Do You Misuse Alcohol?
Alcohol addiction is serious and requires professional treatment. I don’t want to in any way diminish the severity of that. If you believe you have a true problem, seek help. Find a local meeting. I would, however, like to address another danger: the idea that there is only alcoholism or a perfectly good relationship with alcohol. There is such thing as having an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, even if you aren’t addicted to it. I believe a lot of people fall within this grey area. They don’t necessarily drink to the point of acting out destructive behavior or neglecting their responsibilities. They can have just a drink or two. However, when they drink, it is for unhealthy reasons. They’re using alcohol, rather than enjoying it. Do you misuse alcohol in these ways?
To add a buzz to a dull life
Maybe you’ve settled into a life that doesn’t excite you, but it’s safe. You didn’t leave your hometown. You didn’t go after that dream. You have a job that doesn’t excite you but is fine. Everything is just…fine. So you drink to chemically create a false feeling of excitement each night, while your life provides you none.
To numb the pain
Alcohol shouldn’t be used to numb the pain of heartache, death of a loved one, or any type of trauma or loss. Doing so only pushes the feelings further down, making them harder to access and process-which must be done.
To ignore a bad situation
Many of us have bad situations in our lives that we feel we cannot change. Our parents remarry someone we don’t like. Our business partner turns out to have a different agenda from ours, and we’re locked into a contract for a long time. Whatever it may be—it weighs heavily on you. So perhaps you drink every night because it gives you a way, for a little bit, to just not think about it. But you likely think about it more, and things feel even darker.
To get through family events
I get it: family time can be rough for some. If you have a toxic family dynamic, maybe you just want to get into a drunken haze in order to survive Thanksgiving dinner. But you know that alcohol just makes you more likely to pick that same old fight you always have.
To open up on dates
The issue with this is that you can become reliant on alcohol to open up on dates, and that’s a slippery slope. And, while you’re using it to show your “true” colors, you’re numbing your ability to accurately assess your date—you’re too drunk to do that. So, you’re really wasting everyone’s time. You aren’t being the real you and you aren’t seeing the real person on the other side of that table.
When you get true but critical feedback
Getting feedback can be tough. Most people don’t like taking a good look in the mirror. Sometimes, we don’t feel strong enough to digest the harsh but true criticism someone gives us. We aren’t going after our goals. We are flaky. Whatever it is. So we drink, to avoid it. But that means we’re missing the chance for real growth.
To gain courage
You shouldn’t need alcohol to gain the courage to…send that email asking for a raise or…ask someone out or…confront that friend who mistreats you. If you do, that means you lack a true feeling of self-worth, and that needs to be addressed in a real way. Not through alcohol.
To enable binge eating
If you have disordered eating habits, you may find yourself using alcohol as an excuse to binge eat. “I had three burritos last night because I was drunk.” You get to excuse the disordered eating. But that’s not good. There is a real root of that issue, and it isn’t alcohol. Alcohol is standing in the way of you finding the real cause.
To open up in your relationship
You’re unhappy in your relationship. Your partner doesn’t prioritize you. He doesn’t do enough romantic things anymore. Whatever it is, you need to say it, and you feel that you need alcohol to do it. Unfortunately, if it’s gotten to that place, then that means the lines of communication have been quite severed. You should be able to communicate your needs to your partner without booze.
To let your voice out
Perhaps you struggle to speak up for yourself—to voice your opinions. Only under the influence of alcohol do you feel your voice is worth listening to. It isn’t sustainable to turn to alcohol in order to speak up.
To be present
Are you somebody whose brain is always going, going, going? You struggle to enjoy the moment and be in the present? You may turn to alcohol to calm your mind. But, that’s not a healthy or sustainable way to be present. Try meditation instead.
To ease anxiety
Alcohol should never be the go-to tool of the anxious. Alcohol messes with your brain chemicals in a way that makes even stable people feel anxious—it’s worse for those with anxiety disorder.
To form friendships
Do you struggle to be social? Are you shy? Do you feel you don’t know how to talk to your peers without alcohol? Here’s what I’ll say to that: maybe you haven’t found the right people. Don’t let alcohol make you believe the wrong people are right for you.
To rev up your libido
If your sex drive has dropped, but you’re still quite young, you need a professional to help you look into that. If you’re in a relationship that is otherwise loving and healthy, there could be some emotional component that is off. Or, it may be a medical issue.
To add a buzz to a dead relationship
If you’re just in the wrong relationship—if you come home to each other, don’t speak, turn on the TV, and go to bed—you may drink to feel that spark you once felt. But you need to either find a way to get that back soberly, or you may need to find a new relationship.