By Margaret Kohut, MSW Master Addiction Counselor (Ret.)
Five little words, but if you believe you have a drinking problem and have been examining your drinking behavior, they are the most important words you will ever utter. Without coming to terms with yourself and your drinking, you are heading for chaos and disaster. These five words are going to save your life.
Let me use a well-known saying among recovering addicts and addiction counselors: “Denial is not a river in Egypt.” Denial has many definitions but I like this one:
Denial is a steadfast failure to understand thoughts and behaviors that prevent you from seeing and accepting the obvious i.e. that you have a drinking problem that is growing more severe and more disruptive in your life every day.
Denial of your drinking problem will cling steadfastly to you year by year, as your health fails, your family splits apart, your employment is severely affected, your financial stability disappears and you lose your dignity and sense of self-worth. Denial of your drinking problem will eventually kill you.
“I have a drinking problem.”
BANG! You have just fired the first shot in your war against your alcohol misuse. You must understand that denial is like super-strong glue: once it sticks to you, it is very hard to remove. Denial won’t give up easily. Jack Trimpey, founder of Rational Recovery, speaks of “The Beast;” the thing inside you that whispers in your ear to keep you drinking. Denial is the Beast’s favorite weapon. The Beast will tell you that you do not really need to give up alcohol; you don’t really have a problem. You just need to control your drinking better, that’s all. Just cut down, that is all you need. You can do it.
The Beast is a liar. All it wants is for you to keep feeding it, to keep drinking and keep denying it has or will ruin your life. Readers, to banish the Beast from your life, you must recognize denial when it comes into your thinking to rationalize your continued drinking. You must recognize the denial in other drinkers who will also tell you that you don’t have a drinking problem. They tell you this because their Beast of denial is still in control of their lives, and you can empower their own Beast by drinking along with them. Don’t listen to anyone but yourself! Only you can determine whether you have a drinking problem.
How to Stop Drinking
So when you say to yourself, “I have a drinking problem,” what is your next step? The obvious question is “How do I stop drinking?” Believe me, after more than twenty years as an addiction counselor, I am sure that overcoming denial about your drinking problem is much easier than eliminating alcohol from your life. Denial is so powerful and so pervasive in a problem drinker’s life that once you overcome it, everything gets so much easier.
Look in the mirror and say those five little words. Believe them. Guard them closely. Then read other posts on this blog and all the material available in the Alcohol Free Social Life series. Learn how to stop drinking safely and permanently. Congratulations and good luck to you!
Learn how to give up alcohol or how to moderate your drinking in the privacy of your own home without going to AA or expensive counseling with the How To Give Up Alcohol Course.