It’s Called Credibility!

Today I was talking with a woman who has been reading the Newsletters and visiting the website for six months or so. She’s looking for help for her husband who’s had a “problem” for over 20 years.


This is the part where I get to point out that they both have the same problem, and most spouses don’t want to hear it – they just want agreement that their wife or husband has the problem and that problem is DRINKING!

That’s not to say that the drinking isn’t a problem, it apparently is, though what constitutes a “problem” varies wildly from one couple to another. But remembering that alcohol abuse is a symptom rapidly gets us to the realization that the first problem is the mutual one – neither spouse has any credibility with the other.

That’s right, by the time we get a call, there isn’t any belief left that the drinker is going to fix the problem, nor is there any belief that the spouse isn’t going to continue to tolerate it.


The caller said the “problem” had existed throughout their 20 years of marriage and she couldn’t imagine why he hadn’t “fixed” it. Why would he?

She said she’d been to Alanon but that turned out to just be a bunch of women whining about their husband’s drinking as a way of pretending they were doing something about it (see: The Bucket of Crabs, or Why AA and Alanon are Bad For Your Health,) But, I noted, that’s what AA and Alanon are supposed to accomplish – helping the drinker and the spouse both pretend they are doing something when they’re not, and don’t intend to.

I did point out that it is pointless to look for help for someone else. Not only pointless, but counterproductive. She tracks down “help” for him and, badgered, he goes off to “treatment” which predictably doesn’t “work” and he gets to blame her because she picked the “wrong program.”

Stalemated again.

On the other hand, if she’d focus on fixing her part of the dance – tolerating his behavior – and gain some of the credibility she’s never had, then he might have to actually do something about his half of their mutual problem. But that would mean acknowledging her half of the problem, something spouses, women and men alike, are loathe to do.

And here’s where decades of AA/12 Step brainwashing victimizes everyone. After all, if the person abusing alcohol was actually “powerless over their disease” then there’s nothing to be done.

But since people stop abusing alcohol all the time it’s clearly a choice, not a disease. That being the case, there is a lot that can be done if neither the drinker nor whoever else is affected gets to hide behind the AA mantra.
It’s interesting that a small percentage of our clients are the spouses who come to us for deprograming and to learn how to assertively deal with a recalcitrant spouse.

It’s more interesting when we work with couples to sort out what part they each play in their dysfunctional dance and discover what’s really being medicated and tolerated, and how to create a functional partnership.

That means both parties assuming responsibility for their own contributing behaviors, and changing their part of the dance. That can actually be an adventure into creating intimacy where none has existed – one of the most common contributing factors to alcohol abuse.

Or you can continue to enjoy “the security of familiar miseries” and the false superiority and victimhood of your current day-to-day life.

Which, like misusing alcohol, is a choice. What’ll yours be? Either of you?

Shouldn’t Your Life be About Doing Stuff?

Exactly how do you build a life around not doing something? But that’s all AA has to offer. That and competing for the Drunkalogue Prize In Fiction.
Time, folks, is our only finite resource. And when it runs out do you really want to say, “I spent 27 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, 13 hours, and 47 seconds not drinking!”


What happened to being engaged in life? Having significant relationships (something, by the way, AA expressly forbids)? Achieving your own unique potential? Developing insight, tolerance, appreciation of others, and a balanced life?

Ah, no. You need to stay away from “Normies”, hide out in meetings, avoid thinking, smother your abilities and interests, and conform to the cult.

Unless you’re a predator, of course, and then you get to prey on the endless supply of highly vulnerable victims that AA gladly supplies you with. I suppose that would qualify as “doing something.”

So let’s just set that “non-option” aside and get back to actually living.

What would it look like if you could build on your unique preferences, interests, abilities, and circumstances? What actually motivates you? What’s missing that you are choosing to self-medicate rather than achieve, relax, enjoy, and appreciate?

Looking at alcohol abuse for what it is, – “putting in time waiting to die,” is how one client phrased it – why not try living? What have you got to lose?
That’s a question I can answer. You may have to give up anxiety, loneliness, boredom, depression, isolation, and…..

And the price?

Some short term discomfort of the sort every ex-smoker expected, altered personal relationships – usually for the better, and rejecting the “security of familiar miseries.”

That last one is the biggie.

We’re all creatures of habit and too much of the time we will settle for the predictable, no matter how awful, rather than take a chance where the outcome is uncertain. We like our patterns and the assurances that repetition brings. And we like medicating today away and avoiding thinking about the future. Even the short term future.

But you, our clients, former clients, and potential clients, you want something more. If you didn’t you’d either be drinking, attending a meeting, or both.

As we frequently suggest, why not give living a chance? You can always go back to drinking if you decide you don’t like it.