Kolmac Counselor Rennie Grant (Roc) and Psychiatrist Dr. Tony Massey (Doc) answer your questions about addiction and recovery.
Wondering where the line between casual drinking and alcoholism lies?
Roc & Doc may have a few ideas…
Yolanda, who has 5 days sober, writes, “I’m not an alcoholic, I drink to have fun. I don’t like who I am sober, so I drink.”
Doc brings up the prospect of denial.
Considered to be one of several “defense mechanisms” in substance abuse disorders, denial is simply the refusal to acknowledge what has, is, or will happen. “My partner didn’t have an affair, but was simply traveling for work a lot.” A related defense is minimizing. When you minimize you technically accept what happened, but only in a “watered down” form. “Sure, I have been drinking a bit too much lately, but it’s only due to stresses at work; I don’t really have a drinking problem since this is situational and not at all like alcoholism.”
These kinds of defense mechanisms are ultimately something we do to protect ourselves from pain. While it’s natural for anyone to use them when troubled, we generally come to a point when we face our problems and don’t have to rely so heavily on our defenses to protect us. Defenses become unhealthy when we refuse to face our true experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Especially if we are using alcohol or other drugs as a way to cope.
There is a way our brains can sometimes behave when we’re dealing with “uncomfortable feeling states.” Sometimes these states cause people to turn to alcohol or other drugs as a way to deal with discomfort.
Roc encourages Yolanda to understand that the days of early recovery can be confusing, with a lot of ups and downs, and that it takes time for the brain to begin to heal. Eventually, defenses like denial become clearer to self-detect. Hang in there!
Get more episodes of Roc & Doc here.