Birds in Cages - Talking to my Son about the Alcohol and sugar addiction Cages in our mind

The Cages in our Minds – Talking With my Young Son About Alcohol and Sugar Addiction

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My six year old has been watching my habits change with curiosity since I stopped drinking alcohol. He’s been wanting to be included in the positive change he sees in me so he’s asked if he can drink sparkling water and seltzer’s with me every night. While I don’t mind if he has it sometimes, it’s not something I want him drinking all the time. I decided to talk to him about why I drink them.

Recovery starts by completely changing your mindset. You don’t want to be guarding a cage in your mind your whole life

I reminded him of the sparkling drinks I used to have that I wouldn’t let him have… like my nightly spiked seltzer’s and gin and tonics. I explained that those were alcoholic drinks and that alcohol is essentially a poison that disrupts our brains, makes us feel and act different. He understood. I’m not sure if the comprehension was from my explanation or from his memories of how my behavior changed when I was drinking alcohol in the past.

I explained that sometimes people become addicted to the poison… it becomes much more than liking to drink and feels as if they NEED to drink in order to survive. I told him that’s how I had felt and that I’ve worked really hard to retrain my brain and stay away from alcohol. So now, I drink sparkling water sometimes at night because it is much better than alcohol and helps me to stay sober. I told him that water is still much better for our bodies and so we can’t just drink sparkling water and seltzer’s all the time.

He said oh, a few times and nodded with acknowledgment but I could see the gears going in his head. I asked him what he was thinking and it sparked a very interesting conversation that I wanted to share here;

He said Mumma, I understand what you’re trying to say. I feel that way about sugar a lot. (He does eat a fair amount of sugar) He said it’s like his brain is telling him he needs sugar or he won’t be happy. That a lot of days, it’s like the sugar cravings are locked in a cage in his mind. He waits all day long feeling the craving trying to break free. Then when he gets home and knows he can have some chocolate or candy, the sugar craving busts through the cage and he feels normal again… feels as if the fight is over; he feels relieved to know he doesn’t have to keep the cage locked any longer. Then the whole process starts over again. 😳

Birds in Cages - Talking to my Son about the Alcohol and sugar addiction Cages in our mind

Whoa, pretty insightful stuff here!

I think this is what moderation was for me. When I used to drink moderately. It was the alcohol craving trapped in a cage but always trying to break free. I thought I was in control, because, hey! I was the one who built the cage and was keeping it locked! But, my mind was fighting me all day long only for me to unlock the cage, allow the craving to come out and have a drink….so was I really in control? It was just an endless cycle.

I also think that many feel similar to this with early sobriety. The desire, craving and deep “need” for alcohol is still trapped in that cage. All day long we are fighting so hard to keep it locked and we guard it so well for awhile…. But then many start losing strength or lose focus on the key… the banging on the cage gets to be too much and we finally just unlock it so we don’t have to feel the fight anymore.


So how do we keep it permanently locked and end the cycle?

We don’t!!! Recovery starts by completely changing your mindset. You don’t want to be guarding a cage in your mind your whole life—- you want to get that cage out of your mind completely! To break free from the fight means you need to END the fight. Get rid of the cage… then there’s nothing left to guard or unlock!

My son and I also talked a lot about how processed sugar and alcohol cravings are really just our brains tricking us. We don’t need either to survive. So we need to call out those lies, question them and challenge them so they lose their power! Every time we do this, we are slowly dismantling the cage…we are recognizing the lies, the tricks and the delusion for what they really are.

We have to say, yeah I know I’m feeling like I need alcohol or in his case, a piece of candy, but I also know I DON’T need it! And what will happen if I don’t have it? Sure, I can be miserable about it and feel like I’m being deprived or I can say to myself….yesssss I’m finally breaking free!!! I don’t believe the lies any longer! The cage is disappearing and soon it will no longer be a fight to keep it all locked up inside of me!!!

I’m sure this conversation with my son is not over…and I’m prepared to keep talking about addiction, alcohol, brainwashing and retraining our brains. But I think this was a good starting place. I also really believe it’s important that as a society we start TALKING about this stuff more, especially with our children!


Anyways, I hope you’re all doing well and that you’re all finding ways to dismantle those cages each and every day ❤️❤️❤️

sunset, tree, cage and person

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

of things unknown but longed for still

and his tune is heard on the distant hill

for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

― Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems


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How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)

B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague  Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats  Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed  Ideas Here
Nourish your body with good food  Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories  Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here

W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress  Ideas Here
Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
― Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems


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3 comments on “The Cages in our Minds – Talking With my Young Son About Alcohol and Sugar Addiction”

  1. Pingback: Proud to be Sober

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