It has been suggested to me twice that I join a 12-step organization such as Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is a wonderful program that has helped many people maintain sobriety. However, I do not believe that is a path I personally must follow. I do not believe I have a disease. What I do have is a poor relationship with alcohol.
I have vivid memories of being in high school at the social activities, dances, sporting events, and watching the “popular” kids have more fun than anyone at these events. Why? Because they were drunk. I was not secure enough within myself to do my own thing. I wanted desperately to fit in, to be part of the in crowd. So I made I pact with myself and my best friend at the time that I would never show up to another school function without being drunk. To my mind, that was the road to popularity.
Unfortunately, it worked.
Forever after, I associated alcohol with popularity, beauty, fun, everything good in life. I went from being a wall flower to a cheerleader almost overnight because I was now a party girl, accepted.
Associations such as these are difficult to break. But just as I made the conscious decision to drink, I can make the conscious decision not to drink. Without any help.
I have read that to achieve successful, long-term sobriety, I must change my habits, the places I frequent, even the friends I choose to socialize with. I understand the mindset behind that because when those activities involve drinking, which in my case they do, it can be difficult to not succumb to pressure and old habits.
I have not made any of those changes. I will not give up my friends. They are important to me. They’ve been there for me through thick and thin, and while they might not understand or agree with my decision, they do support it.
In the world of psychology, it is human nature to continue to do things, even harmful things, if they are in some way providing a benefit to us. Reward is a powerful motivator. We work because we are rewarded with a paycheck. We diet because we are rewarded with a lower number on the scale. And I am rewarded every morning when I wake up with a clear head, knowing I stuck to the commitment I made to myself, I feel strong, confident and in control…and that is a very powerful motivator.