Friday, May 23, 2008

Addiction, Emotions and Our Health

As many of us know all too well, there are many deep-seated emotions that affect us daily – some of these emotions such as depression, anxiety, panic and fear can literally take over our whole existence and because of that we feel the need to subdue these negative feelings with the drug of choice so we don’t have to feel.

So then knowing this, is there a way to combat these emotions without the use of recreational drugs and alcohol? I think that once we get to the root of our emotions we can begin to heal ourselves and conquer what has taken hold of our life and become fruitful and happy people once again. Did you know that our emotions keep us in denial about our addiction? That’s why some of us deny we even have an addiction.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I am a recovered alcoholic (14 years) and when I was drinking I did not know how to have fun without drinking and getting drunk. I thought I functioned better when drunk. I even thought I looked and felt better. Every morning when I was sober, I could not deal with people and their attitude toward me because I was living within my negative feelings of resentment and anger towards them. I was anxious and fearful when I was sober and could not imagine one day without alcohol. This is how alcohol affected me. It may affect you somewhat differently.

My past haunted me, even though I had a pretty normal childhood when growing up, but I was often confused and depressed and I didn’t know why. It was not until I beat my fist against walls, until they bled, that I was told that I had hypoglycemia. That is why I could not focus. That’s why I had anger management issues. And that is why I had depression, emotional outbursts, and the inability to have a rational conversation. I not only had low blood sugar but I was an alcoholic too boot. I was just a young woman trying to figure her life out – no one should have to go through what I did.

Little did I know at the tender age of twenty-five that I was nutrient deficient as well as alcoholic. Every day I added more sugar to an already overloaded pancreas that couldn’t do its job of processing sugar normally. I needed healing and quick! Not only did I need addiction healing but also I needed emotional, spiritual, and physical healing.

Before we can heal though, we have to give up control… of "it"- whatever "it" is. You see, the drinking or the using is only a symptom of addiction. The real issue is within us, whether it is our past of growing up in a dysfunctional family, inheriting the genes of alcoholism, or if it’s sexual abuse as a child, or the inability to manage our emotions, etc. These things are "not who we are”. These are things that came into our life at that time, and we’re not sure how to combat them – it’s a constant struggle.

The great news is we can just as easily rid them from our bodies and mind and become truly whole people capable of loving and being loved. Now that I am sober, I have always thought of addiction as a hurdle – that’s all it is. You CAN conquer the hurdle of addiction!

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than a drunken man is happier than a sober one”. - George Bernard Shaw

What Happens If I Relapse?

You have not failed because you relapse. You are normal because you relapse. We all have relapsed when trying to find our way out of the alcohol and drug trap. Never allow a relapse to discourage you from coming to sobriety. As a matter of fact, when we succumb to our addictions we can actually learn from them. Most of us fall back on our addictions for many reasons and here are three of those reasons. See if they ring a chord with you as well.

Not Committed

The first reason is because we just weren’t ready in our heart to stop the addiction – we felt anxious and fearful being without our best friend, and so our uncommitted heart caved in under pressure. We have all done it. Think of addiction as a “hard to break bad habit.” But don’t fret too much over it. Just because you’re not ready to quit now, certainly does not mean that you won’t be committed later. Keep trying and don’t give up!

Have you ever listened to the little voice in your head telling you that your addiction is ok? You know the voice – the reliable little guy that keeps telling you reasons why it’s okay to keep feeding your addiction. It goes something like this. “I’m not really addicted, I can stop at anytime” or about this one. “If I was not married to so and so, I would not need to drink anymore.” We have all heard this one. “My life is just too stressful and I only need it to unwind.” We hear the voice and we listen because the voice is a symptom of addiction.

Same Friends – Same Places

Now I am sure you have all heard the old adage, “birds of a feather flock together”, right? Well, it is very true! We relapse because we have not changed our friendships and lifestyle. But a newly sober addict cannot be around the same people or places they were in before – it’s like driving with a blindfold on, hoping you can stay in your own lane. Whewy! Life comes at you fast when we aren’t taking the needed precautions that we ought to.

Lack of Supportive Friendships or Collaboration

It is difficult to be alone and remain sober. We all need friendships, especially encouraging ones that we can go to when we are feeling down. It is never a good idea to be in negative relationships when trying to overcome our addictions. We need to choose friends that are REAL friends – they hang in there with you when the going gets tough and they help you get tougher. These kinds of birds are harder to find, but if you hang out in the same places as these birds you’ll find some great friends.

“You'd be surprised how much fun you can have sober. When you get the hang of it”. - Joe (Jack Lemmon) in Days of Wine and Roses, 1962