Will I Be An Alcoholic? What Leads To Alcoholism And Addiction? Can Trauma Lead To Becoming An Alcoholic?

 Does the past lead to addiction?  Will I become an alcoholic or addict?  How uncovering my past trauma helped me understand and recover from my alcoholism

 

These questions are so common and I do not believe there is anything wrong with asking them.  I can only speak for myself and my personal experience, but every story I have heard from countless alcoholics and addicts all have similarities to each other.  The substance is not important.  The length of time using is not important.  The amount used is not important.  Some people like to obsess over their “drunk-a-logs” and focus on the amounts, the situations, the arrests, the crazy happenings, and that is all well and good in the right context and with the right intention.

I know where I was.  I know what I have done.  I also know that I cannot go back and change the past, nor would I wish to.  Without my past choices, I would not be the person I am today and I love this person more and more as time passes.  I am amazing.  I am worthy of a great life.  I have so much to offer others.  I have talents to share.  I have support and care I show to the world on a daily basis.  I am worth it.  I focus instead on the future and how I am living life in a positive and productive way today.  What I have done is simply that, events.  They are not who I am nor do those choices define who I am.   I try to focus on the cause and the solution.  The cause tells me what led me to where I was and helps me to prevent going down that path again.  The solution allows me to continue to live in sobriety and grow in my recovery.

With that being said, will someone become an alcoholic??  Are there any signs or symptoms or checklists to warn us ahead of time??  Speaking for myself and looking back to my 3-year-old self, I had an alcoholic mind before I ever knew what liquor was.  “Self will run riot” is talked about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous many times and I absolutely had “self-will run riot” from the time I was born.  As far back as I can remember I was a liar.  I do not know why, but I was.  I was a story-teller and part of my lying was creativity and the longing to use my imagination to entertain others, but as time went on my lying became more about how it could benefit me.  It became a game.  I was challenged to see if I could convince others of anything that I decided I wanted them to believe.  I was very good at this and it gave me much pleasure, but it did not make me an alcoholic.  My inability to deal with life on life’s terms, my “self-will run riot”, and my selfish, self-centered mindset qualified me as an alcoholic.  I was restless and discontent.  I could not differentiate true from false.  I lived in my own world of obsession and spiritual malady.

I was an alcoholic long before I ever took the first drink and honestly the substance could have been anything.  Fortunately for me, I was never interested in drugs and never dabbled with them.  Each person is different and similar and when dealing with alcoholism and recovery I always try to look at the similarities in stories and not the differences.

My alcoholism took 10 years to form and it was little by little, but the drinking was a tool I used to try to heal the pain and suffering that had developed from traumatic events I suffered when I was in my childhood.  It was not until January of this year, after requesting permission and furlough from the judge to attend a treatment program, did I discover/uncover this catalyst even existed.  I had made no correlation between the sexual and psychological assault I had endured as a teen and the severe and paralyzing depression and anxiety I was using alcohol to cover.

For myself, the severe trauma of this type of daily abuse is directly related to my psychological and emotional suffering which resulted in alcoholism rearing its head in my life.  How I wish I would have known how to deal with these feelings.  How I wish anyone else, my parents, teachers, counselors would have stepped in and realized the severity of abuse and the seriousness of healing and processing that needed to take place long ago.  That was not the case and as a result I have found myself and am so thankful to know who I am.

I do believe there are events we can experience that absolutely lead to problems within ourselves and the desire or need to self medicate to find relief from those feelings.  This is part of my story for sure.  Alcohol was a small piece of the pie.  The larger problem was why I had turned to alcohol.  I used alcohol to quiet the negative thoughts in my mind that had been planted when I was 11 and then again when I was 13 and 14 years old.  

The self medication worked for a while until I could no longer drink enough to stop the negative thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts are killers.  I was convinced I was worthless and if I was worthless I should spare my family my existence.  The horrible people who haunted me in my younger years and pushed me to the brink of suicide back then had now manifested as these internal thoughts I could not get rid of.

I absolutely believe that abuse can lead to addiction problems, but it doesn’t mean it always will.  I think it is so important to put a stop to abuse as soon as possible and if it does occur, treatment and therapy should be sought to process the pain and gather the constructive tools you need to continue on through the rest of your life.  I had never developed any tools to deal with these issues and although it took some years, the trauma began to surface until it had completely taken over my body and mind.  I have finally had the opportunity to address and confront these events from my past and process them.  I have finally been in a place of willingness and open-mindedness to adapt some tools and learn how to use them effectively when coping with situations in life.  I am so happy to be an alcoholic and to have been put in a position I could finally see the forest for the trees and grab ahold of the chance to get help.  In the end it was still my choice and is always the choice each person has.

