What are the top three predictors of failure when it comes to ending self-medication

  1. Believing you are powerless to change;
  2. Joining any group that espouses powerlessness and life-long “in recovery”;
  3. Continuing to do the same old behavior patterns, but trying to do them without drinking.

Let’s break these down. First, as Henry Ford one said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” When it comes to self-medication, you aren’t “powerless” unless you think you are, want to be, or have been brainwashed into believing it. The “benefit” in this belief is that you escape responsibility for your behaviors as well as avoiding future responsibility for change.

However this “belief” isn’t supported by any rational evidence. For a contrary view, consider sports psychology. Whether you’re are a receiver running down field in a football game, a baseball outfielder, or a young gymnast approaching the balance beam or a vault, you do not say to yourself, “I’m going to drop the ball!” or “I’m going to fall!” Do that and you will most assuredly fall, drop, miss, or crash and burn, one way or another.

Instead, you picture the perfect outcome, which doesn’t guarantee success but vastly increases the odds in your favor.

This naturally leads into who you decide to spend your time with. It’s been said that we tend to become the average of the 10 people we spend the most time with. That may be an exaggeration, but it is still true that our self-selected “peer group” influences almost any of us – even if that group espouses ideas that are patently false.

So, pick your friends, associates, and family members with care.

Finally, anyone’s drinking becomes a habit or ritual. As with any change, you cannot continue an old and nurtured pattern while leaving out the most rewarding part. Yet new patterns must also address whatever benefits you derived from the old ones.

All of these erroneous perceptions are, obviously, reinforced by the “disease” model which again, absolves you of responsibility but also leaves you stuck either in the bottle or endless degrading “meetings.”

Instead, think “symptom” and the bright light of reason and possibility emerges. You do have the ability to address whatever you are medicating, resolve issues, return to “normal” or even a more empowered life.

Why settle for less?

“But stopping will interfere with…..”

A common lament among those contemplating change is all of the activities they will no longer be able to engage in. Closer examination reveals that all of these “activities” are only pretenses used to minimize how pervasive the drinking has become.

I’m sure you can relate to a life were skiing is just drinking at the lodge; fishing is drinking on a boat; camping is drinking in the RV; and golf and tennis are reduced to drinking at the club.

Even solitary drinking has become an activity needed to fill an otherwise empty social life. Another evening with my friend chardonnay.

Far from interfering, a return to actually doing things would interfere with drinking.

That is, obviously, one of the problems with quitting, or severely moderating. One has to actually start doing things and that, unlike drinking, requires effort. But your drinking is also requiring effort and planning.

Where will I get it? How much? How often can I go to the same store before “they” notice? How do I dispose of the bottles? What about when someone visits?

Endless planning and hiding as Gabrielle Glaser so eloquently described in her best- selling “Her Best-Kept Secret.”

Does it ever occur to you that’s the interference is really your self-medicating interfering with you getting a life? Maybe you’d actually like hiking, fishing, tennis, writing, sailing, skiing, cooking and/or sex?

You’ve given up a lot, possibly even your spouse and children, to avoid life. Maybe it’s time to try living?