Alcohol, the Coronavirus, and You.

You might think that the Coronavirus would be a blessing for our practice. After all, no travel, no groups, no direct contact with offices, railings, elevators, door knobs, or high risk clients.

But of course the reality is different.

For those already contemplating a 30 day stint in traditional rehab, the current fixation on the virus comes as a welcome excuse to forgo addressing a drinking problem as treatment is suddenly too dangerous (unlike nice safe inebriation?).

Nor do they say, “Oh, I’d better find an alternative!” Like that search is going to happen.

We have always been well aware that we are providing a service no one wants to ever need. We also know that when most people decide to “get help,” they want a luxury spa experience which will spare them the short-term discomfort that actual change always entails.

Which is why the “Spa Model” fails: 30, 60, 90 days of pampering followed by a return to the same old conditions without a new coping skill in hand, much less a half dozen, and what happens is what the rehabs are designed to produce – failure and your return for yet another round.

Whether or not it’s Coronavirus, or any other real or imagined excuse, there will always be reasons to postpone fixing a problem any of us are ambivalent about fixing. Like everyone we, we live in the short term and have trouble keeping a long term benefit in mind while indulging in a short term one.

Make a list of the “Benefits I Get From Drinking.” Yes, there are benefits or you wouldn’t be worried about your consumption. And be honest, this list isn’t for anyone but yourself.

With this in hand, consider the effort required to develop new ways to maintain these same benefits. Example? Anxiety reduction is a commonly listed benefit. The same can be achieved through meditation, exercise, CBT skills, Assertiveness Training, or any of a number of other routes. The problem? They all take time, energy, and the gratification is deferred while alcohol is quick, easy, cheap and instantly reliable.

Which one do you suppose you’ll opt for “just for today”?

And what will it take to motivate you to opt for the solutions rather than self-medicating with the symptom?

With vodka long behind me, cigarettes too, I can say that, for me, it was a matter of wanting to live as “alive” as I could, and not let any more of my life, no matter how difficult, pass in a fog.

What might be your “tipping point”?

The current copy of Psychology Today includes the usual full-color two page ad for a predictable rehab by the sea featuring, among other inducements, golf-therapy.

That nonsense aside, they also note that they have both 12 Step and Non 12 Step options available.


Then why do they also advertise that, “At 7:00 a.m. clients attend a 12 Step meeting…”?

So much for options.

Over the years we have noted that increasing numbers of rehabs claim to offer Non 12 Step options – until you get there. Once your payment has cleared it’s obvious that that’s all they do. The same old “Meetings” you could have gone to at home for free.

And when you complain that they lied to you they all respond in the same way, “Well, since 12 Step is the only thing that works, if we have to lie to you to save you, what else could we do?”

Of course about three dozen “things” work better than the Steps for most people but that’s the problem for the rehabs – they don’t want solutions which work!

Protect yourself? Demand they sign an admission agreement that promises you a full refund should you be exposed to any 12 Step material or programming whatsoever. If they won’t sign the agreement – and they won’t – you will have saved yourself from some very expensive “meetings.”

Want actual research and outcome based assistance with your own strengths, interests, abilities, history and preferences built it? Or would you prefer cults espousing “golf, wolf-dog, equine, rope” therapies?

Really, the cults are a far bigger threat to you living your life than the Coronavirus will ever be. But it’s your choice – and we can help you avoid both.