Yesterday was Independence Day here in the U.S. and we think it’s appropriate to take a moment and celebrate not only political independence, but also independence from alcohol abuse and from programs that spread their own brand of dependence.

You don’t have to be “in recovery”. You can be recovered, an ex-drinker, and a full fledged adult. Don’t settle for anything less!


Last week we talked about “adult development” and how that relates to alcohol abuse. Interestingly, one of the ways in which we help you is to give you permission to live your life, your way.

That’s exactly the opposite of what “True Believers” are selling. They’re sure that they know what’s best for you – no matter how contrived it is.

We, on the other hand, believe that together we can help you figure out what’s best for you – and, no, it’s probably not going to look like what’s best for someone else. We respect your individuality as we do our own – and that you’re ready to leave alcohol abuse behind, not to use it to create an even more dysfunctional pseudo-life and alcoholic identity to hide behind.

Alcohol? Been there, done that.

End of that story.

Letters From Our Mailbox!

Thank you to all who have written. We do read every letter, note, e-mail, and card. Here are a few comments we’re pleased to pass along:

Thanks so much for sharing this. I had gastric bypass surgery in March of 2005 and by November had a serious problem with alcohol as a result. It was purely a case of addiction transfer. Alcohol instead of food.

I have adopted your methods of getting at the root cause of my addictive behavior with non-12 step help and have been sober for nearly eight months.

I look forward to your weekly emails…..keep them coming!



Dear Mary Ellen and Ed,

I wonder if this little musing of one individual would be of any interest to your readers?

I thank the dog next door for this insight. She’s large, athletic and sociable. Her young human companion is away a lot lately, leaving the dog alone for three to four days at a time. I hear the dog crying herself to sleep, and the other night she spent three hours whining and trying to open the back door of her house and find
someone. I was naturally concerned about the dog’s distress, so assuming she was hungry, I threw some lamb chops over the fence. She ate those rapidly and stopped banging on the door.

I asked the neighbour next time I saw him whether the dog was being fed while he was away, or did someone forget? Oh, he said, she has plenty of food, she’s putting on weight. She just has “separation anxiety.”

So, you see, it’s the dog that has the problem, complete with phoney professional-sounding label. It’s not that her human has abandoned her and she is desperately lonely, as any sociable animal including a human would be when deprived of contact for so long, and confined to a small yard.

But it made me think of the bureaucratised, medicalised society we live in now, and how far we are getting from simply taking responsibility for our actions and their consequences. We don’t seem to want to believe in our freedom and independence any more. We’ve lost confidence in our own resilience to recover from difficulty, and in the ability and willingness of friends and family to support us.

Here’s another example. I read that psychiatrists and psychologists are now considering a whole new label – Post Traumatic Bitterness Syndrome, suffered by those who thirst for vengeance after being wronged in some way. I’m not making this up . So, even if you have suffered real injustice or injury, soon there will be a pill to relieve you, and guess who’s busily manufacturing it now, and counting the potential profits?

The lap banding story Mary Ellen and Ed told in the newsletter was also instructive about this syndrome. I’m a helpless over-eater – someone shut off my stomach, please!

We can counter this trend in society simply and effectively, I have found, with help from the ideas and practices of Mary Ellen and Ed, and other freedom fighters. I discovered, in helping a friend with a severe drinking problem, and in looking at my own life, that the first step – not of 12, just of two – is resisting the trend of
society, and 12-steppers in particular, towards labeling people as diseased and powerless and in need of “spiritual” intervention or medical treatment.

I think we need to be more aware of the strength of this social pressure, and it’s taking many forms. In schools, for example, kids who are doing badly are often given self-esteem lessons, instead of extra help to catch up on their class work. This is producing a generation with a stronger sense of entitlement than of
responsibility and self-discipline. Surely self-esteem comes from real achievement, from developing and applying whatever talents we have, not from coaching kids into feeling victimised and entitled.

So step one is resisting society’s labelling and medicalisation and regaining belief in our own powers and strengths. They have always been there. We simply have to believe in them and start back down that road. It’s a bit harder than sitting back and waiting for some expert to “lapband” our problem. But it’s the road to reward,
satisfaction and success.

Step two comes from the encouragement and sound ideas and support that Mary Ellen and Ed and other enlightened helpers are providing nowadays. My friend has recovered from her alcohol problem by exploring and applying the simple idea that she is free and independent and can make a choice about whether to ever have that first drink. She has decided not to. She has abandoned AA and her “sponsor.” She has been living happily thereafter, free from that bad and damaging habit.

Best of all, with these ideas firmly grasped, my friend has a sound footing on the road ahead, with no idea at all of “relapse,” nor of any other excuse for letting go of her natural strength and resolve, which she has aplenty.

I think these ideas are vital, not just to recovery from bad habits but for appreciating and preserving our freedom and independence, on which democracy is founded. For if we can’t govern ourselves, how can we participate properly in governing our country?



Dear Mary Ellen and Ed,

Thanks for your newsletter information about the dire consequences for the victims of this latest profiteering sham perpetrated by the Medical/Industrial Complex. A few weeks ago while driving, I happened upon an interview on KPFK. I didn’t catch the name of the speaker, a member of Congress and a physician, if I understood correctly. What struck me in the brief time I listened was that Americans had more to fear from the Medical/Industrial Complex than the Military/Industrial Complex !

The Pharmaceutical juggernaut has replaced the tobacco industry in deception through perpetual media advertising that should be condemned the same way we here in California eradicated Joe Camel! (I recognize the Madison Avenue skulduggery of the ads modeled on the tobacco industry’s very effective seduction of the public).

I wrote you both a card on Friday, but the mail carrier failed to take them on Saturday, so now they won’t be mailed until today. Suffice it to say that it was intended to express my gratitude for your input and support.


Tools From Our Shelf

As we mentioned last week, we use Dr. Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test which measures how you interact with the world – it’s your perspective and point of view. It has a lot to offer when interpreting alcohol use and abuse.

We give the test to every client and usually to their spouses as well – it also informs us as to how the two of them relate to each other.

Since 1985 Ed has interpreted over 5,000 SCTs for dozens of projects, universities, individuals, clinics, and the military. Beginning later this summer we’ll be offering the SCT to people through our web site at $79 per test.

If you’re interested now, as a Newsletter reader, you can get the SCT plus scoring, interpretation, and how you compare to AA zealots
for only $49.

To do this, just e-mail Ed at and request either the women’s or men’s form (or both).

Let us help you start unraveling the fascinating mystery, and research project, you are!


Don’t forget, you’re welcome to download our freebies – the Cost Benefit Analysis tool; Long Term Goal Planner; and Weekly Planner at: Resources For You!


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.

Toll Free From the Lower 48 or Canada: 888-541-6350

In Los Angeles, or from Alaska: 760-580-5758

Or e-mail: