Alcoholism is a disease that fools you into thinking you don’t have it even when the symptoms are so deafening. It’s no fun having to admit that you can’t drink as you watch others revel in alcohol-laden festivities without serious consequences. So you deny your disease because it just isn’t fair.
This is why recovery must be the cornerstone of your life. If you’re not working on staying clean and sober, then you are working on a drink. After all, alcoholism always has one waiting for you with your name on it. It is one deceitful and conniving beast.
Here are 4 reasons why alcohol makes for one dangerously subtle foe.
1. Alcohol is socially acceptable.
Alcohol has played a major role in the human experience since the beginning of time. Even the ancient Egyptians imbibed. In fact, the brewing and drinking of beer was so common in their history that some workers would opt to get paid in beer. In hindsight, there may have been some serious alcoholic behavior going on.
Nowadays, high-end brands like Dom Pérignon and Laphroaig denote status and class. What harm could there be in a little drink when it’s so intricately woven into society? It’s friendly and seductive, which is why alcoholism catches many off-guard and is particularly devious.
2. It sets up reservations.
The only successful treatment for alcoholism is complete abstinence. However, after a while, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’ve gained control of the situation and that you no longer have a problem with alcohol. Maybe you start looking forward to the day when you’ll be able to drink like a lady or handle your alcohol like a gentleman. These thoughts become especially dominant when you’re cut off or isolated from the fellowship of recovery.
If you find yourself forming your own reservations about being able to beat the game, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. Alcoholism is a well-worn path and you’re not the first to deny that abstinence is the only way. Share your honest thoughts with those who have been in your shoes.
3. It lets you rest on your laurels.
“Resting on your laurels” is an Alcoholics Anonymous expression for those who get complacent in sobriety. Remember how willing you were to go to any lengths early on in sobriety? Even after 20 years of being sober, it’s important to remember that your life is still on the line. All that anyone in sobriety really has is a daily reprieve from drugs and alcohol. No one gets to rely on their sobriety time to keep them sober. It’s normal to go through phases when you’re just not feeling the whole recovery thing, but continue to reach out to your lifelines anyway. Be reminded that this devious disease wants you to keep mum. Tell someone what’s going on as soon as this happens in order to prevent alcohol from creeping back into your life.
4. Its temptation isn't always direct.
Alcoholism rarely takes the direct route in upsetting your apple cart, especially if you've been sober for a while. However, it does promote behaviors that lead to emotional hangovers. It makes you think that your feelings accurately represent reality. After all, its goal is quite simple: to gnaw away at your defenses little by little by propping up your ego in unhealthy ways. It wants you to think, “I don’t need those AA people in my business,” or “I’ve got a million things to do now.” As these thoughts crop up, remind the little devil in your ear that your best thinking landed you a seat in the recovery rooms in the first place. Brush up on what the Big Book has taught all of us: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling and powerful (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 58-59).”