Playing It Safe When Using Alcohol As An Emotional Crutch
It’s been a long week at the office and you’re just about ready to call it a night. You’re looking forward to kicking off your shoes and spending the rest of the weekend comfortably in your couch, just watching TV and basically not doing anything. Just a few minutes more, you’ll be out the office door, free to bum and laze around for the next 48 hours.
Suddenly, you hear a ping, signaling a new delivery to your office email. You dread opening it, but since it is flagged as urgent, you don’t really have much of a choice. Lo and behold, it’s from your boss, asking you about some last-minute report and clarifications on some particular task. Your task. Your boss requires an immediate response. Although the question was simple, however, the response entails a bit more complex process, including sifting through old files and documents, tabs upon tabs of Excel sheets to corroborate statistics, and more. You look at the clock. Just reading the email already cost you the few precious minutes you could have instead used packing up your stuff and heading out that door on time. Fast-forward to three, even four, hours later, and you’re finally out of there. Your weekend officially begins, and nothing is going to delay it any longer. You head off to your favorite hangout bar, anticipating the feel of ice-cold beer bottle wrapped between your hands. Ahhh, freedom from the bondages of corporate slavery, finally. Whoever invented alcoholic drinks should be granted sainthood, or something of that caliber. Without it, dealing with stress wouldn’t be as easy and having fun on a night out might become more difficult .
Or is it?
That scenario above is pretty common, especially among folks who regularly spend tedious hours at work. There’s nothing wrong with turning to alcohol after a long day of work. In fact, it has been scientifically found to have some healthy benefits for the heart – when taken moderately, that is. Before you go hoarding kegs upon kegs of beer, however, know that there is a fine line between dealing with stress via alcohol as opposed to simply being alcohol-dependent. Alcohol’s role in relieving stress goes something like this: it reduces your body’s physiological stress response, so in effect, you become more relaxed. With every glass you throw back, you become less concerned about worries in the office, and instead become more attuned to enjoying the particular here and now. In that sense, yes, alcohol does reduce stress. However, with time, the more you become dependent on it, the more of it you’ll need in order to enjoy these so-called benefits. By that time, your body would have already been put through a lot of risk, and in effect, stress, thanks to the excess amount of alcohol intake. It’s at that level of psychological dependence where your need for alcohol can actually become physiological….leading to inevitable bouts of insanity.
Hunter S. Thompson, a man who was certainly no stranger to substance abuse, once said this about boundaries: “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” There is a distinct boundary that can be drawn between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic. Stay in-touch with your emotions; if you find yourself needing to drown them all out with a few quick shots, it might be time to take a step back and really analyze your life and the role alcohol and other substances are playing in it.
So while two or three drinks every now and then have been confirmed to have the ability to at the very least reduce your perception of stress, it shouldn’t be your only way to cope with it.. And yes, we’re guys so this last part sounds weird if you haven’t been doing it…but try to be open about your feelings as much as you can when amongst friends and family. When you’re chilling with your boys, if something’s bothering you, try just mentioning it. It seems to occur too frequently to chalk-up to luck, but if they’re real friends they’ll not only listen but they’ll be glad you opened up as it gives them a chance to open up as well. That does not mean you should turn into your whiney ex and complain about everything in your life all the time…save it for the important stuff. If you’ve got any semblance of common sense you’ll know what can be categorized as such with which groups of people in your life.
And if it turns out you are an alcoholic, it’s not the end of the world. Millions of people live happy, sober lives who were once active in the disease. If you’re even curious, be sure to read more over here and do your own research as well. You don’t have to just give up and give into its’ every whisper. There’s a better way to live. I know because I had to find it a few years ago.