Alcohol Myths: Do you subscribe to either of these two myths?

alcohol mythsI use the term “alcoholism” in reference to all people who indulge in risky drinking, including the small percentage that are actually addicted to alcohol. “Risky drinking” refers to any pattern of drinking that leads to poor decisions, poor impulse control, memory problems (blackouts), deteriorating relationships, or deteriorating health. Simply put, risky drinking usually means drinking too much and/or too often.

Alcohol Myths number one: alcoholism is a disease.

Usually added to this notion is that alcoholism is chronic and progressive, and it will lead to death if not treated.

Alcoholism is not a disease. It is a choice. The alcoholic, even the extremely heavy drinker, makes choices regarding his drinking. He may choose to not drink at work for fear of losing his job. He may choose to not drive when drinking. He may choose to leave the bar at 9 PM because he has an early start at work in the morning. He may have a strong urge to hit his wife, but chooses not to because there are witnesses present.

Most treatment programs, including those preaching the disease model, focus on helping the alcoholic recognize his behavior and make better choices.

“I can’t change because I have this disease.” Many an alcoholic has used disease as an excuse for not choosing to do something about it.

Alcohol Myths number two: you are powerless over alcohol.

I had a client one time whose employer had sent her to a treatment center because of her drinking. She had chosen to stop drinking sometime before she entered the program and was resolved to continue to choose not to drink.

The treatment center she at attended adhered to a 12-step philosophy and asked her to sign a statement admitting that she was powerless over alcohol. She refused, went through the program, and at the end of treatment, still refused to sign such a statement. The male treatment center counselor sent a letter to her employer suggesting that she might be brain-damaged, based on the fact that she wouldn’t admit to her powerlessness over alcohol.

Powerlessness has been used by many as a wonderful excuse for not choosing to do anything about their risky drinking.

And I might add, what woman needs yet another man to tell her she is powerless? And this is treatment?

By the time I was in my mid-30s I was a very heavy drinker, drinking to excess every day. My health was deteriorating rapidly, but I did not make the connection until I was sent to the Mayo Clinic. When I finally got it, I said, “The liter of wine and the mickey of brandy I drank last night will be my last.” That was the choice I made over 40 years ago. It has served me well.

Please leave a comment below if any of this touches you.

Photo Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

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Big Dreams: Do you hold your big goals and dreams tightly or lightly?

Big DreamsThe importance of this question was brought home thunderously to me recently. I had always assumed that, if you have an important want, goal or dream, holding onto it tightly increases the chances of your achieving it. A personal story:

When I was visioning my non-work big dreams a few years ago, one want that still stands out in my memory was that I would walk the great hiking trails of the earth. I loved hiking. I had already walked part of the Appalachian Trail in the US and part of the Pilgrims Way in England. Then I had a stroke, and now six years later I can barely walk a block, and then only with a cane or walker.

Another love was flying. Three years ago I was making plans to build an ultralight aircraft and circumnavigate Canada flying the airplane I had built. That want came crashing down a year ago when I was denied renewal of my pilot’s license. I take solace in the fact that I have flown my own airplane across North America from Cape Cod on the Atlantic to Tofino on the Pacific.

I know intellectually that wants and dreams can abruptly derail, but I have found it very hard to let go of dreams of great adventure at a deeper level, as a heart level. Was I holding on too tightly?

This can happen in all areas of our lives. You may have envisioned a successful career with a particular company, then the company was sold and dissolved beneath your feet. Or you married with a view to the happiness of a lifelong love affair and children, only to find that you and your partner have gone in different directions emotionally, perhaps in part due to his evolving habit of daily drinking.

Life can change dramatically when one of your children dies. I know this through the hard experience of losing three of my adult children. No amount of wishing brings them back.

Big dreams and goals are great. They do help us stay on track with our lives, but holding them too tightly can be a trap when life throws us curves. So, perhaps the urging I give to myself may be of use to you as your life unfolds:

Lightly, Neill… lightly… lightly …

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Dr Neill Neill gets head shaved for Cops for Cancer

It’s nothing new for me to be supporting organizations that are raising money for cancer research or support of those living with cancer. It has become a more personal matter in the past few years as cancer took my son Richard, two sisters-in-law, two uncles, two first cousins and several clients. On the positive side, with the advancements in cancer detection and treatment that our funding has assisted, I have increasing numbers of relatives and others close to me that have survived cancer and got on with their lives. This did not used to happen. The numbers of Cancer Negligence Claims have gone down, that´s why many more patients have gone through treatment much more peaceful.

Neill loses his hair on September 26 in support of Cops for Cancer

However, having my head shaved in support of kids with cancer is something new for me. On Thursday, I and other members of the PQB News team are having our heads shaved as a fundraising effort.


This is me before.neill 13-9 (Watch for the “after”)






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