Category Archives: Why you drink and How to stop – Book

Choosing to live your truth

Image courtesy of sritangphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sritangphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The most profound thing that happened to me when I first got sober was the discovery that I hadn’t been ‘living my truth’. I realised that each of us has a ‘truth’ deep inside us. It is the essence of who we are. It determines the choices we make and how we express ourselves. To my horror I realised I had become a ‘fake’ person. I made choices based on other people’s approval, not my own. I expressed opinions I thought other people would want to hear, regardless of whether I believed them or not. I had lost my path. I saw how this was tied into my drinking, how alcohol numbed the understanding of what I was doing (because deep down I knew). So I saw for the first time that I had to begin to be true to myself if I wanted to overcome drinking.


Living your truth is hard.

Not living your truth is harder.
Make your choice.
Only one of these choices leads to completeness, peace and joy, to freedom, whilst the other leads to darkness and despair.
I realised I had a choice in how I lived. Up until then I had no idea that I had a choice or could control the direction of my life, but I saw that every time I chose to do or say something that was incongruent with who I was, then I was choosing not to live my truth.
I had lost myself.
Who I had become was not my truth.
That’s why I hurt so much.
That’s why I had to anaesthetise the hurt.
That’s why I drank.

The emperor who wore no clothes
I was the emperor with no clothes, pretending that I wasn’t naked, surrounded by people who colluded in my self-deception. Everything was superficial and false.
I didn’t know how to communicate with anyone; I had never learnt about my ‘inside world’ and how much this mattered, how much it impacted on my outside world.
Nobody had ever told me about how to deal with my feelings, how to be true to myself, how to act with integrity. It’s only after years of personal development and seeking answers that I have finally found what I have been looking for: that my external world is a reflection of my internal world; if I take care of that, then everything else will be OK.
This is the world’s best kept secret.
Just think how different our lives would be if we were all true to ourselves. If we didn’t feel ashamed, embarrassed or confused about how we felt. Imagine what it would be like if we were all so much more authentic.
The Emperor’s New Clothes is a parable that teaches children that pride comes before a fall. Pride is bound up with what we think other people think about us. It trips us up when we place an emphasis on being happy through influencing and manipulating other people’s opinion of us. If we get trapped in this illusion then we become victims of self-delusion, like the emperor.

Alcohol steals our authenticity
There’s something about alcohol abuse that steals our authenticity, that erodes our integrity and keeps us hypnotised by all the promises it fails to deliver. It promises us joy, companionship, connection, love, popularity, fun, excitement, but when we receive those much sought after gifts they are hollow, without worth, an empty promise, an illusion created by our own longing for it to be so.
Like the emperor’s new clothes, it’s a trick, a falsehood, a lie that we are all willingly buying into again and again, because it’s not the fine clothes or alcohol that we actually seek, it’s the feelings we think they will bring us.
It’s the feelings we are chasing. We want to change how we feel.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
2013 How to Stop thumbnail 130x160
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Alcoholism – understanding what the problem is and isn’t

In order to understand what the solution to alcoholism we have to clearly understand what the problem is and isn’t.
Clients come to me because they have a problem. Usually the problem is that they don’t feel good and they will have lots of reasons why that is. Often they focus on their work situation, or relationship, or lack of money, or people just not doing what they should be doing. If only all these things would change then they would feel OK – surely?

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Afraid not.

It’s not the outside world that needs to change – it’s you and only you. The way it works is this: if I am OK, the world is OK. It doesn’t work the other way round. Tough?

Let me be crystal clear here. The problem isn’t your:
• Circumstances
• Relationship
• Weight
• Job
• Friends
• Lack of money
• Parents
• Children
• Or anything else outside of yourself.

The problem is how you deal with these issues, how you see them and how you react to them.
A common mistake is to believe that the problem is where you’re living or working and that, if you change that situation, then everything will be OK; this is called ‘doing a geographical’. Clients commonly tell me they’re thinking of completely changing their circumstances because they’re stuck and in a rut. All you achieve by doing this is to take yourself with you.

Wherever you go, there you are, no matter how fast or how far you run or whatever externals you change.

Because you take yourself with you – the same thinking, the same way of seeing the world – then inevitably you will get the same consequences.
Lifestyle changes might work for a short period of time, but inevitably the person just reverts to type, creating the same problems and the same unsatisfactory experiences wherever they go, whatever they do. They have made changes, but they haven’t progressed.

