We just got back from Seattle and a three day conference on “Mindfulness”. In case you’re not up on the latest jargon, “mindfulness” is the new buzzword for self-awareness with some meditation thrown in.

We were glad to see that our approach is steadily gaining independent confirmation and support. Mindfulness is an effective technique for reducing stress and also for reducing problematic behaviors.

It was actually a good conference – especially in comparison to what usually passes for presentations and presenters when alcohol treatment or rehab is the topic.

One good tip we can pass along to you is this – when you find yourself going for that drink – try the S.O.B.E.R. Breathing Space. (from Bowen, Chawla and Marlatt’s Mindfulness- Based Relapse Prevention for Substance Abuse Disorders.)

S. – Stop: pause what you are doing
O. – Observe: what is happening to your body & mind
B. – Breath: bring focus to your breath as an “anchor”
E. – Expand: awareness to your whole body & surroundings
R. – Respond: mindfully vs. automatically

Doing S.O.B.E.R. breathing gets you off of “cruise control”, which is a favorite and very bad place to go for people with alcohol abuse problems.

We particularly enjoyed a talk by Dr. Alan Marlatt of the University of Washington’s Addictive Behaviors Research Center, whose work on AA/12 Step alternatives in the world of academic research has paralleled ours in the real world for over 20 years.

As he noted, alcohol abuse as a “compensatory” behavior – and one capable of being changed, ended, or in some cases modified – is beginning to replace the Minnesota Model of alcohol abuse as being an intractable lifelong “disease” with a single “forever in recovery” solution.

If you’re interested, there is a follow-up conference in La Jolla, CA, March 25-27, 2010. You can get details at Awakening To Mindfulness.

Productive Vs Self-Destructive

There’s a downside to being smart and creative – you usually don’t get a lot of rest or respite, and you tend to find yourself either being productive or self-destructive.

That’s where the alcohol abuse frequently appears – a way to get some temporary relief from the unending demands of productivity and the loneliness that goes along with not having much in the way of peers.

There are, however, better ways to end the loneliness and the demands of creativity, though, admittedly, they take more effort than opening a bottle. Still, the results are also longer lasting and mood lifting without being self-destructive.

Alcohol is a depressant, but it’s also a “regressent”. That is, it lets us regress to a less mature state, to become a bit childish so that, for a brief period, we seem to fit in with others. It gives us the illusion of having peers.

Trouble is, it’s temporary and the results are being left feeling even lonelier.

Yes, alcohol allows us to tolerate and manage and ignore and handle, and accept. But too often it keeps us tolerating, and accepting and allowing and managing things we need to change.

That’s one of the ways in which we help – we help sort out what can be changed from what can’t and then how to go about doing that.

We also help you discover better ways to cope with what can’t be changed.

Please remember that every one of us, ourselves included, has more options and choices than we ever see all by ourselves. Let us help you see more of yours, and how to exercise them in ways that eliminate your need to abuse alcohol

Why not give us a call and see what the more productive possibilities may be for you?

Odds and Ends

We took a look through our most popular pages recently and found that you, our loyal readers, had been especially interested in the following ones:

#1. Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference

#2. Women and Alcohol – What To Consider In Treatment

#3. Resources For You! the Goal Setting; Cost/Benefit Analysis; and Weekly Planner Models

#4. Confidentiality

#5. The Bucket of Crabs or Why AA and Al-anon are Bad For Your Health

#6. “He’s Quit Drinking, When Will I get My Husband Back?” the wife’s lament (could have as easily been a husband’s) who lost her spouse to the AA cult.

Saturday is Halloween with Thanksgiving and the December holiday season right behind. Why not let us help make this year one you’ll be glad to remember and celebrate for years to come?

And, 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 Daylight 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.