Many of our clients are “regular” drinkers, meaning those of you who have a fairly steady pattern of drinking that is stable, if excessive, over time. Others of you are bingers, drinking to extreme excess but in a pattern that is predictable, with occurrences coming weekly, monthly, quarterly, or on some other predictable schedule.
If you are a “binger” it’s important to understand how, and why, your drinking differs from that of the more usual habitual alcohol abusers. And how that effects efforts to correct the problem.
Simply stated, a binge is a way of releasing accumulated pressures. Think of it as a safety valve – though it’s hardly “safe” – that allows you to release pent up frustrations, angers, anxieties, and so on. With the pressures released, you can settle back for awhile.
However, as with the pressure cooker on the stove top, if you don’t find a way to turn off the heat, the pressure will build up until, once again, you find it necessary to “blow off steam.”
This is a decent analogy and most clients find it useful in understanding the cyclical nature of their alcohol use. Of course understanding the pattern doesn’t eliminate it. That change gets us back to considering the same “triggers” that all of us would do well to learn how to cope with, rather than indulging in daily self-medication or periodic binges.
Generally, there are a number of common conditions that are being “controlled” with alcohol. The usual suspects include anxiety, boredom, loneliness, grief, pain, depression, hormone changes, role losses, retirement, and other life events. Many of our clients also suffer from unbalanced personal relationships, whether with spouses, partners, children, siblings and/or parents.
If you consider your own predilections, and the foregoing possibilities, you can probably figure out which apply to you, in what proportions, and which you can check off as not part of the problem.
So much for the easy part.
The tough part, of course, is figuring out good ways of “turning off the flame” and creating a life that doesn’t need periodic unhealthy releases.
Creating a new day-to-day “normal” means factoring in actual ways of fixing and coping, adjusting and changing. That’s where our work with you comes in:
- 5 days of forensic sleuthing into what you’re medicating and what the real solutions are going to be;
- 12 weeks of follow-up support, encouragement, coaching, hand holding, and adjusting.
Remember – no rehab program is ever going to fix your day-to-day life unless they reduce it, and you, to membership in a degrading and dehumanizing cult.
Wouldn’t you rather, as a client remarked, “Get a grip and get a life?”
Intimacy and Alcohol Abuse
There are any number of ways in which our work with you differs from other “programs.” We’re confidential, individual, professional, effective, and so on. But one of the most important aspects is that we are also helping you with what is, usually, the most important problem you are medicating: the lack of real intimacy – emotional, psychological, physical, and familial – in your life.
Intimacy is, of course, a complicated and intimidating need. The search is further complicated by the fact that very few people are capable of it. Intimacy, after all, requires maturity, and maturity is sadly lacking in most “adults.”
In our work with you we use Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test which has been, for over half a century, the accepted model and measure of maturity, among other things. We use as the foundation for what we write for the website and the Newsletter – both of which are written for mature readers for whom our work is tailored.
Like what you read and see yourself in the readings? Chances are you’ll work well with us, and vice versa. If not, you may well fit the “emotionally and psychologically arrested at or before the age of 12” category, which would make you a good candidate for AA.
Coming back to the intimacy issue, most of our clients are “older” than your chronologic peers and use alcohol to “regress” to a lower level and the comfort of briefly “fitting in.”
That is, obviously, a time and circumstance limited solution. It’s also one that, like alcohol abuse itself, one that never results in a permanent solution.
This is particularly a problem when there is a big discrepancy between spouses, partners, and associates. How do you forgo your own needs and capability for intimacy with someone who has neither? Do you simply continue to drink your way down to their level and the pseudo-intimacy that brings, or do you find other ways to balance your needs and abilities?
Those are very difficult choices to make, with real costs either way, and it explains why it’s frequently preferable to open another bottle and postpone any action for another day.
But the problem isn’t going to go away, at least not until you have either drunk your way to permanent incapacitation or death. Not attractive options.
Why not let us help you explore your possible choices, suggest ones you haven’t thought of, and explore stabilizing your situation medically, legally, financially, and otherwise. Understanding the problem won’t automatically fix it, of course, but it will reduce anxiety, clarify the basis for your drinking, and suggest more satisfactory ways to manage you day to day life.
That accomplished, you will be in much better shape to make informed decisions, manage your emotions, cope with professional and domestic relationships with much less frustration, and give adequate attention to your own needs and wishes.