Maybe you didn’t make it through Dry January. Maybe you considered but never committed to it. And just maybe, deep down, you knew you could not do it because your drinking habit is not like other people’s. In your heart, you realize you have a problem with alcohol that cannot be remedied with a band-aid. Now that January is soon-to-be-over, it may be time to look into alcohol treatment as a permanent solution.
What’s the Harm of Dry January?
Dry January can be an asset for many people. It can help them see how a life without alcohol can benefit them. Their livers begin to recover, sleep patterns start to improve, energy levels increase, and their skin clears. If they are not that dependent on drinking to begin with, withdrawal symptoms may be minimal, and they can firmly decide not to go back.
For alcoholics, though – true alcoholics – leaving that past self and turning over a new leaf is not going to be as easy as a new year’s resolution. For them, struggling with Dry January is a warning sign of alcohol dependency. If you are unable to fulfill your 31-day commitment, you may have be an alcoholic.
Overall, Dry January serves as a wake-up call for most people to re-evaluate their drinking situation… which is a good thing. However, there is a dark side to Dry January. Here is where the harm is:
- Dry January can be used as an excuse. Telling yourself that you are going to deal with your alcohol problem at the beginning of the year can be an excuse. It acts as a free pass, allowing you to drink without guilt. You are giving yourself a green light to indulge in alcohol, drugs and anything else you want, all by promising yourself (and those who care about you) that the new year will bring with it a new you.
- Dry January makes it easier to fail. Most people who set resolutions do not accomplish them… it is simply the nature of resolutions. At best, we show interest and commitment for a month or two before giving up. Thus, it is easier to fail with your Dry January resolutions when everyone around you is failing with theirs. Remember, alcoholics focus on two things: Getting their next drink and making sure that nothing interferes with that. This includes appearing as normal as possible to everyone else. If you are not seeing signs of problems and your lives seem as smooth as you could hope, are you really going to confront someone about their need to enter alcohol treatment? Of course not, and that is how people who struggle with alcoholism continue to feed it.
- Dry January makes it seem easier than it is for alcoholics to stop drinking. Alcoholism is a selfish disease; it lies to you to ensure its own survival. It tells you that you can have just one drink and no more. Or that you can go out for the night and quit drinking tomorrow. Or that you can suddenly stop drinking at midnight on December 31. Unfortunately, alcoholism is a crafty enemy, and it will make sure that you lose every battle for which you are not prepared. Thinking you can put it on hold and then knock it out on your own with a Dry January resolution – as if it is a small task that you can easily handle in the future – is not realistic for those struggling with a alcoholism.
- Dry January can be another lie you tell yourself. True alcoholics are likely to be lying to everyone around them to hide their disease. The reason they can do this so well is that they have probably had a lot of practice. They can tell themselves that today is the day they will quit drinking. It is a noble goal; however, life gets in the way. They oversleep, the commute is horrific, their day at work is stressful, or something else goes wrong. Therefore, they cannot commit to sobriety today. Tomorrow, on the other hand, would be much better to start going again. Then tomorrow becomes next week and next week becomes next month after another big event. These are the lies we can all tell ourselves. Lies which, for the alcoholic, can turn a day of alcohol abuse into months and years. It is the same pattern that makes getting out of debt or losing weight so difficult. Our ability to deceive ourselves is endless. In fact, if we could ever figure out how to stop lying to ourselves, we truly would be unstoppable.
- Dry January buys time… to keep drinking. Finally, the real reason the alcoholic mind loves the idea of a sobriety resolution is because it gives them time – not just to indulge in their drinking, but to come up with ways to further enable it. Maybe the problem is that their spouse notices they drink too much after work. Therefore, perhaps their goal is to delay until they can come up with a way to not see their spouse directly after work or to hide the fact that they were drinking. They become a master at disguising their habit, sharpening their skills every day, and buying themselves time to continue drinking. The funny thing about buying time, though, is that the bill always comes due eventually.
Why Alcohol Treatment?
The truth is that many people struggling with alcohol underestimate the challenges of becoming sober. You are not going to be able to take on this battle alone.
It may not be easy, but, with alcohol treatment, you will have help. It is also worth the time, effort, and work it may take. As other people have already, you, too, can overcome an alcoholism.
Look for an alcohol treatment center near you that provides one-on-one therapy sessions with an addiction counselor. They should also provide group sessions led by trained therapists, ancillary treatments such as neurofeedback, yoga, massage, chiropractic care, and more. You should also be able to get help through a case manager to find a job or to take the next step in life. Often, you can also make friendships that can last a lifetime through a qualified alcohol treatment center’s alumni program.
The Bottom Line
For those who are battling this disease, the need for alcohol treatment cannot be delayed. If you start to detox from alcohol, it can be dangerous. You need to enter a program as quickly as possible and not allow yourself to fall into the same cycles that have fed your alcoholism in the past. You should never delay alcohol treatment or put it off as you might with a new year’s resolution.
If you are tired of the battle to stay sober, you need to get real, experienced help. Alcohol treatment centers offer you the chance to tackle this enemy directly – and make no mistake, it is an enemy. It wants to take control of your life, turn you against your friends and family and force you to commit to everything it demands. That’s not the life you want.
Fortunately, there are ways to get past this. Don’t quit because you didn’t stick to some resolution you weren’t going to stick to in the first place. Commit to getting the help you need and make a real change this year.