Concept of the Month -- September 2008

When "Rehab" and Alcoholics Anonymous is Not Enough

Over the years, I have had men and women consult me who battled alcoholism valiently, but not successfully.  They have participated in outpatient programs, residential programs, A.A. and, in some instances, a combination of all three.  After periods of sobriety, they return to the bottle.  The problem, as I see it, is that abstaining from alcohol is essential, but it is often not enough.  This is because the person's thinking has not changed.  Although he is not drinking, he remains a controlling, self-absorbed individual who has not learned to see things from the point of view of others.  He has been his own worst enemy with his family, at work, with friends, and in other areas of life.  His intentions are often good.  But he alienates other people, then is puzzled and often angry about the outcome.

Most alcoholics are controlling of other people.  Even though they have "surrendered" with respect to alcohol, they still are intent upon trying to impose their will on others.  And they may resort to lying, intimidation, even brute force.  In other words, although they have given up drinking (for whatever the time period is), their personalities are unaltered.

Among the "thinking errors" that alcoholics must identify in themselves, become fed up, and change are the following:

A.A. is vital to the success of some people in giving up alcohol -- the sponsor, the support, the constant availability of meetings.  Some people give up drinking without attending A.A. There are many paths ofabstinence.  However, the absence of alcohol in one's life is a precondition for change.  The scope of the task if usually larger than remaining sober.  An A.A. term is "stinking thinking".

That thinking (and what I call "thinking errors") must be addressed.

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