“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn
As noted in last week’s Newsletter, there’s no shortage of excuses to postpone, or avoid, doing something about any problem. In addition to waiting until “after” – the holidays, the Super Bowl, your birthday, your daughter’s wedding (even though she’s only 5 years old), there’s the problem of finding the “right” solution.
The “right” solution for your alcohol abuse falls into the same category as finding the right diet for shedding those extra pounds. In both cases, if you want to, you’ll find a way. Otherwise, excuses abound.
The other option is to pretend that you’re doing something about the problem, a popular strategy that placates others, eases your conscience, and actually helps you continue drinking at whatever level you want.
This popular choice is called joining AA.
Being fond of analogies, I liken becoming a Stepper to hanging out in a bus terminal pretending you’re actually going somewhere. But you and your fellow non-travelers aren’t confused. You’re never going to actually board that bus, train or plane.
So if you’re going to cease milling around and pretending, then what?
That gets us back to the “right” solution question and it’s a useful one to consider.
There are a lot of ways to leave alcohol problems behind and a couple of ways to become so enmeshed that you may never escape.
Disposing of the worst, first, there is the traditional AA/12 Step rehab programs, either residential or out-patient. Both are designed to sell you a permanent seat in the terminal – a seat that’s already available to you for free – and prevent you from ever leaving. Their primary goal is to con you out of your money, then teach you how to con others out of theirs.
Next there is the much more effective do-it-yourself model which many of us have used to modify our lives and extract ourselves from alcohol’s alluring embrace. The trouble is, the process can take years and as we all know, time is a finite commodity.
Finally, there is the route that takes advantage of one of the handful of research based programs sprinkled around the country. The goal of these programs is to get you where you want to go faster than you can manage on your own.
Think of the options as a trip from wherever you live to somewhere across the country:
You can travel via AA and never get anywhere;
You can walk by yourself and maybe get there eventually;
You can opt for a real travel agent and arrive at a better life in a dozen weeks.
All you have to do is choose.
Oh! You’re right! You can also opt for the life you’ve been living. But if that was satisfactory, why on earth would you be reading this Newsletter?
And When You Went Looking For Help…
“I went to a therapist to explore the reasons behind my drinking but she said I’d have to go to AA before she’d work with me. How does that make any sense?”
“I went to my physician and asked about Naltrexone, but he said, ‘Oh! That’s a very dangerous drug that only an addiction specialist or a psychiatrist can prescribe,’ is that right?”
These are two of the most common roadblocks clients report when they give us a brief history on what they have already tried to do with regard to their drinking habits. And both of these responses are nonsense and only serve to demonstrate the general level of ignorance all too many therapists and physicians share.
But first, the therapist. Generally speaking, they are only mouthing the misinformation they received during their training. Consequently, they have it backwards: “drinking causes problems and must be stopped before anything else can be addressed.”
Instead, the effective approach is to see that drinking is a symptom of the real problems and will go away when the underlying causes are addressed, eliminated, or otherwise coped with. But then that would mean providing actual help which most therapists are ill-equipped, as well as disinclined, to offer.
Not to mention that it requires a lot of cross-discipline expertise that few of them have. It’s also why we’re glad that there are two of us – a lot more training, experience and research devoted to you and you alone than any solo practitioner can offer.
As for the physician, it’s just a case of arrogant ignorance.
Naltrexone has been FDA approved for over 20 years and any physician can prescribe it. No, it’s not dangerous compared to most medications and certainly compared to drinking.
But physicians get their prescription medication education from pharmaceutical company sales reps and none of them are pushing a generic that costs about $1.50 a day. Since doctors hate to admit they’ve never heard of Naltrexone they hide behind their favorite “it takes a specialist” excuse rather than look it up.
Even well informed and well intentioned physicians may decline to prescribe it for self-protective reasons. AA and 12 Step based rehabs hate Naltrexone because it’s effective; isn’t punitive like Antabuse; and can be used to moderate drinking habits. That’s 3 strikes in their rigged game.
But these same rehabs and AA have succeeded in making themselves the “standard of care” and physicians run some modest risk of being sued if they step outside of the 12 Step model.
Shop for a therapist or physician who hasn’t been brainwashed. Interview them. Look for physicians who are D.O.s rather than M.D.s. Ask therapists what works for alcohol abuse. If they answer AA, move along.
We understand that it’s hard to make good choices under duress and in a crisis, which is when most of us look for help. But as with most of life’s decisions, you need to be your own best advocate and best informed consumer. No one else has as great a vested interest in your success as you do.
Yes, we come in second when it comes to looking out for you, as do the consultants we work with – Dr. Norcross, Dr. Neal, and Dr. Silveria – but the choices are ultimately yours.
Make good ones!