Because alcoholism is so misunderstood, most people don’t focus on their drinking as being the problem. I’ve had clients who visited doctors and alcohol professionals and who were told that they didn’t drink enough to have a problem! Many professionals look at the external factors and make evaluations based on these. Some alcoholics, who have had years of problem drinking, are still being convinced they can ‘learn’ how to drink half a bottle of wine instead of the whole bottle.
This is the delusion of alcoholism.

So it’s time to stop blaming everything around you and start taking responsibility for how your life has turned out. The first step to take is actually to stop drinking: complete total sobriety – no alcohol whatsoever.
When you have finally made the immensely important and brave decision, you need to get some help.
Remember three things here:
• It’s a brave person who asks for help, not a weak one.
• Doing things your way hasn’t worked.
• Get help. It’s important to get the help that is right for you, and to understand the significance of not doing this on your own.

There comes a point when we can’t trust our own thinking or perspective on our condition, so we need other people to help us. This is the case for everyone. Sometimes we just can’t see a way out of the forest, so we need a guide. I think every client who has ever come to see me has tried unsuccessfully (sometimes for years) to manage things on their own, and failed miserably. You need to seek experienced and/or professional help in order to get sober and stay sober.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Soul Work

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


When we get sober we constantly hear that we have to ‘work on ourselves.’ But what does that even mean? I really believe that getting sober and staying sober means we have to work on our ‘insides.’ We have to go inside and start healing the darkness that led to our drinking. So I wanted to give you an exercise in ‘soul work.’

We can live a lifetime without knowing who we really are. That is a tragedy. This is particularly true of alcoholics. The purpose of this exercise is to begin to dig deeper, to start the discovery process. It is designed to get you asking profound questions of yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. A very good principle my counselling tutor taught me was to ‘observe yourself with curiosity, not judgement’. This is what I would like to invite you to begin to do.
All the answers to the following questions will come from within. You will know the answers. You always have, you just didn’t listen. Now is the time to practise real self-honesty, to listen to that voice inside you, and to trust what it says.

1) What lights up my soul and brings me joy? It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant, just list everything or everyone that makes your soul light up (eg some particular music, a certain place or person).

2) What are my secret fears? Again, it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant, just begin to identify and list all the things you have kept hidden that frighten you (eg rejection, the dark…).

3) Who would I be if I were free from these fears? Just try to imagine what kind of person you would be if you didn’t have these fears, if they were removed. What would you do?

4) What is the best thing about me? Don’t say ‘nothing’! Most people find it hard to say anything positive about themselves. Alcoholics are no different. But there is something: maybe you have a great laugh, or are kind to strangers. Don’t be shy. Think back and identify the parts of yourself you do like.

5) In my last days, as I look back over my life, what do I want it to have been about? This is a very powerful question, so take time to think it over, no matter how old you are or what your life is like at this precise moment. The future is ahead of you. It has yet to be determined. You have time to remake it into what you want. So imagine now what you want that to be about.

These are powerful questions and you may feel you don’t know the answers to them, or, the answers you do get may even frighten you. Please don’t panic. You don’t have to change your whole life in the next 24 hours. All you have to do is awaken and understand that this is a journey that will take the rest of your life and can start today.

It starts with knowing, really knowing yourself. By starting this process you are also on the path to self-acceptance. We are not looking for perfection here. What we are doing is trying to be the best version of ourselves we are capable of being. That means accepting our humanness, embracing our imperfections, and accepting that we are just works in progress. You are neither good nor bad. As alcoholics, we may in the past have behaved badly, but that does not mean we, ourselves, are bad. As we move forward, we have to take responsibility for our behaviour, good and bad, whether it was under the influence of alcoholism or not. We also have to forgive ourselves and begin learning from the way we feel and how we behave. This is growth. Spiritual growth.

Why I drank

I tried to drink like ‘other people’ because they looked ‘normal’ to me. Other people drank and they were fine; I could tell. I would judge them by how they looked on the outside and I wanted to be like that.

Veronica Valli

Veronica Valli


Something inside me was different and it wasn’t fine. Which is why I had to lie to myself – a big fat lie that ate me up and that I had to keep telling myself, because it kept a lid on the horror. I had to lie about what I was doing to myself. I had to lie about how I really felt. I had to lie about who I was. I had to lie because I was terrified of the horror inside me being exposed.
This may only make sense to someone who has had a problem with drink or any other mood or mind-altering substance. Or it may make sense to you if you have lived a life of desperate compromise and unfulfilled promise.

