Monday, Monday…

While all of you are different, Mondays here tend to have a common theme: Anxiety Reduction!

Yes, beginnings engender angst, and we know enough not to fight it. You are, after all, coming to an unknown program with people you only know, mostly, by phone and email. You are investing hopes, money, and an uncertain future with confused outcomes and conflicting emotions.

You are doing this in the face, frequently, of opposition from all of the 12 Step zealots and their brainwashing and scams.

You are taking a risk and hoping it doesn’t all blow up.

Since we know how you are likely to feel, we plan accordingly.

First, we are curious, not confrontational. The first question we ask is usually, “What brings you here?” We want to get to know you and what problems you perceive, as well as what strengths, abilities, and interests you bring with you.

Yes, we will ask about the history of your relationship with alcohol but that’s just an inquiry into what you have used alcohol for, in the past through the present. After Monday, we will rarely bring the topic up again except, perhaps, to discuss responding to, or avoiding, triggering events, people, places, and/or activities.

Usually you will also have an appointment with our consulting physician, Tim Norcross, D.O., who has seen our clients for over 8 years now. He too is curious and reassuring.

We will administer Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Washington University Sentence Completion Test, the only piece of formal assessment we do, though, by virtue of being here, the results are pretty much a foregone conclusion. The protocol simply independently verifies that you are smarter, more sensitive, more mature, and more experienced than the average person.

There is the usual flutter of routine paperwork, question answering, modest homework assignments, and, surprisingly, three hours have past and your fears have proved to have been unfounded. Imagine that?

It might also surprise you that many clients spend Monday afternoon napping – more relaxed than they have been in a long time.

Isn’t it your turn to set aside the fears and prepare for an interesting experiment in leading a life free of unfounded anxieties, tensions, beliefs, and other conditions you have medicated rather than resolved?

Disease or Choice?

A recent psychology blog again posted comments on the question of whether “alcoholism” is a disease or a choice.

My comment was short, “Since there is no agreed definition as to what constitutes ‘alcoholism,’ there can be no meaningful discussion.”

Of course the “is it/is it not” dichotomy, so beloved of Steppers, also neglects the question as to when does the over use of alcohol become abuse, become dependence, become….. and so on.

It’s well to remember that the real working definition of an alcoholic is “anyone who drinks more than I think they should,” whether that’s ten drinks a day or one drink a year.

This sort of nonsense simply serves to divert attention from what the real question should be, “What actually works to help people to stop a pattern of alcohol consumption they would like to change?”

This is obviously the question that rehab mills want to avoid having anyone ever wonder about, much less ask. It’s the question that got me fired from a prominent Minnesota mill 34 years ago, a firing that provided the research that ultimately led to our work here.

For most of us our alcohol use, at whatever level, is a choice and a habit and is no more a disease than any other of our fondly ingrained routines and activities.

So when you decide it time to make new choices, don’t be fooled or coerced into Step programs that have no demonstrable efficacy and usually leave you far worse off emotionally, psychologically, and financially than before you started.

Wondering what to consider? See: