Prior to coming to terms with the fact that I was an alcoholic, I came up with excuse after excuse to justify my behavior. There was always a reason I acted the way that I did and a reason that made that behavior tolerable. The root of my problems was never alcohol or myself — it was always something or someone else.As I’ve progressed in my sobriety, I have realized I am not alone. Excuses are common among alcoholics, especially those still in active use. There’s something terrifying and vulnerable about having no excuses for your behavior. So I think rather than risk that happening, we search frantically for a reason why we did what we did. We find something to cling to, something that will convince us that we don’t have a problem and we are normal.
But, based on my own experience, this can only work for so long. The following are the top seven most common excuses you’re likely to hear from alcoholics:
“Everyone else does it.”
Sometimes, this is the way it seems. But what alcoholics don’t always acknowledge is that often this is because of the people they choose to surround themselves with. The reality is that not everyone used drugs or drinks. It only seems that way because alcoholics tend to befriend like-minded people who also have addictive tendencies.
“I’m only hurting myself.”
This may seem true in the moment, but alcoholic behavior has a way of affecting and hurting the people in your life, whether emotionally or physically. Alcohol can make people act in ways they normally would not, so it’s difficult to determine who your actions could really be hurting.
“I can stop whenever I want.”
I told myself this one quite often. Time and time again, I told myself that my behaviors were completely in my control, that I could stop if I wanted to — I just didn’t want to, so why should I? I think this is a common mindset among alcoholics. We like to convince ourselves that our actions are well within our control and that we are choosing to use and drink when in reality we couldn’t stop if we wanted to.
“I deserve to drink after this day/week/month.”
For some reason, our culture has come to view alcohol as a reward for working hard or doing well. It’s very easy to convince yourself that after a long day of work, you’ve earned that drink. The problem is that for alcoholics, one drink is rarely one drink. It’s very difficult for alcoholics to simply stop after one drink, as our brains are always screaming “More, more, more.”
“I’m better at _____ when I drink.”
For me, I just thought I was better at everything when I drank. I could sit down and write without as much thought, speak in front of a crowd without nerves, and make friends easily.
In reality, drinking made me look like a fool in all these areas of life.
Alcohol has a way of convincing your mind that you’re doing a fantastic job at something when in reality you are doing ten times worse than you would be in a sober state.
“I’m not as bad as _______. He/she really has a problem.”
News flash: there will always be someone who is in a worse state than you, making this excuse an easy go-to. But alcoholism affects everyone differently. I thought that just because I didn’t drink daily like _____ did, that I wasn’t an alcoholic. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I like to turn to the quote “An alcoholic is anyone whose life gets better when they stop drinking,” when I am doubting whether I really had an alcohol problem. Today, my life is infinitely better than when I was drinking, so by that definition, I am an alcoholic.
“I’m still doing ___, so I don’t have a problem.”
For me this was going to class, playing a sport, being involved in the newspaper, working a job…the list goes on. However, high-functioning alcoholics are able to do day-to-day tasks without their drinking affecting them, sometimes even while drinking. This doesn’t mean that their drinking is not a problem.
While hearing these excuses from an alcoholic time and time again can be frustrating, loved ones should remember to be patient but firm. It’s important to work to make an alcoholic realize that these excuses hold little to no value, as a problem is a problem. With time and persistence, hopefully, the alcoholic in your life will realize the weaknesses in these excuses and begin to make changes in their life.
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