Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Why Alcoholics Drink
I know, that sounds flip. But it's the truth.
I've blogged about this before, but it's something that bears repeating. For the longest time, I thought my alcohol abuse was due to circumstances, things outside myself. Problems made me drink, stress made me drink, people and situations made me drink, my childhood made me drink. I kept thinking that if I could just pinpoint that overwhelming REASON, that kernel inside me that led to my occasional problem drinking, I could deal with that reason and my drinking problem would go away.
I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels, trying to cure myself. I'd go through periods of self-reflection, restraint and abstinence, then commence drinking again with the sincere desire to moderate. Inevitably it would all fall to shit. I'd start binging again and my problem would once again spiral out of control. Friends would ask me, "Why do you drink?" and enable me (unknowingly, of course, and certainly not intentionally) by trying to help me pinpoint the REASON. It was Chelle; it was where I lived; it was child sexual abuse; it was my mother's suicide; it was whatever seemed convenient to blame after any given drinking episode. Therapy, medications, exercise, nothing seemed to get rid, though, of the REASON I drank (whatever it was).
In rehab I finally got it. Looking around at different people running the gamut from a cardiac anesthesiologist to a football coach to a housewife to a high school student, I could see that the only "reason" we had in common was alcohol itself. ALCOHOL IS THE REASON.
We just can't handle alcohol.
Get alcohol in us, however, and we all acted in amazingly predictable ways. Then we had tons of things in common. Hilarious drunkalogues, blackouts, frustrated attempts to control our drinking, hiding our booze, lying about our booze, hangovers, distorting situations, feeling picked on and controlled, finding excuses to drink, planning when to drink, and so on. Every last one of us was in there because we (or our families) were absolutely desperate and at the end of our tethers.
That was key for me finally getting better. I finally let go of the idea that something outside myself, some external thing that I could fix, would get rid of my problem drinking. That is utter bullshit. The reason for the problem is alcohol itself.
If there's a problem drinker in your life, there is no "fixable" REASON they abuse alcohol. They abuse it because they're an alcoholic.