News? Alcohol Related Deaths Among Woman Are Rising Sharply.

January saw a host of news reports that the death rate for women from alcohol related causes had risen sharply over the past decade. That came as no surprise to us, though it may have to you.

With the news came the predictable “Why? Why? Why?” lament.

There are any number of contributive causes, not least of which are relaxed social sanctions against young women drinking like young men. Trouble with that is, alcohol is not a politically correct drug. Stated another way, alcohol does twice as much damage to women as it does to men – and, no, that’s not a matter of size.

But that physiological difference hardly explains the degree of escalation.

The other culprit is that treatment/rehab, like alcohol, is far more toxic to women than to men, as are the usual admonitions to “go to AA. It’s what works.”

90% of treatment programs in the U.S. are simply con games that sell AA as treatment.

Of course, as is becoming increasingly well known, the “Steps” don’t work for much of anyone, as I noted in “AA: Who it Helps, Who it Harms, Who it Kills & Why.” But a big problem is that woman are much more vulnerable to the brainwashing, abuse, and exploitation that are the hallmark of all AA based programs.

And, as I will describe in next week’s Newsletter, there is a complex interlocking system of exploitation that women are more apt to fall into than men.

What can help to stem this rising tide of exploitation and death?

As we suggest to all clients, but stress most vigorously to women, assertiveness training is a necessity if you are going to protect yourself from systematic degradation, humiliation, and the fear instilling basis of all Stepper programs and the disempowerment that results – especially as shown by the relentless attacks on your self-confidence.

Assertiveness is, I believe, the #1 coping skill to acquire which alleviates anxiety and depression while helping to rectify unbalanced relationships whether personal, professional, familial or social. Whether learned through formal training or reading with implementation (see The Assertiveness Guide for Women- which is also good for passive men) it can be supported and reinforced by such activities as weight training, kick boxing and even firearms proficiency.

Over the years we have learned to modify our focus to suit changing times and research and now Assertiveness has replaced CBT as the first focus, though CBT remains prominent. There are a lot of skills you can acquire to minimize your chances of becoming a statistic or falling victim to the 13th Steppers and con artists who make up much of the “Recovery” world.

So, if it’s not “Meetings,” what is a “Support Group?”

It’s easy to stay stuck in the AA mindset that you need a “support group” and go to “meetings if you want to stop self-medicating with alcohol. This notion is somewhat reinforced in other circumstances were real support groups do offer short-term help when you are recovering from real diseases, losses, and other conditions including cancer, heart attacks, deaths and other losses.

But real “condition” or “circumstance” support groups and designed to be time limited and you are expected to outgrow your need for them fairly promptly. You certainly aren’t taught that you will need them forever and even more importantly, you won’t be told to cut your ties to everyone outside of the “group.”

That said, there are ways in which groups can help you to create a better balanced life where the self-medicating becomes both less attractive and less needed.

How’s that work?

Simply put, a real support group is one where people are pursuing a common interest which is not compatible with drinking, it involves activities which you either enjoy – and have let drop because they interfered with your drinking time – or might come to enjoy, and where no one knows or cares about your drinking history and you would just as soon the topic never came up.

Whether it’s weekend outing with the Audubon Society, bridge at the bridge club, classes at the local college or adult education center, book clubs at the library (no, not the women’s chardonnay society), weight lifting, kick boxing, pistol shooting (yes there are women’s clubs for all of these), or any of a thousand other things, you can find organizations and people to do things with, expanding your life and social interactions.

Perhaps “expanding” is the right word. While Steppers attempt to constrict your world and dictate your relationships, real recovery consists of exactly the opposite. Lose that alcohol fixation and replace it with a real life. You’ll be glad you did.