Last week’s Newsletter contained a link to the L.A. Times article You Can Cut Back and we encourage you to read it.
Needless to say, this article engendered a flurry of responses, mostly hostile, everywhere it appeared. But it also elicited a few informed responses citing the research that supports the points the article makes, as well as our own research and program.
So, in line with our goal of changing “what everyone knows” when it comes to treating alcohol misuse, abuse, and dependency, we’d like to restate some of points that “everyone knows” that just plain aren’t true:
No, folks, alcohol abuse isn’t a “disease”. It’s a coping device we get into the habit of using because it works in the short term (very short term) as an antidote to boredom, loneliness, and anxiety, among other things. Of course it also prevents us from creating real long term solutions to these same problems, and, in fact, increases the depression and isolation that makes the problems worse.
No, you aren’t “powerless”. Far from it. Alcohol abuse is a choice and you can un-make that choice at any time. It is however true that a belief in “powerlessness” is the #1 predictor of relapse as well as being a popular excuse for not fixing the problem.
“Hitting bottom” not only isn’t necessary, it’s stupid. As with any condition, medical or otherwise, the earlier it’s addressed the better the prognosis – and the more outcome options (ie, moderation vs abstinence) you’ll have.
“Everyone goes to 30, 60, or 90 days of rehab”. Wrong. These models generally have less than a 5% “success” rate, require abstinence, and saddle you with an inappropriate and life-long public label that will continue to damage the rest of your life.
“AA and the 12 Steps are effective solutions to alcohol abuse.” There is no research that supports the idea that AA and the 12 Steps are any more effective than doing nothing. While some people obviously do find this helpful, these programs prevent even more people from finding relief. Most simply use the program to justify continued and increased drinking.
“Alcohol abuse can to treated in isolation.” The misuse of alcohol occurs within the context of your day-to-day life and that’s where it will be fixed as well. Excluding spouses from participating in treatment is just another way of promoting relapse.
Reality? You can leave your alcohol problems behind and a variety of really effective approaches and tools exist to help you do so These include the short term use of anti-craving meds, CBT, Motivational Interviewing, and professional counseling among other options.
Abstinence, while appropriate in many cases, isn’t necessarily the only option. Moderation and Harm Reduction are appropriate considerations with early intervention.
So, if you want personal, effective, and confidential short term help to leave your alcohol problems behind, we’re always here to discuss your options.
How Does Your Spouse Benefit From Your Drinking?
That may seem like a dumb question but, in fact, the spouses of people who eliminate their alcohol abuse often find themselves having unexpectedly mixed emotions about the change.
When we’re working with couples we not only suggest that the client do a “Cost/Benefit Analysis” of their drinking vs not drinking, but we ask the spouse to do one too. Spouses are often surprised to learn what they’re getting out of your drinking.
- They are always the “good one”;
- All problems are due to your drinking;
- Their problems are masked by your drinking problem;
- They’ve been free to develop a life independent of you;
- You have no grounds for complaint – about anything;
- You have no vote in family decisions;
- And so on…..
This is just another example of why we include spouses in our work with clients whenever possible.
With all of the mythology that treatment programs have crammed down our throats over the past 50 years it’s hard to sort out the realities. But alcohol abuse does occur and exist within the context of your daily life – it’s not a disease.
That being the case, eliminating it is a matter of developing awareness, creating and practicing alternatives, and finding support within your most important personal relationships whenever possible.
Mutual good will, humor, and an appreciation of one another will do far more to help you achieve success than hiding out in a cult.
Odds and Ends
It’s that time of year when we too start looking back over 2009 and ahead to 2010. Here are just a few of the things we’ve noticed:
On average, the Newsletter gains a new reader every day and you come not only from the U.S. but also from Canada, Australia, Mexico, England, France, and a dozen other countries.
60% of you read it every week – Thank you!
Compared to last year, daily visitors to our website are increasing by 35%.
The slowest day of the year on the site? Thanksgiving!
And here’s the big surprise. The busiest day of the year? Super Bowl Sunday!!!! Must be a lot of annoyed spouses out there.
Please! There’s still a slot or two available before Christmas and another couple in January. There is no better present to give yourself, or those you love, than the gift of a life free from alcohol abuse.
Let us help you fix it now!
As always, for information or just to talk, one of us answers the phone personally from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Pacific Time, Monday – Thursday, unless we are with clients, or from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
If we don’t answer, leave your name and number and one of us will usually be able to get back to you within an hour.