Regardless of the problem, there’s neither a good time nor a bad time to choose to fix it.
That’s right – fixing any problem means choosing to be uncomfortable with the necessary changes to your established habits for a while. But that’s true no matter when, or how, you decide it’s time.
As with breaking up with your high school boyfriend or girlfriend, there were dozens of reasons to postpone and avoid the discomfort with the result that many of us waited for graduation to do it for us. Unhappily, with alcohol abuse, “graduation” means death, which isn’t all that great a way to end bad habit.
Still, most of us will put off making a concrete decision, setting a time, and taking the necessary actions, to leave alcohol, or any other problems, behind.
This is where it helps if we know ourselves well enough to recognize what we’re doing and outsmart ourselves at the same time. That means that we understand that “choosing not to decide” is also a choice, and it’s one that’s going to be just as unsatisfactory as the choice to drink has become.
Knowing this, you have a number of options:
- You can choose to set a date and then rope yourself into acting when that time comes – many clients do this by reserving a week that’s two or three months away;
- You can choose to stop on your own for a period of time – a month, six months, a year – and see what happens when that moratorium ends. Most people who try this find that they immediately revert to their old patterns, or worse, since they haven’t addressed the issues, merely put in “white knuckle” time;
- You can decide to address the underlying issues, get some real help, and see how you feel about things in six months or a year;
- You can also do nothing, decide that you prefer drinking to living, do so openly, and allow others to make their own choices regarding their relationships, or lack thereof, with you.
Realistically, that’s pretty much the laundry list of possibilities with one exception.
You can also choose to join AA, deny responsibility for your drinking and drunken behaviors because you are “powerless over your disease;” blame others for your drinking by accusing them of interfering with you “working your program;” preclude having any meaningful relationships other than the one you have with alcohol; and engage in the pseudo-intimacy of drunkalogues and predators – sexual, financial, or emotional – as exemplified by Bill W. and far too many other Steppers.
It is your choice, after all. And you are making it every day. Choose the default setting of pretending to do something about it “someday,” or the deception of joining AA.
Really, you can actually address the issues and conditions; learn to manage yourself and your life; and leave your alcohol impaired half-life behind before you die.
And your answer is?
“Did it Work?”
Inevitably, when you return from treatment, someone who knows where you’ve been will ask, “Did it work?”
This is one of the questions people ask out ignorance, the assumption that “treatment” is something that is done to you, and the pervasive influence of 12 Step mythology.
Real treatment is the foundation for a process by which you regain control over your life. It isn’t something we do “to you,” it’s something we do with you.
When we created this model we combined the best aspects of what actually works to help people discard unwanted habits. As you’ve undoubtedly read more times than you care to, what “works” are brief interventions, CBT, Naltrexone, motivational enhancement, assertiveness training, dietary considerations, and other things which, in combination, and over time, result in you substituting real coping skills for the temporary relief that alcohol provides.
It’s not, as clients nearly all note, rocket science.
It’s also not easy, takes time and effort, and will need months to sort out until life’s good enough that you have little temptation to regress to alcohol’s allure.
If someone is actually interested, they might ask, “How’s it going?” a question that acknowledges that creating a new “normal” takes some doing, and is a work in progress. It’s not a lot different than losing weight, moving to a different culture, quitting smoking, or becoming a parent.
It does help to have the right perspective which includes knowing that you’re probably not going to get it right all of the time. And that that’s okay. You simply say, “hmmm, that didn’t go so well,” dust yourself off, mine the experience for whatever information you can, and move ahead. That’s like losing 20 pounds and gaining 2 back over the holidays. No, you haven’t “relapsed” – you gained 2 lbs., are still 18 ahead, and you know how to get back to losing.
That said, your self-image, and self-esteem, will both be enhanced, and you empowered, if you eliminate the words “alcoholic,” “alcoholism,” and “relapse” from your vocabulary. They serve no positive function, unless you want to keep on drinking and evade responsibility for it. In that case, be our guest, but not our client.
Remember too, that you won’t be “in recovery.” You will simply be someone who gave up a bad habit that was interfering with your life.
Then no one will have any need to ask you any questions at all. They, like you, will have forgotten that the problem ever even existed. That’s an outcome we like and support.