Pod 81 Mei-Li Hennen
Deb: Welcome back to the Alcohol Tipping Point Podcast. I am your host, Deb Masner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach and alcohol free badass. And today on the show I have Dr. Mei-Li Hennen. She is a Clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in the addiction and mental health field, and she's also the host of the Recovery Plus podcast and the founder of Red Door Coaching and Consulting.
So I wanna thank MA for being here today. I'm so glad to have you here and pick your brain because you have so much experience in this field of addiction.
Mei-Li: Well, thank you so much, Deb, for allowing me to come on your podcast. Very honored and excited.
Deb: Great. Well, can you just share a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Mei-Li: Sure. Like you were saying, my name is Dr. Mei-Li Hennen I actually am now a transformational life coach and recovery coach. In California. I did some treatment and work in. Drug and alcohol programs, homeless programs, and then moved recently to tuna, Idaho. Just figured out how to say that city. With my partner and dog Stella.
So I get to now do coaching transformational coaching, and, and right now I'm working with a lot of folks who are in recovery, who are exploring kinda what do they wanna be and how do they wanna show up because I think recovery is not the end goal. I think recovery is a long process and a stepping stone to really find your own bad.
Badassery, is that something I can say , to find that and embrace, you know, kind of where they want to be in recovery and moving forward and tap into their own potential and really who they wanna be when they grow up while in recovery. So that's what I get to do. It's a lot of fun and so different than I think what I was doing.
Deb: Oh yeah. That's so interesting. Well, could you kind of share some of the differences between know what you were doing before as you know, someone with their PhD working in addictions and now what you're doing in coaching?
Mei-Li: Sure. There is some overlap, but I think one of the key distinctions is there is.
The education and training is pretty exhaustive and you isn't, As a nurse, you know this as well. There's a lot of schooling. I also have a master's degree, and it's focused on reducing symptomology, understanding diagnoses, whether it's schizophrenia, bipolar schizoid disorders, all of these kinds of things.
In the Di Diagnostic Statistical Manual fifth Edition, which is this very thick book. Basically in all the different types of, you know, diagnoses that people go through experiencing in mental. Severe mental illness, and so there's a lot of training on theory and practice and. Also you need to be licensed not just certified, but licensed in the state that you are practicing and meet folks in that area.
You can't see people out of state. Some may be licensed in dual places. But it really is about looking at your past and learning how to manage when trauma comes up, for instance, how to manage that in the moment there's no cure. But there are treatment modalities, interventions that are efficacious.
And so that's kind of the therapeutic side. It's not to say that it's not oriented for the moment or in present, but it certainly is focusing on kind of like psychodynamic is really about how childhood really. I think impacts personality and how you show up as a person. Whereas coaching is much more oriented in the here and now based on positive psychology and.
Really looking at what do you wanna do, goal oriented, present focused. It's not just about getting X, Y, and Z done, but also seeing yourself in a different way. And as a coach, you could be, you could come from finance, you can come from business, you can come from health and wellness. You can come from.
Faith, you know, you don't have to be one thing. You can have expertise in a multitude of things, whereas a psychologist or a therapist is really focused on mental health and wellness. They may have other specializations, but for coaches it could be anything. And a combination of whether it's fitness, business, those kinds of things.
So what I get to do now is really focus on folks who are in recovery that are highly motivated to kind of see what their potential. Find what's meaningful in their life and like go for it in big, big ways. I am not providing treatment. I am not doing assessments or diagnostics that is not within the realm of coaching.
But we absolutely get to talk about what you wanna be when you show up and how to get there. And there's a lot of play and a lot of fun. It's not as heavy, and I'm not talking about one's past or daddy issues or mom issues or anything like that. It may come up, but that's not the main focus. The main focus is.
Your potential and living your potential and striving to really see what you know makes you tick and what you wanna do in life that makes you happy and feel successful.
Deb: Yeah. Thank you for the, the distinction between the two. I mean, therapy in a way, like you said, is kind of heavy and digging more into the past and coaching is about the future and the present.
Mm-hmm. , I've like your, in your your podcast is called Recovery Plus Podcast, and then the tagline is, Fuck yesterday, focus on today. Yes. Do you, so do you think that it is still important to, like if you are someone who's changing your drinking, having a drinking problem, like how much should you focus on the past versus the future?
Like what, how do you balance that out?
Mei-Li: I think that's a great question. It's really about, I would ask them how does the. Impact you right now. How does the past or thought patterns or value systems that created over time affect you right now? How does that affect your drinking patterns? Because it could be shame based and when I drink, I don't feel as shameful.
Where does the shame come from? And that might be a question. From the past and now it's like, how does that show up for you today? So it really is a balancing act of like, why is this coming up right now for me? As opposed to, let me focus on why this keeps happening. I don't understand it, but why is it coming up right now?
How does it affect me in this moment? How is it affecting me in my relationships? How is it affecting me in my decision making? I think to ask the question why. Now, and not to go way back like in third grade, but some of these things will show up. I don't think you can get rid of your past, but I think one way to look at your history is it could be your teacher.
It can inform you like, Oh, where is this value system of shame coming from? Like, why is this coming up today? Oh, because I had this interaction with someone that made me feel like shit. Oh, and now as they feel like shit, it triggers all these other memories. So I, as a coach, I would say, So what do you wanna do about this now?
Whereas in therapy, someone might wanna process. Tell me more about why this is happening over and over again. Not a bad question, but from a coach's perspective, to stay in our lane, which is, what do you wanna do with it? And what's the value of having this come up now? Does that make. Mm-hmm. .
Deb: Yeah. Yeah.
Thank you. Since you have all this experience with addiction treatment something that comes up often is, you know, like, are, do you think all addictions are the same? And you know, for example, like my thing was drinking. Mm-hmm. , like smoking everything else, I could take it or leave it, right? Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. . So I, I guess maybe there's a two part to this, like, Why do some people kind of find one? One thing like drinking? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . As opposed to being addicted to everything or like, what are your thoughts around
Mei-Li: that? That's a huge question, and I love it. I don't know an answer. What I can say about that is they're, they are not alike, you know, depending on, like you mentioned, cigarettes.
Cigarette addiction versus alcohol addiction impacts behavior and your mental wellbeing in different ways. If I'm smoking five cigarettes in a drive in my car versus drinking, you know, five bottles or, or something like that, obviously the person who is drinking five bottles of something versus smoking five cigarettes is gonna have different effects.
So the severity of it, and I think you. Also environment could possibly, you know, if you're exposed to people who are drinking and it's normalized and there, you could be prone to addiction or you can, you know, binge drinkers for instance, or people who abuse alcohol, abusing alcohol. And you talk a lot about that too, is, you know, when is abuse addiction?
But binge drinking, to answer your question, you know, I. When they're more prone to do that, as opposed to if they were not in an environment where alcohol was acceptable. So I think it is very different different behaviors and different mental states. You know, someone who's smoking crack versus someone who is using like heroin.
There are subcultures in there too. Those behaviors are very, very different. But there is some. Where, you know, I think we all know, we have to look at how does it affect quality of life. There's some people who can binge shrink and then be done for months and months and months and then binge shrink and then stop.
So I agree. I think they're all, they are very, very different and it depends. There's no clean answer. But that's a really good topic that I would love to hear more from you about as well. They are very different, I think.
Deb: Yeah. I mean, I think that myth that there's an addictive personality, I, I think that is a myth.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but mm-hmm. I also think. That some of these substances themselves are more addictive. Absolutely. Yeah. And so I just like nicotine is addictive and alcohol and And I guess I just bring it up just because of like kind of doing a reading of Dr. Anna Leki and her dopamine nation and how she kind of describes like anyone can become addicted to anything.
Mm-hmm. , it's kind of the same pattern in your brain. Mm-hmm. . But like you said, These things we're addicted to have various consequences like health wise or social wise. Mm-hmm. or whatnot. So I don't find the whole topic Interesting.
