Alcohol And Self Medication: We’re So Shaken And Stirred…


I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while but I haven’t been sure what to say or how to write it. I received a comment today that was partly about drinking and other mental health issues. That encouraged me to finally do this.

So not being quite sure what to do, I went down to the pub after work and had a bit to drink. I know, you’re thinking ‘how ridiculous!’ Going out drinking, writing a post about self medicating and being mentally ill! There is a demonstrative point to my behaviour for the sake of my post, really.

Studies have been done for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous etc… for success and failure rates that are highly variable. The numbers are all over the map. The groups themselves say that everything is good and yes, you can respect that but again, you can look at the actual relapses that occur. I don’t want to throw a bunch of numbers at you that everyone can debate and I don’t want to argue.

Hell, a bunch of highly variable studies could probably be done to try and establish the success or failure rates of “Patient Anonymous” too, both for her blog and her! Also debatable. Also arguable.

So why did I go to the pub? To shed a little light on what’s going on in “The State of The Nation” with my self medication right now.

I’ve blogged about it before. How it’s been in the past (years ago–many years ago) the relatively recent past…and now? Why am I drinking now? Let’s start with tonight.

I came to sit, relax (oh, drinking always feels good…it tweaks those receptors!) I came to think and write.

At other times recently? I’ve been bored. I haven’t wanted to go home to an empty apartment. Do I feel lonely? I have no problem being alone. No, I don’t mind being on my own. But is it too much being on my own? Or is it too much boredom that leads to a feeling of restlessness that I just can’t handle?

Has it just become a habit? Well, that could be because of the boredom factor and feeling restless. If it’s a habit, does it mean it’s an addiction? I’ve never physically “craved” alcohol. But a habit…is that a psychological addiction?

My mood is fine these days. However, I can always find a “reason” to drink based upon my mood–up or down. If something is bothering me, let’s have a drink (or a few?) and think about it. If I’m happy; let’s celebrate!

At other points in my life? Oh, holy hell. Years ago, when either unmedicated or improperly medicated, I ran the gamut of mood swings. I drank to the hilt, no matter! From wild (hypo)mania, always trying to keep up and continually ride the thrill of the roller coaster or to the extreme depths of depression, always searching for some solution or relief from the intense emotional pain.

When I was released from hospital almost a year ago, I was a complete disaster. The few that were close to me at the time all felt that I was discharged too early. I agreed. I was extremely lonely after breaking up with ex-partner and moving out on my own after living with her for a little over two years. I couldn’t bear to be on my own. My meds weren’t suitably adjusted. I wasn’t fit for work and my routine and stability of that nature has always been so important for my mental health and sustainability.

My “routine” became going out to the pub and getting pissed drunk all the time?

Wow, the posts I’ve written on this blog about all of this too. I never created a category for all of them…drinking, alcohol, self medication… I was too embarrassed. And yet, I wrote about it anyway. Crap, sometimes I wrote about it all while I was completely wasted!

Well, it’s not an embarrassing subject. It needs to be discussed. Just like everything else I’ve blogged openly about.

So I will start a new category with this post here: “Self Medication.” Maybe when I get enough time I’ll be able to go back and re-categorize all the other ones I’ve written.

I have a song I would like to stream. However, it is very intense and painful from my perspective. I do think it really captures what alcoholism can be all about in one way at least–maybe several?

I am going to place a “Trigger Alert” on MP3 Of The Moment for this one. I have never done that before but yes, I think it may be necessary. I mean, if you guys thought it was bad when I streamed “My Sweet Prince” by Placebo? Well…this one trumps that.

Trigger Alert:

“The Bottle” by Colony 5

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  1. Talking about my problems with alcohol kind of feels embarrassing to me, too. My problems are different to yours. I don’t habitually drink, but when I do drink I tend to get dangerously wasted. But it feels embarassing because it’s meant to be other people who have problems with alcohol; I just get drunk occasionally. The fact that I have hours missing from my memory and have probably, on a few occasions, nearly hit the blood alcohol content where passed-out turns to coma, well that’s not a problem. It doesn’t happen that often, after all…

    This had been going on for a few years before I even realised that it could be thought of as problematic. It’s more about obliterating feelings, than anything else.

