The Real “Steps” to Overcoming Alcohol Abuse

Between us, Mary Ellen and I have over 30 years of experience helping people leave alcohol abuse behind. We use that experience, along with real research and our clients’ experiences, to create individual solutions that will actually work for you.

Here are the “Real Steps” that make up our full recovery program

1. It’s not the alcohol, it’s your life! Forget the focus on drinking and demeaning labels and concentrate on creating your life. Think about building fulfilling relationships along with satisfaction in your professional, social, and recreational life. The alcohol abuse won’t just disappear, but it will cease to be a problem, as it takes up less and less time and fills fewer unmet needs.

2. What do you value? What are your private and personal motivations? Health? Family? Career? Vanity? It helps to start by focusing on one or two and then actively building on what really matters to you.

3. Pick your peer group with care. Hang out with the people who are leading the kind of life you want to lead. Avoid the losers with their negative focus, labels, and infantile slogan-riddled existence. Don’t fall into The Bucket of Crabs.

4. Creating your own life really does work! You can manage your own behavior and you can enjoy health, self-respect, improved relationships, productivity, reduced stress, along with happiness and contentment.

5. Engage your loved ones. Remember, habits and behaviors exist within the context of your day-to-day life. No, other people aren’t responsible for your choice to drink, but they are affected by both your choice to abuse alcohol and your decision to stop. Think about how they can help you, and ask. Focus on the present and future, and let the past go.

6. Plan! Becoming an alcohol abuser probably wasn’t your plan, but changing this does require planning, focus, attention, and effort. Unplanned time is not your friend and you’ll have trouble changing what you’re unwilling to track.

7. Aim high. Aspire to more and better things. Do you want your legacy to be that you were a slave to your urges or that you contributed to the world? That you were just an “alcoholic” or a person with real accomplishments? Decide what you’d like to focus on, at least for now, and start!

8. Finally, remember to be gentle with yourself. Reverses happen and we all occasionally repeat old habits or dabble in another self-destructive one. That’s not failure. That’s learning. We just need to get up, dust ourselves off, and continue. No, we don’t go back to “zero” and start over, mindlessly counting days of life-sucking “recovery”.

Got it? Good. Ready to give your life a chance? Give us a call and let’s get started. Today!

Assertiveness, Anyone?

We’re always looking for common themes among our clients (not to mention ourselves) and how these play into alcohol abuse. Over the past 20 years a number of traits have emerged as contributory factors.

What are the conditions that lead many of us to seek relief through alcohol abuse?

While the ones we often share are loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and escape, the traits that lead to these conditions and the need to escape are often rooted in intelligence, sensitivity, and a fear-based (as opposed to anger-based) personality.

As complicated as this all sounds, it usually comes down to problems within our personal relationships. Afraid to assert ourselves, we allow ourselves to be taken for granted, neglected, abused, and/or exploited.

In return, we drink to ease the resulting loneliness and, often, as a passive-aggressive way of getting back at our spouses, other family members or boy/girl friends. But that backfires and only reinforces our “one down” feelings and position.

The solution? Assertiveness training – which is, of course, anathema to the AA/12 Step based philosophy that stresses “powerlessness” and victumhood and their adherents’ inability to deal with other people (the fear of “normies”).

Is it really any surprise that traditional treatment usually fails and even results in increased alcohol abuse?

Instead, we work with clients to replace passivity, stigma, and depression with assertiveness, confidence, and health.

Yes, it’s tough to change established habits and responses, but it’s better than continuing to sacrifice yourself to neglect, manipulation, and abuse, whether it’s self-inflicted or comes from others.

Odds and Ends

If you’re a new subscriber, or if you’re wondering about something you read in a previous Newsletter, most of the newsletters are archived on the website under the tab labeled – you guessed it – “Newsletters“!

More popular links:

Resources For You! for the Goal Setting; Cost/Benefit Analysis; and Weekly Planner Models – all free and available again for the 2010.

Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference, don’t care, and will gladly burden you with an inappropriate and damaging label that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Women and Alcohol – What To Consider In Treatment and why women need and deserve services built around women’s needs, not just another recycled (and failed) men’s program – which is all anyone else has to offer.

Confidentiality, why you want to avoid residential treatment, groups of all kinds, and/or using insurance for treatment or medications.

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


And, as usual, whether you need to abstain or cut back, or discover what’s possible for you, we’re here to help.

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.