HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Alcohol and Life Problems

Drinking does not occur in a vacuum. Drinking can affect every area of our lives. And every area of our lives can affect our drinking. Problems in our lives can have a negative impact on our drinking just as drinking can have a negative impact in various areas of our lives.

If you have ever been to AA then you might have heard that ALL your problems stem from alcohol and that your drinking is NEVER a result of your life problems.

At HAMS we take a bit more sophisticated view than that. We recognize that in some cases life problems can lead to heavy drinking, and that in other cases heavy drinking can lead to life problems. We also recognize that some heavy drinking can be purely recreational and that if there are no life problems attached to it then there is no compelling reason to change it.

We also recognize that when heavy drinking and life problems are both present then they can both affect each other in a negative fashion--it does not necessarily matter which one came first. It may be perfectly fine to mourn a loved one by drinking for one night at a wake. To continue to do so every night for the next ten years may, however, be problematic. If you find that life issues and drinking are affecting each other negatively then we at HAMS are here to support you while you make changes in one or the other or in both. What you choose to change is your choice--not ours. No one here at HAMS will dictate to you the course which your changes need to take.

What should you change first? Sometimes people will choose to work on the issue which leads to the most problems first. At other times people may choose to work on the issue which is easiest to change even though it is not the most problematic. It is up to you to make the choice of which you want to work on first. We also recognize that some people choose to work on more than one issue at the same time.

If you have AA experience then you may have been told that the blame for all problems is to be laid off onto the fact that you are diseased and that the credit for all positive steps forward is to be given to AA and AA alone. If you don't follow the AA formula then you will find yourself ostracized at AA. We do not follow the AA formula at HAMS, however. When you do the work to change your life then you deserve the credit. We just offer information and a cheering section--we are not G.O.D. If you want to thank god or your good luck or no one at all it is your own free choice.

AA calls life problems "outside issues"--and you may find that you are forbidden to talk about them at AA meetings. HAMS finds life issues intimately tied to alcohol issues and realizes that most (but not all) people coming to HAMS will need to work on them. We are not experts on psychiatry or marriage counselors or sexologists or financial advisors and we cannot tell you how to solve these problems. But we can listen while you vent and we can support you in finding qualified professional to help you with these issues if that proves necessary.

The following are basic needs which can constitute life issues. This is just a sample.

We at HAMS have already witnessed the tremendous damage which can be done when people and professionals buy into the myth of "Alcoholism as a Primary Disease". Untold numbers are dead of suicide or drink or other causes at the hands of professionals who bought into this lie.

Here at HAMS we will support you as you work on a multiplicity of issues--not just the drink issue.

No one here will ever jump on you for talking about issues which are essential to you well-being and tell you that they are irrelevant or that they are "outside issues". We are here to support you.

We swear it.

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