There’s a common misconception about alcoholism that an alcoholic is one who can’t stop drinking once he or she starts.
This is false.
Alcoholics can stop drinking; they do it all the time. Alcoholics are people whose illness creates a mental environment that justifies starting again. The starting and stopping makes the drinker believe he can stop at will.
A guy we’ll call Don showed up recently to talk about his anger and anxiety. There was no question that Don was anxious, but did he have an anxiety disorder? They are two very different things.
His position was that he only had a drinking “issue” when he had too much stress or when unfortunate circumstances conspired to cause him emotional pain. He maintained that when the stress subsided, his drinking decreased and so, it became a non-issue. He was, incidentally, referred for smelling like alcohol at work and as it turned out, had been warned several times before.
What Don and his anger management and anxiety counselor didn’t adequately understand was that Don’s drinking had helped to create the very circumstances he became angry and anxious about and that he categorized as “stress.”
Periodically, Don couldn’t keep up with his body’s demand for more alcohol and would quit, cold-turkey, albeit not without several days of shaky hands, sleepless nights and sweaty palms.
Usually, within a week of “quitting,” Don’s disease convinced him he was healthy enough to “handle it this time,” and the cycle would continue. The only change was that the drinking increased and the consequences became more severe.
Don’s story is considerably more common than many of us are aware. Thanks to Don’s employer, he’ll start getting the help that he needs and maybe this time it really can be different.
source: Illinois Northwest Herald
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