As a therapist I am frequently faced with the question ‘what will work best for my client’?
I have always believed that therapy should be ‘tailor-made’ for each client and that each of us needs something different to be the best version of ourselves that we can.
I was thinking about this in relation to addiction. Addiction is so prevalent in our society today. We are not just addicted to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, money, sex, gambling and shopping, naming the ones we have got used to, but these days we are addicted to our phones, our tablets, to technology.
The list is endless.
As a result I am faced in my professional life with many clients presenting me with addiction problems. With obvious addictions and cross addictions.
Those of you who have worked with me you will know I am a massive fan of the ‘Rooms’, meaning Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous, etc etc.
I believe therapy helps with the cause of the problem, but organisations like AA, NA, SLAA provide fellowship and support which is essential when maintaining sobriety or staying clear of addiction.
But these ‘Rooms’ are not for everyone.
Getting well and dealing with addiction is a personal journey, and to show you what I mean I would like to introduce you to an old friend of mine who is blogging under the name of ‘sobermummy’.
Her blog spot is the amusingly titled;
Many people struggle with certain terminology when in recovery; this is discussed with humour, grace, wit and charm in this blog.
My friend did not like the terminology of AA, she did not want to call herself an ‘alcoholic’ but rather say she was ‘addicted to alcohol’.
She found the best way to support her sobriety and to help her manage her cravings for alcohol was to blog, and blog she did, a lot.
Her blog is funny, sad, and has a lot of followers, each who share their personal journeys towards recovery.
What is interesting about reading this is again noticing how diverse and different we all are, and how each of us needs to find what works for us.
So if you are battling addiction or need help and support with recovery my message to you is to ‘shop around’.
Look at therapy, look at AA and other such organisations, but look at my friend’s
Find something that works for you, that is personal to you, and commit to it.
Reply to Laura's blog:
Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing my story on your blog, and for your contributing to the debate on my blog in such a thoughtful, passionate and inspirational way (to see the debate click on this link: https://mummywasasecretdrinker.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/is-this-really-good-idea.html )
I think the issue of the language used in 'recovery' is a fascinating and crucial one.
I have huge respect for Alcoholics Anonymous, who have saved the lives of countless people over the years. I also completely agree that everyone should follow their own path, should do whatever works for them. What matters is beating the addiction.
However, I've learned - through my own experience of addiction, and through many comments and e-mails from readers of my blog - that the terminology used around alcohol addiction can be hugely off-putting, and can stop people facing their demons and admitting to having a problem.
It's ironic that we can shout from the rooftops about quitting smoking, or even gluten and dairy, yet when we stop taking alcohol (a harmful, addictive drug) we feel embarrassed and ashamed and tell everyone we're 'on antibiotics' or 'detoxing'.
Why? Because we are worried about being labelled an 'alcoholic' and all the negative baggage the brand comes with - of pouring vodka on the cornflakes and passing out in a pool of vomit while your children forage for scraps.
I don't shy away from the word 'alcoholic' because I am in denial. I have written five hundred blog posts and a whole book about my issues with alcohol. I just believe that if we want more people to embrace and shout loudly about the sober life (and we do) then we need to make it sound more aspirational (which it is).
When you quit smoking, you don't become a 'nicotinaholic', you become a non-smoker. I quit booze nearly three years ago and I am not an alcoholic, I am a non-drinker. I am an alcoholic addict, an all or nothing person who is no good at all at moderation. I do not have a disease. I am not in recovery. I am alcohol free, and happily so. I did not surrender, I kicked ass and won.
I think if we all talked about being sober in these terms, clean drinking would become as popular as clean eating. Far more people would jump on the waggon before reaching the hell of rock bottom.
But, having said that I believe all of that passionately, I also believe, equally passionately, that anyone who finds the language of alcoholism, disease and recovery helpful should embrace it.
It's all about choice.