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Addiction Questions

When I drink beer and wine it calms me, but when I drink whiskey or any hard liquor for that matter, I get mean. Does this mean I should always avoid the hard stuff, or will the freedom model show me how to drink responsibly?

The answer to your question(s) is in various chapters in The Freedom Model for Addictions. So yes, we can answer that for you. Simply put, what you decide to drink is up to you – that issue is personal, so we have no comment on that. However, before you do so, you might want to question this idea that booze of any kind can change the content of your thoughts and your emotions. Your “getting mean” on hard liquor is a direct result of being taught that hard liquor has the power to do just that. In reality, it can’t, and it doesn’t. The mean part is you, and you alone. Read the excerpt from The Freedom Model below. It might help you understand what’s going on here:

“For an example of a positive myth about the power of a drug, consider the reputation that alcohol has for relieving stress, anxiety, and anger. The recovery society unknowingly promotes this myth with the claim that “alcoholics drink to self-medicate their underlying issues of stress, anxiety, etc.,” thereby endowing it with the power to pharmacologically take away negative emotions. They say that anger is a trigger for drinking, purportedly because it has the power to relieve anger or to help people cope with anger. And granted, there is no shortage of people saying things such as “I was so angry that I just needed to have a drink to calm down.” Now, consider the fact that alcohol use is also associated with 40% of violent crimes (Wilcox, 2015). Anger is an emotion essential to the motivation of violence. How is it that alcohol could calm you of your stress and anxiety and take your anger away yet stimulate and agitate people as well, in some cases to the point of violence? Of course, this is a contradiction, so alcohol couldn’t pharmacologically do both these things. Yet it continues to have the reputation of both causing anger and relieving it.

The truth is that alcohol neither relieves nor causes anger. Set and setting are the factors involved that determine the effects. That is, people’s thoughts and beliefs about what alcohol does to them and what’s warranted in various situations rule their emotions and behaviors while drinking. Pharmacologically, alcohol sedates, slows down neurotransmission, and causes disorientation and loss of equilibrium. It may cause you to slur your words, but it doesn’t cause you to utter words that challenge someone to a fistfight. It may cause you to lose your balance and be unable to walk a straight line, but it doesn’t cause you to walk up to a man and take a swing at him.

Please don’t forget this example of the contradictory powers attributed to alcohol; it’s particularly poignant to the lesson of this chapter. You have full freedom of what you do and feel emotionally when using substances. These are the results of what you think and believe, not the results of the pharmacological effects of substances.”


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