For those of you who are married or involved, we do like to have your partners/spouses included in your work with us, at least for part of the time.
It’s simple, really. They, like you, need to be deprogrammed from all of the 12 Step mythology that pervades our culture like kudzu. This includes long debunked ideas such as:
- Alcohol abuse is a “disease”;
- You must be “in recovery” for the rest of your life;
- You can never ever have another drink;
- If you do, you have “relapsed” and must start all over;
- AA “works”;
- It’s the only thing that does;
There are many more, but we’re sure you get the idea.
The problem with having absorbed all of these false notions is that they can get in the way of resolving your alcohol abuse and also prevent those close to you from being appropriately and effectively supportive. It helps when everyone is on the same page and that’s another area where we can help you to succeed.
In addition to “deprogramming,” it’s also important that your “significant others” anticipate the loss of the benefits they derive from your drinking, especially as many are astonished to learn just what an extensive list this amounts to.
- Your drinking has cost you your vote in family/marital decision making;
- Your “problem” over-shadows others’ problems;
- You don’t necessarily remember what you did, or did not, agree to;
- Your re-engagement may interfere with routines that haven’t involved you or taken you into consideration;
- You may no longer be the automatic “bad guy.”
Yes, there are, and will be, off-setting benefits, but it’s good to be prepared for the mixed emotions that you, and those close to you, will experience and not be blindsided. Unconscious sabotage will occur less frequently, and less destructively, when it’s seen as simply a normal part of the process of altering your life and the lives of those close to you.
Nobody Really Cares!
We hear it every week – “What am I going to say?” – whether to friends, family members, waiters, colleagues and so on.
Another of those enduring myths, and one we’ve been telling ourselves to avoid fixing the problem, is that all of these other people actually care.
With the exception of family, they don’t!
Again, the reality is, that as long as you aren’t interfering with others’ drinking, no one cares whether you’re drinking or not! Imagine that. Really. No one cares.
Chances are your spouse and children care, since your drinking negatively impacts them. They care, though they, in the short run, won’t like giving up the “benefits” they derive from your alcohol abuse. Benefits, we hasten to add, they are usually unaware of until they disappear (see previous article).
Yes, you favorite bartenders and waitresses will care – we’ve had them text clients to see why they weren’t on their usual bar stool – but that’s merely financial self-interest. Believe us, they don’t actually care about you.
As for everyone else, for the most part, they just want you to be comfortable as any good host or friend would. It’ll take them about 2 seconds to adjust to an altered expectation.
No, you don’t have to explain, label yourself, demean yourself or put others out. You can simply say, truthfully, that you’re giving your body a break, or you just don’t feel like it, or your taking meds incompatible with alcohol (Naltrexone, for example), but you don’t need to say much more than no thanks. You will be shocked at how easily everyone adapts.
With one exception. You probably have friends who have been using you as their “comparison group,” as in “I don’t have a problem. Just look at ——-, now she/he has a problem!” These “friends” will not like losing the one person who may be making their drinking look okay. You’ll likely lose them, but, really, will that be any big loss?
One last item. As the holidays approach, some people who learn that you are drinking anymore may decide that that means they shouldn’t be serving wine or other alcohol at festive dinners. Reassure them, if asked, that it’s perfectly okay to serve whatever they want. After all, Uncle Harry and Aunt Maude, both obese, will be there and that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t serve food.