Alcohol. Booze. Liquor. Words we use to describe our demon and name the enemy. Convenient nouns. While alcohol does alter certain chemical states in our bodies that create and enhance its addictive nature, it is merely the courier or manufacturer of our desires. I don’t think we truly seek the pleasure of the taste or attempt to slake our thirst when we drink. We are looking for the solace in the bottle. The few moments when life becomes bearable and our troubles are washed away as the ethanol goes about its work of generating an imbalance in our system and alters its proper functioning.
Once we have cleansed our bodies of the residual chemicals and allowed ourselves to return to a state of stasis, the actual physically addictive drive that alcohol induces is eliminated and we are left with the longing for the false relief it produces. We no longer crave a drink, we crave the numbness it creates. We must address that problem if we are to be successful in sobriety.
Our first objective must be to overcome the residual elements of our chemical addiction. Detoxification can take up to two weeks or more before the body has completely eliminated the offending substance. It may or probably will take longer for our brains and bodies to cease needing the drug we have been feeding them. Once past this stage I believe our cravings are no longer physical but emotional and psychological.
We continue to name alcohol as the offender in our life when it may be something entirely different. Our need or desire to have a drink is motivated not by some inherent physical drive but by a void we seek to fill in our nature. To be clear, alcohol is and will remain something to be avoided. We have accustomed ourselves to it and any return will produce the same results no matter how or if we have dealt with other issues. But we must address those issues.
We continue to name and blame alcohol as the demon in our lives throughout our recovery which is a reasonable and understandable reaction. It is a dependency inducing and mood altering drug but I do not believe it is the source of our problem. It is our vehicle to comfort, however misguided that journey may be. We must find other transport.
For myself, I do not name alcohol as my nemesis. It is the foolish medication I prescribe to alleviate the symptoms of other issues. It is a mask of concealment or salve for open wounds that must be healed. I have resolved to no longer hide and to bandage my sores. I am addressing the underlying and unattended issues that generate the need or desire to drink. Alcohol exacerbates the infection it does not heal it.
For me, alcohol is a problem but not THE problem. I can name it as such but it does not change the truth. I have found that as I deal rationally with those concerns that bring about a craving or trigger, I diminish and dispel alcohol as the first or only choice for solution and eliminate the need for it from my life. It fades and evaporates in the light of understanding, education, resolve, recognition and personal effort as do the issues that bring rise to those cravings or triggers.
So although we may name our problem alcohol, booze or liquor, it may very well have a different definition. But then as Shakespeare said “What’s in a name?”
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