When you begin to understand that drinking is a coping mechanism gone awry…
For many, drinking began as a cure for anxiety. After all, alcohol remains the best anti-anxiety drug ever developed. It fast, cheap, effective, legal, and socially promoted. What’s not to like? Before that big party, date, meeting, sex, presentation… Nothing like a drink or three to take the edge off.
But for some, the self-medication continues and expands to cover other circumstances. It can be a way to avoid unpleasant emotions, interactions, people and situations, Drink enough and you “aren’t there” and even if you are you exist in a protective bubble.
Others find it a passive-aggressive weapon to use against controlling and/or abusive people when “stepping up” is just too scary. “No, I don’t want to go to….” Seems too hard so we get drunk and left behind.
Then there is the self-image aspect. Drinking is part of what your particular group does and you wouldn’t want to be the odd person out – though you may need to continually update your reference “group” as others outgrow drinking to excess after high school, college, beginning a career, marriage, parenthood, or a DUI.
Then there’s the habitual, “it’s just what I do” “reason.”
For most, drinking involves a mix of these. A bit of habit, a carefully selected group of drinking friends, some reflection on one’s self-image, as well as occasional passive-aggression, and more than a little anxiety reduction now that all of these things are producing well founded anxiety.
Is it any wonder that, given the complexities, most simple solutions elude us?
With one exception. AA.
AA provides us with a different self-image, reduces anxiety and guilt by absolving us of responsibility, demands that we continue our alcohol focused life, and surrounds us with the same drinking “friends” as before, and provides us with a license to passive-aggressively punish anyone who suggests me might just grow up.
And now the alternative…
The alternative is to change your self-image (and not into a “powerless alcoholic”) into “responsible adult. You also develop actual coping skills instead of hiding in an alcohol induced fog.
Anxious? Try CBT.
Tired of being pushed around by family, spouses or others? Try assertiveness training. That also works for skipping situations you don’t want to be involved in. Amazing how empowering saying “No, I can’t,” without explanation, can be.
Habit? Override the old with the new.
Temporary discomfort? Learn to live with it.
Sexual issues? Everyone has them. Sober is how they may be resolved or mitigated.
And finally, the universal bug-a-boo of change: procrastination.
Once again camping out in “Contemplation Hell.”
“I think I’ll just have another drink while I consider all of the options.”
You can easily die before making a decision and go out wondering.
Or you can try something different. The oft mentioned “road not taken” or as Yogi Berra phrased it, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Anytime you want to “take it” rather than muddle along, we’re available to help, guide, train, teach, commiserate, and grant absolution.
And whether in person, by distance delivery, or a combination thereof, we’re as available, affordable, confidential, and far more effective than the big name, big money, and big failure rehabs.
Time to call? Write? Or read the book? You know how to get in touch and at least explore options.
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