I am sober, but I am not an alcoholic – and my addiction is not the real problem.
I've finally stopped using ethanol, a carcinogen and addictive drug known as street, alcohol, three months ago.
I do not count the days anymore. Not really. Because it would be the same as counting the days of the rest of my life.
But I know that three months have passed and I'm ready to start talking about it.
I do not expect congratulations, at least not those who still drink regularly. When I drank, I would not have congratulated you either.
I'm expecting something more like crickets. The crickets, plus a disturbing silence. Clumsy silence followed by embarrassing questions.
Questions like: Why in the world would you do that? Surely you are not one of them? No, you know, an alcoholic?
Well, no, I do not think so. In truth, I do not find this word particularly useful and, as such, I do not identify with this word.
The term "alcoholic" places the problem in the person and not in the nature of the drug.
Thinking that I was the problem, that's what kept me from staying hooked on alcohol long after I wanted to be free.
What I am is a 37 year old woman who, in the prime of her life, found herself addicted to alcohol.
By drug addict, I mean I found myself in the obligation to use this substance almost every night of the week to feel good. I needed to use this substance even though I did not want it anymore, even though I knew it hurt me and my good life – night, sleep, health, energy, creativity , clarity and connection with myself and others.
Even with a high volume, most people were happy to normalize (two drinks on weeknights and over the weekend), I knew that alcohol was bad for me.
And because the drug is scientifically known to create an addiction, and because I wanted to stop but I found it almost impossible, I call this addiction.
As far as labels are concerned, I do not identify myself as an "addict" or a "recovering addict" either.
After quitting, I did not describe myself with these deficient terms and I do not apply them to the usual "moderate" social and antisocial consumption.
But I became addicted to alcohol, thanks to repeated exposure encouraged by the culture.
You see, addiction addiction can happen to anyone. That's why we're taking our children away from "hard" drugs. That's why we say, "Do not even experience them. It's just not worth the risk. "
But alcohol, ubiquitous and addictive drug?
From this we say, "Cheers!
From this we say, "Enjoy responsibly."
We advertise on billboards, television programs and shop windows. We celebrate this medicine and tell people to refrain only when they drive or fall pregnant.
I did not stop drinking at AA. I realize that the program is useful for some, but after trying, it was not for me.
In the end, I was looking for a way out of what the British author Allen Carr called "the alcohol trap," which did not force me to organize my life based on the fact that I was addicted to alcohol. I wanted to leave this chapter on alcohol consumption that seems endless. I wanted to move on.
It's good that people can do that, right? It's good that we can change and grow.
Unfortunately, society does not see it this way.
With alcohol, it was only after I told people that I was trying to stop drinking, trying to change things in good health, that people were telling me that I had a real problem – maybe I was an alcoholic.
Imagine yourself happy to tell your friends and family that you have decided to adopt an active lifestyle and that you now do regular exercise instead of watching TV and eating McDonalds. , then to treat you Couch-Aholic with a real problem?
So, if I did not stop drinking in a program, how did I do it?
Finally, I just stopped drinking.
I saw the deceptive dark forest for the trees and walked away from there. But first, there were a lot of readings and agonies in my diary, and even an anonymous blog ashamed for a little while.
There have been dietary changes and missed commitments in health plans, expensive essential oils, late discussions and broken promises. I've tried sober discussion forums and followed sober bloggers.
I shared my growing concern with trusted people who invalidated my concern, including my therapist – who kindly said, "Sometimes a glass of wine is an act of compassion towards oneself."
Since I have a drinking problem, I have been looking up and down the source of my problem.
If I know something as a therapist, it is important to ask the right questions.
The questions provide guidance for the survey, and the survey, if properly conducted, can reveal useful information, information that helps us solve our problems.
"What's wrong with me?" I was wondering. "What is difficult to do to stop something I know is bad for me, I know it does not help me. I was able to do it with cigarettes, which trapped me so much that alcohol, so why can not I stop drinking for good? Am I just a weak person? What is my problem? "
I looked deep inside myself, my traumas and my pain, my fears, my doubts and my deficits, my faults and my shame.
Why did I let that happen? How did I become a person who needs a few drinks a night? Where did I go wrong? Why can not I understand that? What personal work do I need to add to a life already devoted to personal work to free me from my alcohol problem?
I looked inside, inside, inside, the problem, the question, the missing piece. This interrogation track would surely allow me to solve my problem.
When I dared to take a look to the outside, I found that most people were drinking happily.
Desperate, I attended several AA meetings. Good souls, but not for me.
Still, I tried it.
I made lists on the fact that everything that had happened in my life was somehow my responsibility. I blamed myself and begged a god whom I do not believe to help me. And I was looking for a long time what was so bad for me that I became more and more addicted to alcohol addiction.
Women are so good at blaming us.
We stand up to incredibly high standards, standards that are constantly failing us. It is no wonder that when we find ourselves addicted to addictive drugs, we hold ourselves accountable. Naturally.
As women, we are supposed to raise beautiful and bright children while working full time. We prepare healthy, "balanced" meals, make up our fingernails and frown, and enjoy "girls' time," "me time," and "sexy time." go to the gym three to four days a week (but four to five, that's better), sleep eight to nine hours of sleep and start over again day after day, with perfect makeup and a little more to pour into our own activities creative.
It is not surprising that we stick to ourselves when we pour only wine, beer and alcoholic beverages.
