes the fundamental problem with AA, the 12 Steps, and treatment based on them.
Pseudo-egalitarianism, a nice fifty cent word, my great aunts would have said, means that the Steps not only assume that all alcohol misuse is a “nail” but only one kind of nail at that. Hence, everyone must be an “alcoholic” or an “alcoholic in denial.”
Even the usually stodgy DSM-5, normally a conservative guide to diagnosing “Alcohol Use Disorder,” in the latest edition recognizes differing levels of severity.
That’s a “step” in the right direction but hardly begins to address the question of how does one approach the remediation of the problem?
Naturally the first thing to do is deprogram individuals from the notion that there is a monolithic “disease” called “alcoholism.” In actuality, there isn’t, and over-indulging isn’t a disease. It’s a symptom of unresolved problems.
As we’ve noted before, you don’t end up with a drinking problem because you are dumb or diseased. You have a problem because alcohol “works” in the short run to alleviate loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression, trauma, and a host of other conditions. Unhappy, in the long run, it also prevents these conditions from being corrected.
So there you are, in a mess, and everyone wants to ship you off to the hammer mill where you will be driven into shape. And this will be accomplished how?
By forcing you to join a cult whose entrance qualification is that you admit to being something you aren’t – a powerless alcoholic – and adhering to rules that are applicable only to those with the maturity of a 10 year old, and a not very bright 10 year old at that.
Labeled for life with a bogus “diagnosis” of sub-normal, and told you need to attend cult meetings for life, and follow a regimen of counter-productive “Steps,” and… But you have been punished, will continue to be, and will never ever escape.
We wouldn’t volunteer for that, and neither should you.
You might want to consider actually addressing the underlying conditions, fixing them, and returning to the ranks of normal or better. That’s what we help you accomplish.
You’re not a nail. You don’t needed to get hammered – either way.
For more information you might want to read: Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference
We know it’s tough to actually pull the trigger and get this done. As someone who’s given up vodka, cigarettes, motorcycles and any number of other fixations, I can safely say that the hardest part is just finally saying, enough.
Part of being smart and self-aware is also knowing how to manipulate yourself in your own best self-interest.
Sometimes the internal dialogue goes something like this, “I know I need to ______ (fill in the blank) and I know I will feel so much better in 3 ______ (pick: days/weeks/months) and I want this behind me by ______. Therefore I need to address it by _____.
Then you pick up the phone and say, “I want to reserve the week beginning _____.”
Then you settle back, relieved that that is addressed, scheduled, and will be corrected by your chosen date.
Yes, we have people who book weeks or months ahead. That becomes increasingly common as the holidays loom and people want to fix the problem before it mars yet another holiday for everyone concerned.
Please also note that we are talking about fixing a problem, or breaking a habit, not sending you to 12 Step Hell for the rest of your life. How?
Another trick I use on myself is to remind myself how happy I am going to be in 3, 6, 12 months that this problem is behind me and I won’t have to worry about it again.
As clients have said, “Time to get a grip and get a life.”
When will it be your turn to do the same?