When I drank, the alcohol helped me feel more confident, less inhibited and more relaxed. It helped me feel better about myself. Many people report that alcohol helps them when they feel anxious, panicked or stressed. For some people it’s about escaping uncomfortable or distressing feelings and for others it’s about enhancing an experience or taking it to the next level.
Even when someone’s relationship with alcohol has become so unhealthy that they’re desperate to stop drinking, even when they know that alcohol is ruining their relationships, their self-worth and their future, the alcohol is still serving a purpose and they still keep reaching for it because that purpose needs to be served. The job still needs doing.
And, for a while alcohol has done that job really well, otherwise we wouldn’t keep using it over and over. Only, it stops working eventually because it turns out it was only plastering over a wound and not really treating it or allowing it to heal. But by then, we keep using it because it’s become an ingrained habit. An unconscious pattern of behaviour that can only change with some focused energy and concentration.
When you acknowledge what job alcohol has been doing for you, what it’s purpose has been, what benefits you got from it, you can find other ways of getting that job done. The job still needs to be done and if you don’t find another way of doing it, there’s an unconscious part of you that will want to stick to its pattern of behaviour and do it with drink. You make life much easier on yourself when you find alternative ways of meeting the needs that alcohol used to meet.
For example, one of the jobs alcohol used to do for me was to make me feel relaxed. I needed to find other ways of feeling relaxed so that was no longer a reason for me to drink. I started to learn how to sit and breathe with mindfulness meditations for a few minutes each day and usually when I came home from work. Sometimes first thing in the mornings too. I was the least likely person to get into meditation and felt very uncomfortable doing it, but I decided 15 minutes a day of doing this was better than all that time and money I was wasting on alcohol. And, I discovered it worked. It not only helped me feel relaxed, it also helped me develop a better relationship with myself. So, not only did I no longer need alcohol for relaxation but I also didn’t need it to feel better about myself because I was doing that already…
Meeting these needs in other healthy ways meant that I didn’t need to reach for alcohol to do the job for me. It made my transition into living sober so much easier and made it less likely that I’d slip up.
What jobs has alcohol been doing for you that you need to find alternative, healthier ways of doing?