from Sober Challenge (day 1):
“Hi Belle. I’m doing ok but I’m sorry to say I drank last night.
I went to my therapist meeting on monday and we have however formed a plan for me to tackle this. I don’t know what you would think to her suggestion but I think it could help me. She thought that as I have tried to quit for over a year by stopping, perhaps I needed to “try something different” (sound familiar) 😉
The thing I’m not sure you’ll agree with is that she gave me this method that she uses to break the cycle. We have written a “ladder” of things that I associate with alcohol and where I use alcohol to help with anxiety starting with the easiest to do without alcohol to the hardest. I now have to start at the bottom of the ladder, do the activity as many times as possible in the first week without alcohol and continue until I don’t have the anxiety and it is normal to do the activity sober and anxiety free. She is going to see me once a week and I will record all my feelings and experiences. The aim is that within a few months I will have worked on all the steps of the ladder and then be in a better position mentally and physically to commit to a sober life.
I am going to give it a try as I feel more positive and feel I can approach it this way. But if you think this is not a good idea, I’m open to your thoughts …”
me: sweet pea, let me say this.
I don’t know you in real life, and I’m not a therapist, and I’m not YOUR therapist. I don’t know all that is ‘UP’ with you. and you should never take the advice of a girl on the internet anyway 🙂
and here’s what I think.
it sounds like your therapist is using some ‘exposure’ therapy ideas to help to deal with your anxiety. like, imagine you were afraid to go outside. first you’d stand on your front step. then you’d walk to the corner and back. then next week you’d walk around the block. and you’d slowly get used to doing things.
and maybe you do have an anxiety problem, and maybe you do really need some kind of immersion/exposure therapy.
but my guess is that your therapist is not a sober human, and that she isn’t an alcohol specialist.
in my head (where I spend most of my time!), if you have an anxiety thing then yes, it does require treatment. exposure, counselling, medication. If you’re using alcohol to deal with anxiety, it’s adding a problem to a problem.
but what therapist is saying, is something like “let’s find all the ways you can go through life without cocaine and then slowly increase the percentage of your day when you’re not using cocaine.”
the problem with cocaine (and booze) is that they’re addictive. and that ANY use creates a craving for more. and any use creates problems with anxiety. so to me, continuing to drink in any amount while dealing with anxiety stuff is like tying your legs together and asking you to walk.
again really, I am not an expert and I know NOTHING.
you may well need some medication. you might need rehab or outpatient treatment. my personal opinion is that you can’t really treat anxiety (for real) unless you’re sober. because the noise in our head is so loud because of the booze, that it’s just not able to integrate other things. (I sometimes wish I could go back and do all of the counselling I did before but do it sober, like it’d be so much more useful…)
the same can be said for the medications we take for depression or anxiety. while they work, they gotta be working BETTER when we’re sober, right?
again, really, are you ignoring me? you should be – but again, I don’t think that drinking is something we can ‘think’ about in a new way. it’s not logical. it’s not rational. it’s not sensible. our brains are complicated places. if it was ‘easy’ we’d all work through some kind of process and come out the other side as occasional one-drink drinkers. and that isn’t what happens. It “should” happen if you think about it logically. but it doesn’t. because nothing about alcohol use is logical.
and I don’t think we can change how we think about drinking while we’re still drinking. it’s only once the booze is removed that things begin to change.
well there. that’s my opinion.
please delete this message now 🙂
and keep emailing.
More about how to ‘think’ about quitting drinking, a series of audios for Lurkers, Beginners, and early sobriety > go here