If Drug and Alcohol Use Is the Solution, Then What is the Problem?


Many people believe that drugs and alcohol have the capacity to provide short-term solutions to many of life’s problems. The difficulty of course, is that excess use of alcohol and drugs do not solve problems. They do offer temporary relief until they become the problem themselves, and for many lead to addiction and dependence.

I proposed the topic of what problems were trying to solved by the use of alcohol and drugs to a discussion group of people in addiction treatment. We generated a list of items: 

Reducing stress


Handling anxiety

Coping with depression

I simply like to drink  and drug.

My husband/wife – dysfunctional relationships

Low self-esteem


To fit in socially

Feeling sorry for myself

Handling pain (both physical and emotional)

The list went on and on, I’m sure you get the idea. One thing I believe to be a commonality among people with chemical dependency, or of users of drugs and alcohol, is a tendency to not know how to deal with life’s issues in a positive, not destructive way. Perhaps somewhere long the way the skills were just never learned. Another possibility is that the skills we learned in childhood were dysfunctional and we still use them as adults with little success.

There is a reality here to be considered. Life is life, there are good times and bad times, we become frustrated with ourselves, other people, places and things. I believe that one thing that absolutely must be done in recovery is to scratch off the option of returning to drug and alcohol use as a means of solving life’s problems.

How am I going to handle the death of loved one, the loss of a job, celebrating the birth of a new baby? I really don’t know, I’ll deal with it to the best of my ability when it happens. But one thing that is absolutely certain is that the option of returning to drug and alcohol use and abuse is no longer on the menu of options in my life.

That emotional and intellectual commitment to abstinence is only so much rhetoric if it is not backed by a plan of action. The intellectual decision to stop drinking is about 2 percent of the game. The other 98 percent involves having a concrete plan of recovery in growth in place, a relapse prevention plan, and an absolutely huge support network.


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