Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alcoholism & Addiction strategies

So this weekend I overheard details about someone with an alcoholism problem. An interesting aspect of my mission is that most of the present members at some point had a struggle with alcohol due to how common its usage is in the areas I served. There are a few things I learned about alcoholism and addiction in general:

1) This is specific to alcoholism - the brain can be tricked into thinking it's getting what it wants. I learned this because I've had the non-alcoholic versions of wine and beer given to me by either investigators and members. I thought they tasted disgusting, but something I noticed is that the people who gave them to me thought they tasted amazing. And I believe the reason is their brain was associating their flavor with the drug it got a long with the beverage, so a reasonable way to wean someone off of an alcoholic beverage may be to have them drink that instead when they're struggling with staying away from it during a period of rough times.

2) General towards all addiction - the addiction usually serves to fill a hole of some kind. It either provides some means of escapism and/or fights boredom/eats up time. I learned this from my own World of Warcraft addiction. You can't defeat an addiction by telling yourself you won't do it again. that's not enough. You need to get rid of it, all the paraphernalia associated with it and replace it with something else. When I quit World of Warcraft before my mission, I eventually went back for a while before I left on my mission because I didn't have anything else to do and even used that as my justification for returning. When I got home, I picked up swimming to fill that void. I could never go back to WoW because the things swimming gave me far outweigh what I ever got from WoW. I just don't have the time for both, so even when the temptation came back for a bit, I still didn't cave because what I found was so much better.

Granted, WoW also served as an escape for me before my mission as well. It was my way of running away from what I viewed were the negative opinions others had of me. When I got back from my mission, I just decided I didn't care what others thought anymore. So in addition to replacing an addiction, someone fighting an addiction needs to face whatever other demons they're using it to hide from. Whether it's the opinions of others, a bad childhood, etc., someone struggling from an addiction needs to come up with a change in mindset to undo the damage they're hiding from.

I may be oversimplifying some things, but I hope this helps anyone I know struggling with an addiction.

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