If you're sober but you constantly struggle with a desire to drink, you may identify yourself as an "alcoholic". If you rely on alcohol to get through each workday, the term "high-functioning alcoholic" might be in your vocabulary, too. If you still drink heavily, despite your attempts to moderate or quit, you may even believe that your "alcoholism" will eventually kill you.
At Saint Jude Retreats, we won't use any of these terms to describe you or your life. No matter how often or how much you drink, we believe you're always capable of making a different choice. Even physical dependency doesn't prevent you from beginning your progress toward empowered, informed decisions. However, if you've ever participated in a 12 Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you were likely taught that alcohol is more powerful than you will ever be again.
These AA and 12 Step programs are so common that many people assume these methods are the only way to "treat" heavy drug or alcohol use. However, there are other approaches that work and most likely even better for you according to scientific research. In fact, changing your outcome is as simple as making 2 different choices.
AA and other 12 Step programs rely on a cyclical narrative of drug and alcohol addiction. They give out chips for each month and year of sobriety, but if you "relapse" and take another drink, your entire count starts over. According to this logic, your alcohol use has evolved into a disease with a mind of its own, and it will keep you in a constant cycle of relapse and recovery for the rest of your life.
If you genuinely believe that you're stuck in this cycle, it's understandable to fear that alcoholism will eventually kill you. With your mind fixed on only one possible outcome, you ignore all other solutions, all other possibilities, and death really is the only outcome of your struggle to get sober.
Dismantling this belief can seem difficult because it's rooted in shame and fear, rather than positive progress. However, Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) offered exclusively at Saint Jude Retreats is an excellent place to start. You'll learn to recognize the problems you were attempting to solve with alcohol and identify alternative ways to solve them. You'll realize that you've always had an inherent power to expand your universe of problem solving options so you can meet new challenges in the future with optimism and confidence.
Next comes the practical part: changing your habits. After you've identified the thought patterns and behaviors you engaged in when you chose to drink, you can begin to think critically every step you have the desire to drink. Instead of succumbing to the defeatist view that alcoholism will kill you, treat every desire as an opportunity to weigh the pro's and con's and decide anew if you really want that drink.
Will drinking improve or worsen your day? Are you drinking to mask a specific problem, and if so, are there other ways to deal with it? Think critically in order to choose behaviors that will benefit, rather than impair, you.
Just like drinking, these newer behaviors will eventually be so familiar that they become habit. Your new behaviors will have to be fostered but, once nurtured, they will become as strong, automatic, and part of your new life plan to move forward. At Saint Jude Retreats, our goal is to help you work through what you want to change and how you want to change it. You have to commit to putting in the work and desire to fuel your plan. You have the power to change and always have.