by Rachael Messaros, Director of Admissions & Marketing at Redpoint Center
Admitting Defeat: Alcohol Abuse & the Brain
Alcohol abuse is insidious. It took me time to come to grips with my addiction. In addition, it took time to see the denial in my life. We all tell ourselves stories, all the time, about why we do what we do. And some of these stories are used to justify behaviors, especially when it comes to destructive patterns. While sober, I realize that the addicted part of my brain tries to convince me to listen to these stories. Alcohol abuse and addiction start in the mind. Furthermore, these reasons I used to drink and continue drinking are really fictional — they are lies. Consequently, as we start breaking down the lies, we can get closer to healthy patterns of behavior. So, I share the lies I used to drink alcohol abusively. This may help you or someone you love to see the problem and seek help.
Lies About My Alcohol Abuse
I can quit anytime I want to, I just don’t want to.
This was an easy way to take the blame off of myself. And what’s more, I could pretend I was calling the shots in my life, when, in reality, alcohol was making all of my decisions for me. One time I decided I would not drink for 7 days. On day one, I was annoyed that I had set rules for myself and so I drank because I felt entitled to do so. It wasn’t until I finally got sober and did a lot of soul searching, 12 step work, and therapy, that I realized that my “alcoholic” brain, or my “lizard brain” was in control of my life – not my logical human brain. To me, knowing I abuse alcohol means that when I put alcohol in my body, my ‘lizard brain’ categorizes it as a necessity, much like food and water. Unfortunately, that lizard brain has a much louder voice than my logical brain and therefore I believed that I was drinking to survive. The truth is obvious – alcohol is poison, and normal people’s bodies reject poison after a few drinks. Normal people enjoy the feeling of being drunk and then stop. Mine did the opposite. No matter how many drinks I had or how many consequences I faced, my body always wanted more. Alcohol abuse takes over in the cycle of addiction. The only thing that would stop me was passing out. Inevitably, this would all start over the next day.
Everyone drinks as much as I do, if not more.
I ran with a wild crowd in college. A lot of drugs were ingested, alcohol consumed, and many illegal things took place. That being said, it always seemed like my drinking and drugging were worse than everyone else’s. When others would take some days off, I would pressure them into joining me. I would continue the never-ending “party”. None of them were arrested, none of them lost their jobs because of alcohol or drugs, and none of them were experiencing major familial and friend relationship issues. These things were only happening to me, it seemed. I later realize that not everyone drinks to blackout and pass out. Some people enjoy one glass of wine and feel content. In fact, the majority of people have a normal response to alcohol. However, this is not the case for me.
Life without alcohol is boring.
There is nothing more boring than blacking out and remembering nothing. The first concert I went to, once sober had me in tears because I couldn’t believe how incredible it was without drugs. I thought that music and concerts were only good because I was on so many drugs. That is truly not the case. Music is incredible. Furthermore, I’d go so far as to say it’s a natural drug. Experiencing life without drugs or alcohol is a beautiful thing. Sadly, many people, including myself, use (or used) alcohol or drugs as an attempt to escape reality or to make it more fun. But it only lasts so long. It may have worked for a little while, but once I realized my addictive tendencies, my life was not improving because of these substances. In fact, it was quite dark and hopeless.
You can’t be an alcoholic when you’re young.
If you can’t stop once you start, and you can’t stop starting, you have a problem. It doesn’t matter how old you are. When I got sober at 21, a lot of people made comments like “you can’t be an alcoholic at 21”, or “it’s probably just a phase, just take some time off”. I learned that once a cucumber becomes a pickle, it cannot go back to being a cucumber. I am a pickle. I know now that my body has an abnormal reaction to alcohol. I could never have just 2 or 3 drinks. Or, on the rare occasion that I did only have a few, it was miserable and I wanted more. Sometimes I joke with my friends saying, “If I could drink like a normal person, I would do it all day every day.” Herein lies the insanity. At the end of the day, the truth is, I have no desire to drink like a normal person. And this alcohol abuse pattern started when I was 18. I’m extremely grateful that I got out of the grips of this at such a young age and didn’t have to get into serious trouble. I know people who face serious consequences.
If you get really honest with yourself and take a good look at whether you are in charge or if the drugs or alcohol are in charge, and you see that they are in fact in charge, get in touch with us. We have a lot of experience with this here at The Redpoint Center. We know how scary it can be to acknowledge it’s time to stop, but you are not alone. What’s more, this is a curable disease.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.