Let me give you 10 good reasons why problem drinkers need real connection in recovery. Real connection means physical hugs, physical contact, physical recognition. Real connection also means connection between minds, between intuitions and between the 5 senses. Problem drinkers who choose recovery, also choose to reconnect.
Connecting with someone starts with the eyes and contact is made. The mouth is read, the mouth speaks and the mouth voices everything inside our heads. Then the nose: the nose is the foreteller of things to come: the fragrance of perfume, the pong of bad breath, the aroma of fresh body odour! These are things that make us who we are and form an intricate part of that human connection.
Finding Connection Away from Drinking Post-2020
Why on earth then would problem drinkers need real connection, and why even more so in recovery? The setting we find ourselves in is this: Covid, lockdowns, lack of freedom. Yes, 2020 was a year of extreme and enormous change worldwide.
The global village as we know it became millions of global modules of people shut away from each other. There were lonely single people now isolated from seeing family and friends; there were couples now in close proximity for hours at a time; families squashed into tiny homes, or mansions, but squashed all the same as they learned to Be Together for long hours at a time.
The rich gasped and reached for the remote to order in food and clothing and drinks and movies. The poor squashed into their shacks and fought and screamed and there was abuse and there was violence and there were deaths. Government scrambled to control everyone, and everyone lost their autonomy.
Loss of Autonomy Erodes the Spirit
The loss of autonomy is a huge shock to humans who are free spirits, need each other and love being in social contact with families and friends. Problem drinkers got worse and moderate drinkers became problem drinkers. Alcoholics were sent to rehab and some even died. Some countries banned the booze – which forced everyone to go broke as they ordered alcohol on the black market, or made their own beer from apples, ginger and pineapples.
Many people turned to Zoom connections, Skype, Google Meet and other platforms to chat to workmates and family. It worked for a while. But then Zoom fatigue set in. Isolation intensified. And for problem drinkers, drug users and other kinds of addicts, desperation set in.
“… useful as technology has been in helping them stay in touch, it is not the same as being physically in the same room as a fellow recovering addict sharing about their experiences… Andrew da Roza, chairman of We Care and an addictions psychotherapist, understands that technology can mute the sense of being in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment. “For addicts, that validation is extraordinarily important… That’s a little bit lost on Zoom because you don’t feel the same energy,” he explained.
Connection Eases Addiction to Drinking
Connection became a swear word in 2020. Connection is the opposite of addiction. How does that work? Gabor Mate explains it very nicely when he links deep-seated childhood trauma to addiction. He describes the huge DIS-connection that happens when people turn to a substance to replace a someone in their lives:
“When you look at the original word trauma, it’s a Greek word for wounding. Wherever we’re wounded, there’s scar tissue that forms, and scar tissue is always harder, less resilient, and less flexible than the tissue that it replaces. When psychological trauma happens, our psyches become more rigid and harder and less flexible. The origin of that hardening is the separation from the self that trauma induces, and then rather than being flexible and responsive, we become more rigid in our responses to life, to ourselves, to relationships, to stimuli, and so on. This is what I think underlies most mental and physical pathology.”
He adds that we need to reconnect with self first when we choose to heal. Many people only start to heal themselves in midlife, and it becomes connected to their so-called midlife crisis. But we can heal earlier than our 40s.
Many alternative therapies lead people to find out what their authentic feelings and values are, so that they can tap into their emotions. Even breathing exercises allow a person to connect with their inner being, to make that contact and to “see”. Things like hypnotherapy, reiki, family constellations, TRE and others are there to assist people to reconnect.
Problem Drinkers Need More than Zoom
But I digress. Problem drinkers really need connection in recovery. Within this Covid context and within any situation, connection is key. Zoom has taken over the meeting space. It works for many people. But it is definitely not real connection, is it? We sit in our own homes or offices, we put on our computers and we talk to someone through the screen and keyboard.
We think we are having a great meeting or chat but are we really? We cannot touch that person, or hug them. We can barely see their facial reactions, let alone their body language. We are more isolated than ever. We can hide so much behind our screens! I mean, we can con the world with our Zoom meetings. You can hide a beer glass to the right of your screen and a tot of whiskey to the left of your mouse. You can dress your top half and sit in your undies under the desk! You can change your backdrop to a nice sunny day if it is raining outside.
But what about the backdrop of our lives?
