Edit 7/7/2023: Update here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/F2MfbmRAiMx2PDhaD/some-observations-on-alcoholism
Hi guys, as my username suggests, I’m sorry to write this pseudonymously, but I don’t know how public I want to be about my problems yet. So, the short version is that I’m an alcoholic and I’m an Effective Altruist, and I don’t know exactly how much I should or shouldn’t involve EA in my recovery efforts. I am vaguely aware that EA has mental health resources for struggling EAs, and I am struggling. I also don’t know how many of them are relevant to substance abuse in particular. These are some of the considerations that I am conflicted about:
Against involving EA more: Most of my problems are not directly related to EA, and I’m not sure if I should be using EA resources for personal health problems unless I have some strong idea of how my problems relate to my involvement in EA. Maybe more to the point, I have access to other mental health resources, I am currently seeing someone at my school about this, and it feels like a waste of resources to involve EA in my problems if I don’t need to. Additionally, there are many recent worries that EA is too insular, and this can lead to problems in how it handles personal issues. I share some of these worries, and although I don’t distrust EA’s mental health team, it seems like I should be cautious in over-involving EA in my personal life where it is unnecessary. If nothing else, it makes me more dependent on EA. Additionally as mentioned before, I just don’t know if EA’s mental health team deals with things like substance abuse so much as burn out.
In favor: While my drinking is not deeply connected to my involvement in Effective Altruism, there are a number of things that have exacerbated my problem which are idiosyncratic to EA in a way that makes me uncomfortable talking to a normal therapist about it. I have still not mentioned anything EA related to my counselor so far despite our sessions thus far largely focusing on my “triggers” for drinking. Related to this, I am not a huge fan of my current counselor’s approach, there is a bunch of focus on things like what drives me to drink, when I buy more into a bias-based and chemical model of drinking, where mostly the issue with my “triggers” is that I am unusually susceptible to finding lame excuses for myself. She also keeps recommending a bunch of other mental health resources, some of which seem quite tangentially related to my main problem. I think that a more focused approach would be valuable, and think that the type of triage and evidence-based thinking common in EA makes it more likely to be a space where the counseling I get will be, well, effective. I also don’t want to speak too soon about resource problems, as there may be many services that aren’t resource intensive, like groups sessions for EAs with substance abuse problems.
Does anyone have any advice? Are there people here who have gone through a situation like this before, and have they involved EA’s mental health resources in some way? If so what did they get out of it?