Thinking that causes relapses.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Inebriated people.

Alcoholism.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Your automatic thoughts may be unhelpful.

Practice doesn’t make perfect it makes things permanent. I forget where I read that, but I’ve learned there’s a lot of truth in that statement. When you tell yourself something over and over, you start to believe it. Many people practice their unhelpful thoughts so frequently that they have convinced themselves they have no other choice. Let’s take some common automatic thoughts which may be making your problems worse and setting you up for relapse. I’ll illustrate this with statements about alcohol, but it could equally be true of drugs, behaviors, or mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

I need a drink.

This unhelpful thought is baked into our society. You will hear it repeatedly on television, in the movies, or in statements made by those around you. The premise here is that the only way to cope with difficult life circumstances, problems, or unpleasant feelings, is to reach for a substance which will temporarily make you forget those problems. When you use a drug or alcohol to avoid feeling that avoidance is only temporary. Once the brief diversion wears off, you will have to face the problem, and it’s likely the problem has gotten worse while you were avoiding it.

If I stop drinking or using, I won’t have any friends.

People who are trying to get clean and sober may discover that all their current friends are drinkers and users. That doesn’t mean you can’t have friends. More than half of the adults in the U.S. have not had a drink in the last 30 days. You’ll probably make lots of friends in sobriety, and you’ll also find it’s an opportunity to reconnect with some of those clean and sober friends you haven’t talked to in a long time.

If I give up drugs and alcohol, I won’t have any more fun.

For a large segment of society fun for adults equates to drinking, using drugs, or having sex. It comes as a shock to many people how much fun you can have clean and sober when your senses are not dulled by substances. There are many enjoyable activities which do not include drugs or alcohol. Learning to have fun without substances can be a challenge if you’ve never done it. Make an effort to connect with people and to attend events that are clean and sober, and you will be surprised how much fun you can have.

Without alcohol, I’ll be miserable all the time.

One of the things we hear people in recovery say is that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired. Chemicals may temporarily change the way you feel, mainly by keeping you from feeling what you’re feeling, but once the chemicals wear off, you will find you feel better than when you had those drugs in your system.

Alcohol helps me get more done.

This used to be a common belief among news reporters and writers. The result of this belief was a lot of alcoholism, physical illnesses, and early deaths. Alcohol may temporarily disinhibit you, allowing you to do things that your brain is telling you not to do, but alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant. Alcohol damages muscles in virtually every other part of the body. Using alcohol to get more done can result in an alcohol use disorder. Once alcohol has moved from being your solution to being your problem, you will get very little done.

How can you celebrate without alcohol?

Far too many alcohol-fueled celebrations end unhappily. Give sobriety a try. You will find plenty of ways to celebrate that don’t require alcohol or drugs. Using chemicals to celebrate impairs your ability to accomplish anything in the future.

Everybody else drinks, why can’t I?

This is one of those grand lie’s drinkers tell themselves. Everybody does not drink. Not even all the adults drink. One-third of the adult U.S. population doesn’t drink at all. Half of the people in America have not had a drink in the last 30 days. Having even one drink per day moves you into the top 20% heaviest drinkers. Heavy drinkers, particularly alcoholics, deceive themselves with the excuse that everybody else drinks the way I do. The truth is if you drink regularly, you drink way more than most other Americans.

You need a beer on a hot day.

For many people, this is a conditioned response, like Pavlov’s dogs. What you need on a hot day is plenty of water to prevent dehydration. The other thing you need is to get out of the heat whenever possible. Drinking alcohol on a hot day can result in you getting nothing done that day except drinking. Recovering from alcohol consumption can interfere with your functioning for several days after each episode of drinking.

Alcohol just goes with watching sports.

This is another excuse, not a reason. If you enjoy watching sports, you will pay more attention without the depressant drug alcohol in your system. You train your brain to connect these two items you can train your brain to disconnect them. When you do two things together, you condition your mind to expect to do both at the same time. Whatever you have learned, you can unlearn. Learn to pair your recreation with nonalcoholic pleasures.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now! More are on the way.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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Alcohol Myths

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Liquor

Alcoholic beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many alcohol myths do you believe?

Alcohol is a stimulant.

Many people think and alcohol stimulates them and gives them more energy.  This belief was so common in the past among newspaper reporters and writers that these professions developed high rates of alcoholism.  The truth is alcohol is not a stimulant.  Alcohol is a depressant and while it may initially disinhibit you, the more you drink, the less energy you will have.  Over the long run drinking alcohol results in depression.

Alcohol makes you sexy or more sexual.

Alcohol shuts off the part of the brain that tells you “hey stupid don’t do that.”  As a result, when drinking people are more likely to engage in sexual behavior.  The truth is drunk people do not look sexy to sober people.  While having high levels of alcohol in your bloodstream makes you more likely to act on your sexual thoughts it also reduces the ability to engage in sex.  In men, regular alcohol consumption may result in impotence.

Alcohol makes you more of a man or woman.

