Making a commitment matters in sports, life


Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

Recovery from chemicals is a gift. Unfortunately only one in 10 people in the beginning of their recovery choose to use it.

If I were to ask ten basketball coaches and ten chemical dependency counselors what their best offensive tactics were for defeating the opponent they played and the addiction their clients have, I would probably get 20 different opinions. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this, because every coach and counselor has their own philosophy. However what coaches and counselors learn as they experience wins, losses, unseen behaviors, and sometimes being “blind-sided,” are universal truths.

For example, if my center is 6-foot-1 and the team we will play has a 6-foot-9 center and my guards are 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-10 and not quick, and we have to play against guards that are 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3 and quick, then I have to adapt my offense and defense to the type of talent I have.

They are bigger, quicker and shoot well. I now have to empower my kids to take their game away from them, which includes fast breaking, pressing, flooding the boards on outside shots and just plain changing the tempo of what they want the other team to do. We will only take so many shots, use the clock, limit the turnovers, work hard on the press to bring the ball up, and play “team” defense. What we are looking for is to be in the game and give ourselves a chance to win. Kids that make a commitment to the philosophy that sometimes talented teams have to be played a certain way to have a chance to be successful. If a coach has 12 players, everyone has to be on board to pull an upset. My teams have done it many times. We did not always win, but the “will to win, and the will to excel” were evident and that’s all any coach can ask.

So you are asking, “What does this have to do with counseling in chemical dependency?” In the previous paragraph, I talked about making a commitment to realizing who we are and who we are not. Kids, like clients, are smart. If they begin to see that you are committed to what you are teaching, and it helps them get better, then, hopefully they will “buy in” to the thinking that will empower them to play on a higher level.

At friends of Cazenovia, our main word in recovery was “empowerment,” or taking responsibility for being solely responsible for their disease, their abstinence, growth or returning to chemical use in recovery. How easy it is to blame our problems on others. People that have not made a commitment t the gift of recovery, usually sound like the following:

“It’s not my fault, I am the way I am.”

“I never asked to be chemically dependent.”

“I never asked to be born.”

“I want someone to fix me.”

“I never get any breaks in life.”

“No one can help me, I am hopeless and worthless.”

“God is punishing me.”

“I never had a chance in life, my mother was a drunk and my father beat me.”

“Society made me what I am.”

“Life makes me anxious, so I drink and drug to take away the discomfort.”

“The problems in my family have influenced me, who I am and what I will be. There is nothing I can do to change, I’ll always be a racist, a bigot, prejudiced, sexist and closed-minded.

Over the past 30 years, these are a few of the irrational thinking patterns that have been presented to me in one on one sessions.

Often, these accusations are justified. Clients are feeling hurt and frustrated. In these moments, clients may begin to believe that the solution to their problem is getting the other person to do what they want and having society giving them the outcome they want. However, these self-defeating behaviors place their power in other people’s hands, and outside themselves. In the field, we call this co-dependency even though I personally don’t care for the word.

Next week: Part two.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Call 983-1592 for more information.


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