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Social isolation; my #1 trigger for problem drinking

Old 01-05-2017, 03:38 PM
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Social isolation; my #1 trigger for problem drinking

And more importantly, what was your strategy to avoiding drinking and handling any cravings they triggered?

Before carrying-on, I would like to talk about some of my high risk situations. The biggest one of all is being cooped-in the house when I don't want to be, not having access to friends, nor anywhere I can go where I can bump-into people I know. I should add that I'm out of work, the worst part of it is the social isolation, I cannot cope with it. When the evenings come round, it gets too much. My house feels like a prison.

I would rather have things I could go to in the evenings to look forward to, so I don't have to put-up with this torture. I would prefer to do things in the evening like dance classes, or any other activity that doesn't revolve around drinking, tv or the internet.

Regarding being able to stop drinking when started. It's certainly easier to drink less or not at all when in an interesting and an engaging conversation, you know, the sort where you lose track of the time. I think I lack intimacy, friendship and social contact, this is the biggest driving force. I say that because when these needs have been met, I've had nice decent conversations, felt a sense of trust and rapport, the urge to drink reduces or disappears.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by vulcan30 View Post
I would prefer to do things in the evening like dance classes, or any other activity that doesn't revolve around drinking, tv or the internet.
So what's stopping you?
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:55 PM
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Just a suggestion, but you could seek out AA meetings. Generally they have them throughout the day everyday. Its a great way to get out of the house with somewhere to go where you know people are focused on giving up alcohol, just like us.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:55 PM
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The lack of things going on my town, the fact that the last salsa class I was doing folded due to low numbers in the summer, and that 'people had other things going on' (really rubbed-in the not having a social life thing). The fact that everything I find online about what's available locally is out of date, the fear of turning-up to something and finding that nothing is on, and looking like a ninny.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:07 PM
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I would seek out volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteering saved my soul in the early days of recovery and it changed my life. I can't say enough about the benefits of being out there and helping others in your area.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bluedog97 View Post
Just a suggestion, but you could seek out AA meetings. Generally they have them throughout the day everyday. Its a great way to get out of the house with somewhere to go where you know people are focused on giving up alcohol, just like us.
This is what I am doing - went to my first meeting yesterday and plan to go to a few tomorrow. The people at the meeting were very welcoming yesterday.

In 1989 when I started daily drinking I had a girlfriend but zero friends. I started going to the bars when my girlfriend wasn't around and I made lots of friends. A year later my girlfriend dumped me but I didn't care - I had a ton of drinking buddies and I had one-night stands with drunken women.

I met my wife in 1994, we had a kid and I settled down a bit but still drank everyday.

As the years went by friends drifted away, I stopped going out because I didn't want to drink and drive and I just sat in my house and drank every night alone for years. I get off work 3 hours earlier than my wife so I was usually drunk and ready to pass out when she got home. And then she would drink herself until bedtime.

What a life. Today I am 73 days sober but my wife still drinks every day. My point is you can be isolated with or without liquor.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:34 PM
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I would seek out volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteering saved my soul in the early days of recovery and it changed my life. I can't say enough about the benefits of being out there and helping others in your area.
I am doing so, cannot wait till I start. Volunteering is excellent, it fulfills a lot of emotional needs that are not being met. The social contact needs.

One main need being employed brings is that of sense of purpose, of being needed by others. When you start to feel useless, that you don't matter, or start feeling inferior to others, this is a sign that this need is not being met.

If anyone's curious as to what's stopping me following through the advice, it's social anxiety, the fear of being judged, the fear of being in social situations I will not be able to cope with, if anyone can relate, fire away. if not, it's best not to comment. If it's outside your realm of understanding, the best thing you can do is not to judge, but exercise curiousity and avoid advisor mode.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:27 PM
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I don't have many friends and have not had a girlfriends before. I understand that the admission of that puts me on the firing line for criticism, and I also understand that this is not a shyness and social-anxiey-specific forum, responses as forgiving as I might be used to , but honesty is best policy.

I don't have that many friends locally, the few I do have live the other side of town, and in other towns, I don't own a car and the public transport is well below standard.

FYI, I don't drink every day (yet) and don't intend to progress to that level. The frequency of drinking is the topic for another post.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:41 PM
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I don't have many friends and have not had a girlfriends before.
Not sure why you feel that would leave you open to criticism
Volunteering really help me get back into person to person contact.

I'm awkward socially still, and I'm not particular socially dexterious but recovery has given me a good idea of who I am and what talents I possess.

Thats a good grounding I think.

I can at least interact with other people now, and the anxiety quotient is lessened by me not desperately looking for validation from them when doing so.

I think that's achievable for anyone

D
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Old 01-05-2017, 07:14 PM
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I understand anxiety well Vulcan, and also tried to cure if with alcohol for decades really. I told myself it made me more popular, more relaxed, more fun...you name it. Of course it actually does rhe opposite.

I see a lot of "I don't" , "I won't" and "I can't" in your posts above. The key to changing things around is to replace those with "I will" and "I can". Small steps every day...line "I will find an AA meeting tomorrow no matter what, even if it is an online one". Or "I will do something good for someone else today".
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Old 01-05-2017, 07:37 PM
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Not sure why you feel that would leave you open to criticism
Volunteering really help me get back into person to person contact.

I'm awkward socially still, and I'm not particular socially dexterious but recovery has given me a good idea of who I am and what talents I possess.

Thats a good grounding I think.

I can at least interact with other people now, and the anxiety quotient is lessened by me not desperately looking for validation from them when doing so.

I think that's achievable for anyone
Thanks Dee, sorry about the defensive tone. Volunteering is the best way to make use of the time out of work. I cannot wait till I start this conservation role this month. Would like to do more days than what's offered. That's opportunity to do other things, in a different field, a different skill set.

