When alcohol controls our lives more than we do, it is time to say goodbye. When our health, relationships, work, legal or living status are impacted by alcohol abuse, we need to move on. Our lives literally depend on it. But emotionally, it is hard to give up drinking. Alcohol is often part of our family, culture, holidays and rituals. Some see alcohol as something that’s been there through good times and bad. Even if we know it is time to say goodbye, it can still be difficult to let go of something that has become a habit for so many years.
Emotional Connection to Alcohol
Drinking alcohol means different things to different people. For some, it is that perfect complement to the perfect meal, a way to celebrate good times, a way to help relax and unwind, or a social ritual to be had with friends and loved ones. For others, it was always present growing up, something that is comfortable and familiar. Others look to it for comfort and companionship after they experience disappointments in life: the failures, breakups, losses and loneliness.
Whatever our individual emotional connections are to alcohol, it can be difficult to remove those connections from the negative side effects of chronic alcoholism. Clinging to the emotional bonds may also be our way of avoiding seeking treatment. But knowing what happens when we drink alcohol every day needs to be separated from our sentiments about alcohol.
Mourning the Loss of Alcohol
When a relationship ends, there is mourning and a feeling of loss, even if that relationship was unhealthy. When a family member passes away, we grieve their loss, even if our relationship with them was dysfunctional. It may seem strange to mourn the loss of alcohol, but grieving can actually be a healthy thing. In grieving, we can acknowledge that we are moving away from something that was unhealthy, while still acknowledging the emotions and feelings associated with it.
Mourning does not have to interfere with us seeking treatment or being successful in our alcohol addiction recovery. Moving on is still important to our mental and physical health, as well as every other aspect of our lives. Mourning is the process we take to say goodbye to something that once had meaning to us, while being open and willing to give our life new meaning through wellness.
Keeping the Memories, Losing the Habits
Within the grieving process, we can unwind the memories from the events and habits that brought us to this point in our lives—learning to recognize that celebrating a friend’s wedding with a toast was a joyful memory, but the events that happened later that evening after consuming too much alcohol were symptoms of chronic alcoholism. Times spent with friends at the local pub are fond memories of companionship and connection, but missing work the next day or the possible health, relationship, financial or legal troubles that eventually accompanied many of those memories were harmful.
The memories and connections with others that surrounded our prior alcohol consumption are real, and they can still be positive if we choose. The harmful side effects that resulted from drinking too much alcohol can and should be separated from those memories as we learn to separate alcohol from our lives. Chronic alcoholism created pain and chaos in our lives, but that doesn’t have to negate the happy memories we associate with our previous alcohol consumption.
Embrace the Benefits of Alcohol Addiction Recovery
By being willing to say goodbye to alcohol, we are acknowledging that what happens when we drink alcohol every day is not healthy, and that healing from chronic alcoholism is possible. There are so many benefits of alcohol addiction recovery that we can look forward to, including:
- Improved physical health
- Greater mental health, including treatment for possible co-occurring disorders
- Higher self-esteem
- Better relationships with family, friends and co-workers
- Building a support system of people to help us throughout our lives
- Access to job training and other services
- Learning about self-improvement and achieving goals
Life After Alcohol
Mourning and loss are typically considered unfortunate parts of life. However, in the case of alcohol addiction recovery, our lives get better after we say goodbye to alcohol. There may be moments that we look back with nostalgia at the times we spent drinking with our loved ones. That emotional connection and those memories are part of the human experience. But life after alcohol allows us to laugh more, live in the moment and look forward to a future that is within our control. Saying goodbye to alcohol helps us say hello to our future.
At New Life, we can help you say goodbye to your old habits and put you back in the driver’s seat of your life. Our Maryland outpatient treatment program puts all the resources you need to achieve and maintain sobriety and rebuild your life so that you can wave goodbye to alcohol forever. Call New Life today at (877) 929-2571. Working together, we can teach you how to honor the memories while putting your addiction in the rear-view mirror.