Passivity, Passive-Aggression, Assertiveness, Aggression

A very common characteristic our clients share is a lack of assertiveness in their personal relationships.

Attorneys, surgeons, diplomats, professional athletes, business owners, physicians, artists and a host of other successful professionals – successful because they are assertive and, when needed, aggressive in the work –  turn into passive wimps the moment they go home.

No, we’re not just talking about women here. Men are just as apt to wimp out when it comes to dealing with aggressive, controlling, “saintly” spouses.

Up until now the “solution” has been to drink. Alcohol creates a protective bubble insulating you from an abusive spouse. It’s also a great passive-aggressive “FU” aimed at a controlling spouse – “control this you miserable B——-!” It may even make an otherwise untenable marriage bearable.

Yes, with a majority of our clients the underlying cause – the problem that alcohol abuse is symptomatic of – is a major power imbalance in significant relationships.

So what happens when clients recognize this “dance” and they begin to grow from passive to assertive?

In many cases spouses will begin to either actively or passively begin sabotaging the treatment – EVEN when they are the ones demanding that you quit drinking!

Faced with the possibility of losing power, losing sainthood, and having their own problems surface, many spouses will decide that they liked the old drinking spouse a lot better than the new more assertive one.

But this isn’t a universal response. Many, many spouses recognize the benefits they have been getting from your drinking once those benefits are pointed out. Most recognize that they too are going to have to change.

And that’s why we prefer to work with couples so that all of this can be managed openly and honestly and through the weeks of follow-up when real change occurs. Change that is a product of mutual good will and good humor.

That’s how the two of you create a new and better dance that includes neither alcohol or passivity, nor passive aggression or aggression. Just two people managing a mutually assertive and intimate and satisfactory relationship.

Sound better than the same old, same old?

Real Assessment, Please!

We were looking through the most recent edition of a national magazine for alcohol and drug abuse counselors today. Various articles reported a lot of the usual 12 Step propaganda and mythology and proffered the usual completely unsupported results of AA based treatment and various other current industry scams.

That’s all bad enough, but the one issue that the “treatment industry” will never address is their financially necessary refusal to differentiate between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

We’ve written about this before, of course, particularly in our popular Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference, but it’s a problem for you that can’t be overstated.

Roughly 85% of the people seeking help with alcohol problems are abusing alcohol – not alcohol dependent “alcoholics” – yet 99% of treatment programs label everyone as alcohol dependent. Unless of course, you point out, accurately, that you aren’t, in which case they label you as “in denial” and now you need even more of their “treatment.”

We do a lot of real assessment, we work with you on what your actual needs are, we help you deal with whatever you’re self-medicating, and we do it all using the methods that research has determined fit into Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works.

And we never ever send you off to AA which actually results in most people drinking more, not less!

Yes, we suggest you take advantage of the same process that works when you are suffering from a real disease: early intervention, careful diagnosis, individualized treatment, self-management, and all of the other approaches that preserve your dignity, and ability to make choices in your own self-interest.

Do not allow yourself to be demeaned, labeled, disrespected, misdiagnosed, exploited and abused by programs that don’t care about you, your actual condition, and the personal power and resources you bring with you.

You can leave alcohol abuse, or dependence, behind and you don’t have to make it a life long process.

RECOVERED  – Not “in recovery!”