I cannot control my drinking: Now what?
If you cannot control your drinking…
…adversity lies ahead.
If you’re wondering whether you might be alcoholic, you probably have made numerous attempts to control your drinking. You may have gone a week or two without a drink, thereby convincing yourself that you are in control. You may drink only beer or wine, deluding yourself that “real alcoholics” drink the hard stuff. You may conveniently forget all the people you have harmed with harsh words or even physical violence while under the influence.
Denial is the No. 1 symptom of alcoholism. People whose drinking is growing increasingly problematic will lie to themselves and others to avoid facing the facts of their behavior. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning that the effects of alcohol abuse always worsen. Given time, problem drinking, left untreated, will result in mental incapacitation or death. So, what is needed? How can you turn this thing around? We review here. Then, we invite your questions or feedback in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt response!
When you cannot control drinking
Yes, if you ARE NOT ALCOHOLIC. In fact, there are some people who can lower drinking amounts and frequency and can manage alcohol intake using monitoring tools. However, alcohol harm reduction techniques are not for everyone. Roughly 2/3 of those who drink too much cannot completely control their drinking. The truth of the matter is that most people who wonder if they are alcoholics… probably are. It doesn’t really occur to people who do not have a drinking problem to question their actions.
So, if you have a drinking issue and denial convinces you that you can control your drinking, your loved ones suffer in the meantime. They watch in despair as alcohol abuse creates chaos all around them. While family and friends are affected by their loved one’s alcoholism, they cannot force the problem drinker to seek help. Nor can they solve the problem by making excuses for the alcoholic, loaning money, providing living quarters, nagging or threatening. The most successful way for others to influence a problem drinker to seek help is to stage a formal intervention with the help of a professional.
Self-honesty is needed
Some people keep doing “research” to prove they can win the battle of control by continuing to drink despite physical, mental and emotional repercussions. They may have a sober period-sometimes days, sometimes months; but when they pick up the bottle again, they soon find that the symptoms of alcohol abuse quickly rise up to meet them. Abstinence vs. harm reduction for alcohol will depend on your ability to consistently lower quantity and frequency of drinking episodes. If you cannot do this, you need to take a deeper look at what is going on.
If you decide to seek help for a drinking problem, it is imperative to be honest with yourself and with your therapist, counselor, spiritual advisor or any other professional. If you stubbornly cling to the notion that you do not need help, and you continue to think that you can control your drinking on your own, you can try one of the numerous online questionnaires designed to help you do your own assessment of your drinking behavior. Some of the questions ask about excuses you may make to justify your drinking, your behavior before and after drinking, the effects of your drinking on relationships, employment and social affairs, and the role alcohol has played in your family upbringing. The self-tests are of no value, however, unless you are honest with yourself in answering the questions.
Support systems can help
An intervention does not guarantee that an alcoholic will seek help. It merely confronts the individual with the facts, leaving the decision to the alcoholic. Once in treatment, an alcoholic will have the opportunity to learn from others who have tried, and failed, to control their drinking. Those who have successfully overcome their drinking problems are the first to say that it is difficult, if not impossible, to stay sober without the support of a like-minded people.
Questions and more questions…
Faced with this reality, you and you alone will decide whether you can control your drinking, but while you’re wondering, you put yourself and others at great risk.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below. We want to hear from you! And we will try to respond to you personally and promptly.
Photo credit: Chris Goldberg