Often the first things people think of when they are looking for, or being offered advice, is ‘What credibility or expertise does this person have?’ and ‘What qualifies them to give me good advice?’ The answer is not always as ‘academic’ as you may think.
The reason I am writing this is to address possible queries people may have about my ‘suitability’ to give advice on resolving an alcohol dependence. It is most likely that the questions I stated above will be asked of me… and that’s very reasonable given the topic concerned.
So what is and who is considered an ‘expert’?
Wikipedia states, ‘an expert, generally speaking, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular field or area of study’. Furthermore it states, ‘experts have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In specific fields, the definition of expert is well established by consensus and therefore it is not necessary for an individual to have a professional or academic qualification for them to be accepted as an expert.’
…And to allow for differences in opinions it states, ‘Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study.’
I have also seen it written, that it is generally accepted that an expert level of any skill requires 10,000 hours of purposeful engagement in a particular area. Also, although formal education is often considered the most well established route to expertise, there is experienced-based expertise that in some cases leads to more rapid discovery, technical evolvement and deep understanding.
Typically though, (rightly or wrongly) most of us want to know what ‘formal’ qualifications the person has in a particular field to judge their ‘expertise’ on. There are plenty of fields you would expect to see formal education and accreditation e.g. medical, legal, accounting, engineering, scientific etc. There are also many other professions, including trade-based ones, where formal education is less important to us in determining whether the person is an ‘expert’ or competent in their field.
Regardless of the hierarchy of professional status, having a formal education and accreditation in a particular field, does not necessarily mean they are an ‘expert’ or even any good at what they do. Whether it’s a lawyer, accountant, a doctor, a baker or a candlestick maker, expertise doesn’t just come with the formal piece of paper. It also doesn’t necessarily make their opinion correct or the only alternative.Professional opinions can often differ and even good doctors are happy to refer patients to peers to get 2nd and even 3rd opinions when requested, or to confirm diagnosis or treatment. I’m sure we have all heard plenty of stories of malpractice and shoddiness in all professions, regardless of being formally highly ‘qualified’ or not.
In fact, what I believe we really want to know is are they suitable to help us with what we are trying to achieve… and are they any good at what they do. For me, I want to know what sort of ‘experience’ do they have and what sort of ‘results’ have they had. The formal qualifications confirm academic training, though real life personal experience and results are the proof of the pudding.
So where does this leave me in the ‘alcohol dependence’ scheme of things?
The facts are I have no formal medical or psychological qualifications in the field of alcohol dependence, and I am quite comfortable with that. Though for many years I have thought, that if I had my time over again, I would have liked to formally study psychology. I have always, as long as I can remember, been a deep, analytical thinker and observer of people and behaviour. I have always pondered the ‘why’ questions and thought about why people behave in certain ways.
Despite no formal qualifications in the alcohol dependence field, what I do have is over 30 years of personal experience in the consequences of alcohol consumption. I would say about 20 years of that time I was addicted to alcohol, drank every day and suffered anxiety if I was forced to go a day without it. I experienced many years of trying to manage my alcohol abuse, to limit the embarrassing consequences of being drunk, at home and socially. For years I suffered the emotional depths of frustration and despair, as time and time again my attempts to moderate my alcohol abuse failed and I would embarrass myself, my family and my friends.
I have also personally experienced what it was like to go from the extremes of ‘no belief I could ever stop drinking’, to the ‘knowing I don’t desire alcohol any more’ now and will never ‘need’ to drink alcohol again, for any reason. I personally experienced what it took to change my thinking around at a core level. What it was like to take those first steps on the uncertain journey of ‘no more alcohol forever’, and how it felt each step of the way. I experienced my own level of alcohol withdrawal and cravings and learned how to best manage them relevant to my particular circumstances. I learnt how to deal with questions (or taunts) from family, friends and colleagues. I fathomed and experienced how to restructure my daily and social routines to support an alcohol-free lifestyle. I have also personally experienced what a magnificent change can occur to someone’s self-esteem, confidence, spirit, pride (call it what you want), when the realisation spreads from the inside out, that alcohol is no longer necessary nor desired.
I spent many years before starting my own personally developed process of becoming alcohol-free, and more years during and after, reading, listening, watching and studying material on human potential, personal growth… and in the field of alcohol dependence. I have listed some of these (though certainly not all) on my alcohemy.com website.
No, the knowledge I gained over these years of study and research didn’t result in a formal medical or psychology qualification in alcohol dependence. However, I can assure you, what I did learn helped me shift my thinking at a core level and aide me in developing my alcohol treatment program that now sees me blissfully and permanently alcohol-free. Such was the magnitude of the change in me, that I am now committing myself for the rest of my life, to help other willing people resolve their own alcohol dependence.
I fully accept that there will be academics and potential participants alike that will assess my credentials as unsuitable to render assistance to alcoholics, regardless of the severity of their alcohol dependence. That is their choice and out of my control. However, I am confident there will also be many people with an alcohol addiction, looking for someone with real life experience, who has personally been successful in become alcohol-free, to help them complete their journey in a private and discreet way. Someone who knows how they feel and has successfully been through the process.
There are many different public and private avenues available to get help with alcohol addiction and Alcohemy is just one of the more private and discreet options. I am happy to provide my personalised service to all those that believe my particular knowledge and experience, is more important than whether I have a medical degree or not. I didn’t need one to get my fantastic results and firmly believe my actual experience will be of great value to a lot of people struggling with what to do. To help them again be the Master of their fate; the Captain of their soul.