DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an alcoholic. I started drinking heavily in my fraternity days in college, and I haven't stopped. It wrecked my grades, and I had to drop out of school. Drinking has had a negative impact on my life, and I want to change it. I don't want to do Alcoholics Anonymous because I've been, and it just made me want to drink more. Nor do I think rehab is the way to go.
I want to turn my life around and finish my degree to get a better job. What can I do to change my ways? -- Ready to Change, Flint, Mich.
DEAR READY TO CHANGE: Congratulations on realizing that you need to change your life. Awareness is the key to your success in kicking this addiction. You need to get help.
Start by going to your internist and getting a physical to check on your overall health. Ask your doctor to recommend a method of detoxification that may work for you. Options include going to a therapist who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction. Many alcoholics do one-on-one therapy like this or attend group therapy with a professional counselor. If you have insurance, it may help pay for counseling.
Your doctor also may suggest that you reconsider the options you say you have ruled out. Although you didn't like Alcoholics Anonymous in the past, you may want to revisit it. There are many AA meetings, so you may be able to find a different one that is more suited to you. AA is free and you can go every day, which has proved helpful for people who are trying to kick this insidious habit.