This issue marks the beginning of Non-12 Step News’ 13th year of weekly publication! This then is #577!

It’s hard to imagine that I have been writing these roughly 750 work informational mailing for 12 years without a gap, and without reprinting even one (though it’s been very, very tempting, I freely admit).

Also, there are those readers among you who have read nearly as many as I have written.

Including former clients who find them to be all the weekly reminders, support, and/or information they need to maintain the success they have achieved.

Another former client periodically writes to say that he reads them occasionally just to see what new twists I have managed to come up with given the limited number of topics. My response is, “damned if I know.” I do know I sit down on Monday mornings and stare at my blank computer screen – as I used to blank paper in my typewriter – until beads of blood appear on my forehead and a word or phrase eventually follows.

Those of you who have been long-term readers will remember that I often note that I originally thought I have enough material for, perhaps, 6 or 8 issues then I would move on the some other format. But as subscribers slowly climbed from few dozen to 1,000+ it was clear that many of you wanted the reassurance that comes from learning about and understanding the research behind your common problem.

As readers, you do fall into various categories: Those who are contemplating addressing the problem; those who have family members with a problem; former clients who use it as a support tool; those who cobble together enough information to fix the problem on their own; people who need reassurance that they are neither “diseased,” “powerless,” nor “doomed.”

I keep all of you in mind as I work my way through yet another missive.

Not all topics come from the echoing caverns in my head, of course. Many ideas come from your emails with questions, comments, concerns and observations. Bless you for all of those – less blood on my forehead for those weeks, and more certainty that at least one of your issues is being addressed.

This is, basically, my thinks you to all of you who read, comment, reflect, use, and appreciate these words. Kindly keep your thoughts, criticisms, concerns and questions coming.

Do that, and perhaps next week I will be doing a better job of supplying what you need.

When You Contemplate Solving Problems Rather Than Medicating Them

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to help people get past all of the misconceptions that go along with using alcohol to medicate problems rather than addressing them.

Some of the reasoning is easy to understand: medicating is easy; fixing takes time, effort, and enduring uncertainty.

If you can’t visualize a cost/benefit analysis that suggests that change will result in a major benefit, then why wouldn’t you continue to go through life in an alcohol induced fog?

Because we are ambivalent about change, we will also allow that reluctance to color our cost/benefit scale towards staying the same, my oft mentioned “security of familiar miseries” decision.

Then there is the “are things bad enough yet to need addressing?” The classic “rock bottom” myth as opposed to the actual disease model of “sooner addressed the better the outcome” model.

Then there is the understandable reluctance to acquire the “alcoholic” label and the price that will exact, combined with a natural abhorrence of groups, meetings, and the other trappings of cultish conformity.

Mix those in with culture’s saturation in the mythology and one begins to wonder why anyone would ever change.

The reality is, however, that most of us do, eventually, change, opting either for abstinence, moderation, or a less harmful pattern of use. That is the research as well as most people’s experience.

The remaining question is when and how.

I sometimes note that when it came time for me to leave tragedy induced self- medication behind, it took me several years to work it out on my own, given that no real help existed in the 1980s. Following that excursion, I decided that others shouldn’t have to spend years foundering in doubt, flailing around, or seeking access to supportive help.

Designing that “program” occupied me through graduate school in the early 1990s. Providing it took until Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes and I tripped over each other 15 years ago and we designed a delivery model that has evolved into the work we do today.

That work includes a no cost or obligations consultation with the two of us – not some marketing department or pressurized interventionist. Perhaps that’s the first step in turning contemplation into action?