Here’s to a Happier New Year.
A woman called recently to “educate” me, noting that all we needed to do to “cure” people of their “addictions” and “alcoholism” was to inform them that the problem was simply genetic and that this knowledge would instantly “cure” them.
She was well meaning, I’ll give her that, but she was also completely deluded. Even if she was right about genetics, and some of us do have genetic components that increase our tendency to “go there,” knowledge doesn’t fix anything.
That’s right – there is no magic. Not knowledge, the palms, the beaches, the mountain, nor the vortex, no matter how many rehab programs claim otherwise.
Yes, it’s interesting to understand why you’re lonely, bored, anxious, depressed, in pain, and angry. But knowing that you are fixes nothing, any more than reading diet books will cause you to lose weight.
A common example?
Many clients have personal relationships that are seriously out of balance. It is usually the one who is being/feeling exploited who is drinking both to create a self-protective bubble between them and their spouse, but also as a passive aggressive F.U. aimed at that same spouse.
Is knowing that going to fix anything? Obviously not – but assertiveness training may.
The list goes on. You drink because you are depressed, lonely and bored. Stop drinking and the depression will lift – alcohol being a depressant, after all – but that will only exacerbate the loneliness and boredom. Oops.
Those of us who have the genetics that dictate a high tolerance for alcohol, a lack of hangovers, and a risk taking personality are more apt to abuse alcohol than those with low tolerance, bad hangovers, and an aversion to risk taking. But inclination is not destiny.
Others of us are also at risk because we associate alcohol and/or drug abuse with various professions – particularly the arts and music. And again, the association isn’t causative but merely conforming to an illusion or an image.
Which brings us to the pervasive “image” problem, whether it’s women and wine, men and scotch, or adolescent boys and spiced rum. Throw in men and Marlboros and women and Virginia Slims. Go for the glamour of advertising hype and pretty soon you’re hooked, not on Chardonnay, but an image that has no more reality than the 12 Step mythology.
But then you know all of that, don’t you?
That being the case, rather than drinking your way towards an alcohol induced mirage, one that will vaporize faster than you can reach it, why not go for realities you can actually attain?
You could try ending much of your boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and myriad other problems with active solutions rather than passive dead ends, whether those are a bottle or a “meeting.”
That’s what we help you do – design and carry out your own tailor-made plan to achieve actual results that suit you and your life, not the Kool Aid others peddle.
Your goals, your solutions, your choices, your life.
Change means paying attention
Most of us slip into our routines – habits – without actively paying much attention.
There’s nothing wrong with that since most of our time is spent pursuing various ends and the habits keep us from wasting time, energy, and attention on things that pretty much take care of themselves. Think about driving and the difference between how you drive now and the first time you ever drove!
Yes, now 99% of your driving is automatic and little attention is required unless something unusual happens – the first snowfall of the year; an on-coming vehicle in your lane; the Highway Patrol in your review mirror.
Generally speaking, our habits are benign and free us to attend to other things. Some, like going to the gym, working hard, and being actively engaged in various social, family, professional, and recreational activities are quite beneficial.
Then there’s our drinking habit. Pretty much negative across the board when we get to the point of realizing that it’s become a problem. That’s when we discover that changing an ingrained habit pattern isn’t easy.
It’s interesting, and important, to note that giving up alcohol is fairly easy but giving up the behavior patterns is not. We also confuse cravings for alcohol with the urge to replicate existing and familiar patterns, patterns that lead us back to drinking.
That’s where paying attention comes in – with the attention on what we’re doing, NOT on not drinking.
If you want the alcohol abuse to go away, then the associated patterns need to change and the new habits also need to address whatever alcohol medicated and be something you also like. Let’s be realistic – you aren’t going to trade an activity you like and which works for one you don’t like and which doesn’t work.
That’s where we come in – helping you to sort out better alternatives that are sustainable, enjoyable, and effective.
?If you’re ready to explore those options, we’re ready to help.