Drugs & Alcohol
Minimizing – admitting that sometimes you drink too much and that you may have a problem but presenting this in such a way that it appears to be less serious or significant than it actually is. People do this by comparing themselves to someone who is much worse and saying, “At least I’m not as bad as him/her,” or “I’ve cut down, I’m not as bad as I was,” or “At least I don’t drink in the mornings,” etc.
Rationalizing – offering excuses, alibis, or explanations other than alcohol for you behavior. When someone rationalizes they try to explain or justify feelings and behavior that would otherwise be unreasonable, illogical, or intolerable. When you rationalize you always look to blame outside factors for why you drink the way you do. When someone rationalizes their drinking they say things like, “It must have been something I ate that made me throw up,” “I had to have a drink it was my best friend’s birthday,” “I’ve had a hard day, anyone would have a drink if they had my job,” “It must be the medication I’m taking that made me get drunk like that,”.
Blaming – when we don’t want to take responsibility for ourselves and blame our past or present for why we drink so much, or the people in our lives, or our circumstance or environment. When we blame we want something other than ourselves to be the cause of the alcohol problem. “I was abused as a child,” “My partner doesn’t understand me,” “The police are out to get me,” “I hate my job, but I can’t leave it.
Binge drinking and social drug use have become an observable fact; there are headlines almost daily on the problems of social using and binge drinking. The terms “binge drinking” and “social drug use” are misleading, as it implies a difference between excessive drinking/using and addicts/alcoholics. Binge drinking and social drug use can progress into alcoholism and addiction very quickly and very easily. It is a fairy tale that you need to drink or use everyday or first thing in the morning or really need to drink or use to qualify. Plenty of addicts and alcoholics were social user or binge drinkers.
Social using and binge drinking has no restrictions; it seems to be accepted, from the university boys and girls on a night out, to the cricket club fundraiser and in any given town or city center at the weekend.
Because it has been normalized abnormal drinking and social drug using individual are under the misapprehension that just because it seems to be accepted, it has to be ok this is not the case.
For some people this is fun or a rite of passage and they live for the weekend intact but for many others problems relating to binge drinking and social using soon begin. One of the first things that can happen no matter what age is that alcohol and drugs are going to affect your mood, so after a big session over the weekend, drinkers and users will feel ‘low’ because their brain and body has been messed around with and this can steadily slide into depression. What is almost certain is if drinkers and users repeatedly drink and use to excess then they are going to feel depressed, they may also experience anxiety attacks.
Feelings of shame and low self-worth can grow from these episodes where individuals have behaved in ways that break their own morals and standards. They may feel uncomfortable at something they said or did, jobs or relationships could be sabotaged. Of course there are massive health impacts as well, we are now seeing cirrhosis of the liver in twenty something’s and contacting STD’s. There is a minefield of harmful effects that every social user and binge drinker has to negotiate.
The main result of this is the strength of our collective denial around drinking and social using, still many drinkers and users don’t take warnings seriously, don’t believe anything shocking will happen to them. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary refuse to see the negative impact social using or binge drinking is having on their lives.
Projection – when something is emotionally unacceptable to us, we project that feeling onto someone else. It’s how we ‘unload’ our own self-hatred onto other people. We project by misinterpreting others’ behavior and making them look and feel bad so we don’t have to. Alcoholics will often project by blaming their unacceptable behavior on others. “Look what you made me do,” is something you might say to your children or partner, or “I can’t believe how bad people behave when they get really drunk, at least I’m not that bad,” etc.
Diversion – when we change the subject to avoid something painful or threatening. Humor is often used to as a diversion tactic – anything that distracts the attention away from what’s really going on. Anger is also used as a diversion, as is helplessness; this distracts people who may otherwise confront you on your unreasonable behavior. When you divert you look for other subjects to divert attention from the main issue.
Hostility – when someone is openly aggressive, hostile and angry every time the subject of their drinking behavior comes up. Usually they cause a fight and frighten or intimidate the other person so that they become too scared to bring it up again. Hostility is a defense mechanism, as the people around you will know that if they say anything to you that you don’t like you will get angry. This frightens most people, so therefore it prevents anyone from being honest with you.