Alcohol-use disorders affect about 16 million adults in the U.S. and alcohol abuse among adolescents between the ages of 12 – 16 are estimated to be about seven-hundred thousand. In addition to abuse numbers being high, statistics regarding alcohol-related deaths are also soaring. Alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. average about eighty-eight thousand annually and alcohol-related vehicular fatalities are about ten thousand annually. The abuse of alcohol in the U.S. has also caused an enormous economic burden averaging about $223.5 billion. As you can see, alcohol abuse creates many problems personally, socially, economically, physically and mentally.
When an alcoholic stops drinking and achieves sobriety, he has given himself and many others a wonderful gift. Recovery from alcoholism gives the alcoholic a new lease on life and also lifts the burden of alcohol-related problems off of the public. If you are a recovering alcoholic you know how you and your life have changed since becoming sober. Staying sober is a choice that will require effort on your part to retain. Managing triggers, stress and cravings are all part of the game of staying sober. So how will you react when you find that you want to have a drink? Just one drink to take the edge off and then you will stop – or so you think. Here are ten things to tell yourself when you feel like having a drink:
- You will not stop at one drink, and you will lose everything that you have worked so hard to recover up to this point. You are an alcoholic for life and you must never take another drink again in order to remain sober and in control of your life.
- You will feel disappointed afterwards. And, your drinking does not just affect you; it affects those around you as well. If you have children, your sobriety ensures that they have a normal relationship with you as their parent. If you begin to drink again your family life will suffer, and you may wind up becoming estranged from your loved ones. You may also lose your friends and suffer isolation and loneliness.
- Your physical and mental health will be negatively affected if you begin to drink again. You run the risk of developing many diseases including cancer, hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver. You may also suffer breathing problems, coma or a fatal toxic overdose.
- Your brain will be affected by alcohol both structurally and functionally and you may develop dementia, a lack of coordination, confusion, a breakdown of the immune system and permanent brain damage. You also run the risk of developing memory, learning and performance failure, anxiety disorder, irritability, chronic depression, aggression and suicidal thoughts and actions.
- You may lose your freedom and control over your thoughts and actions. Alcohol will become your new taskmaster and will rule over you.
- You may lose your job and your ability to function properly, which could lead to financial and legal problems.
- Alcohol abuse increases the risk for social and occupational injuries and vehicular accidents and deaths.
- Aggressive and violent behavior can be caused by alcohol abuse. Statistics show that alcohol increases the risk for homicides and increases the chance of becoming incarcerated for committing a violent crime. Alcohol lowers your defenses and increases risky behavior, and can lead you to do things you would not normally do.
- If you begin drinking again, you may become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and will experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking abruptly. You will experience physical symptoms whether you are under the influence of alcohol or not.
- Your will have no quality of life because you gave it all up for a drink, and you will regret that you made that one bad decision for the rest of your life.
You have too much to lose and nothing good to gain by drinking again. You can fight the urge to start drinking again by utilizing your relapse prevention techniques. Start thinking about other things and get busy doing a physical activity. Go for a run or bike ride. Call your counselor or someone in your support group to talk you through it. Keep your mind focused on other things until the urge passes. Cravings usually last about fifteen minutes, sometimes a little longer. You have to fight to outlast the urge and you can. Stay strong, focused and committed to your sobriety and your life, and don’t allow anything to take you off course.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.