I was always quitting.
Telling myself, this is it.
Then around dinnertime, the thought would pop into my head that it would be nice to have a cocktail. The problem with that, though, there was never such a thing as “just one cocktail.”
And the cycle would start all over again.
I would watch other people drink, and they would stop after one or two, especially if they knew they had to drive later or go to work in the morning. I thought if I just tried harder. That something must be wrong with me and my inability to “control” my drinking.
It turns out it is much more complicated than that.
Addiction is a disease
Since 1956, the American Medical Association has declared addiction a disease. This is their current definition. “Addiction is a treatable, chronic, medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction engage in behaviours that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”
Addiction runs in families
Research indicates that genetics are responsible for approximately 50 percent of the risk for addiction among the traits parents can pass on to their children. This risk increases when both parents have an addiction. If it skips a generation, parenting and other influences are still passed down.
Addiction is a brain-based disease
All addictive substances have powerful effects on the brain, including producing intensely pleasurable and euphoric feelings. Each drug that is abused, all send dopamine levels soaring far beyond the natural range and cause a powerful chemical drive experienced as cravings. This makes it harder to feel good about ANYTHING without using drugs or alcohol.
Addiction is a progressive disease
With continued use, progressive changes take place to the structure and function of the brain, which causes things like the compulsion to use. Drinking patterns begin to change, problems keep stacking up, and you never go back to the previous stage. You NEVER go back. Ever. And in my case, twenty years slipped by.
Does any of this resonate with you?
It was a huge relief to learn there was an actual reason for how I drank and behaved. I hear other women describe the same sense of relief. Understanding that the brain was involved and not because I was weak helped me begin my recovery journey by lightening the load of guilt and shame I carried.
If you are having difficulty quitting drinking, please seek help. Addiction is a brain-based, progressive disease, and continuing to drink will worsen the symptoms. It never gets any better. Never.
Please comment below and tell me which part of the article resonates with you.
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