For those of us with a drink problem, using alcohol has become a way to alter how we are experiencing life at any given time. The idea that we can change how we feel by means of ingesting a substance starts to become rooted in our psyche and is extensively damaging to us. We learn over and over again that we can take a shortcut to better feelings without actually having to develop an ability to deal with our problems and difficulties - we can quite literally drink them away
We've also learnt that with the use of drink, confidence, personal performance and perhaps social skills can be found and used within a very short time of needing them - without the effort, challenge and often discomfort involved in developing ourselves as individuals. We end up becoming more and more reliant on this method of dealing with our emotions and managing the various situations we find ourselves in, although we may not necessarily know it.
What's the real problem?
Although alcohol appears to be the problem with an alcohol problem, in recovery we begin to glimpse an understanding that the real problem is actually our relationship with alcohol. Alcohol is really only the vehicle we use to alter our world and as such is really more a symptom of a deeper problem. If c2h5oh, ethyl alcohol, alone is the problem then the logical solution to this problem would be to stop drinking, perhaps at a treatment centre or other medical facility if the physical addiction has become bad, and... our problem would be solved. We all know it's not like that - treatment centres do not turn out cured people. We have become reliant on this way of living and coping, and the more we have done it - the less practice we have had at living life without it, and so our 'condition' gets worse and worse the more we do it. The more we use this tactic the more deeply engrained it becomes as a way of living. It is this strategy for living that we need to recover from... and because we have used it with such skill and practice, often for so long, recovery is not a quick and easy plan or intellectual procedure to be done and dusted, quickly and efficiently. It is a lifetime process of getting to know ourselves at deeper and deeper levels to help head off our tendency to return to the old strategy that was so very easy for us to use. It is about finding another way - not adapting the old way because it's too hard to make the changes needed
Alcohol problems are in our experience most often progressive because we are addicted to a quick fix strategy that becomes more attractive to our psyche each time we use it. It should be said however, that there are some who drink themselves through a crisis or loss to ease their pain, returning to a safe or more 'normal' or socially accepted level of drinking after a period of time. For those of us with a persistent drink problem, returning to safe, 'normal' or socially accepted levels of drinking does not occur - indeed some of us may have never known how to drink safely and with control in the first place
So... now we have some idea of what the problem is - how exactly do we use this information? This brings us back to the two-part question so vital to our future. Do we want to change? and What lengths are we prepared to go to..?
In the section entitled how we have recovered ... we share our collective experience and the action we have taken which has provided us with an enduring recovery, living meaningful lives free from alcohol - experiencing a genuine release from feeling the need to drink - as a result of practicing a simple yet empowering way of living