Some alcoholics when diagnosed with alcoholism put the drink down and never go back to it. If alcohol is causing problems in their lives, they know they’re better off without it. There’s no underlying force driving them to drink again.
But not me! Alcohol served such a profound purpose for me that I stubbornly hung on to it even when it was destroying my life. It was four very long, unnecessary years after being diagnosed with this insidious disease before I could convince myself to walk away it.
Why couldn’t I let go of something that is killing me and creating terrible suffering for everybody close to me? Today I have answers and I believe my experience can help solve one of the enduring mysteries of alcoholism--its stubbornly high relapse rate.
I suffered from dysthymia (a chronic low-grade depression) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia. All my life, I had wondered why everything seemed so hopeless, why my life seemed so meaningless, and why I was unable to experience any real joy. Along with that, I had a deep, lifelong fear of people situations (parties, public speaking, etc.). Anxiety and depression not only affected my quality of life but they both complicated my recovery, prolonging my active alcoholism!
After my first taste of alcohol, I felt like I had finally found a solution for my sadness and fear. And the relief I felt far outweighed any derogatory effects. But after a while, my rescue became my ruin and I became caught in the vortex of addiction, powerless to stop drinking or even slow down.
Alcoholics Anonymous is known to be one of the most effective solutions for most alcoholics. But, I wouldn’t recommend it for social phobs! Twelve-step meetings where participants are expected to mingle and speak in front of a group of people are precisely the kinds of situations that I feared most! For many, AA nurtures sobriety but for me it contributed to my relapses! My relapses created unnecessary guilt and shame. Unwilling to stop drinking, I felt like a pitiful loser, disappointing my friends and family over and over again. But this didn’t have to be. Social anxiety is easily treated.
It took the successful treatment of not only alcoholism but also my chronic low-grade depression and my social phobia for me to recognize that these two lifelong disorders were ‘triggers’ for my alcoholism. They were the ugly underbelly of the beast. Substance abuse was a mere symptom of two underlying disorders that were not discernible to anyone, not even me. My groundbreaking book, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy gives an inside look at my experience, strength and hope. Above all else it chronicles how I finally conquered my alcoholism.
I wrote Recovering Me because I’m obsessed with making the battle for others a little bit easier. I had been helping other alcoholics get sober for over 12 years and I thought a book would help my efforts. I am hoping that I’ll be able to reach far more people with the sale of it.
When I finally was able to diagnose the why of my relapses, I felt vindicated. After my anxiety and depression were lifted and with new found clarity of thought, I could finally understand what drove me to drink. I wasn’t such an awful person after all! Not only did I become successfully sober but I was finally capable of enjoying life.
The more I researched alcoholism the more my discoveries were validated. And I want to spread this encouraging news. Together we can chip away at society’s scourge by identifying solutions. I used to be part of the problem but today I’m very proud to be a part of the solution. Raising awareness about the powerful connection between anxiety, depression and alcoholism could quite possibly offer a better life for those who still suffer. And that’s what I intend to do. No one should go through the torturous journey of chronic substance abuse.
For an uplifting dose of encouragement and inspiration, go to: www.recoveringme.com and order my newly released book: Recovering Me, Discovering Joy. Vivian Eisenecher, author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy / Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness.