It’s Not Alcohol, It’s the Habit!
It’s interesting that ex-smokers don’t talk about being “in recovery” or being nicotine addicts. They talk about “kicking the habit” which is a far more accurate description of the process than drinkers – or “treatment” providers – use.
Because when we talk about what actually can, and does, happen with a change in your drinking behaviors, it’s the habit, not the alcohol, which trips you up. As we say repeatedly, alcohol is fairly easy to give up, the associated behavior patterns, self-image, and all of the associated mythology is not.
Women talk about how glamorous and sexy they feel with that first drink in the crystal glass.
Men talk about how much a part of their masculine image it’s become.
And while these seem absurd as you’re picking your broken teeth off of the curb, or shooting yourself in an Idaho bath tub because you’re afraid to quit playing Ernest Hemingway and go back to being a writer, many of you will eventually succumb to the thought and behavior habits that already have you reading this.
But at least a third of you, one way or another, will eventually give up the alcohol abuse altogether, another third will ramp it down to a manageable level, and the other third will die with a glass in one hand and, most likely, a cigarette in the other.
Which category are you in?
We don’t know, but you can choose.
It’s interesting that the material on our website, and in these Newsletters, work to pre-select those of you who have everything needed to choose your destiny with regard to alcohol. You are smart, mature, creative, competent, successful in most areas of your life and very unlikely to sign up for being powerless, diseased, losers who must isolate yourselves from a full life.
In other words, you’re aren’t AA material, except, perhaps, briefly while you emerge from your alcohol induced fog. Then, after a couple of months, you’ll realize that AA is even more demeaning than drinking! (For what to do then, see our article on “Kicking the 12 Step Habit“)
A very interesting part of our work with you involves deprogramming you from all of the AA mythology that permeates our society and them shifting the focus to what your drinking is actually about.
Lonely? Bored? Anxious? Depressed? In pain – physical or emotional? Reeling from tragedy or other losses? Feeling old? Retired from work or parenting or caretaking, or???
Alcohol is a cheap, readily available, socially promoted, effective short-term solution to all of these conditions and others!
But it is only short-term, and it prevents finding real solutions.
And AA, even when it works, is no better with its insistence that you maintain an alcohol centered life, that you isolate yourself even more, that you never recover, and that you avoid normal people, activities, and relationships.
How do you think that’s going to work for you?
If you’re like most who try that route you’ll soon be drinking more than ever and the 12 Step culture will have you even more depressed and hopeless than you were when you crept into, and usually out of, your first “meeting.”
Don’t drink the Kool Aid!
Like ex-smokers you can change your habits, self-image, and self-medicating, to create a far more interesting life than the one you’ve been leading lately. Don’t settle for less. You deserve more.
If You Only Had a Year to Live?
I read an Op/Ed piece in this morning’s Sunday New York Times (1/10) on this very topic. It’s hardly a new question going back at least several thousand years to Confucius, and, undoubtedly, others.
One of the topics we touch on with clients – as well as each other – is the fact that for all of us the finite commodity is time. And none of us knows when it’s going to run out.
Nor is this a topic, or perspective, that can be settled once and for all. For myself, I still wake up in the middle of the night unable to quiet ghosts from the past or fears of the future. But I, like you, can minimize that swirl – one that alcohol exacerbates as possibilities slip by and the time frame telescopes.
No, the point is not to scare you. Fear is a lousy motivator and tends to make drinking even more attractive as fatalism sets in.
The point is, what do you want your contributions to those you care about to be?
I have a good memory. I remember legions of Great Uncles and Great Aunts, and Aunts and Uncles, and first cousins, and the rest of a rapidly dwindling pool of relatives. So is the pool of former colleagues and friends.
While the world’s population is growing, my world’s pool is shrinking – rapidly.
The perspective that comes out of that? Most of our lives will matter to only a few friends, associates, relatives, clients, and others that life has brought into our orbit. And that, for most of us who aren’t narcissistic beyond imagining, is enough.
Or it would be if we took the time to allow for that mutual consideration, affection, intimacy, and appreciation.
And none of those precious commodities are to be found in a bottle – no matter what the ads preach – or in The Program that rewards competing fictitious drunkalogues, predators, isolation, and everything that is the antithesis of a life well lived.
So, please, take a little time and consider who you’d like to be remembered by, and for what.
To quote the Inuits among whom I spent a decade, “Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood; only today does the fire burn brightly.”
Who shall you warm? Be warmed by?
You have a year…….