Do you understand?
Have you got secrets inside you?
Do you have to lie too?

Do you know what it’s like to live with such a denial of your truth that you wake up every morning in despair and feel like your soul is lying on the floor next to you and you have no idea how you are supposed to make it through the day, let alone through life?
I just couldn’t figure out how everyone else lived. How were they doing life? How come it was so easy for them?

I know I was born this way. I never felt right. I always felt that I was looking at you through a glass screen. I was on one side, alone, and everyone else was on the other side.
I’ve always felt wrong. I would measure myself up against people. I would always come up lacking, so I’d just try harder to be like them. I wanted my insides to feel like their outsides looked. So I drank and drank. I didn’t know there was another way to live this life.
And for a while, the burning pain inside me stopped because alcohol numbed everything. However, it took me further and further away from my truth; from who I was and could be.
Alcohol wasn’t killing me. Alcohol was holding me together.
I spent twelve years drinking and self-destructing. I still had a job and a place to live, but I felt like my insides were going black and I had no way of changing that. I kept drinking because it took away the pain. I couldn’t even begin to describe my internal experience to anyone else; it hardly made sense to me. In reality, the drink worked for me for two years, then it stopped working and I began to feel even worse than I had before I started drinking.

I slowly began to die on the inside.

Anyone who has ever had a drink or drug problem or has suffered from depression will understand what that feels like. And it wasn’t just the drink, drugs and nameless men I slept with that were killing me, it was the lies I had to tell myself.
I seemed to have this default programme that was set on misery and denial.
One of the earliest memories I have is of being maybe five or six and lying perfectly still on the bathroom floor, hoping the ‘wrongness’ in my head would go away. I thought that if lay perfectly still then everything would just stop. If I didn’t move, I couldn’t feel, and if I didn’t feel it couldn’t hurt. I wanted to stop ‘being’; I didn’t want to exist in the way that I was.
It was a very existential moment for a six year-old. I was totally, totally aware of my aloneness and my difference and it was more than I could bear in my tiny heart; I wasn’t strong enough to carry that load and I had no one to turn to for help with it. Most adults don’t admit to the emptiness that prevails in their own hearts, how could anyone cope with a child who was lost in hers? I saw it in my mother’s eyes once, when she caught me lying on the bathroom floor, just staring. I saw that flicker of recognition deep in her eyes that immediately got buried under the sheer fear of acknowledging it.
The absolute unbearableness of being.
I know she saw it but was powerless to articulate it. What words can illustrate that dark ache that vibrates deep inside someone? I saw also the fright that a mother would feel when she saw her child behaving in that odd way, a terror of seeing a child’s insides so nakedly exposed, and the darkness within them.

There isn’t really a particular moment when you realise you’re different from other people around you, it’s more of a series of realisations that happen slowly over a period of time, accompanied by a slow creeping feeling of fear that the last thing you can ever do is reveal what is inside you to any one else.
I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that it frightened me to think that someone else might see this. I have no idea why I felt like this; it was as though I was born with this irrational fear of anyone else seeing who I really was. I was petrified of it.
There was a point, when I was a child, when I believed anything was possible. I may have only just been at the beginning of living a life in fear; paradoxically, I still had fearlessness. I believed I could be anything. The world was there for me to fulfil my dreams in. When I said I wanted to become a doctor, a vet, an astronaut, a movie star, be somebody, do something when I grew up, I really believed that I could.
And then as time went on, fear overtook me and I forgot what I was capable of. I withdrew inside myself, ignored my dreams, my hopes, my passions, and compromised myself. I settled for less than second best and rationalised that this was reality. I became someone I didn’t recognise.
Deep in my heart, in my truest self, in my soul, I knew I wasn’t living the life I was meant to be living; I knew I wasn’t the person I was meant to be; I knew I was lying to myself, but I had to keep lying in order to keep doing what I was doing to myself.
The first lie was like a thin layer of tissue paper laid over my spirit (my inner voice) – no big deal, it just makes the voice a little less insistent. But then I told myself another lie. Another layer of tissue was laid over that voice to muffle it a little more, and so it goes on.
The first feeling I ever had was of being wrong, different, uncomfortable; my whole life experience prior to getting sober was how painful life could be. I knew something was very wrong with me; the way I felt was too terrible to try to articulate to another person, it was so arbitrary and intangible. I couldn’t begin to put it into words.