    It’s so much easier not to think about the consequences of this kind of stuff, whether it’s my infrequent binges or your daily routine. I realised a while ago that I just can’t trust myself to drink. I make dumb decisions when drinking, like having more drinks. And then I end up wondering what the hell I did last night. I’ve told a couple of people that I’m not drinking again. But whether I’ll be able to stick to it, I don’t know. All my friends drink; that’s pretty much what we do by default. Being the random tee-totaller doesn’t seem like a great role. And normally drinking’s not a problem, but there’s no way to tell when it will be before it is.

    Sorry, I’m rambling a bit. I can totally see why alcohol is such a problem for so many people who have other problems. It’s an ideal escape in every way, except for the ways that it’s absolutely not…

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  2. I’ve been in recovery, intermittently, since 1990. If I practice AA principles, I can and do stay sober. Sometimes, though, things get bad enough that I don’t want to practice those principles. Contrary to what some might say, the 12-steps don’t help with severe depression. They weren’t designed to. Sometimes I’ve felt like I just had to have some relief. Being an alcoholic/addict, I know all about getting relief.

    I know where you’re coming from. Today I’m in a place, emotionally, where it’s easy to stay sober. If I get miserable enough, though, all bets are off.

    Peace.

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  3. Hi chimpy. Yes, it does feel so embarrassing. There is stigma attached to so many things and for this, or any other problems with any other substance, people are labelled as “addicts.” People hear that and it’s like a dirty word.

    There is still a huge, ongoing debate as to whether this is an illness or not and it most definitely is an illness–it is not a character flaw! I mean, we’ve already had to face that with our mental “illnesses.” Do we now need to take this crap as well?

    My patterns/problems have been similar to yours, actually. They’ve changed over time. Perhaps another idea for a post on the subject? And yes, it is very easy to say…oh, well…not that often…oh, not the next time…we can come up with all sorts of excuses and it’s easy to forget (and I don’t mean blackouts) what we’ve done. I think it’s probably because we just want to forget! As you said, it’s so much easier not to think of the consequences.

    And please do not apologize for rambling! You most certainly are not! As always, everyone is encouraged to speak their mind and say whatever they want with no word limit! There is no admission charge here.

    Hi Rob N.. Welcome to my blog as I don’t believe I have seen you here. Thank you for coming by. Also, thank you for sharing.

    I agree that the AA principles/steps will not help you with any form of mental illness. I have also questioned their ability to help me with my problems with alcohol. I just don’t see them working for me–but that is just me.

    I too have had periods when I have stayed sober. Or simply imbibed to very small extents. They have basically been when I have had a relationship with someone who does not drink (or drink that much.) Looking back and thinking about my relationship history, though…? Well, perhaps those periods of staying relatively sober have been pretty brief.

    Take care,
    PA

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  4. Symbiosis

    Atleast you have alcohol.

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  5. Symbiosis

    Sorry that was inappropriate. Just one of those days.

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  6. Symbiosis – not sure why that’s inappropriate. Were it not for street drugs and booze, I’d have probably killed myself in the mid-80s. Over course they turned on me, but that’s another story.

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  7. Oh Symbiosis, my dear! You are never inappropriate here! Did you not see what I wrote to chimpy? Good grief, if anyone is inappropriate here, it is me *laughing*

    Oh, it’s good to see you, too–it’s been a while.

    Rob N. has a point–at least from his own perspective? It’s different for everyone.

    I mean, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the intake of alcohol for us–well, again–different for everyone. Some people just can’t deal with it at all. The problem is when things go a little too far with those of us who have mental health problems, may be on meds and we do get into the self medication realm.

    Well, that is kind of my personal approach. There are people out there that don’t necessarily have mental health problems and still battle addiction problems and that’s it.

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with “drowning your sorrows” a bit. Hell, everyone does that. Or even having a good time every once in a while. It’s just that if it starts to affect us in negative ways we’re really screwed.

    Perhaps, I sound like I’m making excuses. I don’t know. I don’t think so, though.

    Another point of discussion? Another post?

