Fighting the Enemy
It is common for people who realize that they are trapped in alcohol addiction to see this substance as their foe. They may picture themselves in a battle for their life because this is the reality of their situation. Of course in reality alcohol has no personality or ability to be cunning. It is the reaction of the individual to this substance that is the real problem. It can be helpful for people to view alcohol as their foe; it is certainly a healthier attitude than viewing this substance as their friend.
Alcohol as a Friend or Foe
There can be confusion among people as to whether alcohol is a friend or foe. Some studies point to the benefits of drinking such as antioxidant activity. There is also plenty of evidence for how this substance can completely destroy people’s mental and physical health. This is why most doctors will not recommend that people take up drinking alcohol in order to reap the benefits – there are too many potential risks. If people are able to stick to the recommended levels of alcohol intake then it can be a friend – anything more than this and it can quickly become a foe.
The recommended safe levels for drinking are:
- Two drinks per day for men between the ages of 21 and 65.
- One drink per day for women between the ages of 21 and 65.
- One drink per day those over the age of 65.
- Those who have ever been treated for alcoholism should avoid drinking altogether.
In the above recommendation a drink is classified as a standard beer, a standard glass of wine, or a shot of spirits.
From Friend to Enemy
Alcoholics will often describe their early encounters with alcohol affectionately. In the beginning this mind altering chemical really does appear to be a bit magical. It gives people who were chronically shy the ability to talk. Those who suffer from [low self-esteem]( feel full of courage and confidence when they drink. It can help turn these people into the type of individuals they always dreamed of becoming. In the beginning those who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders may be able to self-medicate successfully with alcohol. The only reason why people ever fall into addiction is that in the beginning it does appear to be working.
It can take a long time before people realize that their friend alcohol has turned bad on them. Even when they can see the destruction being caused in their life, they will hang on in the hope that things will return to how they once were – they never will. A good description of the situation is summed up in the saying, alcohol gave me wings but then it took away the sky. It is usually only when the individual accepts that alcohol is no longer their friend that they can escape their addiction.
Dangers of Ambivalence in Recovery
Ambivalence can prevent people from ever escaping their addiction. This occurs because the individual still looks upon alcohol as their friend, but they can see how it is ruining their life. They are caught between two opposing forces. This individual wants to escape the pain of their current life, but they secretly hold onto the belief that one day the good times in drinking will return. So long as the individual continues with this attitude they will struggle to find stable sobriety.
Alcoholics Anonymous and John Barleycorn
John Barleycorn is a personification of the crop barley and the alcoholic beverages that are made from it. In Alcoholics Anonymous they will often use this name to describe their addiction – their battle with John Barleycorn. This description is believed to have originated from the writings of Jack London. He referred to his own battle with alcoholism as being a conflict with John Barleycorn. In Alcoholics Anonymous it is believed that this enemy is too powerful to be beaten by the individual – they need the help of a higher power. This view is not shared by everyone in the addiction recovery movement. Groups such as Rational Recovery believe that it is possible for the individual to overcome their enemy.
Rational Recovery and the Addictive Voice
Rational Recovery is a program that was created by Jack Trimpey, and it has been around since 1986. A core element of this program is the idea of the addictive voice. This is the enemy that people have to overcome in order to escape their problems. They are able to win this battle by using a technique known as addictive voice recognition technique (AVRT). Once the individual learns to recognize the voice of their enemy they will be better able to defeat it.
How to Defeat Alcoholism
There is no one right way to defeat alcoholism. The individual has to find a path that works for them and make use of this. In order to defeat their addiction the individual can:
- Going to rehab can give the individual the initial support they need to put some distance between themselves and their addiction. They can also learn the skills they will need to build a good life in recovery.
- Joining a recovery group can also provide people a great deal of support in their battle against alcohol. They will also be able to make use of a program that can greatly improve their life so they never need face such battles again.
- Practices such as mindfulness meditation can allow the individual to recognize those thoughts that are pulling them towards addiction. This practice shows the meditator that they are not their thoughts and they do not have to obey them.
- For some people hitting rock bottom is the key to overcoming their enemy. This does not mean that they have to lose everything; only that they have lost enough.
- An addiction therapist can help the individual recognize how alcohol is not their friend. This can give them the motivation to stand up and fight.
Addiction as a Friend
Some people can look back on their alcohol addiction and view it in more friendly terms. They can see that it was the pain caused by their old enemy that forced them to develop as a human. They realize that their life today would not be so wonderful if it were not for the problems of the past. By this stage the individual is at peace with their past. Of course before addiction can become a friend it needs to be defeated.