Not long after we opened our practice a dozen years ago, we noted that the “cure” for misusing alcohol was “doing stuff.” That isn’t quite as simplistic as it sounds but as hundreds of successful clients have noted, that’s what it almost always comes down to.
Yes there are differing sorts of stuff to do. Ruminating, the endless mulling over of things may seem like doing something but, as most women can attest, is really a way of avoiding doing anything about the conditions being self-medicated, including the depression that results.
Men are less prone to ruminate. Instead we chase around doing things that make no damn sense and then medicate the results. Again, avoiding fixing whatever we’re, well, avoiding.
So it’s not just “doing stuff,” it’s doing the right stuff.
And what is that, you ask quite reasonably?
Our answer is a completely accurate and usually unsatisfactory, “it depends.”
Really, if we knew, then we’d just write the book and retire. A fella named Bill W. did that, founded a cult, and suckered millions into thinking he’d come up with a magic answer. He did. For less than 5% of those who tried it, not counting the millions of us who knew ahead of time that we’d rather keep on drinking than swallow his Kool Aid.
Instead, we knew, that as individuals, your solution would be equally idiosyncratic and one-size-fits-all wasn’t in the cards for you. That’s why we spend the first intensive 5 days with you, determining what conditions you’re medicating, and what alternatives will address the issues, taking into account your interests, strengths, and possibilities.
It isn’t too difficult to sort out what you’re escaping. That laundry list, in varying proportions, usually includes depression, boredom, loneliness, unbalanced relationships, anxiety, trauma, escape, physical and/or emotional pain, the losses with aging, role changes and other losses.
So for your “doing stuff” recipe we create a mosaic of your particular issues which are, obviously, going to vary in degree and ease of solution. Like any mosaic, the pieces will need to be prioritized, and something will need to be done about those particulars which can’t be fixed.
Having delineated the issues, we can then help you with whatever coping skills address them rather than escalating them with alcohol.
That too is a laundry list that includes CBT, assertiveness training, habit breaking and formation, self-image change, diet, exercise, social life resumption or reorganization and other considerations all the way down to what to say when people ask why you aren’t drinking.
You may need some help ahead of time – help deciding what’s right for you and help defending your decision against the well-meaning beliefs of others. Beliefs like, “AA is the only thing that works,” “you have to go away for 30 or more days,” “you can never drink again,” and dozens of others that have infected our society.
That being the case, we suggest you read a few books like Gabrielle Glaser’s Her Best-Kept Secret, Lance Dodes’ The Sober Truth, and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Staunton Peele’s classic The Diseasing of America. There are others but those are a great start and we’ll gladly recommend others if you ask.
In the meantime you are always welcome to a free consultation by phone or in the office. Just call to make an appointment.
And please remember – life is better when you are empowered to manage it as you wish, not disempowered by the dictates of any cult.