- “Went to AA meetings with my dad growing up and all I got was this lousy alcohol addiction.” You remember the free coffee that tasted like paint-thinner. The chainsmokers. The wrinkled frowning recovering members in their tan slacks and choppy bangs. But all the memories of the people, the coffee, the serenity prayer and twelve steps aside, you feel that you are different. Not only did you know what all was out there growing up, but because of this you felt immune to it. Until you weren’t. And then it felt like it was too late and the serenity prayer was just a jumble of words when you had nothing but boredom, pain and a craving.
- “Sometimes when I’m upset I do yoga; sometimes when I’m upset I drink a bottle of whiskey.” You still want to better your life. You signed up for yoga with a ten-hole punch card. You’re saving up for snowboard boots. You meditate with your cat. But your will power is inconsistent and just as you might take a hand full of vitamins you’d just as soon drink a bottle of Jameson by yourself watching Buffy. You can’t control from one hour to the next which side of the health spectrum you’re likely to lean on and you have a justification for every decision you make- healthy or otherwise.
- *Drinks a beer on the floor of the bathroom* “It’s ok I’ve been working a lot.” You make excuses for drinking hard by working hard. If you can manage to run your life and remain busy, then what difference does it make how reckless and blacked out you become between 11pm and 6 in the morning?
- Eat, Drink and Bill Murray. You watch a lot of Netflix. There are a lot of shows and movies with drinking (Madmen is just an office with whiskey) and drugs, and every time Bill Murray sips whiskey with Scarlett Johansson or The Dude drinks a white russian and smokes pot at the bowling alley, or Don Draper makes a drink and kisses his secretary you too can make a drink, roll a spliff, kiss your secretary, throw the bowling ball, and snort a line. Why not? The finest actors in Hollywood are doing it on your TV.
- *Thinks about resolving conflict* *opens a beer* You can’t deal with confrontation so, naturally, you have found natural remedies for the raw challenge of sober unions. If, for instance, you met someone attractive you want to converse with on an intellectual and physical level, you drank yourself into a state of socially lubricated confidence. If, for example, you had a work meeting where you had to talk =, eye-to-eye with the boss without any distraction, even coffee and donuts, to ease the intensity of the exchange, you began the morning with highly spiked cappuccinos and a line of powder power. Now every interaction that would be a little stressful due to minor social anxiety is magnified by years of adrenaline pumping and chemical numbing. To challenge yourself with the daily upheavals of existence without any oral fixation seems, overwhelmingly, impossible and unnatural. You’re dependent on more than you can even feel comforted by and defensive about your dependence.
If these five general descriptions relate to you then you might be a substance abuser. Maybe it’s time to return your gym membership and invest in some therapy or a change of scene, friends, lifestyle and will power. Good luck.