The ability to drink, and to drink large quantities, increases the likelihood you will do things you would not do when sober.  This increased alcohol consumption results in tolerance to alcohol and requiring ever-increasing quantities to create the same effect.  Taking action after having a few drinks is sometimes described as “liquid courage.” Being intoxicated or frequently drunk does not produce the qualities that we think of as being either masculine or feminine.

Alcohol will cure your ills.

It’s common to think that having a few drinks will solve all your physical or emotional problems.  The truth is that using alcohol to regulate emotions leaves you depended on alcohol and less able to handle life without it.  Alcohol has some germ killing properties when used externally.  But when used internally, alcohol can cause damage to every cell it touches.

Alcohol will make you less anxious or scared.

Temporarily alcohol can make you feel less anxious.  In the long run, however, using alcohol to treat anxiety makes it worse, not better.  When you drink to cope with anxiety, the alcohol quickly wears off.  This leaves you more anxious than before.  The result is that you will need ever-increasing amounts of alcohol to cope with your anxiety.

Alcohol will make you function better.

Drinking alcohol, especially drinking it heavily, only makes people think they are performing better.  Having alcohol in the bloodstream interferes with coordination, memory, and judgment.

Alcohol makes you warmer.

Alcohol dilates the blood vessels close to the skin.  This results in a temporary feeling of warmth.  It also results in a rapid loss of heat from the core of the body.  Drinking alcohol when you are cold actually, causes the body to lose heat more rapidly.

Most people drink alcohol on a regular basis.

The truth is that more than half of the adults in America have not had a drink of alcohol in the last month.  Many Americans only have a drink of alcohol once or twice in any one year.  A handful of alcohol drinkers, the 20% heaviest drinkers, consumed 80% of all the alcohol that is drunk.

How many of these alcohol myths do you believe?  Have you discovered any other alcohol myths?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

6 Myths about alcoholism

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Bottles of alcohol.

Alcoholic Beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many of these Alcohol myths have you heard?

If you don’t know the signs of a disease you can pretend you don’t have it. As a society, we do a lot of pretending about drugs and alcohol. Regardless of anything you may have learned alcohol is just as much a drug as any other chemical.

How it affects you depends on the relationship you develop with this powerful drug we call alcohol. Millions of people are on the road to alcoholism and don’t even know it. Some are already there despite their best efforts to pretend otherwise.

Here are some common myths about alcoholism.

1. Alcoholics are homeless bums.

The majority of all alcoholics, by some estimates up to 90%, have full-time jobs. It is only the most debilitated that end up homeless. Most have suffered for years before they reach the homeless point.

Alcoholics come from every economic strata, race, and religion. Even groups that forbid their members to drink still have alcoholics among their ranks.

2. Alcoholics drink every day.

If you only drink once a year on New Year’s but you have gotten DUI’s several times or arrested for bar fights, then you are drinking alcoholically.

It is not how often you drink, but what happens when you drink that determines alcoholic drinking. Alcoholics do not drink one or two drinks; they drink with the intention to get drunk.

Periodic episodic binge drinking is more likely to lead to alcoholism than the person who has one every day.

3. You will not become an alcoholic if you only drink beer.

The majority (54% by one estimate) of the alcohol consumed in America comes from beer. Beer drinkers get just as many DUI’s and are involved in lots of fights and domestic violence. If when you drink, you get in trouble, that is drinking alcoholically regardless of what you are drinking.

4. You need to drink for years to develop alcoholism.

Many chronic alcoholics will tell you that the first or second time they drank they became drunk and many blacked out. If you like the effects of the alcohol you can begin to drink alcoholically from the very first time.

The amount of damage done to the body is largely dependent on how high the level of alcohol in the bloodstream goes. You can die from an overdose of alcohol the first time you drink if you consume too much too quickly.

5. One drink a day won’t hurt you.

That may be true for some people, but the very young and the elderly are at risk from even that much. More than 4 drinks a week can impair health in older adults and alcoholism in the elderly is growing at a rapid rate.

More than half of all the emergency room admissions among senior citizens are the direct result of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol does not mix well with many prescription drugs that are routinely prescribed for the elderly.

6. Alcohol is a stimulant and gives you more energy.

Alcohol is a depressant. Use of alcohol has been linked to depression and other mental illnesses. Binge drinkers are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide.

While alcohol does not give you energy, make you look better or improve your sex performance, what it does do is lower your inhibitions and get you to do things that you would never do sober. For every one thing positive that someone reports having done as a result of drinking we hear countless stories of people who committed crimes or were the victim of a crime as a direct result of forgetting to pay attention to what they were doing while they were intoxicated.

The majority of people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them to prison.

Many who are arrested for being under the influence of drugs have alcohol in the bloodstream at the time of arrest. It is very common for those dying of drug overdoses to also have alcohol in their bloodstream. Being intoxicated can impair judgment and lead to a drug overdose.

As much as alcohol consumption is glamorized in our society there are surely many more myths about the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol. What other myths have you found about alcohol?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.