Thinking about Drugs and Alcohol, as a Young Adult

I started using alcohol and marijuana as a teenager. I usually used them in social situations, because it felt “fun”—although sometimes I could tell [notice] that I was using alcohol to cover up feelings.

It has been easy for me to go several months at a time without using either substance, even if I don’t discharge on it. It has been harder to decide that I’ll never use them again. This may be because of the family I grew up in. My parents could also go long periods without drinking, but it wasn’t because of a decision they’d made after discharging.

When I turned twenty-one, the legal drinking age in the United States, I began to talk more with my parents about my drinking. My mother, who is in RC, began to drink more alcohol as I talked more about it. I interpreted this as restimulation.

Another reason it’s been hard to decide to quit using drugs and alcohol is because of feelings related to being a young adult. Using them feels like a “grown up” thing to do (and I just got the “perk” [“benefit”] of being able to drink alcohol legally). It also sometimes looks like an opportunity to connect with people, like a way out of isolation.

I was a young person when I started using alcohol and marijuana, and young people’s oppression played a role in it. I was stressed out, I wanted to have fun, and I wanted to rebel. I was angry about the big problems in the world and felt powerless to make a difference. I started drinking at age fifteen, when I was having lots of big feelings and felt desperate for a way out. I was also restimulated about the drinking age, which felt like young people’s oppression, and had feelings about being told what to do and not getting to make my own decisions. I was raised in RC, but my parents weren’t thinking clearly enough to be a resource for me in figuring all this out.


I last used marijuana over three years ago. Back then I didn’t want to smoke again anytime soon, but I also didn’t like the idea of never doing it again. Two years ago I began counseling on giving up smoking. I realized after discharging that the only situations in which I wanted to smoke were ones in which it was actually dangerous for me to not be sober. I decided to give up marijuana completely. I still have more to discharge about the decision, the dangerous situations, and my experiences while using marijuana.

The last time I drank alcohol was ten months ago. I have not yet decided to never use it again. About three months ago I began counseling more on alcohol and the decision to quit. I was worried that once the distress began moving (because I was discharging it), I would feel like drinking again. That didn’t happen, but I did start drinking coffee again without even noticing it. Oops!

If we quit but don’t discharge, we are still vulnerable to restimulation (like my mom was when I began talking more about drinking). My decision to quit using marijuana was made partly out of fear about the dangerous situations. I need to keep counseling there.


This is the first time in my life that I have had good access to discharge and have also not been using drugs or alcohol. My mind works better when I am not using them and am also discharging. In the past two months I have had more new ideas. I have also felt restimulated more often, but I’ve had better access to “heavier” distresses and it’s been easier to pull my attention out after a session. This is different from when I have been discharging while using drugs and alcohol and when I have not been discharging while not using them.

As I discharge on alcohol, I have a lot of feelings related to “mental health” oppression. I am an ex-psychiatric inmate and as a teenager took psychiatric drugs for two years. Young people’s oppression played a huge role in my hospitalization and my use of the drugs.

I know that RC says that psychiatric drugs are not helpful, that they cover up feelings and lay in new hurts. Until recently I couldn’t tell that from my own experience. For example, I was still able to discharge when taking the drugs. However, it’s clear to me now that they numbed my heaviest, most unbearable feelings—the ones that landed me in the “mental health” system. Those feelings are still there, waiting to be discharged.

These days I feel horribly restimulated a lot of the time. I believe that the distress is coming up because my mind can finally tell that I’m safe, that I will never be in the old situation again, and that I have a real opportunity to get rid of the distress. I am trying to go toward the unbearable places, now that I have built more resource around me.

Many young adults I know are aware that they use alcohol to cover up feelings (of being stressed, scared, awkward), and they think it is okay as long as they don’t do it “too much.” They think that doing it “too much” would make them an alcoholic but that doing it a little is “normal.” I think that everyone, whether or not they have been in the “mental health” system, would benefit from counseling on the pressure to be “normal,” and how alcohol is connected to that.

What have you figured out about how to counsel on drugs and alcohol? Do you have ideas about how to be an ally to young people in this area?


(Present Time 189, October 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00