Maintaining Recovery in an Alcohol Saturated Culture
Drinking alcohol is an accepted practice in American culture. From chugging a few beers at a frat party to offering a toast during a wedding, drinking is seen as a way to enjoy time with friends, as a rite of passage and as a way to relax. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 60% of women and almost 72% of men had at least one drink in that past year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2013 that over 50% of adults (age 18 or older) were regular drinkers, which means they consumed at least 12 drinks in the past year. While many people can enjoy an occasional drink, others cannot. Because of a variety of factors, such as living environment, genetics or trauma, many people become addicted to alcohol. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that about 17.6 million people suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, or one in 12 adults. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S.
Because alcohol is such an accepted part of everyday life, maintaining recovery in such a culture can be difficult for a recovering alcoholic. While opportunities to purchase and use drugs like clonazepam are somewhat limited, the opportunity to buy or consume alcohol is everywhere. From going to the grocery store to attending a Super Bowl party, a recovering alcoholic must constantly face temptations to forego sobriety. Since a recovering alcoholic cannot avoid the presence of alcohol in daily life, he must find other means to cope with the urge to drink again.
Coping With Urges to Drink Again
The terms “urges” and “cravings” are often used to describe the thoughts, emotions or physical desire to drink or use drugs like clonazepam even though part of you wants to remain sober. It feels like a tug-of-war in which you feel no control. These urges are often set off by two types of triggers: external and internal. Internal triggers are often created by emotions like frustration, anger or even excitement. External triggers are those people, places, things or situations that offer the opportunity to drink or remind you of past drinking experiences. These are difficult to avoid in today’s culture. You need to utilize strategies that work for you so that you can overcome those urges to drink. Great coping strategies include the following:
- Avoid high-risk situations – This is especially important early on in your sobriety. Don’t keep any alcohol in your home. Avoid social engagements where alcohol will be present. Don’t feel guilty or shame yourself for turning down those invitations. Remind yourself that your continued health and sobriety are far more important than hurting someone’s feelings. Besides, people who care about you wouldn’t condemn your choice to say no.
- Distract yourself – Do something to remove yourself from the situation. Go bike riding. Go to a movie. Attend a recovery meeting. Meditate. Listen to music. These activities will engage your mind and emotions until the craving wanes.
- Talk it out – Confide in a trusted friend who understands your situation. If a face-to-face meeting is impossible, call or text him. Make sure to have a few friends you can call in case one of them is unavailable. If the situation is critical, call your doctor, a helpline or even your clergy.
- Ride it out – According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, urges and cravings for alcohol or drugs like clonazepam are short-lived. Accept that urges and normal but temporary. Don’t deny the urge or condemn yourself for it. Recognize its presence, but also remember that it will soon pass like a wave of nausea or a wave or emotion.
- Challenge the underlying thought – When you feel a craving, you are remembering the positive effects of alcohol and do not consider the negative consequences. Remind yourself of what alcohol has cost you as well as the joys of sobriety. Challenge the lies you are telling yourself, such as “it’s only one drink” or “I’ll feel better if I drink.” You won’t die if you don’t take a drink. You can cope without a drink. You are not boring. Take a step back to think through the decision.
- Plan out your coping strategies for various situations – Simply list on a sheet of paper common triggers you face such as seeing a familiar bar, experiencing a negative emotion or relaxing at the end of the day. Then next to each trigger, write down a healthy coping strategy such as the ones described above. Keep this list in your wallet or purse, and when triggers pop up, pull out the list and follow your plan.
You may have learned other coping techniques as a part of your addiction recovery, or you may have learned them from a friend or sponsor. Utilize those if they work for you. You will find that different techniques work in different situations. Over time you will learn which ones are most successful in your own life.
Getting Help for Your Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who understands the powerful cravings that alcohol can create. Don’t allow alcohol and drugs like clonazepam to destroy your life. You can create a better future for yourself. Call us today, and start on the road of recovery.