Peter Hayton, Clinical Director at The Banyans: The drug and alcohol dependencies happen for a variety of reasons but I guess you could sum it down to people struggling to cope with the emotions and thoughts and stresses in life. It’s kind of like those things cloud in and it can be hard to live life when it’s like that. What we want to do is push that stuff away so we don’t have it there and alcohol helps us to push those bad things away. Of course it also destroys our life.
What we really need to do is to carry that stuff here. So that we can still have a little bit of depression or anxiety every so often. That’s an important part of life, but it helps us to get on with what other things that we need to do, that are valuable for us.
Joey, Wellness Advocate and former alcoholic: I think what led to my drinking was extremely low self-esteem combined with trauma from the past – familial and childhood dysfunction. I had a lot of issues from my childhood that I hadn’t previously dealt with but I had very very low self-worth from my early childhood, and unfortunately I turned to alcohol.
I started drinking when I was 12 and most of all I remember how it felt when I drank it: the warm comforting feeling is as it went down and I liked the way alcohol made me feel. It calmed me, made me less anxious, made me happy, jovial. When I was drunk I saw the world as being okay and being happy. I was happy, everyone else was happy, and I felt good.
Sadly it got to the stage where I needed alcohol every day to cope, and by the time I was about 16 I began experiencing withdrawal symptoms if I didn’t drink on a regular basis. My hands would shake, I’d get headaches and things like that and so I was a chronic alcoholic really before I finished high school.
And sadly as the drinking continued, my bad self-esteem continues. The drinking didn’t heal anything, it didn’t solve anything, it just made things worse, but I didn’t see it that way. At the time I just saw it as a crutch to lean on in social situations. Eventually it became a crutch to lean on when I was alone because I didn’t like being alone. I got married, I had my two children, and then finally with my addiction out of control I sought help when I was 27 years old.