Are you an “Alcoholic?”

Recently a subscriber wrote to say, “Interesting but I live in Miami. So after a week with you it is just phone calls and back to home alone. I would like to try but since I haven’t convinced myself that I am truly an alcoholic, I would be wasting my money again. Thanks.”

Of course she’s right, for as far as it goes. Like Henry Ford noted, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!”

Looking a bit more closely at the writer’s statements, it’s easy to pick out the fallacies that probably help keep her stuck, and the CBT processes that could help get her unstuck.

“But I live in Miami.” Is simply irrelevant. Our clients come from all over the world, including Miami, and geography has no bearing on outcomes, though attitude certainly does.

“So after a week with you it is just phone calls and back to home alone,” minimizes what occurs during the intensive week as well as discounting the ongoing support, encouragement, tweaking, hand-holding, coaching, and processing that occur throughout the 3 months of follow-up. Again, it’s a case of creating a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

Of course “and back to home alone,” pretty well sets out at least one of the problems being medicated rather than addressed.

Which brings us to “I would like to try but since I haven’t convinced myself that I am truly an alcoholic, I would be wasting my money again,” brings up an additional set of beliefs, the sort fostered by AA and the 12 Steppers – that you have to “admit to being an alcoholic” in order to be “saved.” Nonsense.

The vast majority of our clients aren’t “alcoholics,” but are abusing alcohol as a symptom of underlying loneliness, anxiety, boredom, unbalanced lives, role loss, hormone shifts, grief, etc.

The other implied assumption is that you’re wasting your time and money unless you believe the AA propaganda. Apparently the writer has been stung at least once by the 12 Step model but hasn’t yet been deprogrammed from the brainwashing.

All of this is, really, just sad. Most of you who have worked with us know that your alcohol abuse disappeared when you fixed whatever mosaic of conditions you formerly medicated. For a lot of you we offered the brief, early intervention that has proven to be the most effective means of regaining control and leaving the miss-use of alcohol behind, whether you ever drink again or not.

But this writer won’t be joining you. She likes the excuses, and the drinking, – and avoiding the responsibility for her decisions – more than she wants to make the effort to change her currently unsatisfactory day-to-day life.

Of course she’s welcome to make that choice, and continue to list reasons why she can’t possibly change. And, as Mr. Ford noted, “she’s right!”

And you?

Thanksgiving is Over, But the Other Holidays Remain

Whether or not you escaped Thanksgiving unscathed, or even quite happily, the challenges of the season are hardly over.

It doesn’t matter much if you are the one with the drinking problem, or had a problem, or are involved with someone who does, or just trying avert disasters that involve alcohol, the same suggestions apply:

  • Remember that abusing alcohol is a choice, not a “disease;”
  • Do not reward another’s alcohol fueled acting out with attention – either positive or negative;
  • Do not protect yourself or others by avoiding the appropriate use and serving of alcohol at celebrations any more than you would skip serving food because Uncle Oscar and Aunt Minnie are obese;
  • Do not feel obliged to attend functions where others’ alcohol abuse may encourage you to join in;
  • Don’t feel you must include someone – anyone – whose on-going alcohol abuse has ruined previous festive occasions. That includes parents, siblings, and/or anyone else;
  • If you want to be supportive of another’s efforts – whether it’s managing alcohol, food, type II diabetes, or any other self-inflicted problem area – ask them what they might find helpful. Don’t assume you know. You don’t;
  • Do not elect yourself Chief of the Alcohol Police. That is guaranteed to be the absolutely worst thing you could do.

That pretty well covers the holiday list. Remember, please, to take good care of yourself and do not allow others to dictate what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do. “Thou shall not ‘should’ thyself,” is the commandment for December.

May the upcoming weeks be worth remembering in all of the best possible ways.