To date, explanations of the term alcoholism have been extremely vague, misleading or ambiguous; some have even served to compound the problem. As we have seen, definitions such as illness and disease have been bandied about to describe the phenomenon; if you use them, stop it now! You don’t realise the damage you are inflicting on yourself. Repeatedly telling yourself that you are suffering from an impairment or deficit will programme your mind to accept limitation and thwart your growth. This topic is of such magnitude that I have addressed it at length in the forthcoming pages, but for now let’s continue defining and analysing the term alcoholism.
Alcohol is a common term for ethanol, a compound produced when glucose is fermented by yeast. The amount of yeast and length of fermentation determines the alcohol content. Cider and wine are made from fruit, while cereals such as barley and rye form the basis of beer and spirits. Beer, wine, and spirits have the capacity to alter a person’s state of mind, which is why they are categorised as mind altering drugs.
The suffix ‘-ism’ denotes a distinct system of beliefs surrounding a topic. Therefore, the precise definition of the term alcoholism is as follows:
A distinct system of beliefs relating to alcohol
No mention of illness? No disease? No recovery? No dependency? No addiction? In fact, no direct reference to the abusive consumption of alcohol?
Alcoholism is in the mind: not in the bottle
Paradoxically, the failure of science to determine the root cause of alcoholism is indicative of its true nature – alcoholism cannot be measured or quantified simply because it is a maladaptive function of something which lies beyond the scope of scientific instrumentation: the mind. More specifically, it is an ingrained set of maladaptive beliefs that give rise to a constant cycle of destructive tendencies. The symptom – abusive alcohol consumption – is but a by-product of a deep underlying need to escape. Alcoholism is a mind-set – a destructive way of thinking – the answer to which is a profound shift in consciousness.
Alcoholism is an ingrained set of maladaptive beliefs that give rise to a constant cycle of destructive tendencies. Alcohol abuse is a mere symptom of an overwhelming desire to escape from a life that’s deemed unbearable. Removing alcohol alone bears no fruits. To address the root problem one has to transform their world into a place that is alluring and purposeful, thereby removing the need to escape. The answer to alcoholism lies in educating and cultivating the mind so it recognises life as a journey of limitless possibilities.
The catalyst for alcoholism is an urgent need to escape, supported by a set of beliefs that erroneously deem alcohol to be the magic antidote to all life’s problems. Alcohol is misconstrued as a vehicle that transports us from a state of mental persecution to a problem free, elevated state of mind. What rubbish! Let’s stop deluding ourselves! The fact that you’re reading this book refutes that myth:
When did alcohol last solve any of your problems?
When did the removal of alcohol alone solve your problems?
The Seductive Illusion
Alcohol does not alleviate problems; it temporarily masks them. By impeding the transfer and consolidation of information in long-term memory, it induces temporary amnesia. However, temporarily suppressing our problems has an adverse cumulative effect. Continually denying our troublesome issues results in repression, a mechanism whereby problematic thought processes are banished to the realms of the unconscious mind. Although hidden, they are not dead and buried: they are buried alive.
Unresolved issues that have been banished to the
realms of the unconscious are not dead and buried:
They are buried alive.
Suppressed energy must find a means of expression. These banished issues gather momentum in the realms of the unconscious and continue to impact our lives in ways that are both bewildering and destructive: phobias, mood swings, irrationality, paranoia, unpredictability, aggression, neuroses and psychosis. Alcohol abuse is symptomatic of an unsteady mind; a mind beleaguered with unresolved issues. Without a stable mind a person is unable to control their actions and is therefore prone to the following destructive cycle:
unresolved issues > repression > distorted thinking > severe moods swings > unbearable life > need to escape > consume alcohol > black-outs > irrational behaviour > paranoia and remorse > need to escape > consume alcohol
The Great Escape
People constantly deviate from their resolution to abstain from alcohol because they have a powerful incentive: ESCAPISM. But what are they escaping from? What is this force that they are unable to contain; the force that disables their firm resolve to quit?
Underlying all occurrences of alcoholism are what I have termed the Sobriety Saboteurs; destructive forces that manifest in four guises:
You can expend energy on manipulating and controlling external events, but in doing so you are treating an effect or a symptom – not a cause. Until you have conquered the internal saboteurs, all efforts to transform your life will be to no avail. The external world is simply a reflection of the contents of your mind.
If you stood in front of a mirror and noticed a figure approaching with a knife, you wouldn’t try to disarm the mirror image. Yet, metaphorically, this is exactly what people experiencing alcoholism tend to do – expend tremendous amounts of energy on trying to manipulate external circumstances in order to subvert a problem that lies within. Once they have yielded to their inner adversaries; when the sobriety saboteurs have drained their will-power and good intentions, they declare themselves powerless. But they are not powerless; they are misguided. They need to focus their energies within, not without.
Get into your mind: not out of it!
In the formative stages of alcoholism, alcohol consumption is akin to throwing water on a fire, it douses the flames of fear, futility, guilt and pain. However, this effect is extremely short lived; continuous abuse sees alcohol become the fuel which ignites unresolved issues; these, then spiral out of control. Don’t delude yourself; don’t fall into alcohol’s seductive trap. Alcohol offers NO solution to your problems whatsoever:
The only way to escape your problems is to solve them