Veronica Valli

Veronica Valli


My fear crippled me. I lived in blind terror every day. Everything was frightening for me. Other people terrified me. I felt so worthless in their eyes and was sure they would see any minute what a despicable human being I was and discard me. At any given time I couldn’t really explain what I was frightened of. I just knew that I was scared. It ate me up inside. I would try and act as if it wasn’t there, try to ignore it, but it would come back stronger.
Some days it felt like I could barely breathe because the fear was crushing me. It made me feel sick. I struggled to find different ways to cope with it. Drink, of course, numbed it briefly. I tried to ask for help, but I couldn’t find the words that would make someone take me seriously. I wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to pick me up and put me in a nice padded room and tell me I would never have to worry about anything ever again. I wanted to go mad, but I was too frightened to, so I just stayed in this perpetual state of unqualified fear.

I had always felt so wrong inside, so empty and broken, that these feelings were normal for me; I had nothing to compare them with. I had never experienced real contentment or peace. I didn’t know what it was like to like myself, let alone to love myself.
And yet, when I began this journey of spiritual awakening and I took responsibility to peel off the layers that kept me trapped, something incredible happened. It was very subtle. I almost didn’t notice that anything had changed, but one day I realised I no longer felt ‘wrong’. The feelings of ‘wrongness’ had just gone, evaporated. After that I understood that it was ridiculous to believe that I was revolting or disgusting; I realised I was just an ordinary human being. I was OK. I no longer hated myself.

Something felt very different inside. I felt lighter, freer, unburdened. I just did the work and the results followed. I liked the results, so I kept doing the work and I’ve never stopped, because every day I seem to grow a little more, and finally I realised I loved myself.
How was this possible, I thought? For thirty years I had felt so totally wrong, and then in the space of a few months my thinking and belief systems had undergone profound and radical change.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Why you drink and How to stop

Forgive me. Laura Stamps wrote such a wonderful review of my book I had to share it here. Laura is a healthcare copywriter and the Staff Editor of “Stop Frying Your Brian,” a funky, informational, addiction/recovery website covering all addictions and codependency issues. ‘Stop frying your brain’ is an awesome addiction website with tons of great articles and information of addiction in recovery. It’s also funny and sassy too – which I totally love.
Anyway here’s the review:


What an amazing book! I say this for two reasons.

First, Veronica Valli is a recovering alcoholic and an addictions therapist. She has written a handbook so comprehensive it might be the only book an alcoholic needs. It covers every aspect of alcoholism from denial to acceptance, as well as how to stop drinking and where to go from there. If you’re looking for a roadmap to recovery that includes most of the valleys and mountaintops you might encounter along the way, you’ll love this book.

Second, it is unique in its approach to “dual diagnosis.” Alcoholism generally isn’t the primary “problem.” It’s a quick fix for an underlying mental or emotional issue. To be successful in recovery you must address this issue.

Valli calls it a “spiritual” issue. Spiritual in this book doesn’t mean religious. She’s referring to the connection with your spirit, the real you. Valli explains the link between alcoholism and spiritual imbalance like this:

“Alcoholism can be described as a spiritual disjunction, which alcoholics try to fix by rearranging their outside circumstances. The result of this behavior is that alcoholics forget who they really are.” (page 19)

“In order to overcome alcoholism, stopping the drinking of alcohol simply isn’t enough. Alcoholism is an internal (spiritual) illness. Drinking is only a symptom. Alcoholism’s key motivator is about changing how you feel.” (page 20)

Valli says the most profound thing that happened to her when she began the recovery process was the realization that she hadn’t been “living her truth.” She’d become what she calls a “fake person,” meaning she had made all her choices in life based on other people’s approval. This revelation horrified her and made her more determined than ever to confront the fear that had kept her from living authentically.

