How does your drinking affect you?
When clients seeks help through therapy, it often emerges that whilst it appears to me as a therapist they may have a drink problem, they often don't recognise it as such.
They see it as a reward; something which is helping them to relax. They have yet to work out that drink has unhelpful effects on their lives: their relationships, their work and their own overall health. It can be a while before they feel they are able to start looking at the downside of drinking.
Alcohol, quite literally, can be all consuming.
Initially drink helps us to wind down; but we get shaky without a drink, Our sleep is disturbed; we have to get out of bed and go to the toilet. We struggle to get up in the morning. We drink the following night to get off to sleep. A vicious cycle.
From a social point of view, our nearest and dearest often find themselves on the receiving end of our challenging behaviour and we start arguing - putting relationships under pressure.
In the long run, problem drinking backfires. It worsens how the individual feels, and how people around them feel. It also possible to be a high functioning alcoholic - the person appears to be getting on with their lives, but they are, effectively, living a double life.
The good news is that changes can made.
We need to reflect on how our drinking affects us and those around us. We need to reflect about what has been going on in our lives. This is important to do if we are to learn the lessons and increase our chances of recovery. It often turns out, that a pattern emerges of what triggers an individual to seek solace in drink - loneliness, rejection, loss, low self-esteem, anger.
Identifying difficult emotions is an important part of changing our behaviour. If we fail to understand our problem,, then we block our recovery. Then we need to work on how we are going to deal with such emotions - without feeling the need to drink.
Denial and self deception is a common issues with those who have a problem with alcohol. Self-disclosure to others has been shown to be a powerful tool in facing up to the root of our anxiety and stress and discovering another, more healthy way, to deal with our own issues.
Some people just stop drinking. And that work for some. For others, it needs to be more gradual. Whether cessation is total or partial, there needs to be something which fills the void the drink has created.
Healthy distraction which is sustainable and enjoyable is often key to recovery.