Alcohol - My Story

My drinking began when I was around the age of fourteen years. I experienced a state of euphoria accompanied by a relaxation never before achieved. Drinking held that magical quality for me. I tried again and again to recapture this feeling and was more or less successful on occasion. In the meantime, I became quite addicted to the drug alcohol.

Soon alcohol became many things to me. It became a quick way to extinguish unwanted feelings. These feelings, in the main, stemmed from a chronic pattern of powerlessness. Alcohol was one way of coping with a sexist, classist society. Later alcohol became a way to lessen the feelings of physical pain. (I am still angered when I think about the many times I went to physicians with physical problems, not only to find no help, but feeling invalidated in the process. I would often go directly from the physician's office to a drink.)

Occasionally, something in my life would offer sufficient contradiction that I would quit drinking and get my life in order. This happened frequently and gave the appearance of control. I was good at abstinence. Once I made up my mind to quit drinking I was rarely tempted. It was always the first drink that started the cycle. Looking back, I can see that the crack in my addiction pattern began when I became angry and bored with the substance. Grief came with the realization of the frozen nature of this compulsive re-enactment and finally the awareness that alcohol was not going to fill that great need. I guess I always wished someone would have interrupted the pattern. I cannot remember anyone even questioning my drinking.

I myself decided that I was an alcoholic. I was never diagnosed or treated for alcoholism, although when I began Co-Counseling the discharge around the pattern of powerlessness came rolling off with great relief. Up until that time, I never thought of myself as recovered. Presently, I can be around people who are drinking and be quite comfortable. Because of my work, I often counsel people one-way who have been drinking without my becoming excessively restimulated. I have found that once the pattern that alcohol is attached to begins discharging, the person will move rapidly. The temptation to drink must constantly be dealt with in session, at least in the beginning. It adds a measure of confidence to discover people need not act the pattern out if given full freedom to discharge all their fears.

We are all made numbly aware of the possibility of a "slip." By scorning the fear with a direction such as "I just might fall" we can move out of fear into pride. The complete appreciation of self is of great help in establishing pride. Taking pride is often a good way to get the discharge started, as we are often warned that it is our excessive pride that leads to drinking. In fact, it is just the opposite. Our lack of pride in ourselves, our families and our work often lead to negative feelings that we try to obliterate with alcohol. Other directions I have found useful are, "It's great to be recovered" and "I survived alcohol."

The information that is greatly needed in this society (and to lessen the invalidation of the alcoholic person) is that alcohol is not an individual problem and cannot be treated as such. Almost everyone in this society is addicted to something.

An oppressive society relies heavily on addiction patterns for its function. Given this fact, the disease concept of alcohol loses much of its intended meaning. It has often led to an endless pursuit of genetic factors in alcoholism. To not be able to "drink socially" implies an illness. The person who ostensibly "holds his liquor" is seen as emotionally stable, a person to be respected. Alcohol is so toxic that if it were discovered today it would not be approved by the F.D.A. Given this fact, any consumption of alcohol is harmful. Clearly, anyone who does not care to drink, who is not able to drink or who is otherwise forced to abstain deserves praise and admiration.

The disease concept was established by well meaning people and is responsible for a more humane treatment of the alcoholic than he or she had experienced prior to its acceptance. Great strides were made from the previous view of an alcoholic as "weak-willed" only deserving of our contempt. However, it should not be overlooked that the alcoholic is often physically ill. Which came first, the illness or the alcohol, is always a consideration. For example, it has been established that a person suffering from malnutrition will often seek alcohol.

Through our knowledge of patterns, we know that alcohol is just another pattern that can be discharged. YEAH! A person with an alcohol pattern needs your best thinking and counseling. This may mean listening to what seems like endless amounts of blaming and denial.

Our experiences as alcoholics and ex-alcoholics will be different from those of persons with similar addiction patterns who have not acted out the pattern of alcoholism. Like any other oppressed group, we need to meet individually to gain strength as a group and to decide what we think others need to know about us. I know this has not been done to an great extent yet. The problem of children of alcoholics discharging in front of us in classes and groups needs to be addressed and dealt with. Children of alcoholics often find our discharge restimulating, but it is not oppressive.

Thinking about and writing about us has made me aware that there is no need for despair.

Wanda Salya
Eugene, Oregon,

Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07