“Fear is the engine that drives alcoholism. However, there’s something about alcoholic thinking that twists all our emotions and makes the unpleasant ones dominant in us. We seem to take fear to a whole new level, much more than ordinary people do.” (page 35-41)

“There is no recovery from alcoholism without spiritual growth. Spirituality can be viewed as a way of having a healthy relationship with yourself, one that is based on self-love, self-esteem, and integrity. Addiction is defined by disconnection from self and everything and everyone around you.” (page 79)

The goal of this book is to bring the reader from fear to a sense of wholeness, from spiritual disjunction to fully functioning. Valli says sooner or later you have to stop running from your true self and discover the “real” you, which is more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

The good news is you’re not alone. You’ll find 151 pages of step-by-step instruction in this handbook. As an added bonus, each chapter is filled with the stories and struggles of others who have walked before you.

If you’d like to not only recover from alcoholism but also become the best you can be, look no further. This is it.
by Laura Stamps

Audio book

whyyoudrink
I’m thrilled to announce ‘Why you drink and How to stop’ is now available as an audio book. I have 10 free copies to give away to my blog readers in exchange for a brief review on the Audible site.
You can also download it from iTunes and Amazon. If you would like a free copy then please send me a message through my contact page and I will send you a coupon.
Looking forward to hearing what you think!
Veronica

What is abstinence?

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Abstinence from alcohol means not drinking at all. Ever. In any circumstances. For any reason. Yep, not even at Christmas or on birthdays.
Yes, I know, if you are only contemplating quitting drinking at this point then you may have just run screaming from the room. Because the thought of not drinking ever is probably the most terrifying thing you have ever heard. It can feel that way at the beginning. It does get easier, then it becomes normal, and then the very thought of drinking becomes revolting.
It is therefore important we explore this subject and what it means. It has been well established in the private treatment sector that recovery from alcoholism requires one to be abstinent. One of the defining characteristics of alcoholism is a loss of control over when, how much, and for how long you drink. Of course every alcoholic wants to believe that he or she will be the one who can learn to drink ‘normally’ again.
If, at this point, you still feel that your problem with alcohol is not that serious and abstinence seems too drastic, then I would suggest you experiment with ‘controlled drinking’, which means this: decide how much you are going to drink and how frequently, and then see if you can stick to it. Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. If you find you are able to control your drinking without any thought or problem, then well done. If not, then don’t despair, there is a solution and it’s not the end of the world.
As discussed in previous chapters, drinking is ubiquitous in western culture. Our social and recreation time is built around it and it is hugely prominent in celebrations and for marking occasions. Alcohol is everywhere. It is encouraged and celebrated. So giving up alcohol can seem to be quite a challenge at first.
Abstinence from alcohol is unfortunately seen as a radical thing to do in many quarters. In fact, people often seem scared of it and see it as a last resort. There is an implication that living a life of abstinence could be so bad that anything would be better than that! If this is the case for you, then alcohol has become an obsession. Think about it. What is something else you really like? For me, it’s shellfish. If I was told, for health reasons, I could never eat these again, I wouldn’t necessarily be best pleased, but it wouldn’t preoccupy my thoughts. I would just stop eating them.
Well it’s the same with alcohol; if you suffer uselessness, belligerence, apathy, recklessness or depression because of taking alcohol, then you should stop drinking alcohol as it is clearly interfering with your ability to live fully.
I have a dear friend who has been sober for over twenty years, who tells me that when he was drinking, his wife would despair of him, threaten to leave, threaten to throw him out, beg him to stop drinking; she cried and ranted and raved at how much misery his drinking was causing the family. When he finally admitted he had a problem and wanted to stop drinking altogether his wife replied, “That’s a bit drastic isn’t it?”.
What we have is a misconception regarding abstinence; we believe it will be dreadful.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
When your body and mind are free from chemicals and you are doing the necessary work to recover your mind, body and soul from the tyranny of alcoholism, then you can enter into a way of life that can be better than anything you could have imagined before.


This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
Available on Amazon

Fear is the engine that drives alcoholism Part 2

Fear is such an unpleasant emotion that we want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. So we tend to choose whatever solution works the fastest. We often make the big mistake of choosing something that is ultimately destructive. However, because our need is immediate, we are unable to consider long-term consequences: if we are frightened, we want it to end NOW!

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Here are some common methods of dealing with fear:
Drinking alcohol.
• Taking drugs.
• Cigarettes.
• Overeating.
• Gambling.
• Moving jobs/house.
• Watching TV excessively.
• Meaningless sex.
• Risk taking.
• Inappropriate relationships.
• Ignoring facts.
• Doing anything not to be alone.
• Complete denial.
• Getting angry.

