Differentiating Between the Misuse or Abuse Of, and the Dependence On, Alcohol and Why It Matters

The mythology, perpetuated by AA and 12 Step rehab programs, is that if you are having problems with alcohol then you are either an “alcoholic” or an “alcoholic in denial.” This is an example of the classic “if the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem has to be a nail” analogy.

Fortunately, the underlying assumption, which is bolstered by the additional myths that you’re having problems because you’re “diseased” or have a hereditary “allergy” or an “addictive personality,” is based on nothing but excuses for continuing a behavior one doesn’t actually want to give up. “I can’t help it. I’m powerless over my disease!”

But if you have come to the conclusion that your alcohol use is detracting from your life more than it’s enhancing it, then these same myths make it extremely difficult to find and access the short term help. That’s assistance assisting you in rapidly resolving whatever it is you’re medicating without subjecting yourself to labels, meeting, Steps, and other demeaning and embarrassing – not to mention counterproductive – “help.”

While AA and 90% of treatment programs refuse to acknowledge differences in degrees of alcohol use, the DSM – 5, the official reference to diagnosing various psychological, emotional, and psychiatric conditions, has no such problem.

Under “Alcohol-Related Disorders” it lists 11 criteria:

  1. Often drinking more, or more frequently, than intended;
  2. Persistent desire to cut down or control use;
  3. Spending a lot of time acquiring, consuming and recovering from drinking;
  4. Craving or a strong desire to use;
  5. Alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill obligations at work, home, or school;
  6. Continued use despite social and interpersonal problems;
  7. Important activities curtailed for drinking;
  8. Recurrent use in hazardous situations (i.e., driving);
  9. Exacerbation of physical or psychological problems;
  10. Increased tolerance;
  11. Withdrawal.

It then proceeds to note that the presence or 2-3 symptoms indicates a “Mild” problem; 4-5 a “Moderate” problem, 6 or more a “Severe” problem.

So we can, and you can, objectively diagnose where you stand with regard to your current use and since no one is looking, you can see where you stand. Really.

However, while the DSM can help you evaluate you situation, it’s of no help in fixing it to your satisfaction. For that you are at the mercy of hucksters, mythology, “what everyone knows,” ignorance, marketers, and social and family pressures.

None of these “programs” are going to consider the important factors:

  • What are you medicating?
  • What works better than alcohol?
  • What are your strengths, interests, abilities?
  • What constitutes a real support system?
  • How do you resist and repel the brainwashed?
  • How do you deprogram from your own brainwashing?

The resources to answer these questions are what we provide. Five focused 3 hour days with Dr. Barnes and me. An interview with our consulting physician Dr. Tim Norcross for use of the anti-craving medication Naltrexone, 12 weeks of scheduled follow-up sessions, additional access to us as needed.

And all of it in complete confidence that no one else can offer. Don’t subject yourself to degrading brainwashing, rat yourself out by disappearing for 30 or more days, subjugate yourself to an infantile group, open yourself to predators, and/or find yourself in a revolving door of failure and even more of the same.

It doesn’t seem like that tough a choice to us. How about to you?

Bingeing: What the Pressure Cooker Effect Means & How to Treat It

Bingeing appears to be different from other forms of alcohol abuse. After all, it “only” happens once a week, or month, or quarter, or year. Therefore…..

But, really, it’s just a variation on the same pattern of using alcohol to medicate anxiety, loneliness, boredom, depression, unsatisfactory relationships, stress, overwork, and any number of other conditions.

The difference between regular and episodic use is that bingeing swerves as a pressure release valve. Quickly, or slowly, the pressure of unresolved problems builds until the binge releases it. But since the conditions remain unchanged and unresolved the pressure immediately begins, slowly or rapidly, to climb once again until the next “event.”

Tired of the binges and the underlying factors?

As with any level of self-medication, the countermeasures which actually work are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT);
  • Assertiveness Training;
  • Motivational Enhancement;
  • Behavioral (and occasionally, geographic) change;
  • SHORT term professional help;
  • Naltrexone anti-craving support (also short-term);
  • Short term coaching;
  • Dietary management;
  • Reengagement in, and control over, your life.

Which brings us back to that’s what we offer, as clients have noted, “all substance, no filler.” You get what you need, not what they’re serving, which is always the one size fits all alcoholic label, Steps, and an even more diminished life.