How To Break The Alcohol Habit

It's a sad fact that alcoholics are often the butt of jokes. They're also often encouraged in their behavior - after all, laughing with a drunken person can seem quite amusing at the time.

But this innocent encouragement can lead to more serious consequences.

Alcohol is a depressant.

Used in moderation, most studies show alcohol to be either neutral or even beneficial to health.

But taken to excess, it causes liver and other problems.

The best time to stop your addiction to alcohol is before it has completely taken a grip on your life:

* Cut down the amount you drink. Reducing the frequency and amount that you drink is an excellent first step.

* Drink with friends rather than on your own. Good friends will warn you when it looks as though you have drunk more than is good for you. They'll also help you get home safely and help you nurse your hangover away.

If you've gotten beyond that stage, seek out a support group. Alcoholics Anonymous can be found with a simple online search or in your phone book. Go along to a meeting and you'll find a supportive group of people who will help you in your quest to get back in control of your life.

It may also help to consult your doctor or other health professional. They've helped countless other people and will have good first hand knowledge of the different methods of reducing or stopping your alcohol consumption. Quiz them on the success rates of the different methods they recommend and read some of the excellent material online to get another opinion, always remembering to check who sponsored the research you're reading.

Moderation In Alcohol Treatment

Since the late 1970's so-called 12 Step, or Minnesota Model, based treatment has been nearly the only approach available to people seeking help with alcohol and drug abuse problems. This is startling given their long term success rates of less then ten percent. Only recently have alternatives begun to receive some of the attention they deserve.

What are the alternatives? There are variations ranging from those which are very similar to the 12 Step model but which avoid what many consider to be AA's religious cult features. Some reject the long promoted but unsupported "disease" concept of addiction, and others offer help, and hope, for those seeking to moderate their usage. Some advocate medical support in the form of anti-craving medications and still other incorporate cognitive behavior therapy.

This array of approaches is good news for potential clients for some very good reasons - no single approach is effective for everyone, nor is abstinence the only desirable outcome. Reality is that both methods and ends that are tailored to individuals produce the best outcomes. While this makes obvious sense, it isn't apt to be embraced by an industry that has grown up around a one size fits all approach, and which acknowledges only one solution - life long abstinence and forever recovery.

This reluctance to change isn't hard to understand. Alternatives require assessment and therapeutic skills, all part of a client centered focus that doesn't fit with "following the program" - a program which denies differences, strengths, circumstances or degree of impairment among a vast array of contributory factors. No one would expect hospitals to pursue the exact same treatment for fifteen different types and stages of cancer, but treatment programs routinely do exactly that. Negative outcomes can hardly come as a surprise.

What's a person seeking help to do?

Don't assume that you're helpless. You aren't. Ad copy to the contrary, you aren't powerless. Nor do you need to sign up for a lifetime of meetings, groups, and labels. You may not even need to stop drinking entirely. You will have to change your life, but that can be enhancing, not demeaning. You may need to develop some assertiveness in place of false courage but that's not a loss either. You will have to assume responsibility for your past, present, and future rather than blaming your problems on alcoholism, but would you rather be a fully capable functional adult or a victim?

Look for help from those who respect you and your abilities, not those who focus on weaknesses and impairment. See if they'll discuss your desired outcomes, not their single end focus, and see if they'll work with you to devise a strategy tailored to you, not a program they intend to mold you to. The help you deserve is that which helps you improve your life and the lives of those around you, not one that isolates you within a latter-day cult.

Good help is available. Don't settle for treatment that is ineffective, out-dated, and focused on your weaknesses. Embrace your strengths, abilities, and power; and look for truly professional counselors and programs who do the same.