I urge anyone who has suffered any type of abuse, traumatic experience, or anything so severe to seek help in learning how to effectively accept the events, process what has happened, and develop the tools needed to move through life despite the circumstances.  I will no longer let those very sick people from my past control my life.  I will no longer let anyone in my present or my future have that kind of power over me.  I have found my worth through recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I have learned acceptance, forgiveness, patience, healing, and how to help others.

I have chosen the gift of a new life and anyone who wants to be a part of it may join, but there is no room for sick, negative, evil people anymore.  Evil people try to control others using fear and I will no longer allow anyone to have that kind of power over me.  I have found my courage again and I do not fear anymore.  My faith has grown through working the 12 Steps of this program, talking with other alcoholics and addicts, living in gratitude daily, and finding a power greater than myself I can understand.

“When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide.  When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent.  It is always my choice.  Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice.  I am no longer at the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink.  If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living.”  Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 317

 

What Is Humility? 11 Ways Alcoholics Anonymous Has Taught Me To Be Humble And Live In Humility

 

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. – Paolo Coelho  How can I practice and live in humility on a day to day basis?


 

Instead of asking why me, have I asked myself why not me?  Humility comes to mind.  The thing I have had to learn about humility is that I can’t just say “I’m going to be humble today” and leave it at that.  “I’m going to be humble because this program of AA says I need to be humble.”  Humility is a state of being that occurs as a result of living outside of myself.  Humility is a by product, not a product.  It is not something I can just choose to be.  It manifests itself as a result of how I choose to behave, the choices and decisions I have made and how I act on those in my day to day life.

One of the greatest places, nobody ever talks about, in reference to humility is in the Big Book.  Right there on page 63 in the third step it says “we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”    This is one of the best definitions of manifesting humility I can think of.  I am so grateful for what Alcoholics Anonymous has given me, this way of life, and it all comes back to how I feel on the inside today.  Because I am okay today and okay is good enough.  It really is.

I will do what I need to do and I will be who I need to be.  Every morning when I wake up and have a morning meditation, one of the affirmations; the main affirmation i have been using is me reflecting on who am I willing to be today, what am I willing to do today in order to be the person I am committed to be today.  Because that is what this whole sobriety and program of AA is about for me.

If you want to know how to stay sober, you want to know how to get that life you love, you want to know how the promises will start manifesting in your life?  It is about learning how to show up in life and be that person.  It is living life from the inside out not from the outside in.  It is never about what is going on, it it always about who am I going to be in the face of what is going on.

 

Since coming into these rooms and turning a corner and going through the processes outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the thing I can tell you is there is nothing that has happened in my life that has overwhelmed me, nothing has occurred that has put me over the edge.  I know several people in this program who have lost children to suicide, to overdose, they have sat with their dying parents.  They have lost jobs, gone through divorce, lost their homes, they have experienced everything you can experience and they walked through it, they stayed sober, and went on living.

An older gentlemen working at a treatment center I was able to visit told me, “If I had to try not to drink today I would be out there with a big bag of cocaine and a big bottle of tequila or scotch or something.  This program, AA, is not about that.  This deal is not about trying not to drink.  This deal is about becoming a person through that process who is relieved of maladies of the spirit and is truly willing to embrace the amazing role set aside for them.

 

There is a catch we read about on page 72 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It warns us that through that process, it is the one or two things that I hold onto, that I won’t give up, I won’t share with another human being, and there by refuse to bring God/Higher Power into the picture.  “If we skip this vital step we may not overcome drinking.  Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives.  Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to other methods.  Almost invariably they got drunk.”

You can write 18 pages of crap (during step 5) and it’s the half page you didn’t write that makes you a  bigger liar, a bigger cheat, and a bigger thief than you ever were.  The worst thing I believe someone can do is to complete a fourth step and a fifth step and omit something.  According to the way this program is laid out, when I take that third step I have just made an agreement with a higher power.

I have committed myself to this open and honest relationship and I cannot start out with dishonesty from the get go and throw it in the face of the entity.  I have seen it several times over this last half of a year and have heard others speak of the importance many times.  The results are not good, if you do not truly honor this agreement and lay everything out on the table to seek true redemption from and through that and working with and for others, humility.

