From Chapter One of the book How to Quit Drinking Without AA
For more about this book:
A Way of Coping
Alcohol helps us cope. Our drinking makes us feel better or helps us avoid some problem. Basically, we drink to gain some desired effect. There are hundreds of ways alcohol seems to help. Each person has his or her own unique set of reasons for drinking.
Sometimes we find a different reason for each drink we take. Here’s an example: Allen knows he gets nervous around others. Because he’s going to a party tonight, he has a couple of drinks. He does this to “calm himself down” and “get ready to meet people.” When he gets to the party he still feels uptight, so he has another drink to “loosen up.” A couple more drinks help him to “laugh and joke with others.” His wife is coming on to him, so he has a couple more drinks to “get in the mood.” The last drink at the party is “one more for the road.” Back home and before going to bed with his wife, he has another drink to be “a lusty lover.” And if he gets through sex without passing out, he has one last drink to “help him sleep.”
Alcohol helps Allen cope with these and many more experiences. Alcohol does so much, it’s easy to see why people become so devoted to drinking. Here are a few specific ways alcohol helps. It can help you:
- take risks
- calm yourself down
- overcome shyness
- escape loneliness
- forget some sadness
- feel bolder
- solve problems or forget problems
- overcome depression
- fit into social situations
- remove worry
- suppress anger or get your anger out
- cope with personal stress
- reduce feelings of guilt or shame
- celebrate happy occasions
- ease tensions
- get rid of aches and pains
With so many good reasons for drinking, why would anyone want to quit? There are two main reasons: 1) If you continue to drink excessively, alcohol soon stops helping you and actually begins to hurt you. It begins to cause more problems for you than it helps you to solve. 2) Most of us, sooner or later, realize we’d rather do something on our own instead of depending on a drug to help us do it.
Early in our drinking careers we’re amazed at how easily we can fit alcohol into our lives. But it gets harder and harder. Instead of using alcohol to help now and then, we begin depending on it to help us constantly. We can’t get along without it. We stop wanting a drink and start needing a drink.
This is a crucial change. It indicates addiction.
Here’s another way to see it. After a while, we start using alcohol to cope with problems that only alcohol is causing. We need a drink to stop the shakes. Or to blot out the memory of our drunken behavior the day before. Or to cut the pain of a hangover. That’s how powerful this drug can be. We use it as a medication for so many of our problems—even problems it itself causes. No wonder we feel we need it!
Later in this book, you’ll list specific ways alcohol helps you. Also, you’ll discover many different ways of coping—ways that, in the long run, will work better for you than alcohol ever did.