Like any other “negative” coping mechanism I thought drinking worked great for a while. I began drinking regularly about at about age 15 to cope with the overwhelming emotions, depression and mood swings I had been experiencing since about age 11. Although drinking caused the occasional problems like sleeping through appointments, not being able to do homework and the guilt and fear I felt from stealing alcohol since I was too young to purchase it, I saw it as something that was helping me stay sane and something I would be able to stop doing before it got out of control.
Despite all of this, I managed to graduate from high school and was accepted to the college of my choice, and I was off! Unfortunately my drinking did become out of control very quickly and I wasn’t able to stop it the way I thought I could. I wasn’t engaging in the typical college student partying. I was on a downward spiral of drinking, drugging and depression. I wasn’t going to class, and if I was then I wasn’t sober.
END TRIGGER WARNING
I moved back home and went to my first alcohol treatment program. I did my best to stay sober, trying different programs and therapy, but over the next 7 years I continued to struggle with drinking,mental health issues and other impulsive and destructive behaviors. I could manage to stay sober for a few months here and there but it would never stick. Even during the times I was sober from alcohol I found myself acting out compulsively, abusing some other type of behavior in order to cope with my emotions.
If you are just getting sober after a long period of heavy drinking, using or some other type of compulsive behavior and are struggling with cravings, going to an inpatient treatment center might be helpful. It creates the structure and focus while at the same time separating you from the temptation of relapse till you can think more clearly.
If neither of these is a possible option for you I recommend going to a 12 step group or some other type of support group several times a week in early sobriety to establish that focus and routine. (I will go more into 12 step and support groups later)
12 Step meetings and support groups – 12 step meetings and support groups are a great way to make new friends and connections with people that are also working on improving their lives. One of the big struggles for people that are new to sobriety is feeling lonely when they can no longer spend time going out with friends that are drinking. Through groups you can meet people that mutually support each other in recovery. You can find people to spend time with engaging in healthy constructive activities. It’s helpful to have people you feel accountable to. I also found it helpful when I was new in sobriety to see other people who were happy and able to get better. It helped me to know if it was possible for them to have peace that I could too.
(One note about 12 step groups, many people oppose them because of the spiritual aspect in the language they use. This turned me off for many years as well. Currently I do not believe in any kind of deity and I still work a 12 step program I benefit greatly from. So no, you do not have to believe in God to be a part of the program.)
My emotional reactions to this perceived situation were equally as extreme and I would act out in damaging ways. Today when it is raining I can see it for what it is. It may not be pleasant and it may ruin some plans but I know I can stay calm. I know it will pass and that I will be ok.