Do you find yourself thinking about alcohol a lot?
Do you crave having a drink?
Do you see alcohol as a reward when something has gone well?
Do you turn to alcohol when you are stressed?
Do you use alcohol to suppress feelings?
Do you drink when you are upset?
Do you get very down or angry when you drink alcohol?
Do you find that you black out or cant remember things?
Do you spend a lot of your time hungover?
Do you find that your work is suffering due to your alcohol use?
Do you feel lethargic and tired a lot of the time?
Do you find that your day to day life is suffering?
Do you find that you forget things regularly?
Do you feel like things are slipping out of control?
Do you feel as though alcohol is taking over?
If your answer is yes to some or most of these questions, then you have a negative relationship with alcohol.
Sometimes alcohol can be used socially. Sometimes it can be used when having a good time, or on special occasions. There are times it is associated with fun and laughter.
However, sadly, a lot of the time, people’s relationship with alcohol can take a very negative turn. And before they know it, it becomes a crux that they lean on. Something they use to get through the day, to manage the week, and to cope with the everyday stress of life.
Alcohol can become very addictive – and like any addiction, that cycle is very hard to break. Often when people feel low, stressed, overwhelmed etc – they use alcohol to self-medicate. They numb the things that they are feeling – they block them out. And before they know it they are dependent on it to survive. And the thought of a night off – well it becomes unmanageable.
At first there is a lot of denial – no one ever wants to admit that something is becoming a problem for them. It is hard to be honest with yourself – or with anyone else. It is easier to try and pretend you have it all under control.
Perhaps you are having a few glasses alone – before you go out or meet up with other people. Perhaps half a bottle has turned into a bottle every night. And before you know it – your opening a second one. Maybe you are drinking at a much faster pace then you ever did before. And your need to keep going is getting stronger. You may be finding it hard to ever stop – ‘one more drink’ or lets have ‘one last round’. You have become the person that never wants the night to end – you even find your taking a glass to bed with you. Waking up in the morning and wondering what happened last night.
Sometimes alcohol can lead to black outs and forgetting part of the night. People can try to gloss over this – with funny stories of what you did. You become well equipped at laughing at yourself. And at justifying yourself. There are reasons – you haven’t slept well, you haven’t been out in a while, you didn’t eat enough. The list goes on. But if you were truly honest with yourself and with them. You had already drunk a large amount before they even saw you.
Being that intoxicated also leaves your vulnerable and in dangerous situations. You may be fortunate that you have good friends who will make sure you get home ok – or a partner that ensures you are safely in bed. If someone is looking out for you that helps – but what about looking out for yourself? Taking care of yourself ? And what happens if you lose the people you are with? If you someone spikes your drink or takes you somewhere? You are so vulnerable when you are that drunk. It’s not funny anymore – its dangerous.
There is such dangerous side to this relationship with alcohol – not only can it lead to emotional outbursts – anger, upset, frustration etc. It can be very destructive for relationships. It can also pull you down into a dark place – depression creeps in. You can’t sleep. Your exhausted all the time and may fall asleep in front of the tv. But when you go to bed – you are awake all night. It’s hard to switch off. The alcohol might knock you out for a bit but before you know it your awake and your feeling horrendous.
On top of that it can have a huge impact on your health – your liver first and foremost. But how about your memory too, your cognition, your skin, your weight, your energy levels. You name it – your physical health suffers as much as your mental wellbeing. And before you know it your looking in a mirror seeing a pale version of yourself. A tired version of yourself. A bloated version of yourself. A depressed version of yourself. You feel low, you feel down and you realise you have been neglecting yourself for quite some time.
I often say to my clients – you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb back up again. And this really is true. One day you make wake up and be so upset and realise what have I been doing to myself? One day you may think what has happened to me? One day you may go so far and then realise how out of control things have got. And on that day you make a decision – you make a decision to sober up. To take real actual care of yourself and to change things. That’s the hardest decision in the world – putting alcohol down. It means facing up to everything around you – it means dealing with all that stresses you out and addressing it. It means facing up to the things that are hard and it won’t be easy. But once you do it – it will be life changing.
Working towards a healthier lifestyle – physically and mentally. Emotionally getting on a better path – that’s not easy. Not easy at all. But remaining the same is destroying you – you become a shadow of who you once were. The following is a useful list of how to try and change things.
• Talk to the people closest to you about your feelings
• Ask them to help you as you work towards changes
• Find some useful and positive distraction techniques
• Make time for exercise – in moderation
• Work on a way of de stressing – breathing techniques, mindfulness practice, yoga etc
• Improve your self-care – make time for a walk, a bath, a book
• Keep a journal
• Get to bed at a decent time each night
• Try to wind down before going to bed
• Start seeing a therapist
• Write a list of all the positives without overusing alcohol
• Set yourself realistic targets – certain nights off, certain amounts etc
• Put away the money you were spending on alcohol each day – for something positive
• Invest in things for you instead of alcohol
• Find other activities to do that don’t involve alcohol
• Do things with your friends / partner / family that don’t involve alcohol
• Realise you are worth so much more
• Learn to love and respect yourself
• Work on the relationship you have with yourself
• Slow down and focus on what’s in front of you