Here are 11 different ways I have learned to practice and live in humility.

  1.  Avoid curiosity.
  2. Accept small irritations with good humor.
  3. Speak as little as possible about myself.
  4. Give in to the will of others.
  5. Accept insults and injuries.
  6. Keep busy with my own affairs and not those of others.
  7. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  8. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  9. Accept contempt, being forgotten, and disregarded.
  10. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  11. Accept censures even if unmerited.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work For Long Term? Can I Recover After A Relapse With Alcoholism Or Addiction?

How one man was able to recommit to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous after a relapse and find a new recovery and life of sobriety again.

 

 

One day I was sitting on the patio and man I was really, really feeling bad. I remembered that I was just starting to feel good in my recovery before I let the outside world get the better of me and went back out. I stayed out for a few weeks and just realized I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again and I came back through the doors of AA. That was the most productive thing I ever did in my life.

It was the first day of a new life for me. It is never too late. This program really teaches you that you are somebody. This program is a we program and that is why everyone shows up at these tables, at these halls, at these churches or shacks, or wherever you can hold a meeting.

Some of us have short periods of time and some of us have long periods of time, but if we keep coming back and helping the new people it helps us with some sober time too. After we find that we are somebody, it is a feeling, a self-confidence that can carry us through from one day to another, to the next day, to the next week. Before you know it has been years and you’re still going.

I remember when I came back in. I had been coming around since before 2006 and it was good for a while, but after some time I realized there was not a connection in my recovery somewhere. I wish I could have figured myself out then and figured out what it was that was missing, but I just couldn’t. I had so much resentment I was still carrying from years before and now I was piling on new resentment everyday.

 

I am grateful today that I understand those defects of character, those faults that kept me out. I forgot how to listen. I spent all my time talking and talking and talking about something I didn’t really have. I have heard many other people say “you can’t give away what you don’t have” and they are so right on the money with that phrase. I had some sober time and it really wasn’t quality. I had quit drinking, but I had not really looked at myself in the mirror honestly and done any changing whatsoever.

All of the reasons I started drinking n the first place, the resentments, the anger, the self-pity, were still there and now they had grown into something monstrous inside me I couldn’t ignore or control anymore. I had been so quick to rush through the first few steps and really just skipped right on down to the last few without doing the work I needed to do in the middle.

I found out, after having a relapse, that the middle part was where I missed the entire point of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I had not really looked at what part I had played in all of my misery and misfortunes. I had really just blamed everyone else for my sorrows and my failures. Where was I in all of it? What part did I play? What joy and time had I stolen from my wife, my children, my family and friends?

I am so grateful I did make it back through the doors of AA. So many others I have known over the years have not. I do not take my sobriety or this program of recovery lightly in any way. I might laugh and joke from time to time about alcoholism and being a drunk and the silly, stupid, insane things I did and still do, but it is a matter of life and death for me when you get right down to it.

 

This program saved my life and I am beyond blessed to be a member of this worldwide organization where I have a friend no matter how far from Chicago I travel. I would never be this far and my sobriety date, my renewed sobriety date is coming up on June 30th, 2014. I make sure to connect with my sponsor almost every day and I come to a meeting almost every day too. I realize now that when I stopped coming to meetings often and stopped calling and talking with my sponsor, I eventually stopped worrying about not drinking and then as soon as something in my life went haywire – there I was completely drunk again.

 

I had stayed sober for 8 years and then let my own cockiness and an argument with a few other people in an AA hall about outside issues get me riled up so much that I used it as an excuse to stop coming to meetings. I was sober, I had been sober, I forgot that I really needed

the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and talking things through and hearing from other alcoholics and addicts how to stay sober.

I never lost anything that I had learned in and out of the halls and I always had my Big Book and some other materials like As Bill Sees It to read at home, but I didn’t. I was so angry with other people over something so unrelated and then I was angry at myself and too embarrassed to show my face around those people and admit that I had lost my temper.

I was a fool. I could have gone to any number of halls in the area, but I chose to sit and stew, alone, until I finally did go right back to my selfish, self-centered ways and once I picked up that first drink it was off to the races again for this old drunk.

My advice to anyone who is just starting out in recovery and alcoholism and those that have a lot of sober time is this, don’t get too confident in the years you have under your belt because that date can change in an instant if you don’t stay vigilant and remember how close we all are to falling off of the sober mountain. I slid right back down further than I had been before. It is true. It does not get better; it only gets tougher and harder to climb back up.

