What Do You Really Want?

It’s nearly impossible to attain a goal, or make a life-changing decision if we don’t know what we want. As simple and self-evident as this may seem, it’s actually deceptive.


Because we usually state what we want in negative terms. Terms like “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to reduce my drinking,” or “I want to quit smoking.”

There are a couple of problems with all of these “wants.” The first is that they all talk about eliminating a symptom, not the problem. The second is that they are built around not doing something: eating, drinking, smoking. Third, they are goals that are poorly defined and don’t include any route for achieving them.

Let’s face it, you can’t build much of a life around not doing something. Not to mention that failing to address the real underlying problems inevitably leads one to resume the symptom.

It’s also very hard to generate any motivation to not do things. Not doing just creates a hole in your life, a hole that becomes a vacuum that sucks you right back into the same old habits.

As discouraging as this sounds, it’s an important part of learning how to make significant changes in any area of your life. The process is, roughly: identify the real problem (I drink because I’m anxious; I eat because I’m lonely; I smoke because everyone did in college); research the options (AA, OA, research based, individual, group, confidential, affordable, etc.); implement the change; maintain the change.

That sounds easier than it is because we’re rarely self-medicating just one condition. Most of us are beset with a mosaic of underlying conditions and attempting to cope with all of them simultaneously is overwhelming. That’s where SHORT-TERM help comes in. Help that allows you to identify, prioritize, and effectively address problems in a systematic way with real and effective coping skills.

It’s surprising how quickly you can begin to learn, incorporate and use CBT, assertiveness training, motivational enhancement, various dietary and exercise regimens, and other skills which you already have, but have drifted away from.

You do, of course, have to decide whether or not you want to actually fix the conditions you are medicating or if you simply want to disappear into a cult rather than a bottle. Avoidance is certainly a popular option. But for that, you simply need a free AA meeting, not us. We’re all about substantive change, not substituting one hidey-hole for another.

Want to discuss your real options? It’s easy to schedule either a call or video conference with Dr. Barnes and me. The consultation is free. Make an informed decision and avoid being duped into “solutions” that leave you worse off mentally, emotionally, legally, and financially than you are now.

Let’s Think About Cigarettes For a Minute.

Most of us know that nicotine is about the most addictive drug out there. Far more addictive than alcohol.

Yet tens of millions of us, myself included, have stopped smoking without meetings, higher powers, silly slogans, chips, tokens or counting years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes since our last smoke.

If the 12 Step Program is so effective, why isn’t it the lifeline for smokers?

The reason, of course, is that the Steps are even less effective for smokers than their abysmal 5% rate for drinkers. Not to mention that Steppers have traditionally been very heavy smokers who have no intention of giving up that habit.

Yes. Habit.

Listen to ex-smokers: “Yes, I kicked the habit;” “Ya, I got tired of waking up feeling like a herd of camels had spent the night in my mouth;” “I was single and wanted to date a better class of men/women.”

There are lots of former smokers around these days but none of them are making a big deal about it or founding cults. Happily, they are getting help from doctors with anti-craving meds and nicotine supplements, but these aids are short term supports that quickly become unnecessary.

Think about that. Actual help. Short term help. No labels. No clubs. No whining. No secret handshakes. No $35 BILLION a year exploitation.

You can learn a lot from ex-smokers’ examples – including how to move your alcohol use into your collection of “been there, done that,” activities that are no longer a problem, interest, or threat.

Again, we offer substance, not filler. Research, not religious cults. Skills, not excuses.

And your choice is?