Last night the soldier and I were talking about a theory I’m developing. I wonder if the rules that apply to the percentage of alcoholics who get sober apply to other (or even all) problems and pathologies.
Rather than call me crazy, he said I might be on to something and he mentioned the natural logarithm or the 80/20 rule. I might go into this if I can find verification of a key piece of information. I need to know how many alcoholics get and stay sober for life from a verifiable or reliable source, I am pretty sure the number is abysmally low.
So while I can’t expound on my theory at the moment, I am excited at idea that the things I think can be backed up mathematically and he also said something else I thought was key which is what prompted this blog.
He got talking about how things occur in nature like a chain of dominoes falling and you only need remove or stop one domino from falling in line to disrupt the whole thing and it seems to me that comprehending this makes any problem you face manageable. And matter of fact, I had already come to such a conclusion regarding the fights we have.
A couple weeks ago I made a decision (so hard for Libra) to act in one way rather than another when our next fight broke out being well aware it will stop the fight in it’s tracks. I’ll be taking a domino out, see? And the upshot is this:
If you can learn to pluck out a domino, you should be able to exploit the natural logarithm and that right there would be a hell of a skill.
That would be a very handy skill indeed. And you could apply it to so many situations. On the alcoholics…would they have to be sober without replacing it with another addiction? I’m guessing those are pretty rare.
I have long said that depression is very akin to alcoholism. Essentially, the individual’s coping mechanism turns on them and takes over their life, destroying them and sometimes those around them.
My man is a recovered alcoholic. He is a musician and was actively touring and performing for much of his adult life. He went into rehab in London after his girlfriend had enough and kicked him out. He says that after three days he knew he would never drink again. He didn’t dump all his friends or stop playing in pubs. It’s been more than a decade and as far as I know he’s never been seriously tempted to go back to drinking. He quit smoking the same way with the same kind of definite resolve though not at the same time. I’m not sure what the domino was with the drinking but I think you’re onto something and I guess he is just someone who is good at plucking out the domino.
What I like about your theory, is it seems do-able — all I need to do is take away One. I think I can do that.
Yesterday, an ex-boyfriend called to say hello and we used to fight a lot. HIs Mercury is conjunct my Sun, and we both burn to get that last word in there.
This might not be the best example because I am neither in love with him, nor wanting sex with him, BUT I still want to come out on the spiffy side. The piece I removed was while we were on the phone, he was going on and on about his cool life. I wanted to also insert a word implying I also have a cool life, and upon reflex I tried and got blocked. I was like, oh yeah, I forgot this is what we do.
And then I opened up the space like a big ranch with no fence and let the horse run wild. I watched him trot, like oh wow he is trotting, his tale his flouncey, and his mane is waving, and all the while I noticed as well what I wasnt saying (the removed domino).
At the end he said I could call him anytime to see his new apartment. Before I would have, but now, i have no wish to call him and ask if I can see his bachelor pad. I think, if I had continued to try to explain my cool domino to him, I would also have wanted to see his cool pad.
yes. there’s lots of sneaky tricks you can play on yourself to disrupt patterns you don’t want to maintain.
Go Deirdre! That’s perfect! I get the feeling from your writing that you also feel a big weight off your back now.
I was able to do this with my brother, who I formerly fought with (our entire lives). An ex-girlfriend of his mentioned in passing how his big thing is taking care of the women in his life. Well, being fiercely independent, I hadn’t been allowing him to do that. I knew he wouldn’t change (because I don’t think he’s consciously aware of what the problem was), so I made one tiny change and we’ve gotten on remarkably well since then.
It seems to me it boils down to the thing we all realize sooner or later, in any situation that frustrates: it’s harder to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect others to change, and more freeing to change yourself and see what opens up as a result.
My mom is an alcholic but been sober for 35 years. I see clearly how over the course of her decades long recovery, she’s taken one domino out, then another, and another… I like this theory to Kashmiri’s undressing theory. You take off one layer of clothing you neither need nor like anymore… and keep going until you’re unencumbered by stifling, outdated outerware!
geez, i used to know the statistic that was commonly used. i think it was about 11% stayed clean, but i don’t know the source so that’s not much help.
having worked in detox though, 10-20% success rate is very plausible. and 20% sounds too high.
Deirdre how cool are you?! Rock on.
I needed to see this today, Elsa. Thank you.
I have almost 17yrs sober. I don’t know the stats on people remaining clean and sober. Over the years I myself have become aware of “defective” thought patterns that I have. They have become revealed to me in a flash “aaha”, then I got it. These thought patterns were in relation to my behaviors while drinking, having shitty relationships, and sabotaging good things in my life. One of these is the “victim” mode everyone was doing all these terrible things to me,lol. In reality I was doing them all in one way or other. When I took responsibility for my actions then things started to change.
