June 12, 2008

Ask a Facilitator: Drinking Problem, or Thinking Problem?

Q: I'm having trouble using the Work for my drinking problems. If the thought is "Drinking is fun!" then it doesn't hold up to scrutiny because the thought actually
makes me feel excited and happy (and perpetuates the desire). If the thought is "Drinking is not fun", I end up with a turnaround that says that drinking is fun (which perpetuates the desire). The Work "works" so well on judging others, but it seems to lose something in the translation here. I would be grateful for any guidance or "pointing to the moon"(or book/link) that you could recommend.

A: "Drinking is fun" isn't a stressful thought for you. When you question it with a motive to get to a "negative" turnaround, as you noticed, it doesn't decrease the desire to drink. When you do The Work on "Drinking is not fun" in order to get to a "positive" turnaround (and a reason to continue drinking), you're doing The Work with a motive also, and as you've noticed, it leaves you feeling disconnected.

The suggestion is not to do The Work in order to stop drinking; do it to discover what's true for you. This is about your "thinking problem," not your "drinking problem." If it were not a thinking problem, you'd be perfectly okay with drinking. I hear from you that this isn't the case.

What is your "thinking problem?" That would be an attachment to stressful thoughts that make you want to pick up a drink in order to escape them. "My boss shouldn't criticize me," "Relationships are too hard," "No one cares," "Existence is meaningless." Alcohol alone isn't the source of your problem; underlying beliefs are.

You can do a worksheet on alcohol as well. "I am saddened by alcohol (or, by my addiction to alcohol) because..." In this way, you are still judging your "neighbor." Alcohol and addictions are not you, they are what Byron Katie calls "outside sources." If you write the Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet on alcohol or on addiction, you will have a list of judgmental, stressful beliefs to hold against the four questions
and turnaround.

It's helpful here to apply the turnaround to my thinking, once you've
answered all four questions. (Please don't jump ahead to the turnarounds; do the homework of the four questions first.) For example, "Alcohol shouldn't be so seductive" turns around to "My thinking shouldn't be so seductive." Alcohol just sits in a bottle; my thoughts about it make it seem more appealing to drink it than to sit with my discomfort or boredom.

I Need Your Love—Is That True? is one of Katie's books that is being used extensively in treatment centers; it addresses the thoughts that lead to co-dependence, and many people with substance abuse issues find it helpful to examine and question the desire to seek love, approval and appreciation. You may also like the audio CD called "The Truth Behind Addiction," which is available at TheWork.com, or as a download here.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

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