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When You're Unsure If Alcohol Is a Friend or Foe

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For the past few years, when friends and family have raised their concerns, I have constantly found myself repeating the same explanation as to why I don’t have a drinking problem. “I’m a student, drinking loads is what all students do. I’m living my youth and I love it.” Except that wasn’t the case, I was using my student status and the stereotype associated with students as an excuse to convince not only everyone else but myself that I was OK and despite my other mental health struggles, my drinking was not a problem.

You see, alcohol has this charm about it, a charm I find difficult to resist. It enables you to lose your inhibitions and fuels your confidence; it offers you the opportunity to escape from reality, and that’s why it became my number one ally, something I could rely on no matter how bad things were. I could turn to it and it would provide me with the relief and comfort I craved, but most of all it made me feel good, even if it was just for a short while.

But that’s just it — it’s temporary, and that charm is nothing compared to the chaos and self-destruction that can potentially follow. One thing I started to notice was other people’s abilities to stop drinking, something I lack. The effects of alcohol start to wrap around me like bubble wrap and give me a sense of protection from the stress and worries that consume me when sober. So once I start, I binge, and I’ll continue to binge for days or even weeks.

The protective layer that surrounds me is deceiving and it isn’t long before the bubbles start to deflate, leaving me as vulnerable as ever. The happy, carefree person I became after a few pints fades and my behavior becomes self-destructive and impulsive. It’s that behavior when intoxicated that has landed me in hospital numerous times or in a police cell — detained, stripped and wrapped in a security blanket to protect me from myself.

You see, I managed to convince myself for years that alcohol was my number one ally, that it allowed me to escape from reality in such a way I craved it more and more. What I didn’t realize was that it was my self-destructiveness when intoxicated that was causing a number of the problems I was trying to escape from when sober. Accepting this has allowed me to start working towards my mental health recovery without relying on a potentially dangerous quick fix disguised as an ally.

Alcohol can be a friend to some in small proportions, but for some people like myself, it’s a foe. Accepting that was one of the hardest things I had to do but also the most liberating.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA‘s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

Originally published: November 16, 2017
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