First, a Thank You to All of You Who Saved Me From “Blank Page Disease”!
I do appreciate that several of you wrote expressing your status regarding alcohol use, parts of what we do your found especially helpful, what you’d like more information on, and other suggestions. Sure beats writing in the dark.
That said, I will start with the most commonly expressed “help” you took away from your work here: that the misuse of alcohol is a symptom, not an incurable progressive disease. I couldn’t agree more – it was certainly the foundation of my own escape from vodka swilling some 35 years ago, as well as my decision that I could safely return to modest drinking a dozen years ago.
The importance of understanding this basic fact is that most of the rest of the AA/12 Step nonsense falls away too. If you’re not “diseased” you aren’t “powerless.” If it’s a symptom, then you are free address whatever you’re medicating and the “symptom” will go away!
Not an “alcoholic” (whatever that is), not diseased, not powerless, and free to recover and get yourself back to living a normal – or better – life with normal – or better – people, not trapped in endless, mindless, meetings with infantile cultists.
You also escape being branded with the “Scarlet A” and you are free to lead a life uncompromised by labels, false allegations, stigma, and blackmail.
Pretty significant change from “merely” correcting you definition from “disease” to “symptom.”
Of course reforming you definition from myth to fact does not free you the work of actually fixing the issues you are medicating. Just the opposite. But now at least you have a goal worth pursuing, not just a future measured in meetings attended, Steps worked” and silliness.
A condition correctly defined is one that can usually be successfully addressed, given you are willing to make an effort, take some new risks, understand what actually motivates you, and develop some patience.
All of this is what we provide: insight, strategies, reinforcement, accountability, hand holding, commiseration, absolution, and reality. Those are expressed through CBT, motivational enhancement, assertiveness training, diet and exercise consideration, habit formation and reformation, and myriad other bits and pieces.
If you haven’t experienced this process before, don’t you think maybe it’s time to start now? Or at least make an exploratory phone call or do a free consultation? You’ve nothing to lose and a lot of relief to gain.
Another requested topic was our take on Naltrexone.
Many of you have read about the “Sinclair Method” in which Naltrexone is described as the magic bullet – merely take the drug before drinking, it will prevent you from getting the rewarding “buzz”, and as a result your desire to drink will be exterminated on the reverse Pavlovian model, “no reward, no consumption.”
As reported in the book of the same name, this worked stunningly well in Finland.
Problems? First, Naltrexone typically does have an effectiveness quotient with a genetic component – and Northern Europeans respond to it better than other, Scandinavians best of all. I also wrote “typically” because we had a Mexican client for whom it worked extremely well. Go figure.
Next, there is the more common problem of, “It worked so well I had to quit taking it. I mean, it was interfering with my drinking.” True report…
Third, while it does kill the buzz, that’s irrelevant to those who, like me, use alcohol to come down. The desired effect is the depressant one, killing the adrenaline those in high-stress situations like (our physician clients are typically surgeons and ER doctors; the lawyers are in litigation and criminal defense, for example).
And then there are the small number of folks whose bodies don’t tolerate it and therefore can’t take it.
Therefore, our recommendation is that clients take it for 3-6 months and, hopefully, will get a reduction in cravings which will make it easier to address what’s being medicated less distracted by the cravings. We hope it will neither work so well that you fix nothing and go right back to your old drinking patterns when the Rx expires, nor that it does nothing, or you react badly, in which case there is no short term benefit.
That phrase, “short term benefit,” is what counts. Sufficient relief to ease change.
For those where this is the case, we also suggest keeping a dozen on hand for when the day from hell crops up – it takes effect almost immediately and does not require ether a buildup or taper down.
Naltrexone is an excellent adjunct for many – but it neither magic nor a cure.