Alcohol addiction is THE ONLY problem that sufferers have to be convinced that they have before treatment can begin. Many alcoholic women and men stop drinking only after enduring SIGNIFICANT suffering.
Countless times I asked myself “how can I stop drinking?” because I knew that I had a problem. This is crazy because even after I understood the effects of alcohol on the body, stopping drinking was nearly impossible.
Alcohol addiction is a strange beast. Why is it that some people can drink heavily the stop with no ill effects? Some of us, though, get to the point that we must have alcohol in order to function. We make all of our decisions based on alcohol.
Alcohol Addiction Refers to a Complex Behavioral Syndrome…
- including abnormal importance of the drug or activity;
- use of the drug or activity to an extreme and often harmful degree;
- continued use or activity despite negative consequences;
- psychological defenses of denial, rationalization, minimization and projection of blame;
- personality changes and life disruption as a consequence of use or activity.
Yup…sounds like me. 🙂
Alcohol Addiction Versus Physical Alcohol Dependence
It’s important to note that mental health professionals make a clear distinction between “Alcohol Addiction” and “Physical Alcohol Dependence”.
They say that nearly anyone can become physically dependent upon a drug such as alcohol given the right circumstances of dose, duration and discontinuation. Only a small percentage of users will become addicted in a manner similar to the above definition. That small group, for whatever reason, seem to be psychologically and physiologically predisposed to addiction.
So someone with the “makings” of an Alcoholic may never become one if they never started drinking. Conversely, someone who drinks heavily all their life may never actually become an addict.
Alcohol Addiction and the Bigger Problems
As a newcomer to the world of recovery, I once asked, on the brink of tears, “why do I drink so much?”. An old-timer laughed and said…”because you’re a damn alcoholic.”
I started drinking because my friends were doing it and kept drinking because it made me feel different than I felt normally. I did not like myself and alcohol allowed me to change that.
I spent my life drinking at problems rather than learning to deal with them. A few decades later I found myself with a nice alcohol addiction and a lifetime of unresolved problems.
Putting down the bottle was just the price of admission. After I quit I was surprised to find that I had tons of other, much more serious, problems. I found that I was not very honest. I found that my ego was way out of whack. I found that I was gluttonous…overdoing everything. I found that I was self-centered.
To be sure, these were difficult things to discover about myself. Luckily I did so within a larger framework. I made these discoveries with the help of others who had taken the same journey.
These steps ARE my recovery…my delivery from alcohol addiction, much more so than quitting drinking was.
If you are like me, drinking is certainly A problem, but it’s probably not THE problem! These self-discoveries have been the key to the new freedom I found!