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  8. patientanonymous – I may tackle this at my blog. Of course I’ll link back here if and when I do. My problem is that I don’t want to give people an excuse to pick up. (Pick up is recovery lingo for relapse.) Maybe I’m being grandiose? To me, relapse is a better option than suicide, although it may actually be the same thing, depending on how one’s luck is running. Many in the recovery community would probably rather die than pick back up. It’s a thorny issue and one people are apt to feel very strongly about, one way or the other.

    Good topic though.

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  9. Hey Rob N., feel free to bring this all over to your pad–and thank you in advance for the PingBack if you do so. I would be honoured. Also, thanks for the “pick up/relapse” reference, with me not being part within the AA realm. I always like to learn new things.

    I don’t know if you are being “grandiose.” Merely stating your own opinion and thoughts? I mean, I said in my prior comment that I felt I was possibly making “excuses” to drink!

    I think that says, we’re all obviously a little fucked up about our drinking habits here, right? That may stem from perhaps some of the absolute disasters that may have happened to us when we’ve done it, how sick it has made us (either physically or emotionally) all of that sort of thing.

    I find your comment about going back to drinking better than suicide vs. others in recovery feeling the exact opposite interesting. Now, if you take that in a very real, literal sense…I’m sorry…I’m with you!

    Indeed, it may be a shite life you’re living if you’re still drinking but at least you are still alive! And if you are still alive, can you not have more chances to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try and stop again? I know…here we go with the whole damn argument–again…

    However, if you’re dead; you’re dead. For those of us with the head bugs going on, we have to deal with that already! That may be one of the reasons WHY we drink–we may bloody well be feeling suicidal! And that’s dangerous too because the drink could just make us pass out and then we wake up the next day still depressed? Or…uh-oh…too much and people start messing about trying to top themselves.

    Oh, god…I’m getting so rambly…I’m a mess…no caffeine today and I’ve got to leave for work now…

    Either way, we can keep yacking about it!

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  10. patientanonymous ,

    Everyone’s situation is different. I have a long and elaborate history of substance abuse. Should you be curious, you can read about it at Cracked Head Memoirs. I believe much if not most of that was self-medicating my clinical depression. That said, I think “self-medicating” may mean something different in recovery world. Many of them profess to have self-medicated for various forms of unhappiness. Maybe it’s a matter of the degree of the emotional distress – if it rises to the dual diagnosis level (major depression, bipolar, etc.), it might not really be the same thing as “self-medicating” for garden variety drunks and druggies.

    Here I’m talking about it in terms of us being “whacked” separate and apart from my drinking and/or drugging. Still, with my history and capacity for destruction, drinking and drugging is never, ever a good option. Maybe it should never be an option. Still, I tend to agree with you concerning suicide. As long as we’re still here, there’s a chance at least. That said, I think I’d prefer death to prison, but that’s just me.

    Cheers ;^/

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  11. Hi again Rob N., thanks for the link. I certainly will come by and have a read. And I have to laugh at the ad on the car! That is so funny. I found one similar but it wasn’t as funny. It said something along the lines of “Rubbish Removal…No Matter Where!” I was wondering if they’d tackle my brain.

    Yes, I too agree that self medication can be different for those that also deal with mental illness. Reason being, mental illnesses come in so many varieties, shapes, forms–just look at all of the diagnoses one could carry! I have four! Bipolar, ADD, Seizures and Migraines (okay, the last two are medical, not mental.)

    Now, the latter seem to be generally controlled–well, the seizures yes and the Migraines seem to be popping up a bit more but those issues don’t make me want to drink. The two former? Those may be the ones to have to deal with.

    Other people? Well, holy crap! They may carry the same diagnoses or different ones so they have their own issues. There is a huge difference between having a chronic mental illness and feeling down, and sad and bummed out from time to time. I am not dismissing other peoples’ sadness but when you can completely go over the edge at a moment’s notice…well, that’s a little different, right?

    There is a flip side, however. Let’s look at Depression as it is (arguably) the one diagnosis that could be transient. I won’t get into the “arguably” or I’ll really be getting off point. Okay, basically there are groups of people that say you can go med free and you’ll be fine–so transient or just managed without meds, symptom free? Whatever.

