The Baggage That Comes With Alcohol Addiction

road_journey_alcoholism

 

 

I wanted to focus a little on what exists *around* alcoholism today, as opposed to overcoming the addiction itself.

 

When we start out, attending meetings, etc, so much of the focus is on not picking up, on *not* doing the act of drinking itself, that we lose sight of the supporting story around alcoholism.

 

And sometimes, when we take the periphery stuff away, the act of not picking up becomes infinitely easier, as we’re no longer focussed on *not* doing something, and instead have our minds focussed on something else entirely. Let me illustrate.

 

Shame/Embarrassment/Guilt

This is overwhelming, when caught up in the throes of the addiction.

 

Mainly as perspective is warped when alcohol has you in its grasp. Your brain is low on serotonin (alcohol is a depressant in case you weren’t aware) and so it’s all too easy to lapse into self-despair – as I did many times.

 

At this point in the process, we *perceive* so much, that just isn’t there. In more severe cases (esp liver damage etc) we can get a bit paranoid even.

 

But the reality is that, most of the people around us, love us, and want us to take the ownership of the beast that is addiction, so that we can get better.

 

“….but I’m an alcoholic”

I don’t know an alcoholic that’s never used this one as an excuse, for some errant behaviour.

 

In the latter stages, when self-pity has reached its peak, it’s tempting to use the addiction itself as another reason (excuse) why we shouldn’t get help.

 

We know at this point, that we would have to take ownership of the mess that is our life, if we agreed to treatment or chose to own the addiction.

 

So the addiction itself is a much easier option to blame.

 

“I can’t do (that task) – don’t you know I’m an alcoholic?”

 

In its most potent and bizarre form, this is used as an excuse to not get better- even when treatment is being laid out on a plate for us, to get better.

 

“How can I possibly look at my psychological issues behind alcoholism – I’m an alcoholic – how could you expect that of me?”

 

We don’t realise the ridiculousness of it until we have our sober head on.

 

Secondary Gains

Ask yourself this – beyond the reasons you fell into alcoholism itself – in what way does having the addiction benefit you?

 

In what way are others around you, accommodating it?

 

Does it let you skip events or other obligations, simply because, you’re an alcoholic?

 

Do your errant behaviour, unpredictability, and previous misdemeanours as a result of alcohol misuse, mean you now get to avoid appointments and adult responsibilities, simply because you’re an alcoholic?

 

Now you’re in secondary gain territory.

 

These are the secondary advantages, that sit in top of the addiction itself, making it less likely you’ll push through the gains to do the real work underneath.

 

Enablers

This one is bittersweet. Tragic, actually.

 

When you were in the throes of alcoholism, the worst of it, how many around you were perfectly happy to give you money, keep a secret for you, or otherwise alter events to suit your addiction, if it kept the peace?

 

If it led to an easier life for them?

 

Our families love us, dearly. And in the case of addiction, it can be too much.

 

Parents don’t want their children to experience *any* pain.

 

So when the pain of withdrawal kicks in, and the lies and deceit begin, parents will do almost anything, including ignoring clear signals that there’s a problem, if that’s the way to feel ok.

 

It’s easy to rationalise all sorts of behaviour in different ways, if it suits us.

 

If it means less pain for us, less pain of facing up to what *our* responsibilities are, then we’ll rationalise it – that’s what the human brain will do, to overcome problems.

 

Unless something impacts directly on our ability to survive, it’s easier to make excuses, put it down to “a phase”, or excuse it in some other way, than for the enablers to truly admit something is wrong, and that there may be an amount of short term pain to go through, to get the long term gain of addiction recovery.

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