In early November, 2009, we received a call from a woman in PA who’d decided that it was time to fix a long standing problem. Six months later she wrote this review. It remains as timely and accurate now and then and we thank her for permission to run it once again as a two part lead article.

Hi Mary Ellen and Ed,

I wanted to write this letter to express my gratitude and appreciation for the non-12 step program you have put together and also for how professionally and caringly you execute it. The best part for me is that it really works!

I have re-written this letter many times because I wanted it to be exactly right, but I am throwing in the towel because I’m not sure I can convey in words how thankful I am for the profound changes in my life that were made possible by attending your outpatient program and utilizing your ongoing support after I went back home (which lasted much longer than the 90 days promised I might add).

I have not had a drink in the six months since I attended your program. I am 51 years old and I cannot actually remember a time since I was 16 when I have not had a drink for six months. I tried to quit the first time when I was 23. My mom had just gotten out of a 12 step rehab and I jumped right on the bandwagon because I already knew I was not a “normal” drinker and 12 step programs were the only thing around. It lasted about a week. After listening to some of the people at the meetings, I decided my drinking was normal compared to theirs!

I quit a number of times over the next 27 years. The longest was for 3 months and it was tough. I tried attending AA meetings but they were just not for me. I couldn’t relate to the people, I thought the steps were ridiculous and after talking about drinking so much at the meetings, I couldn’t wait to get home to have one. That first step really got me – I could never admit I was powerless over alcohol. Many times I certainly felt powerless, but I always knew the ability to change was inside myself somewhere. I just didn’t have the right tools.

Over the years, my drinking got heavier and my resolve to quit got weaker. I could never find a substitute for the fast-acting stress reliever and fear eliminator that alcohol was to me. I drank a large bottle of chardonnay (or more) every single night. The good thing was I could compartmentalize my drinking so well that no one outside of my family would have guessed I had a problem. However, it was also the bad thing because even though no one could see the effects the alcohol was having, I could feel them – mentally, spiritually and physically.

At 50 I had a midlife crisis and decided to leave my job of many years and started a business with a partner. I found I drank even more then, and I felt I was not able to pull my weight because I was either drinking or recovering from drinking. Every morning when I woke up feeling sick I would swear to myself I wasn’t going to drink again. But by 5p.m., I forgot all about those promises and couldn’t wait for my first glass of wine. I had pretty much lost interest in any activities that did not involve drinking and lost much of my motivation to exercise my body and my mind.

I finally came to the realization that I could not fix this on my own and I knew I needed to find some help before I got really sick. A 12 step program was not going to be the answer for me. I also could not see myself “going away” for 30 or more days to a residential program. No one except those closest to me even knew I had a problem and I didn’t want them to find out. So, I started looking for other options. I did lots of research using the Internet and found your web site.
Everything there made sense to me and for the first time in a very long time, I felt a glimmer of hope that there might be a way out. I printed out a number of the materials available on the web site, reviewed them and thought about it for a few days. I was too scared to make the phone call but on a day when I was so hung over I was shaking, I dialed the number.
I was relieved to get a machine but then all of a sudden, Ed came on the phone. And I started talking a mile a minute. I ended up speaking with him at length and then with Mary Ellen a few days later. You were both easy to confide in, you understood what I was talking about and I really liked the fact that your program included a combination of anti-craving medication, cognitive therapy and meditation. I reserved my week before I chickened out and sent a deposit before I even told my husband.”

Next week we’ll add the results of Mrs. D’s work with us, and a P.S. from her now, 3 years later.

Using the holidays for yourself, not against yourself…

The former client who wrote the above evaluation, later noted that she was glad she’d come just before the holidays so that she didn’t need to spend a year worrying about how she was going to manage the holidays. She quickly learned that she could and did and it has never been a concern since.

Others, including the couple from the article two weeks ago, took advantage of their academic schedule to work with us over Christmas break, specifically the week after Christmas.

Another brave individual decided she could compress the program into the three days she had before Thanksgiving if we were willing to give that a try. We agreed, with some trepidation, she worked extra hard, and she too succeeded.

The message?

We’ll work with you as we have with all of the examples we’re reporting. It’s your program, not ours. We work with you, as an individual, or a couple. Not groups. We’re not interested in brainwashing you into a cult, a “program,” a “disease” or a lifetime “in recovery.”

The holidays are again approaching, we are booking November and December dates. How can we accomodate your scheduling needs so that you, and those you care about, get the gift of a real holiday and season this year and next year too?