It has been said that we are the average of the people we surround ourselves with. This is obvious when we look at alcohol abuse – want to be a “powerless alcoholic”? Join AA.
When it’s about getting over your misuse of alcohol it’s again about who you choose to associate with. That brings up the question of what constitutes a “support group.”
First, please, not everyone needs a support group. Some of us just need to quit hanging out with the wrong people, being in the wrong places, continuing the same habits and rituals, and passively putting up with the same old, same old.
Second, for the purposes of our clients, we define a support group as any collection of people pursuing a common interest which you either are, or might be, or used to be attracted to. It needs to be an activity which isn’t compatible with drinking and where the other participants don’t know you ever had a problem with alcohol. And you don’t want the topic to come up.
Third, it would be good if this interest, or interests, provided some of the same benefits you got from drinking. An example: working out several times a week is a good antidote to anxiety and depression.
Introverts and extroverts alike can benefit from the modest social interactions afforded by classes, book clubs (not the women’s chardonnay society ones, thank you), car clubs, bridge and other clubs, as well as any number of solitary or group activities. Really, there are an unlimited number of possibilities for thing to do that don’t include drinking yourself to death.
Lots of us with alcohol problems, past or present, also have a “high risk taking” gene that needs to be considered too. That predisposition isn’t going away but it can be managed productively rather than destructively.
I note that “risk taking,” also known as being self-destructive, comes in two flavors: life- diminishing and life-enhancing. Life-diminishing choices include alcohol and drugs. Life-enhancing include motorcycles, mountain climbing, sky diving, and many less obvious choices. Notice that a major clue as to which is which is that the diminishing choices are passive and the enhancing ones are active.
And, again, action and depression cannot coexist. Passivity and the consumption of large amounts of a depressant are, well, obviously depressing.
That’s it. Pick your associations, activities, and other circumstances and you will have created your own “support group” or, more accurately, a life that supports you in positive and affirming ways.
Don’t stay stuck in an alcohol focused world no matter what form it takes. Create your own world and enjoy it. We’ll cheerfully help you define your own mosaic. Don’t cram yourself into someone else’s mold. As Oscar Wilde noted, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”