Mei-Li: It really is. And you mentioned dopamine and, and glutamate also as a neurotransmitter.
You know, anything that brings us pleasure, we want more of it, you know? Mm-hmm. So you're right. Cigarettes, benzo. Alcohol, chocolate, sugar, I mean, all of these things, if they, if you use them often figure out why are you using them often and how does it impact your life, Quality of life. So it is a really interesting question and I think there's more discussions to have around that.
But yeah, I think there's not one addiction that looks the same. Very, very different for.
Deb: Yeah. Yeah. Well, what do you think, you know, having spent years in the addiction treatment industry mm-hmm. mm-hmm. for lack of a better word, but maybe that is a good word. What, what has changed throughout the
Well, that's a good question too. I think one of the biggest things that I've seen is medication assisted treatment, which conflicts with abstinence. Okay, so there are some challenges and philosophies about when someone is using Naltrexone or getting a Vivitrol shot for, you know, heroin or heroin or opiate addiction or You know, but medication assisted treatment has saved life.
So that to me is a big shift, I think, in treatment where it's not just about talk therapy, also effective in treatment facilities, but to bring in medication diet also plays a huge role. So I think people are moving. Well, not everyone, but moving in a holistic, kinda looking at the brain differently and looking at addiction differently.
It's not just about you're a shitty person. Hopefully we can change all that. But I think there's more education. And I also believe that social media has played a powerful tool. Both. There's a shadow side to it and a positive side to it, but everybody is on social media or, Well, a lot of young people are also on social media.
I am learning about social media at this point. It's kind of a mystery to me, but there's more access to information than ever before. And I think telemedicine is due to covid is also more accessible in terms of rural areas that people can access. So I think education and prevention, those are always ongoing things that, but I think that's happening now.
Medication assisted treatment, like I was mentioning, also very important. And you know, psychodynamic treatments are now being applied to You know, treatment in facilities that address substance use disorders. Because with the substance use disorder, I, I don't know anyone with a substance use disorder that doesn't have some form of anxiety or depression associated with that.
I, I, I've never met someone who just has goes, Hi, I am an alcoholic and I am fine. You know, I feel really good about myself because I drink so much. I mean, I don't hear that. You know? So I think some of these kinds of education prevention stuff is, Is absolutely making a difference. And with social media too, like I was mentioning, but there's a lot more to be done for
Yeah. What, what do you think still needs to change?
Mei-Li: I still think that, you know, our public needs to change. Stigma is huge. And I find this question really an interesting one because there's so many different levels. Like from a policy side, can we talk about more funding prevention programs? Can we talk about legislation on how to fund more education prevention programs?
Like right now there's this huge movement of recovery high schools, which is interesting. There's about 44 of these high schools in the nation. That's really new. I, I just saw this recently, where in high school there's a high school where you get your diploma working with. With young people who actually have suffered from addiction.
So they go to these high schools because, you know, this, the relapse rate for someone who goes back into an environment where they used is really high. So if you imagine a young person going to the same high school that they used, they're gonna be, you know the relapse is gonna be more likely than not.
So that's, that's something that I. We can do better in our communities and also more access to services, insurance companies. I don't know about you, but working with insurance companies is not the greatest. It's always like we have to prove that how severe this person is and we have to fight for every day they're in treatment.
And the hope is that insurance companies are a little more accommodating and understanding of symptomology of what addiction really is. And also I think medical profession professionals. When you were a nursing school, did you guys go over like addiction?
Deb: Very, very briefly in mental health.
Mm-hmm. , Yeah.
Mei-Li: Mm-hmm. . Right. So what if in medical schools and nursing schools and, and those in psychology, I just took like one or two units on addiction and, you know, at that level similar to you, you know, And it's like there needs to be more education at the medical level because many of the clients have to go to the er.
To detox cuz some of them are not safe enough to go into treatment. Treatment is very different than a hospital. And so when they go to the ER to detox or to stabilize so they can avoid getting, like for alcohol, for folks who drink alcohol, it's the worst. It's deadly if they withdraw without medical attention, as you know, they can have seizures and they die as opposed to a heroin.