    One could end up becoming depressed and even require medication, therapy or both to deal with it. Say someone close to them dies or some other event that really rocks them. Then, they turn to the bottle to deal with it. Perhaps the depression lifts, they no longer require the meds/therapy but they are still drinking. Maybe not self medicating the depression but somehow they have developed an addiction problem.

    Possible?

    Also, to further agree with you that it’s different, I met a guy once who–whoo! He’d done lots of stuff. He still had problems with the drugs (and he drank too) but mental health history? Nothing, really. He wasn’t on any meds. He was happy as a clam–and not in a Bipolar, cycling, happy way. He just had addiction problems. He was working on staying away from the drugs and had been quite successful.

    Oh, death vs. prison! Well, if you had a “death” sentence (pardon the pun) it would be really bad. It sounds rather extreme but would death be better? I don’t think I could handle being locked away for the rest of my life. No doubt I would become so depressed while there I’d commit suicide anyway!

    I suppose if it was just a short sentence and you’d be out soon it would be fine.

    Prison for your actions…they say that some people need “wake up calls.” That would be a good one? However, there are some people that no matter how many they get, they still never stop. Again, it can be so difficult.

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  12. ccw

    I really enjoyed this piece. I have a history of self-medicating when I am manic. Of course, at the time I refer to it as having fun.

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  13. Hi ccw, nice to meet you and welcome to my blog. Thank you very much for your compliment regarding this post.

    I completely agree with you about self medication when (hypo)manic. It’s always party central, isn’t it? I also say it’s a lot easier (well, sometimes) to remember the good times. Unfortunately, “party central” can lead to definite bad times.

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  14. unfortunately i was taking 32 paramol a day for over a year as it made me ‘happy’..also gave me headache so I took cheap stuff for those too. I did it also cos i didnt feel hungry and i lost over 25kg. It also helped me sleep at night which i had always had problems with. I had to trail around different pharmacies for my addiction and even got banned from two places for buying too many. Then i got them off the internet…3 packs a time. They made me more energetic and as i said happy, but they also messed up my body big time. I now have to visit the hospital a few times a years as my intestines are inflamed and bleeding and my stomach never feels right. I havent told them what i did for me to be like this as i am ashamed…they presume its colitis and give me pills for that. I wish i never did all that shit. I cost me a lot of money for what? A messed up body, pain, constipation, and i actually do feel better without. I still get tempted to get that high sometimes but prevent myself…i hope i can carry on with the willpower…

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  15. Hi Mazie. Welcome to my blog as I don’t think I have seen you here before.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story here. That is very brave of you to do so and it means a lot to me. Wow, it sounds like you have really gone through hell due to your addiction…well, are still going through it. I also understand the “pangs” that you feel. I really hope that you can keep up the willpower too.

    I also want to thank you for writing this to me and posting it on my blog. I almost feel like keeping your comment in my Inbox! This is something I really need to hear right now. Maybe something I will need to hear my for my entire life!

    With such a long self medication history, having it in my family history as well…it is so difficult a battle.

    Again, thank you so much and take good care of yourself.
    PA

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  1. 1 I’m Medicated, How Are You? « The exact science of manic depression

    […] This post kinda felt it had to be written.  One of those delusion of reference moments, a couple of factors: I came across and took some paramol and this post by Patient Anonymous […]

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  2. 2 a little weary « Cracked Head Blog

    […] I’ll address them tomorrow. There’s been some interesting discussion going on over at patientanonymous about self-medicating That topic figured into my session with Anna. Anyway, I’ll get into it, […]

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  3. 3 first session « Cracked Head Blog

    […] And as I noted yesterday, we’re been discussing this topic at patientanonymous. […]

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  4. 4 Just Another Manic Monday « Necessary Therapy

    […]           Patient Anonymous: Just Another Head Case has a very self-reflective piece called “Alcohol and Self-Medication: We’re So Shaken and Stirred…“ […]

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  5. 5 Sobriety: Abstinence vs. Excess « Patient Anonymous: Just Another Head Case

    […] “Spr…fishwithoutbicycle on I Can’t Stand “Spr…Just Another Manic M… on Alcohol And Self Medication: W…patientanonymous on Am I Cycling, Is it The Season…invisibleemma on Am I Cycling, Is it The […]

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