I started drinking at university, and 25 years later, I still drink daily and often too much. Most would consider me successful: I have a PhD, a great job, a nice house, a solid marriage, and good health. So why drink? The short answer is, I enjoy it. But I frequently feel tired (or have a hangover) the next day. I still go to work, exercise, and do everything I normally do – including drink at the end of the day. How do I stop?
Perhaps you drink to release stress at the end of the day, or as a kind of congratulations, or a way to rebel in the face of too much responsibility? I would recommend investigating other ways to reward yourself to see if, in fact, alcohol has more of a hold on you than you think. Would a massage or a bath or a homemade lemonade do the trick? If that sounds like a big shift, then you may need more support. There are many forms this could take, from seeking rehab, to reading self-help books, to attending a local group, or a combination of all three.
For me, alcohol served as a brilliant secondary addiction to stave off the effects of my three primary addictions, which were love, food and work. Anyone who overworks, is overly generous with their time, energy or money, is overly responsible (might this be you?), or has a background including trauma, can rely on substances of many kinds to reduce this stress.
The thing about alcohol that can be so compelling is that it works. It gives us an hour or two of calm, or invigoration, or whatever we might be turning to a drink for. However, it offers this only temporarily, and as you mentioned, there is a fallout – involving health, wellbeing and, often, relationships. If attempting to replace the alcohol ritual with something healthier proves to be too challenging, I recommend identifying what your primary addiction(s) might be, and getting help with those.
Addictions don’t go away on their own. We either choose actively to recover, or these same processes and substances that seemed to keep us afloat will eventually end our lives, in the most extreme cases. I have been in recovery myself for many years now, and there have been many gifts on the road. I wish you well in shifting your habit, or with your own recovery.
• Alanis Morissette’s podcast is available at iTunes and at alanis.com. Send your dilemmas about love, family or life in general to Alanis Morisette at email@example.com.