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Things I consider when I consider drinking

Old 04-10-2018, 02:51 PM
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Things I consider when I consider drinking

My CBT therapist helped me isolate the thought processes I go through around drinking. These thoughts differ in two ways; sometimes I feel low or anxious and consider drinking to medicate. Sometimes I just want to drink and there is a trigger- an airport, a certain circumstance like a cosy looking pub with a fire. So I'll deal with the two thought processes separately, even though they are similar.

Anxiety/Low mood- If I have two drinks, I'll feel better. This is called frustration tolerance- I can actually put up with feeling this way. There is no good reason for me NOT to feel this way. In the meantime, I will carry on with what I should be doing as best I can until this feeling passes. And I have sufficient evidence that it will pass, as it has always passed before. I also have sufficient evidence to suggest having a drink or two is not going to work for me- I have done this many times in the past and found it too difficult to stop after just two drinks. So then I have the original bad feeling coupled with the shame, the hangover and extra anxiety around what I may have said or done.

Trigger- Things are good. It would be nice to have a couple of drinks and then stop. But I have plenty of evidence to suggest I will struggle to stop after a couple and I will then spend a week trying to regain my equilibrium, a week of pain, shame and loss of self respect.

Now, thankfully I don't have to have these internal monologues very often, but when I do, generally once I follow the right steps, ie, think the correct thoughts, I'm ok.

I'd be interested to hear of other people's thought processes.
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:27 PM
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Great and timely post for me Eric!! Today I was really thinking about drinking. (Hey that rhymes!!) Tuesdays are a tough day for me. It always a long day at work. I work at a food pantry and Tuesday is our distribution day. By the end of the day I am pretty shot. I guess I feel like "I deserve" a drink at the end of the day, or more likely the better part of a bottle of rum!

I combated it today by just stopping, taking a deep breath and considering the options. I could have a drink or two. The buzz would feel nice and relaxing. However, experience shows me that I probably wouldn't be satisfied with that. I would continue trying to chase a feeling that I was never going to get no matter how much I drank. I would physically feel like crap in the morning and emotionally feel disappointed with myself. I also purposefully schedule my appointment with my therapist for Wednesday so I have someone to be somewhat accountable to.

Fridays can also be a problem. I don't have to work the next day, so the physical problems aren't such a big deal. However on the weekends that I go visit my son, I don't even really think about it or even miss it. This tells me that with the right kind of thinking I can control it.

I am a binge by myself drinker. I can easily drink socially without going out of control. However, I am choosing not to drink at all. While I will not go out of control drinking socially, what it does do is somehow give me a feeling of permission that maybe it is OK to binge once and awhile. Even if this is true it is still having an overall negative effect on my life. I have piled up enough negativity in my life, I don't want anymore! I want and need positive things in my life now and I can't see any logical way that drinking gives me that.

That is some of the thought process that I go through. I have not had to deal with this while going through a manic episode yet. Being bi-polar, I know that this will someday come. I hope when that day does arrive that I have this though process ingrained enough in my head that it will be more automatic. As it stands now, I still have to think it through.

Hope that provides some insight. Thanks for the interesting and helpful post!!
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:46 PM
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I guess I never had much success logically analyzing the situations where I felt triggered, at least not in the moment. What worked better for me was to disengage as much as possible - leave the room, take a different driving route, change the channel or station or CD, go for a walk, call someone, whatever it took to get my mind off the notion that I wanted to drink or could ever consider giving myself permission to do so. The feelings always went away, and afterwards I could think about what triggered those feelings.

Sometimes it was simple obvious things, smells and tastes, but usually it was more complicated, patterns of behavior that I used to follow as a drinker, that triggered me like Pavlov's dog if I followed them in sobriety. Once I figured that out, I could avoid those patterns in the future, at least in the immediate future. Eventually, it didn't matter, and nothing triggered me anymore, but it took me a long while, a couple years, to get there.
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:18 PM
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We did exercises like this a lot in outpatient rehab.

I'd add a few things.

When feeling anxiety/low mood, what thoughts, activities, etc. have you experienced that calmed you down and/or elevated your mood other than two drinks?

Get behind the feeling. What caused you to feel low or anxious? What were you doing at the time? What were you thinking about? How does that relate to times in the past that you felt anxious or in a low mood state? Is there a pattern?

For both states, is there anything you're feeling in your body that can signal either sort of craving?

Anxiety for me feels fluttery in the stomach. Depression feels heavy in the shoulders. If I encounter an old trigger, I notice my mouth waters in anticipation of the drink (Pavlovian?) and I feel an almost physical pushing in the middle of my back towards the stimulus.

There's also the "this would be so much more fun better if I were" fill in the substance. This shindig is a bit boring and I feel a bit anxious, I'd be the life of the party if I had a drink or two (reality is I'd have more and end up making a drunken ass of myself). This date is awkward, I could move things along to something physical if I had a cocktail (again, more likely ending up with me making a fool of myself or having sex that I'd later regret). Same example as the last...except make it a line of coke. This rave would be so much better if I were rolling balls. (I got nothing for that one). All of those are examples of cognitive distortions.
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Old 05-01-2018, 07:35 PM
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This is great stuff... I think the main thing I try to think about is how I benefit from having that drink or two... then it occurs to me that:

a) It doesn't quench my thirst (makes it worse)
b) It doesn't help me sleep (makes it worse)
c) It doesn't help my anxiety (makes it worse)
d) Will likely cause a slow, gradual regression to my prior drinking habits
e) Every subsequent drink increases the urge to have another one, causing a vicious circle
f) Costs a lot of money
g) Results in the consumption of empty calories
h) Causes long term health issues
i) Causes regret.
j) Doesn't taste good.

... and I can go on and on and on.

If I did a pros and cons list of why I should drink, the pro side would have "temporary relief and satisfaction" and the con side would be about 50 items long.

Doesn't seem like a good trade-off
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