Person on heroin who wants to fucking die, but may not, especially if they don't overdose. But the withdrawals are gross, but someone withdrawing from alcohol, that's a whole different gig. So hospitals, I think, can play a more proactive role on coordinating care with treatment facilities in the community.
Whether that's St. Luke's Or St. Anthony's, you know, basically they, are they working and coordinating with facilities in our area? I don't know. You know, I think they're just looking at the client going, Let's hope they survive and then get 'em out, you know? So I think there's. There's a community of awareness that can happen.
Prevention, education that can happen, insurance policies, legal you know, from political policy changes can happen at that level and from our hospital system. So multifaceted areas where I think improvement can happen, and especially in, you know, disenfranchised communities where, you know, it's the LGBTQ population, it's people of color, bi.
Population, QT bipo population also where their experiences stigma just based on who they are on top of mental health, possibly on top of addiction. So again, prevention and education, funding support and discussions like you and I are having, which is how to humanize addiction. And put a name on it.
When we're thinking about what we can all do, you know, in training we're talking about labels and labels could be pretty impactful. Labels comes from language. So if I go, Hi, I'm an addict. Is that all of me? What if, Hi, I am a person who suffers from addiction or clients I'm working with. People ask me, What do you do for a living?
If I go, I work with a bunch of addicts, that sounds demoralizing, but if I say, I am working with some of the most brave people I know who are in recovery, That sounds very different and it's actually more true. So if we can start with ourselves, how we view addiction. You know, I did this exercise with folks where I said, Close your eyes for a moment and I'm gonna walk you through.
We're walking on the streets and you see someone who you believe is an addict. Describe them for me. And I said, Open your eyes. And I go Look at each other. Did you see those people? Did you see the person to your left? Did you see the person to your right? They're like, No. So that tells me that we all have our biases.
Biases of what addiction is. So, That's still what needs to happen is how to reduce stigma, not just for other people, but look at our own biases and look at our own language of how we address or work with folks who are in recovery as opposed to, I work with a bunch of addicts. That's extremely demoralizing.
So I think that is one of the biggest things that we can do on individual level and we can all educate each other on how can we talk about folks who struggle with addiction in a much more caring way? Because once we start there, then we're probably more open to different things. Like, Oh, let's, let's understand what, you know, alcoholism really.
Let me talk to a friend of mine who I'm concerned about their drinking and not be judgemental. You know those kinds of things. So there's a lot of work to be done, for sure.
Deb: Oh my gosh, Yeah. So much. And, and that labeling that you speak, like, that's something I'm very passionate about, you know, that's why I call myself and I'll call free badass and I really try to, I don't use the term alcoholic and you know, you were mentioning the DSM and how that has been updated and the Terminology's alcohol use disorder, and it's on a spectrum from mild to moderate to severe.
And so that's just another way of, you know, not labeling people not having a stigma associated with it. Mm-hmm. . , I think language is so important in what you identify with and how you want to call yourself and, and how that can empower you as well.
Mm-hmm. . So I think that's really good and I mean, yes, a lot needs to change, mm-hmm. for. Well, what would you say, you know, since this is a podcast about people who are changing their drinking? Mm-hmm. , what are your top tips for anyone who is looking to change their relationship with alcohol?
Mei-Li: First of all, I would say good for you.
You know, because I mean, celebrating the wins, you know, I mean, the world is pretty dismal in so many ways. You look on the news and it's, and it's like terrible. So really acknowledging the wins. It's like, first of all, wanting to change anything, especially relationship to alcohol, That's a huge deal. And then I would explore what is your why, why do you wanna change your relationship?
And then what would you like the relationship to be? And then who are your peeps? Who are your supports in terms of changing relationships? Do they also change relationships with alcohol around you? I mean, what? What is that? It's almost a what? The why and how do you wanna do it? What is the smallest step you can do to change that relationship?
