We Can’t Do It For You, Or To You, But We Will Do It With You

If you listen to rehab hype, you’ll soon get the idea that fixing your misuse of alcohol is something they will do for you or to you. AA says it’ll save you if you just attend meeting and “work the Steps” for the rest of your life.

Other places promise magic: the magic of the palms in Malibu, the vortex in Sedona, the Cirque in Utah, the Beach in Newport, up to including the wolf-dog fix in L.A. (of course) and so on and on and on.

Again, read the glowing reports about how easy it will be and their 80% success rates and……

If the ads and promotions sound a lot like weight loss spas it’s not an accident. Again, the idea is to sell you on the idea that “they” will do it for you and you won’t have to endure any discomfort or exert any effort.

In one sense, they’re right – for the 30 days you are there it can be relatively easy IF they can keep you entertained and out of trouble.

Think about it as a logistical problem. They have 10 or 20 or 30 or more of you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for anywhere from 30 – 90 days. What on earth are they going to do with you?

Some places take the cheap and easy way out, busing you to local AA meetings morning, afternoon, and evening and have you making meals and doing housekeeping the rest of the time.

Other places fill time with art therapy, equine therapy, ropes courses, and, yes, wolf-dog therapy, interspersed with endless groups, Step work, and other time wasters. But you must be kept busy and distracted. God only knows what might happen if you started paying attention to what was actually going on, talking to each other, and thinking about why you’re spending time and money playing in a sand box – an activity you probably gave up around the age of 10 or 12.

Then you might also notice that none of this has anything to do with you and your particular problems, interests, abilities, circumstances, and/or conditions. Individual attention? Maybe 45 minutes a week with a poorly trained para-professional whose only job is to brainwash you, as he or she has been, into all of the AA/12Step mythology and initiate you into their cult of fear.

Then you go home with the admonition, “Don’t drink. Go to AA.”

That’s like leaving the spa with the advice to, “Don’t eat. Go to Whole Foods.”

And in your personal circumstances, not one damn thing has been addressed, considered, resolved, or planned for. There is no follow-up (except “go to AA, of course) and when it “doesn’t work” you just need to go to more meetings. And yet more meetings.

And so for 85% – 95% of you they didn’t manage to do it to you or for you and they have no interest in doing it with you.

With You?

What does that look like?

It means working with you individually to define your personal idiosyncratic mosaic of conditions being medicated. Remember – self-medication is a symptom of life gone awry, not the cause of your life going off the rails (though eventually it will help with that too).

It means educating you in such real therapies as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), assertiveness training, diet and exercise considerations, habit breaking and reformation, plans for ascertaining you legal, medical and financial status, deprogramming from 12 Step fear mongering, the possible short term use of the benign anti-craving med Naltrexone, and on-going support while you are adapting yourself and those close to you to a new “normal” that does not include the misuse of alcohol.

And yes, it will require some effort on your part. Some short term discomfort (we ex-smokers know about that), adopting some life style changes which may include certain people, and a degree of vigilance as you learn to talk back to yourself about the choices you have been making and wish to change.

It’s a lot like losing weight – new productive habits to replace old destructive one. New healthy rewards. New insights. Action, not passive-aggression. Understanding, not brain-washing. Empowered, not powerless.

Which exit looks like the one for you?