Alcohol from Friend to Foe
It can seem strange to people that anyone would allow themselves to fall into addiction.
Surely these people know how much this behaviour is damaging them? The reality is that in the beginning at least, alcohol can be a friend. This is why people so easily fall into an addiction. They find life hard to deal with and drinking seems to help them. After having benefited from some initial comfort the individual may be willing to put up with a great deal of misery before they accept that alcohol is really their foe.
Alcohol as a Friend
Even when the alcoholic begins to lose things in life as a result of their addiction they can still view this chemical as their friend. The reasons for why this happens include:
- Alcohol can turn introverts into extroverts.
- It gives people courage to do things they would otherwise be too shy or embarrassed to do.
- It allows people to temporarily escape their problems in life.
- It can help people relax and unwind.
- Those individuals who have been struggling with a traumatic event in their life find that it helps them cope.
- People who suffer from loneliness can feel comforted.
- It gives a new meaning to life for those who lack purpose. Their life can now revolve around the consumption of alcohol and this gives them meaning and purpose.
- Those individuals who have been suffering from symptom of mental health problems may be able to self-medicate with alcohol – at least for awhile.
Alcohol as a Foe
An oft quoted lament by those who have become addicted is that, alcohol gave me wings but then it took away the sky. Over time the benefits of using alcohol will diminish and the problems associated with alcohol abuse will increase. The individual is likely to be unwilling to give up their habit because they still remember how good it once made them feel. They live in hope that the good times will return. By the time they are ready to accept that alcohol is destroying their life they will already be physically and mentally dependent. The fact that the slide from friend to foe happens slowly also means that it usually goes unnoticed.
Reasons Why Alcohol Becomes a Foe
If alcohol continued to offer the benefits that some people experience when they first begin drinking very few people would ever be willing to give it up. Unfortunately there is a price associated with alcohol abuse and it is this that eventually turns it into a foe. The reason this occurs is that:
- The individual will develop tolerance to alcohol so they will need to keep on consuming more to get the same effect. Alcohol is a toxin so increasing amounts will cause a great deal of damage to the body and mind.
- Alcohol helps people escape their problems, but it does not solve them. These difficulties can increase as a result of the individual trying to ignore them.
- Those people who have a dual diagnosis will often suffer a deterioration of their symptoms as a result of the alcohol abuse. For example, those individuals who are trying to escape symptoms of depression are using a chemical depressant to treat it – thus exacerbating their symptoms.
- When people are intoxicated it means that they less in control of their own behaviour. This means that they regularly do things that they later regret.
- Instead of alcohol being used as a tool to help the individual deal with their problems it becomes their master. Being a slave to an addiction is a miserable way to live.
- The longer the individual continues to abuse alcohol the more they will lose.
- This addiction robs the individual of their self-respect.
- If people continue to drink it will lead them to insanity and death.
Recovery and Escaping the Enemy
Most addicts will reach a point when they can recognize how their behaviour is destroying their life. Some of these people will continue on their path regardless because they are afraid of the changes they will need to make in order to escape. Unfortunately their attitude seems to be that it is better the devil you know. This is a terrible shame because it means that these people settle for a miserable existence when they could choose a wonderful life.
There are also many addicts who hit rock bottom and decide that they have had enough. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, they are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. These individuals decide to walk away from their friend turned enemy so they can start a new life in recovery. Many of these people go on to find the freedom and happiness they had been looking for when they turned to addiction in the first place.
Finding Happiness in Recovery
Alcohol may appear to act as a friend in the beginning, but this is an illusion. Instead of leading the individual to happiness and mental freedom it turns them into a slave. The good news is that all those things that alcohol seemed to promise in the beginning do actually exist. They can be obtained when people become sober and they begin developing emotional sobriety. This gives the individual the ability to face life rather than trying to hide from it. The rewards of this emotional sobriety include:
- The individual feels able to cope no matter what is happening in their life.
- They find it easy to live in the present moment
- They avoid extreme emotions
- They find it easy to develop deep and meaningful relationships with other people
- They avoid the mental and physical health problems associated with high levels of stress
- They avoid falling into all types of maladaptive behaviour
- They feel positive about life
The benefits of the sober life are also mentioned in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on page 83. The promises include:
- A new freedom
- A new happiness
- No more financial insecurity
- No more fear of people, places, and things
- Less selfishness and self-obsession
- No guilt about the past
- No more self-pity
- Intuition for how to handle every situation
- The individual will feel useful
- They will be able to help other people
- They will know serenity
Hope Trust has helped hundreds of alcoholics and addicts find freedom from alcohol and other substances, filling their lives with joy, security and serenity.