Wow, congratulations, miss! It takes hard work to keep on top of that. Personally I think many of lives problems can be solved by eliminating the victim role.
Just had a conversation this morning about the bit old “Why Me.” My SO has a hard time buying into the “everything has a reason” philosophy.
I believe everything has a reason, I just don’t believe that we are PRIVY to this information! I don’t think humans are evolved enough at this point to incorporate everything…there is simply too much of it.
Maureen thanks for reminding me of that. I was second-hand clothes shopping with a friend of mine recently and she was trying to get me to buy this “amazing thing” and I was like: “I’m so OVER clothes that bind, or the sleeves are to short (I have ape arms),or the legs just need to be hemmed…”
Taurus says: buy clothes that fit and get rid of the ones that don’t! Literally and metaphorically, LOL.
Oh and I forgot to mention, Elsa, that I think your approach is a very good one and I look forward to reading more.
I stopped fighting with my mother that way: I stopped.
The funny thing? After a very short period of time we realized we were in agreement a lot of the time: 6 of one, half dozen of the other. Ego kept us fighting. It was great to see how she responded, too. It made me see how with her Mercury in Pisces she is actually really keen on coming to understand who she’s conversing with, and not the opposite as my stubborn as hell Taurus in Mercury believed. :::I’m embarrassed to say this, but whatever:::
LOL I just saw my typo ‘bit old Why Me.’ I meant to write big old, but Mercury Rx has other ideas for me.
But now that I mention it, it IS a bit old….
Halting the progression or the escalation of a situation that has volatile potential from developing may work well. But, I would think that an evaluation of what mechanism(s) starts the process to begin with is truly the way to overcome. Easier said than done, but something to think about.
Hmm…Dan’s point is well taken. Ultimately, uprooting the initial action that sets in motion the domino cascade is the surest form of success. Where did the problem start? What is the trigger that makes the alcoholic reach for the drink? Etc. etc. Stop it before it begins. Frequently, these problems and triggers extend back further and further and further so that once you find it, you’ve lost the motivation that sent you searching to solve the problem in the first place. But, as the millions who benefit from talk therapy know, “evaluating the mechanism(s) that start the process to begin with is the true way to overcome.”
What’s new and novel about the idea of removing a domino is an acceptance of the present, a very doable thing in the context of a larger situation where the circumstances are not so easy to redesign. When you remove a domino, it can also be thought of as adding something, like adding space. You add the thought, “I won’t do x because y.” I won’t smoke because I want to be healthy and happy for my child. Is it a bit of the donkey and the carrot? Maybe. Haven’t thought about it enough, but I really like this idea of working with these waves of energy, these energetics of reactions, and defusing them while they are in progress. Perhaps removing the domino is a prerequisite for being able to evaluate the mechanisms that start the process. Discouragement is a huge factor in who gets sober and stays sober, in what behavior patterns change and which ultimately stay the same. If you feel you have no hope, then you won’t even begin. It’s an easy excuse, hopelessness. Removing a domino is essentially a very doable thing, a simple single thing on which to can focus, an achievable goal. You can vary the domino easily, see what works one time and another domino at another. It’s a great idea. Off to remove some dominoes…
You want statistics? H’okay!
“Predicting Relapse to Alcohol and Drug Abuse via Quantitative Electroencephalography” by Lance O. Bauer Ph.D. (http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v25/n3/full/1395679a.html)
From the intro:
“Relapse rates following treatment for substance dependence are remarkably high, and efforts to address this unfortunate reality are becoming an integral part of treatment (Daley and Marlatt 1997). In outcome studies of alcoholics, for example, approximately 65-70% of patients have been found to relapse within one year of treatment, with the majority of these patients relapsing within less than three months (Hunt et al. 1971; Emrick 1974; Miller and Hester 1986). In outcome studies of drug- or polysubstance-dependent patients, relapse rates following treatment are similar to, if not greater than, those found for patients solely dependent on alcohol (Emrick 1974; McKay et al. 1999).”
I’ve learned a lot of tricks from the coaches I’ve worked for over the years. This sounds like it could easily be one of them, a great coping skill to add to the life skill larsenal. Seriously. You even have a lovely metaphor to help people relate better to how it works.
Controlling how you react is definitely the key to changing the outcome of what happens. Now if I could just apply the advice to my own emotional reactions… hmmmmm.
oops – arsenal
larcenal huh? haha
As i felt recently, I am loving these posts of yours that bring the soldier’s thoughts (often with a math or science angle) fused with yours — and not just for trivia’s sake but THIS IS SANITY AND LIFE SAVING “advice” so to speak– ha the all caps make me sound insane, but there are f***ing pearls here, pearls! (going back to bed now, have a fever for new years)
My latest greatest domino is practicing the “Do not take anything personally” school, and asking instead, “Forget about them, What is really going on with me right now?”