And when do you wanna do it? So, I'm gonna tell you something I, which is different, but sort of the same. So I stopped smoking three days ago. Okay. Fucking nightmare. Good for you. But, but when you asked that, thank you. It's like acknowledging the win. Yeah. It's like, what? Why do I wanna do this? The first thing is don't do it for anybody.
Don't do it for anybody else. Cuz I'm sure, as you know, if I said You need to stop drinking, Deb, what the fuck are you doing? You know, stop doing that. I am sure you would say F off because it's really someone, it's an individual thing. So when you're wondering and curious about what I wanna change my relationship with alcohol, first of all, praise yourself.
Acknowledge. Acknowledging that I think is the biggest thing. The second is to suspend any kind of judgment and inner critic stuff like, Man, I should have done this sooner, or, What the hell's wrong with me? It really is about acknowledging that. Figuring out what, why you wanna do it. And who's gonna help you if you want that support.
When you wanna do why, when what, how, and acknowledge you are wanting to change, you know, and just being really mindful about what that's gonna, what that's gonna be, and keep doing. And don't judge yourself if it's not perfect, cuz there's no such thing. So yeah, I, I think if anybody wants to change their relationship with alcohol that's a big deal.
That's a huge win.
Deb: Oh, I love that. I love that the first thing you said was good for you. I love that. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Cause you don't always hear that. You know, especially like for from loved ones or even your friends, you know, it's like, Hey guys, I'm taking a break. And it's usually like, Oh my God, what's wrong?
Like, Oh, are you sure what you know, it's mm-hmm. you never hear like, Good for you. That's awesome.
Mei-Li: It is awesome, right? Because, and the thing is because alcohol is so socially acceptable, It's like if you're like, I don't want to drink today. They're like, What is wrong with you? As opposed, if I were like, Hey, I'm gonna not smoke heroin, they're gonna go, You better not.
Right? So a whole different way because it's so accessible and it's so acceptable to the point where when you say no, which is a complete sentence, they're like, Well, why? And the answer to that is, why the fuck not right? And that's it, because I said, So not today. Right? And so when people want to change relationship with alcohol, I think that's amazing because what got you there?
And maybe that's not as important. Maybe what's important is that you chose to do it in this moment, and that's inspir. So to always acknowledge the wins cuz it's so easy to like judge yourself and to like induce shame and induce anxiety or induce guilt and all sorts of stuff. You know, I mean, stopping smoking was like, well, it's about damn time.
but instead of that, it's like, Well, good. Okay, we'll just do this minute to minute. Just like if someone wants to change the relationship with alcohol, it's like, I don't think it was a random thought. I think when somebody is wanting to change their relationship with alcohol, they've been thinking about it for a minute.
There is something about what they wanna do differently in their life which is a significant change. Like any change is significant. I don't care how, how many steps, whether it's 12 steps or more or less, right? So I think who, when you wanna change your relationship with alcohol, fucking good. Good for you.
Deb: Yeah. Well said. So you mentioned that now that you're doing coaching, you're really focusing on the future. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And I have noticed like a lot of people now that they've given up drinking, you know, they're like, Okay. How, what do I do? What do I do with all this free time? What do I do with my life?
What's gonna bring it meaning? So what, what kind of like advice or things do you have to address? Like just finding that purpose. Mm-hmm. .
Mei-Li: Mm-hmm. . Well, I think those, that's a great question because those are some of the questions I, I ask the, the folks I work with is like, first of all, I, I would ask what things.
Have you loved doing that? You stopped doing, and it could be as easy of what things do you enjoy? Like someone told me it's like, I love doing art. Well, what made you. What will help you start again if that's something that you wanna do. So it's really about finding what your interests are and creating opportunities so you could do maybe some more of those interests.
What is purposeful for you? What, what things make you excited and passionate? And if the answer is, Oh God, I don't know. Well, let's just start with what you're interested in. What do what? What do you enjoy? So those are some of the things, because when people are in recovery now, they're gonna feel all the feels.
