Alcohol- Our Relaxant of Choice?

Why Alcohol?

Is Alcohol our biggest reward? What helps us cope, what do we look forward to at the end of the week? There is a culture of drinking – there is no social life without drinking, everything revolves around the pub, and this brings with it a sense of belonging. It’s an invisible form of peer pressure–“all my friends are drinking  – I need or want to drink too”. There are pressures to continue drinking – negative emotional feelings, family history, social pressure or the involvement of others – if I stop drinking I lose my circle of friends.

Why do People Drink Alcohol?

People drink to relax. They work hard during the week and go to the pub to relax. What does it say about the stresses of life at the present moment, when people are so stressed in work and so overwhelmed, that they need to drink to feel relaxed? Drinking to forget doesn’t work, it’s a short – term solution, a short term escape which includes a sense of connection to others, filling the emptiness, but leaving the person unable to see beyond the limits of his/her behaviour.It can be very upsetting for the person to try to stay away from alcohol or the behaviour or lifestyle that goes with it. Problems build and persist, leading to underlying panic and anxiety.

Drinking too Much Alcohol…

There is a strong form of attachment to drinking and drinking to excess. Therefore time is not spent exploring different avenues of enjoyment or relaxation. There is a sense of trying to keep up with others during College years or early working years- there’s lots of drink and nights that are formed around a drinking culture. Do you need to drink so much?  What constitutes a good time? Is becoming vulnerable to loss of, or impaired, ability to care for oneself a safe behaviour? This leads to risk factors that are physical, sexual,or emotional, and an impairment of judgement. Drinking alcohol with friends is a pleasant activity but there is a point when it becomes potentially dangerous to the individual. Alcohol becomes necessary to maintain “good feelings” and guilt or remorse is set aside or ignored.

How do we manage our inner pain? The person uses alcohol to avoid painful feelings, relieve anxiety or fill the void. It stops the lonely, empty, bad feelings for a short time because the person feels part of the group, connected to something. Drinking alcohol is attractive to the person because the high of drinking becomes a coping mechanism.  Alcohol can be a form of escapism, a defence from reality or from distress, sorrow and guilt. Drinking is used to avoid painful feelings. However the habit is self- destructive, as the pain or problems it’s supposed to relieve don’t go away. The search for happiness and peace has to be part of a lifestyle where the person learns to develop more sustainable strategies for coping with Pain, Sorrow and Anxiety.

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