Like most people out there, I used to think that all I needed to get sober again would be to subject myself to the rehab treatment program and to go through the 12 steps of the AA. Even though I was reluctant with respect to AA due to the religious trademark pertaining to the organization, I also knew many people managed to stay sober thanks to the program.
I can tell you that neither the rehab, nor the AA alone will magically make all your problems go away. Granted, they are both programs designed to treat alcohol addiction. However, what they can’t do is help you deal with anxiety, depression and other negative feelings building up inside you.
Abstaining from alcohol is not enough
The most important thing I learned from the AA program is that removing alcohol from my life is essential, but not enough to keep me away from it forever. Although I was happy I could stay away from neat whiskey and feeling much better physically, my thinking patterns hadn’t changed one bit.
Simply not drinking anymore didn’t automatically make me a whole different person. In fact, I was the same frustrated individual, always irritated with my work problems, who didn’t even bother to try to see things from my wife’s point of view.
My intentions were good: I simply hid my drinking problem from my spouse because I didn’t want her to worry ‘unnecessarily’ about me. The only thing I managed to achieve was to alienate her; that and lead her to believe I was having an affair.
Don’t get me wrong, AA participation was a turning point on the road to recovery. The constant support from the group, the sponsor and the availability of meetings motivated me to get clean and sober. However, in order to realize I was confronted with deeper personal problems, I had to see a therapist.
How do you know you need outside help?
Like I previously mentioned, alcohol addiction treatment programs like AA will surely help you get sober if you’re willing to let them assist you. The problems occur after you get sober, as AA doesn’t have an opinion on medical issues.
Alcoholism almost never happens in isolation and it can be associated with a variety of mental issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or bi-polar disorders. Because the addictive use of alcohol could indicate underlying stress, you might need to see a therapist and face those problems.
Therapy helped me realize I was in anguish and depressed due to loss of hope, anger, resentment and stress, all related to my work. The simple fact that having a drink was all I could think of, despite having gone through rehab and AA, should have been a sign that my distress extended beyond my inability to refrain from using alcohol as a coping mechanism.
If you are undergoing the AA steps or a similar program, I strongly urge you to seek out a therapist or a transformation treatment center. Identifying and addressing potential mental disorders during early sobriety stages considerably reduces the risk of relapse. Moreover, it can help you find the true happiness and the right path on the road to self-improvement.