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One of the challenges we come across in our recovery is the idea of drinking responsibly, an idea that is espoused in alcohol commercials and that we can find ourselves feeling confused and tempted by. We wonder if we can learn to drink in moderation and without all the negative consequences. Many of us are functional addicts, meaning we’ve managed to keep up with our regular lifestyles and our daily routines, while still using our drug of choice heavily. We’ve been able to maintain normal functions and operate as we normally would, so the idea of drinking responsibly is something we think we might be able to handle. For many of us, though, once we start drinking alcohol, or using any addictive substance, we aren’t able to do so responsibly or within reason. We don’t stop ourselves once we’ve consumed a reasonable amount. We aren’t able to control our intake, or the choices we make, or how we behave. We’re simply not able to drink, or use, responsibly. 

Behavioral Patterns

For those of us who don’t struggle with addiction, or any dependence issue causing us to use excessively, this message to drink responsibly is a good one. Many of us never learned to monitor how we used, how frequently, in which environments, and in what quantities. We didn’t learn the importance of making sure we’re around people we trust when we’re under the influence. We didn’t learn how critical it is to be able to maintain control of ourselves, and that addictive substances can impair our judgment and make us lose control of our senses and our decision-making faculties. Had we been conditioned with this message to drink responsibly, we might not have experimented with new and harsher drugs. We might have learned to monitor our intake and stop drinking before we got out of control. We might not have engaged in some of the destructive behaviors that contributed to our addictive patterns over the years, and perhaps we wouldn’t have gotten into the habit of using irresponsibly, whether it was for fun because we were taught that drinking excessively was cool and exciting, or whether we were using drugs as a coping mechanism for our difficult feelings.

Hardwired for Addiction

For many of us who self-identify as addicts, there is no such thing as drinking responsibly, and no amount of receiving that message would have made any difference. We were bound to develop a dependence problem because that’s what we are hardwired for. We were destined to be addicts, some would say. It was inevitable that at some point we would develop a drug or alcohol problem. We’re genetically and/or emotionally programmed for addiction. It doesn’t matter that we experienced peer pressure that pushed us into experimenting with drugs, or that we received the message that drinking makes you cool, popular, sociable, and accepted by your peers. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had been given the message earlier on to drink responsibly and in moderation, when we were adolescents for example, because we’re not addicts due to the messaging or cultural programming we’ve been exposed to. We would have been addicts either way.

Social Programming Around Drugs and Alcohol

Others of us may feel that we can attribute the reckless addictive behaviors we engaged in to the ways in which we were programmed. We saw drug and alcohol use glorified in movies and television. We saw characters relying on them to take the edge off when they were stressed, or to give them “liquid confidence” in social settings. We learned from an early age, often as children, that using drugs and alcohol, and using them in excess, makes you cool, and we were eager to be liked and validated by our friends and peers. The messages that we received, and therefore the programming around drugs and alcohol that we were instilled with, therefore, were not of drinking responsibly. The messages we got were to drink mindlessly, without caution and care, to drink in order to cope with life and to appear more confident and likable. We might not have become addicts because of these messages, but they may have introduced us to the emotional and behavioral patterns that contributed to our addictions over time.

Choosing Sobriety

Part of our work in recovery is being able to see these messages, such as “please drink responsibly” in alcohol commercials, or TV characters pouring themselves a drink to help themselves unwind after a hard day at work, and realizing that these messages don’t apply to us. We’re addicts, and we can’t drink responsibly. The only responsible drinking for us is not drinking at all. Furthermore, we have to learn healthy coping skills to replace the drugs and alcohol we relied on, to help us calm down, to make us feel at ease, or to help us in social situations. We have to use our internal skills of mindfulness, positive thinking, and self-soothing. When we find ourselves feeling confused, overwhelmed, triggered, or tempted by the messaging we encounter, we can affirm to ourselves that by choosing sobriety and committing to our recovery, we are doing the most responsible thing we can do for ourselves, for our well-being, and for our safety. 

At The Guest House Ocala, we are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse and process addictions in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488