Okay, Halloween and the World Series or over…
…and the Super Bowl is a long ways away. In between we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and other assorted holidays. Do you suppose that for this year you might consider giving yourself, and everyone who cares about you, holidays unblemished by excessive alcohol use?
Now there’s a novel idea.
We know – and how will you have any fun if you aren’t ruining the events for everyone else?
When we’re drinking a lot we start turning anything into an excuse to drink even more. Holidays, no matter how obscure, problems no matter how minor, weekends plus days that start with the letter “T” and because we did, or didn’t, run into an old friend.
Things we actually used to do because we enjoyed them, become modified: fishing is drinking in a boat; skiing is drinking at the lodge; golf and tennis are drinking at the club; camping in drinking in the RV park; and so on and on and on.
We also begin, increasingly, to surround ourselves with people whose own drinking patterns reflect and reinforce ours, and fail to notice that not everyone is drinking the way we do. After all, we say, I’m just a normal drinker having fun. However, our definition of normal has been skewed all the way out to the tip of the bell shaped curve.
Astonish as it may seem, one of the things current as well as former clients report, is that the world is not full of people who over indulge in alcohol – people they hadn’t noticed in a very long time. People who even seemed to be having a good time. Imagine that.
I can empathize with you. 35 years ago if you’d told me my life would have been, happier without vodka, Harleys, cigarettes, and my riding and drinking buddies John, Lowell, and Greg, I’d have though my life would be over and reduced to a long dreary slog. Even with age bestowing its mixed blessings, I’m happier, my friends aren’t drinking buddies, I’m reasonably productive, and – as these dates near – holidays are fun times when I get to share my considerably baking skills with friends and families of the kind I never had.
What might you be missing? There’s still time to discover what you can have before another year disappears into the alcohol induced fog.
A former client wrote that it’s taken her 3+ years to absorb and act on all that we recommended. But whether it’s 3 days or 3 years it’s still a process and we don’t alter our habitual lives instantly, even when we quit misusing alcohol.
For most of us, and I’m no exception, stopping the self-medication is only the beginning and that’s where our work with you differs from other “programs” – we recognize that alcohol isn’t the primary problem, though it may have grown to be the obvious and over-riding one. But removing the drinking merely exposes the conditions and issues you’ve been avoiding dealing with.
Very little of our work with you involves quitting or moderating your drinking. Most of it has to do with defining what you’re medicating AND developing on-going strategies and skills for coping rather than medicating. And there are a host of alternatives.
In the short run, the benign anti-craving medication Naltrexone helps about 70% of our clients remain less distracted while evaluating and implementing changes in their lives that range from minor to major. That assistance usually last about 3-6 months.
CBT takes time to internalize – which is how it works, not by going to a CBT therapist unless she/he is helping you with that process, which shouldn’t take more than 6-8 weeks. Additionally, we provide clients with a guided 6 week course I CBT as part of follow-up. CBT works really well for anxiety and depression, but only when you learn to do it by yourself and for yourself.
Motivational Enhancement is just a fancy way of exploring what actually motivates you – not what’s supposed to – and seeing how to marshal that into your support mechanism arsenal.
Assertiveness Training helps with unbalanced personal and/or professional relationships – usually the former more than the latter. Again, it takes time, attention and effort to move out of the passive/passive-aggressive posture many of us harbor behind put drinking.
The list goes on. For women, weight training and kick boxing for depression, assertiveness and escaping AA.
Diet and exercise help with most every aspect of our lives including replacing drinking habits and rituals with more interesting ones.
Finally, “Support Groups.” Any group that is focused on alcohol and other drugs, including food, is not a support group A support group is any number of people pursuing an activity you either like, used to like, or think you might like, which is not comparable with drinking, whose members know nothing about you history, which you don’t ever wish to bring up.
All of these adjustments, replacements, and skills take time to incorporate but you don’t have to, and can’t, do it quickly. You can refine the process, prioritize, and get a good enough start to keep you motivated to continue.
That’s what we offer. The foundation that allows you to continue and to take justifiable pride in your accomplishments. Your accomplishments!