A new member joined us in our first group meeting this year, a 27-year-old man who stated that he started drinking because he had too much time on his hands and didn’t know what to do with all that free time. At first, I thought it was a joke or a game aimed at testing compassion and empathy.
I must confess that until a week ago, I always thought alcoholism comes about as a result of financial problems, marital issues, the death of a loved one, or work-related matters. To my surprise, I found out that people could become alcoholics due to boredom.
Boredom is a state of mind
What does boredom have to do with alcohol addiction? This is the exact question I asked myself when I realized the young man wasn’t playing a prank on us. More than you can imagine, in fact. For starters, a person who is bored can be worn out or feel restless because he doesn’t have any significant personal interests.
Taking about boredom in an age where smartphones and computers can provide you hours of useless activity seems strange to me. However, if you think about it, you will come to realize that boredom is a state of mind and because it comes with a certain degree of comfort and safety, a person can make a habit out of being bored.
Boredom leads to addiction
Because boredom is a state of mind, it implies that the only way to shake it off is to be committed to changing your routine and doing something about it. If you let boredom take over you, then you will reach a point when you don’t expect anything from people and they don’t ask for anything in return. The only thing you can turn to is alcohol. It’s the quickest fix and requires little to no effort at all.
This young man I mentioned earlier was stuck in a painstakingly boring work-home routine. He gets up at 6 am, leaves for work at 8:30, supervises a machine for 8 hours straight and gets home around 5:30 pm to cook dinner for his mom. Why does he do it? Because his father left them and as the only man of the house, he felt compelled to take matters into his own hands.
In order to provide for him and his mom, he had to give up his dreams of going to college and becoming a world-renowned physician. He thought of no alternative and lost the motivation to do anything. It’s no wonder that he became bored with himself, his job and his life in general. Since he was too ashamed to tell his mother, he decided to repress it all with alcohol.
He realized that although his job offered him some sense of security, it wasn’t enough to keep him stuck there forever and that he has the qualities to explore new and interesting employment offers. Nowadays, after he lost his job due to alcohol, he’s trying to put his life back together. The participation in my support group meetings is just one of the steps he took, but I’m happy to see he really wants to make a change and turn his life around.