Promises of Alcohol are Written on Water

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

My thoughts bring to mind a particular client who had experienced all the usual tricks alcohol plays on people's minds.  Like millions of others, he too once believed the impossible promises alcohol makes to hits followers.

He shared with me a poem he wrote about his disillusionment with alcohol.  He wished there was a way by which his poem could "go to people's hearts, so they can use their heads."

Now I share this poem with you:

"I drank for joy and became miserable.

I drank to be outgoing and became self centered.

I drank to be sociable and became lonely.

I drank for friendship and made enemies.

I drank to soften sorrow and wallowed in self-pity.

I drank for sleep and awakened without rest.

I drank for strength and felt weak.

I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.

I drank for confidence and felt unsure

I drank for courage and became afraid

I drank for assurance and became doubtful

I drank to forget thoughts and had blackouts

I drank for conversation and tied my tongue

I drank to be in heaven and I came to know hell

I drank to forget and became haunted

I drank for freedom and became a slave (of alcohol)

I drank to ease problems and saw them multiply

I drank to cope with life and invited death.

I drank because I had the "right" to and everything turned out wrong.

Said this fellow, "It must have taken a bunch of booze to get you in this shape?

I said, "Just one.  For me one is too many and a thousand isn't enough."

Innumerable people have discovered the truth about alcohol, and some, alas discover it too late.  Our society has also contributed to the misconception by perpetuating myths and instituting misleading practices relating alcohol.

Take, for example, the tradition of toasting.  What an irony that is.  Toasters drink to someone's health, while that very moment, somewhere alcohol is destroying someone's insides and "upsides" (brain).  Toasters drink to someone' happiness and success, while somewhere, in some family, alcohol is snatching the smiles off the faces of a spouse and their young dependents.

Instead of delivering success, it ruins careers in its stormy course.  Absenteeism, tardiness, accidents at work and deterioration in performance finally takes its toll.

Alcohol and other substances present a deceptively easy solution, and a lot of us fall for it.  Instead of directly going after a problems posed by our life-settling and finding and direct solution, we settle for an indirect solution promised by alcohol.

Instead of taking the painstaking means to solve a problem and seek a positive goal, we escape.  Instead of using the regular road, we try to take a shortcut or the easy road.

There are four major reasons people resort to alcohol.

1.  Disturbing thoughts.  They drink in an attempt to overcome the confusion and pain caused by negative and distressing thoughts or to regulate thinking that has slowed down or speeded up.

2.  Disturbing emotions.  They drink to "anesthetize"  unacceptable emotions, such as anger, anxiety, depression, etc.

3.  Tension and stress.  Here alcohol is a tranquilizer.  Many drink because they want simply to relieve tension.  If a person does not want to tolerate tension at all, he or she would be drinking a the drop of a hat.

4.  Pleasure.  A person just wants to feel good.  Here, the philosophy is "if it feels goo now, do it even if you have to pay later." 

All these are deceptive solutions.  One still will need to learn to change thoughts, work through painful feelings and learn stress management.

Lasting pleasures don't come from chemicals.  They come from a steady pursuit of a worthy goal.  Pleasure we receive in life is in direct proportion to the work we put in becoming a better person.


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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