 

I was fortunate that I hadn’t run anyone off and when I came back into my home group, I was embarrassed and nervous, but welcomed with open arms and have been ever since.

 

 

Are You Living In The Solution Or The Problem? Does Relapse Have To Be Part Of Recovery?

 

“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.  From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink.” – BB Pg. 417

 

If I lose my focus on why I am here, in recovery, and what I am about, the insanity returns and then I will drink.  I have to do everything in my power to change this before the insanity returns and I destroy myself.

Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your recovery and I work hard everyday to do my best so as to prevent that.  Others are not so fortunate.  Some have the experience of being in and out of the program for years until they realized they could not have “just one” and decided to do whatever it took.  I have seen alcoholics take the very courageous step of walking back through the doors of the AA hall and honestly admit they allowed their mind to Others become overconfident with their decades of sobriety and develop  ideas that “they are cured, don’t ya know”.

I have listened to many of these tales and the one thing in common is they stopped attending AA meetings, stopped talking to other alcoholics, and put down the Big Book.  In that case, you can not afford to beat yourself up.  You never lose what you learned, the knowledge you gained during the length of sobriety you had.  You simply lose the time, the date, your pride, and also your arrogance.

They still know what they have to do to stay sober and the most important thing they remembered was they had to walk back through the door.  They might have tried to stay sober at home and found out that they eventually spread themselves too thin doing for everyone else and forgetting to put their recovery first.  They forgot how much they needed the program to stay sober.

 

How do I find the solution?  There are a lot of alcoholics who need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but you really have to want the program.  It must be more important than anything else in your life.  If I am not sober, I have nothing to offer anyone else.  If I am sober, I can go to work.  If I am sober, I can be a mother.  If I am sober, I can be a wife.

If I am sober I can do a lot of things the right way, but it takes whatever it takes.  It took every single drink I took to get me into sobriety and if I would have stopped one short, I wouldn’t have walked through those doors of AA and would not be sober today.  I had to run out of good ideas.  Sharing the pain with other alcoholics helps us to find a solution to our problems.  Attending meetings allows us to learn things about ourselves and can help us to work an honest program.

If you give an alcoholic a fork in the road, he will always take the wrong choice.

 

 

I depend upon other alcoholics to show me what they did to stay sober 24 hours at a time.  I pay attention to the people who have had success and try and follow in their footsteps, but I also pay attention to the alcoholics who walk in an out and around the program and try not to do what they do.  I have to use everything the program offers to my benefit.  I must use m

y successes and my failures if I am to stay on the path of recovery for the rest of my life.  This is a process, a journey, not an event.  Liv

ing as a recovering alcoholic and maintaining my sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous and following the guide laid out before me in the Big Book is what I must do if I am to survive and today I want more than anything to be alive.

I feel extremely fortunate to have joined AA at 34 years old because I have many years left and those aremore summers I can spend sober.  There will be many more Christmas’s and Birthday’s I can celebrate and remember.  I look forward to the days, months, and years ahead of me, but I must always attend meetings and surround myself with other alcoholics to keep from slipping back into the paralyzing depression I suffered for so many years.  I don’t want that pain again.  I don’t ever want to have those regrets from my addiction.  I refuse to go back to the lie I once had and strive everyday for something greater, something more than I could ever imagine.  Let go of the show, stop being the boss, quit trying to manage everything and keep coming back.

 

Why is a Relapse Prevention Plan Important?

A few things to consider for yourself and those in your recovery prevention plan.

  • Confrontation does not work.
  • We are skilled at dealing with confrontation and being backed into a corner.
  • We are harder on ourselves than anyone else.
  • We are familiar with many programs and forms of recovery.
  • We have wanted recovery, have been highly motivated to stay sober, been through counseling, but still chose to drink.

How can someone committed to sobriety and knowledgable about alcoholism return to drinking?

Perspective.  Opportunity is no where and now here.  Our circumstances will constantly change.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.  Our perspective and our choices when dealing with these changes is key.  Have your circumstances caused you to forget any of your dreams and aspirations for recovery and life?  If so, you may need to “fake it until you make it”.  Sitting down, jotting down ideas on how you will be living your sober life is essential.

“If you don’t design your own life plan chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”   – Jim Rohn

Those I have known to be successful in recovery have an ability to accept circumstances as they come and simply adapt their mental perspective and attitudes toward life.  We all have internal triggers and when dealing with those there will always be difficulty.  Anger, depression, frustration, excitement, and joy can all be common internal triggers.  We must find a way to distract ourselves, talk it through (alone or with another), challenge yourself to overcome this moment of craving, and use positive self talk to come back to the positive and recovery minded state needed to get through this day.

