Individuals who abuse and are addicted to alcohol often look for rationalizations and ways to justify their drinking. This is the only way they can continue to remain in denial about the existence of a problem. Making excuses for their drinking keeps them and those who trust their reasoning convinced that they need to drink.
Of course, there are many individualized excuses, but here are the most common ones that are easily recognizable to any alcoholic and their loved ones.
1. “It relaxes me.”
Alcoholics reach for alcohol as a self-soothing tool—after work, a long day, or anytime they are stressed. It becomes the go-to solution for any crisis moment, even if it’s self-orchestrated.
However, while alcohol is a depressant and therefore does have a calming effect, it actually creates anxiety if used in excess. The body becomes accustomed to being in a depressed state and reliant on a substance for relaxation. Due to that fact, when alcohol is removed, anxiety ensues.
This creates quite a vicious cycle and is defined as chemical dependency.
2. “The doctor said it’s good for me.”
There are those individuals who will utilize well-known and marketed research studies to rationalize their drinking. One common study referenced by heavy drinkers is the one that found red wine to be good for the heart in that it lowers cholesterol.
Though red wine does indeed have its cardiovascular benefits, it is only beneficial when used in strict moderation. Even then, there are still negative side effects that can easily outweigh the benefits. In fact, non-alcoholic red wine is even more beneficial, simply due to the fact that the intoxicating, detrimental and therefore counterproductive effects of the alcohol have been removed.
Of course, alcohol itself (non-specific) is not good for anyone any more than sugar or nicotine. It is indeed a toxin, and the side effects of it as well as long-term health hazards and legal/social consequences of excessive use are in fact bad for everyone.
3. “It makes me more fun to be around.”
Many individuals think themselves more fun to be with when they are drinking. They are less inhibited, so they are more likely to do and say things that may indeed be somewhat entertaining for others. Any shyness they normally experience will most likely be annihilated when they are drinking.
However, what may seem like fun for everyone is typically eventually only fun for one. And, even then, the latter experience is temporary.
Nobody likes to be a babysitter or to have to make apologies for the over-the-top entertainment intoxicated people usually provide. And, in all cases, the fun wears off after years of the same drunken antics. Friends who aren’t abusing substances mature and move on with their lives, and what once seemed like fun suddenly seems quite depressing.
4. “It helps me sleep.”
There are many people who like to have what’s referred to as a “nightcap,” or a drink before bed. Of course, not all who enjoy this ritual are alcoholics. However, alcohol abusers and addicts certainly use this excuse as a rationalization.
The rationale for most people with regard to the nightcap is that it’s a relaxing way to end the day or a method of inducing a good night’s sleep. And, though alcohol is (again) a depressant and therefore does cause the brain and body to relax, potentially leading to a restful state, in excess it has the opposite effect.
Alcohol disrupts the production of serotonin in the brain, initially increasing then decreasing the levels. As such, serotonin levels are thrown off balance. Because of this, alcohol consumption drastically reduces and even prevents REM sleep, the deep sleep we all need to feel rested. If used in excess over time, alcohol abuse or dependency can cause chronic sleep disturbances, insomnia and sleep apnea.
5. “I’m more open with my feelings.”
Because people feel less inhibited when drinking alcohol, they tend to express their feelings more openly. There are many individuals who will reach for a glass of beer, wine or whiskey prior to an important or difficult conversation, not only to calm nerves but to feel comfortable with self-expression.
Though alcohol indeed does have the latter effect for those who only drink occasionally, it tends to have the opposite one for individuals who drink in excess.
Alcohol abuse and dependency typically lead to a numbing of emotions, a lack of self-expression and emotional unavailability. More often than not, family members of alcoholics experience that lack of emotional connection with the chemically dependent individual, proving that eventually alcohol in excess acts more like a wall around the feelings than the key to a floodgate.
6. “It makes me better in bed.”
Of course, there are many people who would say that booze assists in the bedroom simply because it alleviates or lessens inhibitions. However, alcohol in excess not only kills the emotional availability needed for true romance, it also prevents the ability to perform.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, so for women this can cause a lack of lubrication. Additionally, due to the fact that it is a depressant and therefore depresses all bodily responses and functions, it can prevent or make difficult the ability to attain orgasm.
A similar issue occurs for men as alcohol prevents or reduces the duration of an erection. In fact, the use of alcohol in excess over time typically leads to chronic erectile dysfunction.
For alcoholics, the list of excuses to drink could go on and on. But, regardless of what it is, there will always be only a little validity to the rationalization. The truth is simple: there is no valid justification for drinking. You either want to do it or you don’t.