“Choice” presents a tricky concept for alcoholics. If alcoholism is a disease (as it’s recognized in the DSM V), can people who suffer be held accountable for their actions? Absolutely! With a caveat. No one denies that self-sabotage acts as a hallmark symptom of alcoholic behavior. But to address that problematic behavior effectively, alcoholics must dig a little deeper and understand the reasons they choose self-sabotage.
Poor Self Worth
Many alcoholics struggle with their inner perception of self. Usually rooted in childhood, there are many experiences that can grow into poor self worth in adulthood. This is especially true in the case of trauma and dysfunctional family dynamics.
Mirror Toward the Past: How Addiction Masks Low Self-Worth – Unpacked baggage from childhood wreaks havoc on our self-worth. Do you identify with any of these risk factors? If so, you may benefit from addiction therapy.
How to Increase Your Self-Esteem in Recovery – Inpatient rehab introduces methodologies for improving self-worth. It’s a process that must continue beyond treatment. Outpatient reinforces these important self-care routines.
Many of us are our own worst critics. For some people, that’s a positive thing. Internal constructive criticism drives us to improve ourselves and do better, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This constant stream of inner criticism causes us to question whether we are really qualified at work, school, among our peers, and even at home.
Impostor syndrome describes the deep internalized fear that you’re actually a fraud. That any accomplishments you’ve achieved were misplaced, and one day people will discover that you’re not actually qualified. It’s a misplaced, fear-driven psychological phenomenon that can drive self-sabotaging behaviors like self-medication with alcohol.
Need for Control
It seems paradoxical. How can a yearning for control make us give up that control to alcohol? Unfortunately, self-sabotaging decisions rarely root themselves in logic. Turning to alcohol as an answer to loss of control presents a cycle of destruction that can quickly spiral out of control.
Alcohol acts quickly. It temporarily numbs our fears. Unfortunately, it also leads to consequences that exacerbate our preexisting problems. And increases the need to turn to alcohol as an answer. This death spiral is all too familiar to the self-identified alcoholic who struggles with relapse. Turning to alcohol again and again presents a familiar path for those who seek control. Sometimes, orchestrating your own failure feels more secure and like you’re “in control” than taking unsure risks like the path to sobriety. After all, the risk of recovery holds the threat of relapse.
Seeking Comfort & Familiarity
This intense fear of the unknown constitutes its own reason for self-sabotage. As much as we like to think otherwise, humans are creatures of habit. We like routine and the feeling of familiarity. This predilection for things we already understand and know can work both for and against us. In the case of alcoholics, it typically does the latter.
We lull ourselves into stagnation by this pursuit of comfort and familiarity. But that tendency can work in our favor when we redirect ourselves into the path of sobriety. Or when our family encourages us to go down that path.
If we’re honest with ourselves, past wrongs committed by people we love and trust aren’t easily forgotten like our normal everyday problems. Betrayal seeps into the bones and carves a well of toxic thoughts and feelings. Those wrongs stick with us no matter how tightly we cling to our drug of choice. Comfortably numb, right? Unfortunately, substances have the opposite effect on long term peace of mind and actually keep us at the bottom of that toxic well. Alcohol and drugs lull the mind into a stupor so it can nurture an insidious companion: resentment.
When Alcoholics Tire of Self-Sabotage
This cycle of self-sabotage doesn’t have to go on forever. It only continues as long as you’re not sick and tired of being sick and tired. Usually, there comes a point where alcoholics realize that self-sabotage is not working for them. That there was a time in their life where they weren’t always seeking desperate answer to self-made problems. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
- Will I need to brink a flask to make it through this event?
- Can you smell the vodka in this bottle?
- Will my coworkers think it’s weird that I keep mouthwash at my desk?
- Where can I put these bottles so much significant other won’t find them this time?
If so, consider how much effort you’re putting into making something broken work. As the old adage is parroted time and time again in the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous…
“The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But there’s a reason these adages are repeated over and over. They work. That energy expended on self-sabotage would rebuild your life if funneled into a program instead. If you or a loved one is ready to seek help for a drinking problem, our addiction counselors are available 24/7: 855-737-7363