We are all familiar with the adage, “No Pain, No Gain.”  In general it applies to exercise or working out, but it also relates to treatment for alcohol dependence.  If you are reading this blog, no doubt you have asked yourself, “Why do I drink?”  Of course there are a lot of reasons why – social pressure, stress, boredom, even physical dependency.  But probably one of the top reasons that people abuse alcohol is to escape from themselves or a situation.  While my guess is that this will be one of the least popular blogs on the site, it covers an issue that is absolutely critical to complete recovery.

I have heard people say, “I’m taking MODER8®, and I’m drinking less, but my drinking still isn’t really where I want it to be.” The problem could be that there are underlying issues that you’ve stuffed, or just decided you can’t change…so you medicate.  “Rebecca” began taking MODER8 and had reduced her drinking from 4-5 drinks a day, to 2-3 drinks only 3 days per week. The change was great, but she was still aware that she was drinking more than she really wanted, and that alcohol was still her escape. It wasn’t until she finally had the courage to work through some painful issues with her husband that a huge problem was resolved and her drinking was finally reduced completely. Suddenly, she found herself hosting parties where she was serving alcohol to guests, but she didn’t want any for herself. She began drinking only 1-2 drinks every couple of weeks or so!

The types of pain from which we try to escape are as vast as there are numbers of alcohol abusers.  The issues can range from being painfully shy or lonely, to issues of abuse – either currently or in the past.

One thing we have to be aware of is that pain and negative emotions serve a purpose – to signal a bad or uncomfortable situation – and make us aware that something needs to change!  Drinking to deal with the “pain” only serves to keep us paralyzed or even make things worse. Not only do relations and relationships get strained due to your drinking, but your thought process is altered and impaired.  Even following a binge, although we may be sober, the residual effects from the alcohol tend to make us more paranoid and lack the ability to see things objectively.

Here are a few steps to take to deal with the issues from which you are trying to escape:

1)      Determine what it is that you are trying to avoid by drinking.

Examples:

  • Devastation about a life-threatening disease (either yours or a loved-one’s)
  • Major conflicting views with spouse on a critical issue (such as raising the children)
  • Negative or unfulfilling career / work situation (pay, boss, type of work)
  • Unresolved Baggage (sometimes it’s easier to focus or obsess on an addiction than to deal with the underlying baggage – such as physical or sexual abuse from childhood, the early death of a parent or sibling, etc.)
  • Your own inner voice – negative self-talk – (for whatever reason, we’re overly critical of ourselves, feeling that we have to be perfect – think enough, smart enough, successful enough etc. – I don’t know how many times I’ve drank in the past in order to drown out my own inner voice.)
  • Abuse

2)      Decide what it will take to get out of the situation or change it.

Examples:

  • Devastation about a life-threatening disease – It may help to see a therapist for a session or two.
  • Major conflicting views with spouse on a critical issue – Don’t stop working on it; keep communicating and come to an acceptable compromise if necessary.
  • Negative or unfulfilling career / work situation – Begin researching other employers or careers (I personally like the books “Your Dream Career for Dummies” by Carol L. McClelland, Ph. D.  and “Creating Success from the Inside Out” by Ephren Taylor.
  • Baggage – It will probably require a therapist to help you dig this up and begin to heal.
  • Your own inner voice – Begin to adopt a feeling of self love and tolerance – realize what is “good enough.”
  • Abuse – Abuse, whether physical or emotional, is NEVER ACCEPTABLE or JUSTIFIABLE!! Drinking to tolerate abuse only makes the situation worse and makes you feel worse about yourself.

o   Physical Abuse – GET HELP & GET SAFE!!

o   Emotional / Verbal Abuse – Find or Get Help!

§  It can be as simple as “training” someone how to treat you – there are many self-help books – I like “The Commitment Chronicles,” by Cheryl McClary, Ph.D.

§  However, some abusers can’t be “taught” – do what you have to do to take care of yourself, including getting out of the relationship. Discuss your situation with a therapist or support group.

More information regarding verbal abuse may be found at: The Verbal Abuse Site

3)      Start taking steps to make the changes! Remember, “The shortest way around something is through it!” Don’t drink in order to self-medicate. It will not fix the problem, it will only make it worse.  If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, take a MODER8, go for a walk, or any number of the things you may have discovered in “Things to Do Instead of Drink.” But whatever you do, don’t waste anymore of your life by drowning your emotions.  Put the bottle down and start taking action!