Right now, I feel all sorts of shit. I mean, it's great that I'm in recovery and my life has shifted and I feel like I have more energy. I'm healthier, my relationships are better. I'm more effective at work, all of these things. But now I have to feel all this stuff and learning how to manage my emotions and really a lot of it is impact on I'm not good enough.
I'm not worthy. Now, all the self doubt sometimes can come up for folks who are in recovery and like, I'm doing my program, I'm doing this, but now I, I, I've always wanted to do X, Y, or Z. And I'm like, What's, what stops you? Well, I'm not good enough. Or Well, people will judge me. So there's a lot of, I mean, we all have it, but I think folks now, in early recovery or in or in recovery in general, self doubt happens for us all.
But when you're in recovery and you're not used to feeling all those feels now it's like, shit. Now it's really exponentially bigger sometimes, and this is not for everybody, but for some of the clients that I'm working with, this is what it, what shows up for them. And I'm like, So do something that you enjoy.
Figure out what that is. You know? Oh, I like interior design. Well, you used to be a really good one. Is that something that you're interested in doing? What is the smallest step you can do to get there? So really finding purpose and meaning sounds so daunting when it really could be a small step in like figuring out what is it that you love to do.
What do you enjoy? You know, being in recovery yourself, it's like, what do you enjoy doing? You fanged your passion. Doesn't mean it was easy. It doesn't mean it was an absent of fear. It just means you, you're learning how to manage it differently, so it brings you more capacity to dream bigger. You know, dream bigger.
We don't have to play small and addiction. You're small. But when you're in recovery, you can play big and go bigger and do it with a lot of fun, a lot of love with joy. So that's the kind of stuff I get to do, you know, is really help people find their joy, find their rhythm despite their fear, is that balancing act.
Mm-hmm. , right? So, and I usually say, Let's play, Are you ready to play? And if you are here, we. I
Deb: think that's so great. Well, why still have you? I wanted to ask you about, this is kind of taking a turn, but a lot of people who are now changing their drinking, they still have a partner that drinks.
They're still, you know, maybe they, they were their drinking buddy. And so they're having troubles navigating. Relationship, like working on their own self and their, their relationship with alcohol while their partner is kind of doing their own thing and, and still drinking around them. What, what kind of advice do you have for that person?
Mei-Li: Hm. That's a, that's a really interesting question. I think first of all, it starts with understanding what kind of relationship you want with your drinking, and then what kind of relationship do you want with your partner. Right, And to examine like how do you want to share life in the world? Is that okay?
Because there's some things you will tolerate, some things you'll accept. And it's like, what is your, no, First of all, what are you going to absolutely say This is not going to work. Versus you can tolerate and be flexible around this. And if, just like in any relationship, one person might wanna do one thing, the other not.
And to what degree will that be and is that okay? So what are the okays versus the not? Okay. So exploring boundaries around that I think would be an important discussion anyway. Like, I'm gonna do this. And if they're like, Fine, do you boo, I don't care. But if you're like, Well if you continue to do this in drinking and the way that we used to do it then I would say to that person who's exploring a different relationship with, with alcohol, Will this change your relationship with your partner and what changes are you okay with?
And if they don't change, are you okay with that? And so it's a deeper issue on like what's acceptable and what, how do you want a relationship to be as you shift your relationship with. And it could be very minor, but it could be, My sense is your question is like significant relationship shift in drinking.
Like you're not gonna go out socially, you might be doing more, you know, working out or different, you know, activities with other people. What does that, how does that impact your relationship with your partner? So it, it really is a multi-layered question. You're very good at that multi-layered question without a simple answer, but it really is to explore with the boundaries and what you want in your relationship as you shift your drinking patterns, as you shift from maybe drinking less to almost none.
So, yeah, it's a big question. Mm-hmm. .
Deb: Well, I was gonna ask, like, what, what advice do you have for setting boundaries? How do you go about that?
Mei-Li: Well, you have to figure out what boundary you wanna set and what boundaries mean to you. Some are very fluid. Okay. Like when somebody says no, and the other person's like, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna follow that, then they go a little further.
