Prince Harry announced to the world that after the death of his mother and being unable to receive any psychological support he turned to alcohol and drugs for comfort. During the pandemic and lockdown many of us have resorted to drinking too much alcohol and other forms of excess.
Why do we drink too much?
Binge drinking and drinking to excess is used to deaden the pain, the pain of rejection, loneliness, fear, anxiety, grief, boredom and childhood abuse to name but a few. These excesses mask the pain for a moment providing a quick mood change. It is a reliable escape. However, instead of making the pain better, it ends up making it worse as the person experiences deepening humiliation and loss of control over his/her life. Eventually the addict becomes powerless to change their lifestyle. The common denominator of all addictive problems is "what the addict sought to control comes to control them.
Recognising problem drinking
As excessive drinking alcohol is such a common problem it is important to recognize the danger signs of growing dependency, The progression from being a social drinker to an alcoholic abuser is often a subtle one. The social drinker turns to alcohol as a way to relieve tension or to feel good.
The individual drinks more and more and may worry about their intake.
Morning drinking is a dangerous sign particularly when it is used to combat a hangover or to get through the day.
Abnormal behaviour is when the person changes their behaviour
Regretted behaviour is when the person engages in behaviour whilst drunk which he later feels regretable
Blackouts is when a person is unable to remember what happened during a drinking spell
A Crucial Phase comes as the person begins to lose control over their drinking. At this stage there is still some control over when a first drink is taken, However, after the first drink a chain of compulsive drinking starts. A Chronic phase comes as the person is dependent on alcohol. Victims drink compulsively and continuously. They rarely eat and become intoxicated from far less alcohol than before. They crave alcohol when they are deprived of it. Work, family ties and social life all deteriorate and the bottle becomes the main drive and purpose in life. At this stage the person is an addict.
- You are beginning to feel guilty about your drinking
- You realise that you drink more then you used to do and in social situations you tend to have a few extra drinks before or after drinking with others
- You are aware that you drink at certain times to help you cope with certain situations
- You drink to relieve your feelings of boredom, frustration, depression, anxiety or depression
- You are sensitive when others mention your drinking
- You have memory blackouts or have passed out whilst drinking
Signals not to be ignored
- There are times that you feel that you need a drink
- You drink in the morning to overcome a hangover
- You promise to drink less and start lying about your drinking
- You often regret what you have said or done whilst drinking
- You have begun to drink alone
- You have weekend drinking bouts and Monday morning hangovers
- You have lost time at work or school because of drinking
- You are noticeably drunk on important occasions
- Your relationship to family and friends has changed because of your drinking
When the person reduces or stops their alcoholic intake an important next step is to restore the person's health. Continued use of alcohol can cause severe damage to the body's organs and the nervous system. A balanced diet, vitamins, supplement and medical care can help to reverse the damage. Addressing the underlying pain of their dependency is a vital step to learn new skills and to develop different ways of thinking. Psychotherapy, group therapy, medication and Alcoholics Anonymous all will have a role to play in helping the person on his journey to full health. Research has shown that if the person who is dependent on alcohol does not confront the underlying difficulties of his drinking then they are more likely to return to alcohol in the future. It is important to take action before the toxic behaviours become more entrenched. It takes courage to reach out for help but you owe this to yourself. Don't give up, You are not alone, You matter.