The excessive use of alcohol to manage the frustration of
not achieving the life one had hoped for is on the rise for women.
The number of calls I am receiving from women who are
concerned about their use of alcohol has increased significantly over the last
Often the women who
are calling are what one might consider as being “functional alcoholics.”
By this I mean that they are managing households, employment,
and relationships. Most have never lost their license, been charged with mischief
or assault while on a binge. Most have never had to deal with Children’s
Services. Many have kept their secret from others in the community and live
their lives secluded.
In my conversations with these women, it is clear that they have many strengths
and a deep desire to make positive changes. They have made use of traditional
resources such as AA, residential treatment and/or counselling, and have had
periods of sobriety but continue to struggle with maintaining sobriety
and/or falling off the wagon for periods of time. They have insights into what
triggers them to drink but are challenged by old belief systems that make it
difficult to set boundaries.
These women express “disgust” with themselves and are
fearful of losing their families and/or employment. They have lost respect for
themselves and feel that they have lost themselves somewhere along the way. Many
are beginning to experience health concerns related to a lifestyle of over use
(not sleeping well, poor nutrition, little intellectual stimulation). They are
holding on through sheer willpower and often by a very fine thread.
What I hear is:
-I have completed the treatment, I know what to do, so aren’t
I doing it?
-This isn’t the person I know deep down that I am capable of
-My partner is tired of dealing with this and I am worried
he will eventually leave me.
-I hate what my kids are seeing and learning from me.
-I hate identifying myself as an addict.
-I am humiliated and feel others see me as weak.
-Maybe I have “bad genes” from a family history of substance
-I would like to learn how to drink socially with my group
of family or friends and be able to just have a few and leave it at that.
-There is so much I want to do with my life why can’t I get
This work is about recognizing the reality of substance
abuse while focusing on strengths and potential. It is about unearthing possibilities
that have become dormant via social programming. When we begin to see the use
of substances to manage emotions as a learned response accepted by the subconscious
mind we move from a morality stance and a medical model of addiction to a model
that allows us to see substance use as a learned response.
We must remember that
the subconscious mind is a learning machine that house identity. No one is born
with the identity of an addict.
Yet, once the wheels are put into motion the subconscious
mind will continue to build on that identity despite what original potential is
calling out for. All change efforts are futile if we do not address the learning
needs of the subconscious mind.
The upcoming women’s group will offer individual sessions as
well as supportive masterminds aimed at addressing the unique concerns of women
who are using alcohol to manage emotions. This is strength based, solution
focused work aimed at unearthing original potential.
Call Terri for details. (780) 418-1973