John, our favorite Australian correspondent, wrote to note that a lot of people don’t really want to hear that their alcohol abuse is a choice – and so is fixing it. That came as no surprise to us. After all, what better excuse for continuing drinking than having a “disease” over which you are “powerless”? And for parents wanting to avoid dealing with their adult children’s behavior, well, why not decide that it’s a “disease” rather than a choice? All in all it’s no surprise that many people prefer this option but it doesn’t come without costs.
First, since it isn’t true, there is always that nagging guilt that you ought to be doing something about your drinking and, let’s face it, you know it really is a choice. Second, if you insist on adhereing to this model, then you’re stuck with the AA model being your only way out – and that’s a really really ineffective and demeaning way out, even when it works. Third, you’re also stuck with declaring yourself to be less than equal to the rest of us – “us” being the dreaded “normies” or those of us who gave up our alcohol abuse and rejoined the ranks of normal. Fourth, you have to be willing to assume the “alcoholic” label with all of the private and public costs associated with that FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! Fifth, well, we think you get the point, don’t you?
So! Do you want to fix your drinking problem or maintain it? That’s really the first choice you need to make. And if you want to fix it, then you just need to opt for help that actually works. It’s not rocket science – but it might feel like it once you start enjoying the benefits of being a liberated adult, not a diseased and over-age child! Remember! If you want to quit or modify your drinking, success depends on who you surround yourself with – including where you look for help.
Simply put, your drinking problems exist within the context of your everyday life and no one influences that, or is affected by it, more than the people closest to you. When you change a significant behavior it affects them and they will react in ways that either support or sabotage the change. Sometimes both. Equally importantly, when looking for help, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who want to help and also know how! Most people, especially most “Treatment Professionals”, don’t have a clue as indicated in a project I did for the Drug Free Schools Program way back in 1992. The project conducted Drug and Alcohol Education for teachers and other interested community members in Kodiak, Alaska. This included a pre- and post-test of basic information. The results? Everyone who participated did better on the tests than any of the Certified Chemical Dependency Counselors tested then or since! Why? Because most of the questions could be answered by using common sense – and community members hadn’t been brain washed with a lot of treatment industry bunk.
What does all this mean?
It means that if you want to end your drinking problems you need to include your spouse if you are married or involved, and be damn careful who you decide to hang out with. That includes taking a close look at who you might ask for help. Remember! You want to associate with people who are living the way you want to and in ways that appeal to you. Don’t expect those who’ve decided to continue with an alcohol focused life to help you leave that behind. That’s never going to happen. Remember – if you want to follow the ex-smokers’ model and become an ex-drinker, or an ex-problem-drinker, then let us help you figure out exactly what’s going to work for you.
Alcohol, abuse? Been there, done that, got over it. Are you ready to say the same?
© Copyright 2010 by Edward Wilson, Ph.D., MAC, therapist in Rolling Hills Estates, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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