Create Your Optimal Use Plan

optimal use planThe New Year is right around the corner. Many make resolutions to change their relationship with alcohol or a substance, resolving to use it less or not at all.

 

Maybe you’re working on this already. If changing your pattern of using or drinking is important to you, perhaps it’s time to consider creating what’s called an optimal use plan.

 

An optimal use plan is a hypothetical plan or vision that you can create on your own, with the help of a loved one, or ideally a therapist. It’s a “working plan” that will help you name your goals for your drinking or using and includes strategies for how to achieve them.

 

So how do you create one? Let’s dive in.

How to Get Over Your Past

Have you ever wondered why therapists seem to care so much about it was like for us as kids? That is, why are therapists so interested in our childhoods? While not all therapists focus on what's happened to us in the past, many therapists do pay...

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What to Do When You Don’t Know

what to do when you don't know“I don’t know.” I’ve had no fewer than three clients today say this to me. It’s such a privilege to be with them in this sacred space at the edge of their awareness and understanding.

 

“Hold on,” you say. “‘I don’t know’? What does that mean? Don’t know what?

 

That’s a great question, because chances are, you’ve experienced a moment in your life when you’ve tried to make changes and haven’t quite known how to get there. There are a few different ways to think about what to do when you don’t know, especially when it comes to counseling. Let’s dive in.

Three Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an Affair to Start Healing

Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an AffairMaybe you’ve just found out about your partner’s betrayal, and your world has been turned upside down. Your heart has been shattered, and you wonder how you can ever trust him again.

 

Or maybe your partner has just discovered your affair, or you’ve just told her. You’re ashamed and scared of losing her. You’ll do anything to save the relationship. You’ve tried apologizing but it only seems to make things worse.

 

After the discovery of an affair, whether it’s a one-time fling or a long string of intimate betrayals over many years, the relationship can only begin to heal once the storm of the initial crisis is past. So what steps can you take to calm the storm and start healing?

Afraid to Quit Drinking? Here’s the Real Reason Why (Part 2)

afraid to quit drinking (part 2)Afraid to quit drinking? You’re not alone. In part 1, I reviewed some very common fears about quitting drinking or about moderating your drinking. I suggested that there’s a deeper reason behind all of these common fears: Our fear of change.

 

See, there’s a voice in all of us that tells us that we can’t do something, that when we think about doing something new or different, gets nervous, anxious, or scared. This voice tells us the same “emotional truths” over and over again. It’s trying to protect us from re-experiencing hurts from our childhoods but it’s not helping us anymore as adults.

 

In fact, it’s keeping us stuck. That voice is known as the ego. But what’s up with the ego? And why is it so important to look at what the ego’s up to if we want to change our drinking?

Afraid to Quit Drinking? Here’s the Real Reason Why (Part 1)

afraid to quit drinkingI always joke that I had to go to seminary to learn to drink.

 

In the fall of 2003, I moved across the country to go to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. I was anxious and scared but also thrilled to be starting graduate school. I was starting a theology degree and wanted to dive in. So what did I do? I signed up a a Biblical Greek intensive; I for the next 2 1/2 months, I studied nothing but Greek. All the time.

 

It was as exciting and brutal as it sounds. By the end of the term, I was exhausted and stressed as my perfectionism had been in full swing for months on end. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on the hunt for some way to relax, to not feel so damn wound up all the time.

 

Christmas, 2003. Enter Johnny Walker, stage left. Thus began my long, storied history with alcohol. It took me years and years, but I finally learned to change my relationship with drinking.

 

I tried to cut back so many times. Countless times. And each time, I was discouraged. I thought it was hopeless. But the real story?

 

I was terrified to stop drinking.

Four Ways of Dealing with Urges and Cravings

dealing with urges and cravingsIf you’re in recovery or trying to change a habit that isn’t working for you, you need to find ways of dealing with urges and cravings. That is, you need to become more aware of the thought patterns and feelings that led to you giving in to your desire to engage your habit. Whether it’s shopping, gambling, sex, pornography, eating, or using alcohol or drugs, you’re probably pretty familiar with the desire to engage that habit before actually acting on it; that feeling is called an urge or craving.

 

Cravings are important because they act as precursors to engaging our problematic habit or behavior. Cravings say, “Hey, we need to gamble/smoke/drink/watch porn right now!” We stay stuck in our habits because we listen to that voice without thinking. If we’re to change our habit, we need to find different ways of interacting with the thoughts and feelings associated with our cravings in order to avoid automatically giving in.

Why I’m an Addiction Therapist

addiction therapistAs an addiction therapist, I hear many stories of struggling with food, sex, pornography, or alcohol and other drugs. I recently wrote a short essay as a part of an application to an online training program in harm reduction from the Center for Optimal Living in New York.

 

It briefly tells my story and illuminates my passion for helping those struggling with addiction through compassionate, relationship-focused treatment. I thought I’d share it here with you.

Your Two Best Tools for Better Communication with Your Partner

best tools for better communication“We need tools to communicate better.” This is one of the most common things I hear couples say when I first start counseling with them. And of course, it makes sense. After all, anyone going to marriage counseling or couples therapy would expect to learn ways of communicating better with his or her partner.

 

There’s more to the story here, though. In order for couples to communicate better and grow closer together, they need more than tools. They need to become skilled at using those tools, and that means that they themselves need to grow and change.