Let’s define problem drinker first:
In one of my previous blogs I chatted to some of our men who admitted to having drinking problems. “Jim drank because, ‘It was the thing to do. My parents both drank heavily and all 5 of their kids followed suit. I started regularly at around 14. All school parties were drink fuelled. I drank heavily in the army and right through my career.’ When he retired early and moved to the family wine farm, he said that he drank copious litres of booze. “I really outdid myself! G&T x 2 or 3, then half a dozen beers and a bottle or two of wine a night!’ Of course, he gained weight and his health and relationship with his long-suffering wife started to take strain. That is when he decided enough is enough.”
Problem Drinking vs Alcohol Use Disorder
A good example. According to Buddy T at Very Well Mind, A “problem drinker” is not an official diagnosis, but a phrase used to describe people who misuse alcohol but don’t necessarily need medical treatment, peer group support, or a spiritual awakening to stop or modify their drinking patterns.
Often, having a sufficient reason to cut back—or a particularly embarrassing or frightening experience caused by drinking—is enough to signal a problem drinker to self-correct. Many one-time heavy drinkers merely “grow up” and change their behaviors.
Buddy T goes on to say that Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) on the other hand means that that person needs outside help. Will power alone will not help them quit, only professional intervention. It can be checked in its path, before full-blown alcoholism has to be faced and then ruins lives.
A problem drinker simply drinks too much and feels guilt or shame about this. There are ways and means to recover and Tribe Sober is the perfect online recovery counselling platform for just this. It provides connection in two ways:
Initially you connect online. Check out the website, the challenges, the stories and blogs, the achievements and all the wonderful “Quit Lit” you can read. Then you click on workshops and you join one on Zoom and you meet amazing like-minded people. You connect. You talk. You realise you are not alone, and you are not weird. You join Whatsapp groups and chat more. You join as a member and you are part of the tribe. You make friends who you then can meet in the flesh.
Get out there, meet people in the flesh! Problem drinkers need real connection to recover.
10 Reasons to Connect as a Problem Drinker
- If trauma is disconnection, then healing is reunion or finding the person / people behind the connection.
- The more pain you cause people, the more you shame and isolate them, the worse they’ll feel about themselves. People have suffered during the Coronavirus Pandemic, trapped within strange rules and regulations.
- Consider taking some time to think about how improving your relationship with drinking could have a positive impact on your life. Think about improving your relationships, your health and your career. Getting back to connect with people in a meaningful way.
- For those who stop drinking, it could be that making connections with people becomes harder when sober. “Alcohol and drugs became a protective shell that allowed me to not care, to go beyond my comfort zone and to make friends with anyone and everyone in whatever insane setting life found me. I developed false ideas about what connection really was.” Quitting can change this!
- Problem drinking causes isolation when you miss class or work; when you avoid family and friends or want to drink alone; when you feel depressed; or get angry or violent. These behaviours are isolating and typical of a drinker.
- Some people drink alcohol in an attempt to cope with their depression. People can be drawn to the sedative effects of alcohol as a kind of medication, helping to distract from persistent feelings of sadness. They withdraw from those they love and who love them and don’t realise that while alcohol may temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of depression, it makes it worse in the long-term.
- Alcohol flushes vitamin B from your system. We need vitamin B to manufacture red blood cells. A lack of vitamin B often results in anemia. This makes a person feel weak and tired. Low levels of B -12 and B-6 have been linked to depression.
- People need and desire connection, attachment, and love. When meaningful connection is missing from our lives, an addiction may begin to fill the void. The good news is that this can be remedied.
- Addiction to something (alcohol, drugs, food, sugar, work, exercise, sleeping, etc) removes people from their natural desire to be with others. It fills a void. For a while. Not forever.
- Problem drinkers tend to withdraw more and more from their families and friends – from society. Often they spend money that they do not have and this increases their need to “hide”. They also feel shame about their drinking and hangovers.
Recreating bonds is essential in the long term, but human connection is crucial in the immediate task of clearing trauma. When a person decides to finally face and feel the pain that they may have been avoiding for years or decades, the first steps cannot be done alone… When people are there to provide loving support for an addict wishing to face the emotional pain they carry, they are loving them and caring for them until they can learn to love themselves. With this in mind, perhaps the neural-wiring of emotional resilience developed through the loving reflection of another, once fully developed, could simply be called self-love.
Contact Tribe Sober, join up and connect with like-minded people today!