November 20: Self-medicating

Topic for the week: Self-medicating

I have learned so many things from this program, about alcoholism and about myself. I know that I am powerless over the first drink and that I must have spiritual help in order to stay sober. I need to quit trying to play God and turn to a higher power for guidance. Above all else, no matter what happens, just don’t take that first drink. “We are without defense against the first drink.” (AA Big Book, page 24)

When I was first sober, that was all I focused on. Just don’t drink–each hour, each day. As the days and hours went by, I realized the other issues I had to deal with that contributed to my drinking, such as anger against my mother, trying to be in control of everything around me, fear of failure. Once the blurriness of being drunk and hungover was out of the way, I could see these things I had to work on to heal myself.

Recently, I was diagnosed with ADD. This was a relief after 30 years of being told it was hormones, too much work, depression, etc. I have more understanding now of why I have felt and behaved in certain ways, and I can work on it. This complicates my alcoholism, because I realize that part of why I was drinking in the first place was self-medication.

For me, and maybe for some of you, it’s not so simple as just not drinking. That is key, but to know that I will actually stay sober, I need to deal with the dual diagnosis and underlying issues that could cause me to drink again. With dual diagnosis (when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously), there is a mental or neurological disorder that may require medication or therapy, and without that, it’s possible I could turn again to self-medicating with alcohol.

That is what I’ve been dealing with and learning about the last couple months. What are your experiences with dual diagnosis, or other underlying issues that caused you to self-medicate yourself with alcohol? I look forward to hearing your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group with this meeting.