Okay. That's. So if you're gonna set a boundary, set it as opposed to set a boundary and then break your boundary. Right? And what kind of boundaries do you want? Do you want an emotional boundary? Like you can't talk to me that way or a physical boundary When you're intoxicated, We're not gonna interact.
Okay. Then we'll be a separat. I will understand whatever that looks like. You know, and there is maybe a spiritual. Boundary. It's like, energetically, this person doesn't feel that great right now, so I'm gonna create a boundary. Like we can't interact when this happens. So boundaries or a boundary is Yes.
So when I'm doing this shift, do you wanna participate with me? So it could be an invitation as a boundary. Boundaries are not just No, but they're also, Yes. And so, I think you have to determine what that is. And you know, it takes a lot of courage to create boundaries because it's gonna be really uncomfortable.
And so, and shifting your relationship with alcohol could be also very uncomfortable. It is like, Hell yeah. Good for you. And oh fuck, what do I do? . Like, this is scary, right? It's a both, it's an and, so when you explore those boundaries, really determine what they are and how you do it. You have to stick to it, or it's not a boundary, it's just a discussion then, right?
Mm-hmm. . So if no means no or yes means yes and mean it, but that person who is setting that boundary, you have to be willing to set it and to keep it. And inform that person. I'm going to set these boundaries. Don't just do it and not tell them. That would be unfair, right? So it's a lot of, a lot of discussion and being really genuine and being honest with yourself and to that other person because when you wanna shift your relationship with alcohol, that means there is something about you that you are wanting to change about you.
It's not about just the alcohol. It's like, what is my relationship to myself now knowing that this shift is happening? I might respect myself more. I feel more courageous and empowered to make that shift. Now I feel more like a badass. Right. And so if I feel more like a badass, maybe I can feel more courageous and set the healthier boundaries.
But it all comes out with when you shift and wanna change relationships. No, it could shift other parts of your life, not just with alcohol, but with yourself, with other people. How you make decisions in other places in your life. Because when you, when you do that shift and wanting a change in relationship with the, with alcohol, That also means where else can that show up?
What else do you wanna change? Because that's a really good place to start. So it's a beautiful process at Terrifying also. So the hope is that when you set that boundary, you actually set it, make that clear. And similar to, you know, tips, understand why you're creating that boundary, who are going to support you.
What's the smallest step you could take to, to make that boundary understand and, and when do you wanna do it? Right. So those are, so the what, when wise are really applicable to boundary setting and also shifting relationship with drinking. That's
Deb: really helpful. Is
Mei-Li: that, Yeah.
Deb: Yeah. That's helpful. Thank you.
And then kind of along those lines how would you support a loved one who is struggling with alcohol, who does have a problem with drinking? Mm-hmm. , what are some, what's some advice you have for that person?
Mei-Li: Similar boundaries, right? Mm-hmm. , you can love them. and, and not enables them. A lot of family members get are enablers or they're enmeshed or they're so far apart.
As a loved one who is watching someone do this to themselves, it is probably one of the most painful things to watch. I've worked with families who are just broken and some have enabled them, like giving them money giving them all these things. You know, like, because their, their person is saying, I promise I won't ever do this again.
I promise I'll never do this again. And they keep doing it over and over again. And then the, the family members don't also have boundaries and allow them to keep doing it over and over again. So sometimes that is, you know, reco. I recommend either some kind of professional help, you know Because it's really hard to do this alone, especially families who don't understand addiction.
They only see it through this lens. Like, Oh my God, this is horrible. And they don't know what to do. So they do everything. For them or they do nothing. And there's this, there's this in between. It's never, you know, absolute. So there's, there's a lot of ways to address that. You can go to alanon, which is family support around people with addiction or with alcohol addiction.
Interventionist, you can call for therapy, you know? But really if a family member's feeling like this is scary, you know, treatment, you know, and having discussions around that, if they're like, Fuck no, I'm not doing it, then they're not ready. And as we know, You have to want to change. No one can make you do it.
