Has addiction always been a problem?
Alcohol has been around for thousands of years, but has alcoholism? In Gabor Maté's book, “In the realm of hungry ghosts” he states:
“The precursor to addiction is dislocation... the loss of psychological, social, and economic integration into family and culture.. a sense of exclusion, isolation and powerlessness. Only chronically and severely dislocated people are vulnerable to addiction. The historical correlation to severe dislocation and addiction is strong. Although alcohol consumption and drunkenness on festive occasions was widespread in Europe during the middle ages, only a few people become drunkards or inebriates. So what happened?”
Dislocation became more prevalent during the rise of industrial society in the 1800's. As traditional familial or cultural roles weakened, alcoholism became more widespread.
The effects of this can be seen not only in the US on both immigrant and native populations, but also in the native aboriginal cultures of New Zealand and the rising number of addicts in China as it struggles during periods of rapid growth.
Caroline, with over 1 year since her last drink, shares her story...
[9:50] Paul Introduces Caroline.
Caroline is from New Zealand, 40 years old, married and a mother of three. She enjoys reading, she is the new owner of a pub.
[11:15] When did you first suspect that you had a problem with drinking?
She started at 13 or 14. She knew pretty early that she drank more than most. As she got older she used drinking as a coping mechanism. She surrounded herself with other drinkers. Had an epiphany when she came upon the book “Mrs. D is Going Without” by Lotta Dann. It changed her definition of an alcoholic and made her reassess her own drinking.
[14:25] Did you ever try to quit prior to your successful attempt? Did you moderate or put rules into place?
She tried it all. She drank heavily in university. As she got older, the hangovers became unbearable and her depression got worse. She began to rethink her drinking in her late 30's. She tried to moderate with restricting the day of the week or the type of drink and it only got worse.
[16:00] Was your drinking tied in with your depression? How were they linked?
She would always feel shame and embarrassment the days following a bout of heavy drinking.
[17:17] Did you experience a rock bottom moment?
She had many. One that stood out, she was studying and driving into town with a hangover for the 4th week in a row. She realized that she can't moderate and that it was having larger consequences than she liked and she decided to quit. She quit for 100 days, thought she was cured, relapsed and went back to drinking. Then she woke up and realized she had a problem. She wasn't going to wait for something more serious to happen before she quit.
[21:00] How did you quit? What were your first few days like?
She thinks drinking stunned her emotional growth. She had to relearn how to deal with stress and emotions. She had to learn how to be kind to herself. She had been previously been through some emotional trauma and the emotions bubbled up when she was sobered up. She finally processed the emotions and did some soul searching and now she feels lighter.
[26:06] Can you think of an example in early sobriety in which you had to try a new coping mechanism?
She always thought she wasn't good enough. The night her husband was injured she was pregnant and she almost lost her daughter and husband on the same night. When it bubbled up she cried and released the feelings.
[27:35] Walk us through a typical day in your sobriety. How are you going to get to year 2?
She is more kind to herself. She's made some friendship in online communities. She is interested in developing and maintaining real life connections with sober and like-minded people.
[28:45] Why is it important to have those real life connections?
She feels she can relax and be herself with no shame or judgment. Everyone supports one another. She laughs with her friends and truly enjoys being sober.
[30:20] What have you learned most about yourself in sobriety?
That she's okay. Her relationship with herself and her inner world has changed. She is now more content and proud of herself.
[31:08] What's on your bucket list going forward in sobriety?
To continue to develop real life friendships. To focus on her health and family. To raise her daughters with healthy inner dialogues. To instill awareness in her family that there is another way. To lead by example.
[33:50] How did you end up buying a pub?
She wasn't looking for a pub specifically, but it was just something she always wanted to do. They're changing it to be more of a family friendly place.
[35:33] What will you do if you encounter an alcoholic in your restaurant?
At first she was shameful about having a problem with drinking. She met someone with a problem and just reached out to them to let them know they were available.
[37:30] Rapid Fire Round
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”