Beware Of The Thinking Behind Drinking

Beware Of The Thinking Behind Drinking

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

I subscribe to the view that alcoholism is a disease. But there are all shades of gray before alcohol abuse escalates to the status of a "disease."

In this article, we will examine how an individual's way of thinking or lack there of could aid and abet the habit of excessive drinking. Excessive drinking, if not modified in time, can escalate to the status of a disease.

In some circles of AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) they call alcohol-friendly thinking as the "stinking thinking behind drinking." We will just call it a distorted pattern of thinking that "smells" alcohol.

The ideas presented here are for self-regulation of drinking behavior. This approach is likely to work for those who have at least partial insight into their drinking behavior and t heir own thought processes related to it. Hopefully, they can monitor and gain some control over their thought process.

This approach may not help those who have surrendered their will to alcohol and are totally plugged into the disease concept of helplessness. They are advised to seek help of a cognitive behavior therapist who can provide them additional support and guidance they may need.

Prior to the onset of the disease, often alcohol abuse goes on for years. In the formation stage of the alcoholism disease, specific irrational and illogical thoughts that lead to possession and consumption of alcohol can be identified and checked.

The distorted thinking or absence of correct reasoning is observed in almost all people who exhibit a pattern of excessive consumption of any substance or product.

Take for example, bulk purchase of the stuff for which you have a "weakness." You may be someone who has a weakness for ice cream. You know that once you start eating, you can't stop until you have scraped the bottom of the ice cream box.

Here is the question: When you know you don't stop at eating just one scoop and you have seen yourself not quitting until you have seen the bottom of the box, then why do you ach time buy that one gallon or half-gallon of ice cream? True, it is cheaper to buy a gallon of ice cream in the grocery tore than buying a scoop or two at the ice cream shop.

If you are reading this article and at this point you start arguing in your head against this, you are simply proving my point!

Likewise, people who intend to just drink one can of beer or one shot of whiskey that evening, have their "reasons" for buying a case of beer or a couple of bottles of whiskey at the store. Some don't give a thought to their behavior. They buy automatically without thinking at all.

Many times, when I pose the question, "Why did you buy more than you needed?' often the answer I get is, "That's a good question! I don't know. I didn't think anything about it."

Correct thinking: "I wont' worry about saving money, time and additional trips to the stores. I am better off by buying the smallest quantity I can find around here."

People often set themselves up for heavy drinking. The following day, they would be upset with themselves for failing to control themselves and "resolve" to not allow that to happen ever again. They should instead analyze their pre-drinking behavior, which led to the failure in the first place.

Some would feel very bad about their loss of control and become extremely tense and agitated. They would then think of "doing something" to somehow feel better. That "something," you guessed it is "drinking just one to get out of this." So, they feel tense and bad over their drinking behavior and then must drink some more to get over that feeling of guilt and tension, right?

Correct thinking: "I won't drown myself into guilt. I will analyze my failure and "plug" those loopholes for the next time. I know excessive guilt is a trap; action is my road to freedom (from alcohol).

Well, what about the scenario when you are already feeling good about something? The distorted thought process may be something like, "I am feeling good. But, I can feel lot better and really enjoy this time if I drink just one or two."

Correct thinking: "Alcohol is not the sole proprietor of the recreational center. I can have fun and joy through many other avenues. I can augment your feeling of joy with healthy pleasures."

If you worked hard that day or had a real difficult day or perhaps the coworkers or the boss took it out on you because they were having a bad day, then you don't have to invent any excuse, you "deserve' to have more than just one or two.

Correct thinking: "I deserve to feel better. I didn't deserve to be treated this way. But, alcohol is not the only tension releaser in the world. I can try healthy ways to release tension. "

Do you get upset when your loved ones express concern and want you to cut down on your drinking? If so, reflect on your anger itself. Does your anger at them mean that you want to protect your drinking behavior? If you want to stop drinking, change the behaviors by which you protect your drinking.

When you do something good, how do you "reward" yourself? Think of healthier ways of rewarding yourself.

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Copyright 2004, Mind Publications 
Posted August 2004


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