Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

Alcohol is a growing Problem

Alcohol is a huge problem that many Americans do not want to admit. It surrounds us on television, in movies, and at movie theaters, restaurants, bars, and even sometimes at work meetings. Yoga studios are even hosting events like vino & vinyasa and asanas & ales to lure people in. Consuming alcoholic beverages has not only become the social norm, but it seems almost expected of us. Beverages are marketed to appeal to younger people and make drinking appear sexy. There is even hard water which is 6% alcohol. It tastes like fruity sparkling water and is marketed as a low calorie healthy alternative. To make matters worse, apparently fake ID’s are easily attainable and inexpensive so please talk with your underage children and know what is happening in their lives.

The more people I talk to about drinking, the more I realize that they (including myself) are truly awakening to the destruction that it can also bring. According to Beachway Therapy Center, “Each year, alcohol can be linked to almost 90,000 deaths around the United States and plenty more injuries, stemming from alcohol poisoning, accidents, reckless driving, vehicular fatalities, domestic violence, and drug interactions, not to mention the stress it places on friends and family.” If you know anyone who has been in long term rehabilitation, you have probably witnessed the devastation it brings both physically and mentally.

  We often consume alcoholic beverages to lift our spirits, when in reality they can also bring us down making us feel isolated and lonely. - Photography by Paul Garrett

We often consume alcoholic beverages to lift our spirits, when in reality they can also bring us down making us feel isolated and lonely. - Photography by Paul Garrett

How Do You Know if You Consume Too Much?

If you have trouble remembering things when you have been drinking, experience blackouts, experience shakiness when the effects of alcohol wear off, if you avoid social experiences because they do not include drinking, if you experience moodiness, nausea or vomiting, if your appearance changes and you retain water or have puffy eyes or a red nose, these may all be signs that you are consuming too much. We do not need to label ourselves as alcoholics, problematic drinkers, or borderline problematic drinkers. What I believe is most important is to recognize the signs that your body may be struggling from regarding the effects of alcohol, while being mindful that we all respond differently. Once you are an adult there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, but what does that really mean?

I fell into the trap of drinking at least two, and sometimes three or four glasses of Cabernet each night. I convinced myself that this was “normal and acceptable” even though sometimes I repeated stories, slurred my words and forgot a lot of movies that I watched. We tend to compare ourselves to others who drink more in an attempt to justify our own actions, when the reality is it still does not make either one right. We also tend to go into denial as a defense mechanism. Once you surround yourself with people who do not drink daily or binge drink, you begin to realize that there are other healthier options. In addition there are a few important factors to consider, including why you are drinking in the first place, as well as the negative statistics regarding the consumption of alcohol. Once you are aware, like most things in life, you can begin to transition into a lifestyle that promotes your personal growth and happiness rather than masking the discomforts that you drink to avoid.

This is one of the best videos that I have seen, which shows the effects of alcohol upon us and explains why we act the way we do with multiple drinks.

WHY WE DRINK:

  1. We drink to numb pain and discomfort. Maybe bills are piling up, you experienced a divorce, got let go from work or you are overwhelmed by life in general….

  2. We drink to relieve anxiety. This was a big one for me. I would have a glass of wine BEFORE going out for cocktails just to supposedly build my self esteem.

  3. We drink because it has become the social norm. Why not consider calling cocktail hour social hour instead?

  4. We drink because we feel we cannot have fun without it. This is definitely not true and in fact alcohol makes us literally dumb as it affects both our nervous system, as well as our brain.

  5. We drink because it has become a habit. Eventually, no matter why we started in the first place it will become a habit and then a lifestyle. Habits, as we know, are very difficult to break and require a mindset that knows that we deserve better.

THE ILL EFFECTS OF DRINKING (Stats from Talbott Recovery):

  1. Alcohol poisoning kills 6 people every day.


  2. Alcohol impaired driving accounts for 30% of driving fatalities per year.

  3. More than 15 million people struggle with alcohol use disorder and less than 8% receive treatment.

  4. More than 65 million Americans reported binge drinking last month.

  5. Teen alcohol use kills 4700 people each year, that is more than all illegal drugs combined.

Drinking has long term side effects that most of us do not ever think about including liver damage, nerve damage, brain damage involving permanent memory loss, heart disease and cancer. Withdrawal from drinking is said to be more deadly than withdrawal from any drug. I have known several people who have been through long term treatment (all under the age of 55 by the way) and recovery, as well as friends that have gone through AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). I went to both AA and Alan-on meetings months ago as part of my research and also just to check in with myself honestly. I started to silently question whether I was drinking too much and THAT is a surefire sign I most likely was. I went to the AA meetings and felt like I absolutely did NOT belong. Alan-on, on the other hand, I could somehow relate to.

Fortunately I am very awake and aware in my life. After a couple months passed by I started weening away from my normal wine “habit”. I recently went four days without it and had no issues. I began drinking tons of water with electrolytes and a lot of iced tea. Suddenly I had a huge desire to rid my body of toxins. As a result of hydrating in a healthy manner, the skin on my arms, legs and face all look less wrinkled and dry. I had no idea I was so dehydrated. Although I consider my drinking to be mildly problematic, it is certainly worth giving up on a daily basis. I did recently enjoy a couple glasses of wine at a family dinner, free from guilt. I am not saying that I am giving it up forever, but for now I will save my wine for special occasions, rather than allowing it to be a daily habit.

Sometimes change is not so gradual or optional. I have known people who try to quit drinking and their body goes into severe withdrawal causing their heart rate to spike and putting them at a higher risk of stroke and possibly death. If you are drinking large amounts of hard alcohol or drinking all day or night, seek advice and help from your physician. Some withdrawals take a 3-5 day hospital stay with anti anxiety medicine, as well as blood pressure medications and aids to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. It is highly advised to follow up with a long term care facility when possible and to look into a support group such as AA. Consider a new friend circle that may be less toxic and find activities free from alcohol that excite your soul.

Life is truly magical. And it is even more magical when we can see clearly and think logically. You deserve to thrive! Please practice mindfulness if and when you choose to consume alcohol. Just like when you crave dessert, one scoop of ice cream is acceptable, but a gallon will make you feel bad. Know your limits, consume in moderation and really consider what moderation is. Furthermore, honestly ponder what drinking responsibly means to you. Together we all weave a tapestry that interconnects us. Every choice that we make not only impacts to our own life and well being, but it may also affect the people around us. Always be mindful that in the blink of an eye our lives can be shattered by the adverse consequences of drinking.

The best part about cutting back or quitting any addiction is obviously the betterment of your health, but you will also save a lot of money that you can sock away for fun vacations and adventures that will create lasting memories for you and the people who you love. Be confident in social atmospheres. You can always sip on a sparkling water in a wine glass, a glass of tonic with lemon, or a non alcoholic beer if that makes you feel like you fit in better. Life is short. Don’t waste it away in a state of numbness and pain. Please seek help if you have a drinking problem, or other addiction, so that you can start experiencing the fullness of love and joy in your life. Yoga and meditation are both a great way to get in touch with the “self” and get to the root of the problem for which you are drinking. Many recovery centers use yoga as a therapy treatment.

We were all designed to thrive and sometimes we need to reach out for a little help, but all things are possible with perseverance, determination, and a spiritual belief. By practicing honesty, awareness, forgiveness and acceptance with ourselves, we can successfully overcome the many challenges that we encounter as we journey through life.

Live the Life You Love and Love the Life You Live,

Libby


Awaken • Inspire • Empower

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