When I’m helping women to escape the alcohol trap, I often use strange analogies.
I do this to get people thinking about booze in a different way. A big part of successful sobriety is unlearning old thought habits and being open to the idea that some of your beliefs about alcohol are not true.
But recently, one of the women I’m working with said something that made me think, “Doh – why didn’t I realise that before?”
It’s all to do with the alcohol trap, prison cells, life stress, lockdown and freedom…
The prison cell exercise
Imagine you’re locked in a prison cell. All you’ve got with you is your favourite wine or alcoholic drink. If you believe that drinking truly makes you happy and fulfilled – because alcohol really is joy in a bottle – then you’re all set for a good time, right?
It’s obvious that drinking wouldn’t transform this situation into a happy one. And if alcohol can’t transform the prison cell into a pleasant experience, why do we expect booze to do exactly that in other, more realistic situations?
The lockdown prison
Recently, we’ve all been through some kind of lockdown where we’ve been forced to stay at home, in a ‘prison’ of sorts (albeit with much nicer furnishings and Netflix).
Did alcohol turn lockdown into something wonderful? Did it bring the good vibes, 24/7? No! We are constantly giving alcohol credit for providing joy and pleasure in our lives, but look how often it doesn’t work.
The real alcohol trap
Perhaps you accept that alcohol doesn’t make you truly happy, but you feel that drinking helps you numb out and ignore problems in your life. If that sounds like you, here’s what I want to invite you to think about.
What if drinking is making your problems worse, rather than relieving them? Could alcohol actually be causing some of your headaches and making existing issues harder to overcome? What if alcohol is keeping you stuck?
Think about it. When you drink, you start the next day feeling bad. This makes stress harder to cope with, and you’re unlikely to get round to dealing with the job / relationship / life situation that’s making you unhappy… and so the cycle continues.
The real prison is caused by booze
Alcohol keeps you stuck in the same patterns, the same feelings and the same life. It’s like groundhog day, every day. It’s not really making your life better – it just temporarily covers the cracks, whilst keeping you stuck in a life you don’t like.
The good news? You’re not locked in this alcohol trap. You can leave this prison any time you like. You have the keys and the power to walk away. So go and enjoy the freedom that’s waiting for you outside. You’re going to love it.