Abstinence alone is not enough.

If not picking up a drink again was the sole answer, recovery would be 10 times easier.  The harsh reality is alcoholics must learn to cope with life in a non-addictive manner.  Some use many other forms and ways to replace and quench the thirst for alcohol including nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and other sober activities.  These have all been shown to reduce stress hormones and encourage healthy feelings physically and mentally.

Cravings come quickly, but go quickly too.  They usually last a few minutes to hours at most and will peak during the first few minutes before subsiding as the time clicks away.  Cravings are uncomfortable but not unbearable.  They are usually triggered by things you see around you whether that is a place you used to drink at, a familiar face, even a song or a movie that reminds you about using.  They are felt physically and rooted psychologically in our memories.

Do not be discouraged.  Sometimes we have to go minute by minute to get through these difficult times and that is okay.  If you feel that you absolutely can not make it go to a meeting.  If you can not make it to a meeting, pick up the phone.  Grab a book and tell yourself to make it through the next page without drinking.  Now can you make it through the rest of the chapter?  Then read another and another until the feeling disappears.

Who is in your circle?

We have all heard change your playground, change your playmates but what then??  Who are my new playmates?  Where is my new playground?  I have been fortunate to have some of those choices made for me.  I had to change my playground and playmates to adhere to a restraining order.  With that said, it was the best thing for me.  I am in an environment away from my triggers.  Unfortunately my drinking and cravings were fueled by those I love the most – my husband and my children.  While it is painful to be away from them, it is what HAD TO HAPPEN for me to maintain my sobriety.

They say “It takes a village”.  No statement speaks louder to me when forming a relapse prevention plan.  Reach out to recovery supporting friends and family members.  Build your list.  Set up your village.  Talking to someone else that has quit using and is in recovery has been helpful for me along with meetings.  I know several of us in recovery that have lived through times they had to be at a meeting every day, while others needed a meeting every few hours.  Those times are crucial and those relationships formed with other alcoholics are crucial.

If you do not have a group of friends and family that can offer support, introduce yourself to the internet again in a recovery driven way.  There are hundreds of facebook groups with thousands of members who are active all day every day and eager to give and receive support to those in need.

 

People with an addictive disease experience abnormal reactions not only to the use of the addictive chemical but to NOT using the chemical.

Think about the situations that trigger cravings for you.  Consider the emotions that have triggered cravings for you.  Make a list of distractions/activities that can help you cope with cravings.  I have included a basic list of suggestions.  I have done some of these things and you would never catch me doing others, but it is a start if you don’t know where to begin.  Now, make a second list of people you can talk to about your cravings and those who will join you in sober activities.

I spent so much time in my addiction, convincing myself no one cared and it wasn’t worth reaching out to anyone for help or to spend time with because the answer would be “No”.  Oh how wrong I was.  This is something I had to learn and it is still uncomfortable for me to ask for help now.  But, I have never had anyone refuse to give me a ride somewhere, refuse to take my phone call, or refuse to hang out and join me for a movie, bite to eat, or anything else.  We might have to reschedule for a different time, but in that case I just move down the list to the next name and make the call.

1. Throw a sober dinner party.

2. Rejuvenating Spa Day at home, solo or with friends.

3. Guys Night Out/Girls Night Out

4. Exercise

5. Bubble baths are NOT just for women!

6. Play a game of golf or practice your swing at the driving range.

7. Go for a drive.

8. Meditate

9. Read a book.

10. Go see a movie.

11. Volunteer your time and services.

12. Play basketball.

13. Go swimming.

14. Go for a walk and smile at every person you pass by.

15. Write in your journal.

16. Create a new playlist for yourself or as a gift for someone else.

17. Plant a garden.

18. Organize and clean out your closet and donate at least ten items.

19. Call your parents or grandparents.

20. Meet a friend for lunch and sit outside.

21. Go on a hike

22. Visit a museum.

23. Invite a friend to play tennis with you.

24. Stress relieving coloring books

25. Redecorate a room in your home or office. 

26. Host a sober game night with a group of friends.

27. Plan an adventure day with a friend and take countless random and fun photos of your day.

28. Host a sober karaoke night with a group of your fun and sober friends. 

29. Organize your life. 

30. Have a date night with your love bird.