Or our jobs would be so much easier if I'm like, Stop freaking. You're like, No problem. There we go. Excellent. I'm so glad that worked out. I am really good at what I do. , right? That just doesn't happen. So the hope is that. You know, the family member can just be really honest, know I'm really concerned about you.
I love you so much and you know your drinking is really, really scaring me. And I'm just wondering if you'd be willing to talk to somebody about it. Cuz I don't know the language, I don't know what to do. All I know is if this keeps happening, you could. Or if you keep, if this keeps happening, it can pull our family apart and to come from a loving place instead of a judgemental place.
I think it's really easy for families to go, What the fuck is wrong with you? Like you keep doing this over and over again, like you wanna hurt us on purpose and we know that's not true, or family members are so. Like in mesh that they're just gonna pretend it's fine. You know, this is just how, you know, Tom does it.
Tom's just being Tom and they deny that addiction is happening. So you know, is that person ready and just to have some loving conversations. But until that person wants to make that change, or to your point, have a different relationship with drinking. It's not gonna, it's not gonna matter of what you say, but at least as a family member you can try to get help for yourself.
Try to get support, try to get educated around it and hope that that loved one decides. But what I would say to a family member, you can't save them. You can't save people who wanna stay in addiction. You can't save somebody who doesn't wanna stop drinking. They need to want to stop drinking. But you can support them.
Offer them like, we'll be here whenever you're ready. I think that's the most loving thing that a family member can say. Whenever you're ready, we'll be here to support you instead of, instead of being judgey, cuz that's just gonna. Paralyze the whole family system right there. So love come from a loving place, but also get support so you don't lose your fucking mind.
as a, as a family member cuz people can't do this alone. , you know, they really can't do it on their own. Some have, but that's very rare. So it literally takes the community to help. And the good news is there is, there's help, right? And there are people here that can help family members who struggle.
But you gotta be willing to do it. And that is where your question is. Do you want to change your relationship with drinking? And if so, why? And if so, how? So? Family members, you have no control. That's a reality. You can come from a loving position. It may not sound like, Oh, that didn't help me. Well, the reality is you can't help them until they want to be helped.
So what is gonna help you as a family person, as a family member, so you can be ready when they're ready, They may never be ready. So what are you going to do for you? It's not selfish. It is about self-care too. For a family member. That's super important too, I
Deb: think. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that.
Before we wrap up, is there anything else you would want to say to someone who's listening to this show today?
Mei-Li: Yeah, I mean, I. If you want to shift your relationship with alcohol really understand where that's coming from and celebrate at first instead of judging yourself. I think it's so easy that we can be judged, jury, all of it, and beat the hell out of ourselves like we should have done this sooner.
When in fact it's like, Wow, you did. That's the first change. That's the first part is, you know, you wanna do something different. Wow. Great. So I would say, you know, if you are thinking about it, that's great. There's something about you and us in this moment that wants to do something healthier for yourself.
So respect yourself in that way as much as you can. So that's what I would say is acknowledge the win first, for sure. Yeah. Thank
Deb: you. And how, how could someone find you?
Mei-Li: Sure. My website, So it's red door cc.com or info red door cc.com. You can definitely email me or check out my website. That would be great.
Or if you wanna listen to my podcast, do so. And I would love to talk to anybody who's curious about changing their relationship with fear, changing their relationship with drinking, changing their relationship. To change. So I think it's a this has been wonderful and hopefully people can find me and I'm definitely happy that we have found each other.
Deb: so happy. So Dr. Henan is in Idaho, Y'all. I. Down over. So I'm also gonna be on your podcast, so I'm excited to do that. And then I will put links to find mainly in the show notes and look for more collaborations. Excuse me, . So thank you. Thank you so much for being here today, and thank you. We will be in
Absolutely. Well, thank you again. I appreciate it. Yes,
Deb: I'm, I'm looking forward to our future conversations.
Mei-Li: Definitely, Definitely. Thank you again.