Honoring and releasing old ways of coping
When we’re “in it”—either struggling with alcohol use, or struggling with not using alcohol—it can be hard to see that in many ways, our past use of alcohol was simply a coping mechanism. That maybe we didn’t have many “healthy” coping mechanisms in our toolbox, or perhaps whatever we’ve been through was too intense for your average “self-care” practices, or that maybe the addictive properties of alcohol simply snuck up on us after we got used to it bringing down our stress.
After all, society tells us that alcohol is a perfectly reasonable way to deal with stress, sadness, celebration, and any number of other human emotions. On top of that, alcohol is a far more accessible substance than proper mental health care, therapy, or medication—it can be a quicker fix than seeking out professional help for whatever we’re dealing with. Alcohol has become so ingrained in our culture that it seems more innocuous than it really is.
When we were small children, we likely had some sort of comfort item. A blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal—whatever it was, it provided support and comfort in that period of our life. It was readily offered by those who cared for us, without judgement or shame. Eventually, we outgrew that comfort item as we learned new ways of navigating the world and managing our physical and emotional discomfort. We don’t look back and think, “man, I was a fool for using that blanket,” but we don’t need the blanket anymore, either. We simply recognize that that item served its purpose at that moment in time.