Alcoholism – what’s rewarding about that?
I’ve worked hard so I deserve an alcoholic drink
“What a load of nonsense. You’ve worked hard so you ‘deserve’ an alcoholic drink. Lots of teetotal people work hard,” says Stephen*, an addiction counsellor. “What have they earned then? Half a glass of water?”
“People rewarding themselves with an alcoholic drink – because they’ve ‘earned it’ – is potentially harmful. It becomes a habit. The level of alcohol consumption also rises over time, so that people reward themselves not with a single drink, but several.
“I have had clients who have come to me for help with alcohol abuse who, only a year or so earlier, were teetotal. It is usually single parents. They are struggling to cope alone with looking after their children, as well as holding down a job, perhaps caring for some time during the week for an elderly parent, and dealing with everything else life throws at them in the day in day out.
“At the end of each day, once they’ve put the kids to bed and finally found half an hour for themselves, putting their feet up in front of the television and cracking open a bottle of wine proves irresistible. They will probably not leave it at just one glass but will drink half the bottle. When you add that up, it is an awful amount of alcohol to consume as a ‘reward’ over a year.”
How to change your mind-set
If you regularly use alcohol as a reward, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage
- Liver damage
- Heart disease
To avoid all that, you need to change your relationship with alcohol, which is best achieved with professional help. Treatment can be on an outpatient or day care basis, or through residential care at a private rehab clinic, which can prove a hugely rewarding experience.
*All names have been changed.