Why can’t I stop drinking? Because I am an alcoholic. It is really that simple (until you do a 4th step). I remember getting so frustrated with myself wondering why, WHY, did I drink again! My mom would continually ask me why I couldn’t not drink, despite desperate pleas to stop and Doctor’s orders. Every time I responded with, “I don’t know.” At the time, my family and I had very little knowledge of alcoholism/addiction, nor did we understand the compulsion of this disease.
Alcoholism according to the Mayo Clinic, is “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes you problems, having to drink more even to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when rapidly decrease or stop drinking.”
I was so so lucky that I got off the crazy Booze Cruz before I incurred too much damage. I was often told, the elevator only goes down, you can choose to get off at any level you want. I had already failed out of school, lost friendships, alienated family, and had a fondness of psychiatric facilities. I didn’t drink every day, and I didn’t always get drunk; however, alcohol was still negatively impacting my life. I had wittnessed untreated alcolism/addition/mental illness in older generations in my family and it included loneliness, despair, and death. This was my stop, I wanted off.
Addictions become increasingly worse due to brain changes. Drinking or druging spikes dopamine levels (the feel good hormone) creating a eurphoric feeling. As your body adjusts to each “high” it will produce less dopamine each time. This is how a tolerance is built, as well as, the ever increasing lows while not drinking or druging, (Psychology Today). If a normal, non-addicted person’s dopamine levels are equivalent to a bumpy road (everyone has ups and downs), an alcoholic/addict’s dopamine levels look like the peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Attempting to stop drinking all by oneself is just about as easy as trying to stop an avalanche down the mountain.
Why addiction occurs at all is not completely understood; however, a combination biology, environment, and development are agreed upon as the biggest culprits, (Drugabuse.gov). For me, alcoholism and drug addiction run through my family, and I have a history of clinical depression prior to ever picking up a drink. It would have been a bigger surprise if I didn’t end up a drunk. Yet somehow, we all were (hello denial).
I realize now, I drank because I am a drunk. Drunks are great drinkers… until they aren’t. One of my favorite sayings is, “can’t turn a pickle back into a cucumber.” My simple brain could latch onto that, it also did not hurt that I love anything pickled (even people…well especially people). I had turned myself into a pickle, and there was no going back. Once I had accepted this fact, I had two options:
- Ignore it (oh hey, denial), keep on drinking, continue to be miserable, and probably die.
- Do something about it and ask for help.
#TYG I chose option 2.