Help for an Alcoholic Struggling with Addiction for 25 Years

Dear Belleruth,

I’m wondering if you have any programs that could help an alcoholic trying to achieve sobriety after 25 years of addiction. He is having a very difficult time.


Dear JJ,

Thanks for the question. I'll try to answer, but I need to start with a few questions of my own. For instance:

  • What, if anything, has he tried in the past?
  • Has he ever tried AA or any other kind of recovery program or peer support group?
  • Has he ever been in residential treatment? Been evaluated by a certified addiction specialist?
  • Of the things he may have tried, has anything ever worked, even for a little while, and if so, what?
  • Have you ever sought help yourself for dealing with your friend? - a program like Al-Anon or personal counseling?

But in the meantime, absent answers to these questions, I'll respond as best I can to what you asked.

The bottom line: yes, we do have resources to help your friend. Given what you describe, it's likely he'll need other kinds of treatment and support as well, but our audios can help, either as a stand-alone intervention or as part of a larger regimen.

Sidebar: That’s one of the cooler things about guided imagery – it doesn’t compete with other therapies or approaches – it’s very collegial! Plays nicely with others! In fact, it’s been shown to support and potentiate other approaches – everything from behavior modification to pharmaceuticals.

So, first, we have a masterful program of guided imagery to accompany each of the 12 steps – 150 minutes of it! – by the late, great Charles Leviton, called Inward Peace, Outward Power: Guided Imagery for Each of the 12 Steps. So, if your friend is up for joining AA or any sort of recovery program that uses the 12 steps (definitely not for the weak or fainthearted – it’s hard work, but very effective), this audio set is just the ticket to help him stay engaged and use AA to its best advantage.

We used to carry this, but then Chuck and his wife Patti died rather suddenly, and all contact info seemed to fall off the map. Trust me, I tried everything.

But, after nearly 6 years of seeking, we finally scored! A therapist put us in touch with the right people, we got to clean up the recording (filter out some of its classic 1980’s quirks), and we are so, so pleased to have it on offer again! Because it’s that good….that unique… and that critical to recovery.

We have my guided imagery for Recovery from Alcohol & Other Drugs that gets good reviews, focuses on imagining the physiological and psychological benefits of getting sober, made with the help of many addiction groups and professionals.

There’s another title I highly recommend – William DeFoore’s Nurturing Your Inner Child is a beloved resource, very tuned in to recovery and healing the wounds of childhood that can drive addiction.

You may know that Inner Child work was introduced early to the recovery community – by John Bradshaw, Claudia Black, Charles Whitfield, Melodie Beattie… and it’s another great way to supplement treatment or stand on its own. I think the work of Bill DeFoore is exceptionally good.

And finally, the work of Traci Stein on mindful Self-Compassion during Sleep would be my idea of the perfect final pick to round out a perfect guided meditation toolkit for your friend.

All these audios promote self-compassion, but Traci’s lets you absorb it while asleep. Think about it – your resistance to showing and feeling kindness toward yourself is snoozing, too! So it has a good chance of going in. :)

But chances are, he's going to need more than just audio recordings for help with this, at least initially, so if he can get a good evaluation - from a therapist or counselor who is experienced with chemical dependency, along with some good support from a program, that would be good.

And keep in mind, he may need to start out in residential treatment to get properly launched into abstinence - and sometimes it takes more than one stay!

Best wishes,