While we may attempt to convince ourselves that alcohol and substance use can take the edge away from our most difficult emotions or personal problems, the truth is that these nefarious influences on our well-being also compound our stress at seemingly exponential rates. Regardless of our intentions, we often forget that alcohol and substance abuse can quickly become its own way of life.
Substance Use: A Solution or a Cause?
Yet many people fear what life will be like without alcohol or substances to buffer life’s problems. To this end, opting for a life of sobriety may actually feel like a leap into the dark.
And truth be told, a life of sobriety is not always easy. There will be days when our problems seem frankly overwhelming. Or when it seems as though life will simply not let up.
In our more vulnerable moments, we may have to contend with feelings of guilt or frustration; at times, we may feel depressed or anxious. Sobriety is not a cure-all to life’s ills. But it can help us to genuinely combat them.
Contending With an Illusion
In fact, the illusion we are faced with when we become addicted to alcohol or substances is that alcohol or substances actually help us to regulate our moods. But as we all know, they don’t do anything of the kind. Issues related to addiction can create problems related to:
- School life
Far from alleviating them, moreover, addiction can also sharply exacerbate conditions such as depression and anxiety.
In truth, alcohol and substances are like credit cards with enormous interest rates: They may help us in the short-term, but as long-term solutions, they can be truly disastrous.
For example, imagine that you are a highly trained neurosurgeon working 80-hour weeks. Over the course of your career path, you’ve probably placed a staggering amount of pressure on yourself to succeed: In fact, the concept of failure frightens you so much so that the thought of making a mistake induces deep feelings of anxiety.
In such a situation, you might turn to alcohol in order to mitigate feelings of stress. Yet it is easy to see how alcohol could in fact create more stressful situations.
For example, it is practically impossible to get a good night’s sleep after consuming a lot of alcohol; for a neurosurgeon, a poor night’s sleep could translate into poor decision-making in the operating room. And this is to say nothing of what it would be like for a surgeon to contend with a full-blown addiction to alcohol.
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
As you probably realize, what we are describing is something that psychologists commonly refer to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, the neurosurgeon described above enters into a cycle in their use of alcohol through which their problems with anxiety dramatically increase. And their solution to this problem? You guessed it: More alcohol.
As many people would, our surgeon might believe that alcohol is a means of relieving stress. And in a short-term sense, they may be right. Given time, however, they could face a vast litany of personal and professional problems over and above what they were already dealing with. They have simply exchanged one problem for a multitude of others.
A Many-Headed Hydra
Surely this is what the Ancient Greeks intended to convey via the myth of the many-headed Hydra. It is said that for each head of this monster that the mythological hero Hercules removed, two heads sprouted in its place.
Such is the scenario that we contend with when we give our lives over to addiction: For every problem that we “solve” via the use of alcohol or substances, we create many more.
When Hope Is Possible
To wit, a life of sobriety is not a life that is free of problems. But it is a life involving less problems and more manageable ways of dealing with them.
When sober, we may still struggle with problems related to depression or codependency or self-sufficiency. But we will stand a good chance of solving these problems. To wit, one mode of a life is a path forward; one is an infinite feedback loop. And only one offers the possibility of real and lasting joy.
If you or a loved one could benefit from a life of sobriety, know that help is available; please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a helping hand. Choosing a life of sobriety is not an easy decision. But it is one in which a genuine sense of hope is possible. Call us at 866-963-7200.