The important thing is, I've had enough of isolation and the excuses my brain gives for not trying things. I'm sick of being imprisoned in the house aimlessly passing the days. Focusing on that thought drives me to take action. A handout from a social anxiety self-help group mentioned 'turn depression into frustration, then that can be turned into determination'.

RE Scott
I have never seen drinking alcohol as 'big' or manly, fitting-in or any of that rubbish. I have fallen into problematic drinking because alcohol helped me feel free, free from the fear of what people think of me. During times I've felt lonely and had no-one to talk to, alcohol has been that (false) friend I've turned to when I've not had anyone to talk to (increasingly the case due to workoholism on my friend's part). This thread is specifically about the evenings when I feel trapped in the house.
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Old 01-05-2017, 07:45 PM
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Hey Vulcan

Yep my house can feel like a prison too sometimes also , (but it's an awesome little pad a walk from an amazing surf break) social contact is a human need just like food water or shelter , I too struggle with lonely periods , But there is surf due tomorrow and that helps

Anything outdoors helps you come back to the good part of you thus reducing the need for others.

Volunteering is a good one I must pursue , thanks Dee

I attend AA and find it socially tiring sometimes but a guy I meet out on the water asked me was I going out for beers tomorrow how do I tell him I'm a raging alcoholic 😂
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Old 01-05-2017, 07:50 PM
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RE AA meetings

They can almost certainly give you people to talk to and social contact and I do not discount that. My worry that stops me attending is the thought of having to publicly admit the reasons why I'm drinking. There's also the worry about people trying to lecture me rather than listen. I'm not in favour of being seen as an alcoholic and making that my identity, I see myself as a social drinker. I'm willing to give it a go, I'm open to the idea that it might not be as humiliating as I think it will be. I've never tried it.

Back to the topic, being shut-in the house when you don't want to be, got no-one to meet-up with, and got no-where to go to drop-in to that doesn't require a pre-existing friend group.
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Old 01-05-2017, 08:03 PM
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social contact is a human need just like food water or shelter , I too struggle with lonely periods , But there is surf due tomorrow and that helps
Surf, more importantly, people to meet-up with to go surfing with? That sort of life' is just what I need, just what I need to stop me turning to drink. I'm assuming you have people to meet-up with to surf with? I live in a coastal town in England adn would love to get into any watersports like kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet-skii-ing. It's what to say when meeting people for the first time that scares me.
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Old 01-05-2017, 08:08 PM
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It took me decades to work out that it was ok just to be me.

Not everyone likes me but lot of people seem to....I think a large part of that comes from being secure with who you are.

If you're at a loss as to what to talk about, ask people questions about themselves, their boards, where they surf etc.

Talking about yourself is pretty safe conversational ground for most people.
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Old 01-06-2017, 03:23 AM
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Originally Posted by vulcan30 View Post
I'm not in favour of being seen as an alcoholic and making that my identity, I see myself as a social drinker.
That description of a social drinker seems at odd with your description of social anxiety, social isolation, and being trapped and shut-in your house. Sounds like you are drinking to cope. What's social in that?

The only qualification for AA is the desire to quit drinking. If you go, look for the similarities , not the differences, between you and other drinkers.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:28 AM
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Hey Vulcan

I'm not preaching here but try and put away the alcohol first and deal with social stuff after ......... In the midst of my addiction I would be having panic attacks going to the off license at night time , SCARED !

You live near a coastal town ?, that's great , check out outdoor options

The majority of conversations with fellow Surfers are just small talk , .. the waves , the weather , did you have a good session blah blah blah but occasionally there is a connection , loads of pricks out there too.

You're mostly alone out there which is the best part , getting back to yourself , a therapist once told me once you find yourself you wont be alone
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Old 01-06-2017, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by vulcan30 View Post
RE AA meetings

They can almost certainly give you people to talk to and social contact and I do not discount that. My worry that stops me attending is the thought of having to publicly admit the reasons why I'm drinking. There's also the worry about people trying to lecture me rather than listen. I'm not in favour of being seen as an alcoholic and making that my identity, I see myself as a social drinker. I'm willing to give it a go, I'm open to the idea that it might not be as humiliating as I think it will be. I've never tried it.

Back to the topic, being shut-in the house when you don't want to be, got no-one to meet-up with, and got no-where to go to drop-in to that doesn't require a pre-existing friend group.
No one will force you to do anything in AA, you can simply show up and just listen. You also might want to go to a therapist that can help, also sites like meetup have activities you can choose from as well to meet new people.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:47 PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies, I do appreciate every one of them.
That description of a social drinker seems at odd with your description of social anxiety, social isolation, and being trapped and shut-in your house. Sounds like you are drinking to cope. What's social in that?
The drinking alone is the problem, drinking in company down the pub is not the problem. The only reason I said that was born out of fear of giving-up the odd night out. I'm spending too much time in the house for my own good. It's not having people to meet-up with and being forced to stay-in due to having no choice that triggers the desire to drink (unless you consider going out alone a viable alternative choice).

The majority of conversations with fellow Surfers are just small talk , .. the waves , the weather , did you have a good session blah blah blah but occasionally there is a connection , loads of pricks out there too.

You're mostly alone out there which is the best part , getting back to yourself , a therapist once told me once you find yourself you wont be alone
Doing any activity like that is great, there's less pressure to be engaged in conversation all the time. Even if you do things like that and don't talk to anyone, it's still better than not being surrounded by people at all.

The worst part for me is the evenings. Sometimes the desire for alcohol can be greater when I've had a productive day, or when I've done something social, but the long, lonely evening engulfs me like a cloak. It can feel like an eternity. Maybe I should have titled the thread something like 'loneliness in the evenings' since that's what I was meaning to get at.
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