The truth is that we will never be free from fear. As long as we continue to grow we will experience fear. However, what we can change is how we deal with it so that it no longer disables us.
Susan Jeffers, in her book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, discusses how fear is a natural accompaniment to growth and therefore cannot be avoided. From the day we are born, we are growing and seeking new experiences, with those new experiences comes fear. Again, It is the management of that fear that is key.

For some of us, our first day of school was frightening. It was the unknown, after all, and the unknown can be frightening. We are leaving the comfort of what we know and are stepping into a world we know nothing about. We don’t know what to expect and that frightens us.
I remember sobbing to my mother the night before I went to high school when I was eleven. I was terrified and overwhelmed. It was a big change and it felt like a world I wasn’t ready for. I was frightened up until lunchtime on my first day and then it just became normal. I had pushed through the fear; it was the natural accompaniment to a new experience.

Some of us are frightened on our first day of a new job. Others can just take it in their stride. Learning to drive, doing a presentation at work, meeting strangers at a party, letting someone down, saying no, all these things are frightening to a lesser or greater degree to different kinds of people. We learn to cope with the situations as best we can, and as we get older and have more life experience these things become easier.

Fear can manifest itself in many ways, and in relation to alcoholism I am referring mostly to the hidden fears: the ones that no one ever really talks about – because they’re scared to. These are the disabling, all encompassing fears that drive a person to seek relief in drink.
When a person’s drinking is progressing, it is the fear of how they are going to be able to deal with their fears that makes the thought of giving up drinking so hard. They usually haven’t ever told anyone how they feel because it’s almost impossible to put into words. But they are terrified, even when they know alcohol is destroying their lives; they are terrified of how they are going to deal with life without its support. They believe that alcohol is the only thing that is helping them deal with their fear.

Understanding this, and supporting the alcoholic to find new ways to deal with their fears, is an essential component to recovery from alcoholism. I believe that if the alcoholic doesn’t find a better way to manage fear then they will either return to drinking or simply replace alcohol with another substance or unhealthy behaviour.
Fear is simply too overwhelming to ignore.

You can read the first part of this post here.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
2013 How to Stop thumbnail 130x160
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Fear is the engine that drives alcoholism – Part 1

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Fear is a universal experience. Everybody feels fear. Very few of us talk about it.
If we do it’s at a superficial level. People rarely open up about what they’re really scared about, which is extraordinary, because we’re all scared of more or less the same things:
Rejection.
• Being vulnerable.
• Loneliness.
• Other people.
• Not being good enough.
• Not being loved.
• Speaking in public.
• What other people think of us.
• Someone seeing who we really are.
• Failure.
• Success.
• People laughing at us.
• Looking stupid.
• And – other people finding out we’re frightened!

How many did you recognise?
There are, of course, many more, but this is an example of the core fears most people have to some degree, but are least able to speak about. I would boil these fears down two dominant ones:
I’m not good enough, and therefore,
• I won’t be loved.

It is my belief, and professional experience, that these two fears exist inside everyone at some point. It is part of the human experience.
It also seems to me that potential alcoholics are the least equipped to deal with these fears. Dealing with our deepest fears is something we can learn to do at any point in our lives. Some people can deal with them very easily. Others develop healthy or unhealthy coping strategies. As a last resort, alcohol and drugs will just temporarily block out any fears of not being good enough or not being loved.

What is also true is that fears can be imagined and irrational. However, this doesn’t make the experience of them feel any less real. A child can be scared of monsters under the bed. We can tell them to not be silly, we can show them there is nothing under their bed, but once that irrational fear takes hold, it can be hard to let it go.
When dealing with an alcoholic’s irrational or imagined fears, it’s no good telling them to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘get over it,’ or, ‘not to be so silly’. In fact, it is almost irrelevant what the fear is, what is important is the way that fear is managed, not what the fear actually is. So the alcoholic has to find a healthy way of dealing with the fears that are part of the human experience.

Fear becomes the default setting for an alcoholic. They live in fear constantly, are frightened of the world and are constantly trying to find ways of dealing with the fear. In order to understand alcoholism, we must understand how alcoholics react to fear and how it can come to dominate their lives. (Part 2 of this post on fear next week).

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
2013 How to Stop thumbnail 130x160
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

Why you drink and How to stop – now available on Kobo

I’m pleased to tell you that my book Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom’ is now available to buy as an ebbok at Kobo!

Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom

Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom