Self-Medication as Protection and/or Passive Aggression
First, let’s look at alcohol use as a form of protection.
If you find yourself in an intolerable marriage, relationship, family, or conditions, you may have discovered that alcohol surrounds you with a protective bubble that excludes the invasive individual(s).
As an extreme example, when I lived in a mining camp on the Yukon there were families who lived in cabins smaller than my office. In one case, there were 2 parents, 5 children, and an uncle. One room. No plumbing or electricity. Wood stove. Outside it’s -40 degrees and there are only 4 hours of daylight. How else, but from a bottle, it one going to find any privacy?
Assuming your situation is less extreme – the solution may be the same, remembering that, after all, alcohol is cheap, readily available, easy to use, legal, and effective.
However, the problem remains that the relief is only temporary, is problematic, and fails to address the cause. Again, the drinking is the symptom neither a disease nor a choice. It did address a situation in the moment, but it prevents addressing the situation with a solution.
Yes, most of us prefer the quick fix even if it’s temporary, rather than make the effort to change our behaviors, associations, habits, and/or circumstances. Or we’d prefer to “research” solutions rather than act on them.
The trouble, in this case, is that the “protection” is an illusion. The outside threat continues to exist. And a bubble of safety is easily pricked.
Perhaps it’s time to address the real issue rather than hiding in a protective bottle hoping a problem-solving genie is to be found there with you?
Now let’s move on to alcohol’s use as passive-aggression!
If you are involved with a controlling spouse, partner, and/or family member they will want to also control your drinking. That may, in fact, be the last thing they have yet to achieve in their efforts to manage you and your behaviors.
It won’t come as a surprise that you continue to drink as an effective “F.U.” to their increasingly desperate attempts.
Of course, as usual, the problem isn’t your drinking, though it’s become a problem in the sense that it’s preventing solving the real problem – other’s attempts to dominate your life.
Then the question becomes, do you want to solve the problem? Interestingly, many people do not, and would prefer to continue, metaphorically, to thumb their noses at those who assail them.
But assuming that those of you who read this Newsletter don’t fall into that category, what are your options? Given the symptom, overindulgence, what are you medicating? Most likely these conditions – and it’s rarely one – come down to anxiety, loneliness, and unbalanced relationship.
Looking at anxiety, there is the fear of change and/or confrontation.
Loneliness is a given when one relationships are out of balance.
And the unbalanced relationship(s)? That comes from passivity and results in passive-aggression,
The cocktail that does address these? Mix some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for anxiety with a dose of Assertiveness Training and leaven with a dollop of physical training (kick boxing is great for women and weight training for anyone). For dessert add new activities and associations.
The specifics are what we help with, as well as the hand holding during the first difficult months, some absolution for the past, and some reinforcement as to what/who the actual problem(s) is.
Once again we are back to what the actual choice is: fix it? Live with it? That, of course really is up to you.