I was never one for abstaining from the things that made me happy or trying to deny my urges. This wasn’t just about alcohol either; I made numerous purchases on impulse, spending money on things I didn’t necessarily need simply because of the way they were presented to me. I was the dream client of the retail industry. At the same time, I would often postpone or actively avoid activities that I found tedious or non-rewarding as much as possible.
What do the two mindsets have in common, you ask? I for one didn’t think they were related either until I learned they are quite frequently encountered characteristics of the addictive personality type. Yeah, two key components of my character were in fact driving me towards alcohol as a coping mechanism. Let me elaborate.
When You Can’t Say No Anymore…
I started drinking – in moderation, might I add – not as a way to cope with my problems, but because I really enjoyed the taste and buzz of an orange vodka cocktail. These “screwdrivers” at my favorite pub came with crazy straws and uniquely shaped glasses; this made them really appealing to the eye and I thought they were really cool.
Naturally, you don’t really have a problem when you enjoy the occasional screwdriver twice, maybe three times a week. The problem is that I didn’t even realize when the number doubled, tripled, quadrupled, so on and so forth, or when I had switched from long drinks to single malt whiskey. And, mind you, that was in the early stages of my developing alcoholism.
Does This Happen to Everyone?
I’m not going to deny the fact that some people CAN drink in moderation. Enjoying a couple of beers over the weekend – even going a bit overboard and waking up with the mother of all hangovers – is something everybody goes through at some point or another.
However, not everyone has the same control of their impulses and desires, meaning they are no longer able to delay “gratification” in the form of alcohol until the weekend. You’ll start by drinking on weekday nights, then during your lunch break and you’ll eventually end up having Irish coffee for breakfast.
Re-learning How to Control Your Impulses in Rehab
Without becoming able to delay gratification and mastering your urges, there can be no recovery. The slightest trigger will send you spiraling down into relapse the moment you walk out the door of the facility thinking you’re ready to face the world.
You see, it’s not just about abstaining from alcohol, it’s your whole mindset, your perspective of things. A thrill-seeker who only engages in activities that provide instant gratification will not have the patience necessary to kick alcoholism for good. Let’s be fair, abstinence does require a lot of effort and it’s a never-ending process with very few tangible results.
Therefore, if he cannot understand that the benefits of staying sober are achieved in the long run, a former addict is very likely to return to the instant gratification of the bottle. Much like an overweight person trying to get in shape by exercising, kicking alcoholism is not going to happen in a couple of days.