It must surely be our fault too, right? We surely did not understand the instructions. We have not managed to balance. We have not succeeded in moderating.
This model of self-blame is exactly what I had to reject to find my key in the hell of alcohol addiction.
Maybe you have a different key, and it's great. Maybe each of us has to cut his own key, adapted to his own idiosyncrasies and worldviews.
Maybe your key is a recovery program; if so, congratulations to you! Freedom is freedom, regardless of the path taken to achieve it.
Here is my key: I had to completely reject the idea that alcoholism was my fault. I had to reject that with every fiber of my feminine being.
It may be my fault for so many things in life, but I find myself addicted to a very addictive and well-known drug that I am encouraged to use since adolescence to report to the social group that I am mature, healthy, attractive and efficient. sophisticated and friendly is not part of it.
It's worth repeating: I completely and completely blame alcohol and the alcohol industry for my alcohol addiction.
I realize that sounds simple, maybe too simple, maybe even stupidly simple.
I realize that we live in a culture where we tell people who stop drinking alcohol that this means that we now have to join life support groups and call ourselves- even "convalescent alcoholics" for the rest of our sober lives, avoid moronic social gatherings, pray for rescue and wander a little sad to feel different – not to be able to enjoy the party because we went too much far and have lost our rights and privileges in matters of alcohol.
But this, I know: alcohol has caused my addiction to alcohol, in exactly the same way that smoking has caused my cigarette addiction, both between me and everything they falsely promised to do. to make me.
Many years ago, when I finally quit smoking, I had every reason to believe that no one would question my decision.
I did not need the support of the group to stop smoking because the group – my friends, my family and most of society – did not smoke.
Health professionals also agreed that smoking is bad for anyone's health, and public campaigns have encouraged people to "turn it off."
Wherever I looked, I saw messages of the type: "It can be difficult at first, but you can do it. You can leave that behind.
I have found countless websites devoted to all the positive health changes that began as soon as I turned off my last cigarette. The support of the group was everywhere, part of the social fabric of my world.
I certainly did not worry that if I told people that I finally quit smoking, they would give me a stigmatizing label and tell me that I always have to rely on the support of the group if I wish, if God the will, stay non-smoker.
Nobody in my social circle has warned me, to three months without cigarettes, to pay attention, to be humble. Nobody told me that I should not try to go it alone or that it was "the first days", so it was better not to talk about it.
Instead, when I finally said, "I really finished now," we all started to inhale more deeply.
In other words, that was it. Welcome to the flock.
But when someone stops consuming alcohol or recognizes that he even thinks of quitting, he gets a message different from that of the general public.
Crickets followed by delicate questions.
Friends and family are watching you in a fun way. Ask them why you do not just "reduce a little".
The therapists ask if it was really "so bad".
Otherwise, caring colleagues say things like, "But how will you have fun at parties?
Because, at least for the moment, stop drinking, it's definitely leaving the herd.
Of course, aside from AA, there are a few flocks of smaller, quieter and poorly organized non-drinkers, whom I like to call early adopters, enjoying life with La Croix. But look around you every day and you will quickly be reminded that becoming a non-drinker satisfied in our alcohol-soaked culture is practically a tribal betrayal act.
I blame alcohol for my alcohol problem and blame alcohol was the key to my addiction exit.
When I saw that alcohol had created the problem, created its own need and then, gradually, my self-confidence, my health, my energy and my capacity for personal discipline, I gathered all my accumulated knowledge, threw the fucking bottle and got away from the flock.
We are herd animals, so it can be scary to leave.
Will my friends always love me? Will I always be invited to parties?
As I was leaving, I had to tell myself again and again that it was good to leave the flock on this issue. The flock will eventually catch up.
Science is showing more and more clearly that alcohol is extremely dangerous for women's health (not great for men either). Just search on Google for the combined terms "women", "alcohol" and "breast cancer".
As Stephanie Mencimer writes in her thorough investigation article on Mother Jones: "Did the drink give me breast cancer?":
"I quickly discovered that in 1988, the World Health Organization had declared that alcohol was a group 1 carcinogen, which means that it was proven that It is carcinogenic According to the WHO, there is no safe dosage in humans, according to the alcohol.The International Agency for Research on Cancer believes that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer increases by 7%. "
Yeah, I know, right? Yuck.
Call it recovery, sobriety, call it alcohol-free by choice. No matter what you call it – no matter what I call it – it does not matter.
As the Buddha says: "See for yourself what brings contentment, clarity and peace. This is the path you must follow.
Without alcohol, I am no longer in search of the "harness" of "my" problem of alcohol. The drink was the problem.
Of course, I have other life problems. it's a given. But it is much easier to deal with them now.
Like so many sober writers –Annie GraceLaura McKowen Jason Vale Kristi Coulter, Lotta Dan, Jean McCarthy, Holly Whitaker – have tried to tell us, there are inevitable disadvantages to life, but no inconvenience to becoming a non-drinker.
The alcohol industry benefits when we impute ourselves to develop an alcohol addiction.
If women directed our collective blame towards the real culprit, we could have a successful class action on our sober and competent hands.
Sara Nash, PhD, LMHC is a mental health consultant, consultant and artist. She can be reached via her blog. His podcast, The Advisor as a Person, is available on iTunes.
This article was originally published on Medium. Reprinted with permission of the author.