It’s Your Choice: Substance or “Filler”

Residential programs, so called “rehab,” with their 30, 60, and 90 day “programs,” have succeeded in conning most of us into believing that there is some reason for this particular format.

Guess what? There isn’t.

Except that it makes boatloads of money without any measurable positive outcomes to show for it.

As an alternative, consider that your drinking problem exists in your everyday life, not on some beach in Malibu, Utah mountain top, Sedona canyon, or Vancouver island. The point? The problem either gets fixed in your day-to-day life or it doesn’t get fixed.

Next problem. All of these “programs” want you to believe that alcohol is the problem. Guess what? Wrong again. It’s what’s wrong with your life that’s the problem. Alcohol abuse is the symptom, the canary in the coal mine, if you will.

Just like running away to a 12 Step spa isn’t going to fix problems at home, so too failing to treat the actual problem(s) isn’t going to make the drinking go away either.

All of this is compounded in “rehab” because none of the time you spend there is used to help you address real issues and problems. Instead, what little effort is expended is used to indoctrinate you into the 12 Step cult, with “family” week being an extension of this exercise in propaganda.

To make matters worse, all of this very expensive time you’ve purchased is spent in groups with people you have nothing in common with, whose problems are unrelated to yours, are generally decades younger, and who have no interest in ever fixing anything.

Never mind that there is no privacy, confidentiality, respect, consideration, or choices.

Because you are “there” for weeks or even months, these operations do need to fill your time. You can only eat and sleep for so long so it’s necessary to attempt to occupy you with a lot of cheap filler. That means endless AA meetings and “step-work” and other offerings which have zero efficacy.

Think about it. Just how are well rehearsed horses, so-called “equine therapy,” going to help you? Or wolf-dogs? Or helicopter rides? Or “ropes courses”? Or…..

But they sure do fill time and almost even sound like they mean something.


On the other hand. Outpatient lets you work within your day-to-day life to gradually engage in the process of transforming that life – assuming that it too isn’t just charging you to attend AA, which is what most outpatient offerings do too.

You can, however, opt for assistance which addresses real problems with proven solutions, in a mosaic of choices designed specifically to fit you.
These “real” skills include CBT, motivational enhancement, assertiveness training, diet, exercise, hormone and medication management, coaching, and on-going support. All of which, in our view, constitute “substance.”

Yes, in working with us you can get away for the bit of respite you probably need. That’s what your afternoons are for. Rest, reflection, relaxation, and consideration. You can have it at any level of comfort you choose. And, most importantly, you get opt for whatever you decide is best for you.

Don’t overlook that word “choice.”

“Rehab” doesn’t offer choices and no one listens to you. It’s their way, the 12 Step way, or you are out the door for being non-compliant. Same if you should be so foolish as to ask when your issues are going to be addressed. Or why they aren’t offering any of the proven skills and techniques that actually work? Or why you have a counselor whose only training is a GED and having been a former client?

That’s called filler. Cheap filler at that.

Which gets us back to your first decision. Substance or filler? A life, captivity in a cult, or keep on drinking your life away?

Your Spouse and Family are Deluded Too

One of the most common myths that rehab programs sell is the one where you go off to treatment, they dry you out, you return home, and everything stays exactly the same, except you aren’t drinking anymore.

What do you think the chances are?

Again, rehab operates on the false premise that alcohol is the problem. We grant that it’s become one, like tooth decay resulting from poor oral hygiene, but it, like the decay, is still the sign of self-neglect, not the fundamental problem.

Since we don’t have any illusions to sell, we’re free to state the obvious: when you stop drinking, your “sobriety” is going to affect the people in your life to the same degree your drinking did. Frequently more.

Granted that is not a fact that anyone is going to pay $45,000-$200,000 for you to realize.

You, on the other hand, don’t have to think very long or hard to see how this plays out.

We address this initially by asking one very informative question: what benefits do your family get from your drinking?

This is a possibility neither you, nor anyone else, has considered, or even imagined, before. Certainly not the people who are looking to railroad you into months of “treatment.”


You lose your vote in family decision making. You become the scapegoat for all family problems. You provide distracting cover for others’ deficiencies and problems. You never have to be considered. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!!!!

And when you stop drinking and want your “vote” back? When you remember what you actually agreed to? When you swap assertive for passive-aggressive? When you refuse to be “the problem?”

Yes, Virginia, there will be changes which affect everyone, just as your drinking does.

Happily, because we de-program family too, if you want, most of these “growing pains” turn into greatly enhanced marriages, partnerships, and parenting. Which helps to reduce the temptation to revisit the bad old days.

Whether you medicate your life with alcohol, or AA, or Alanon, you’re still leading a medicated life. Instead of sitting around drinking, or in endless meetings, waiting to die, why not at least see what actually living your life feels like?

You can always go back to drinking, or AA, but one day you will run out of time to live your own life. And it’s the only life you’re going to get.