Grieving The Loss Of Alcohol & Drugs

My Morning Vodka vs. Mourning My Vodka

As I am an alcoholic, I use language specific to drinking. Please know that I am not trying to be exclusive, rather I write in an effort to maintain authenticity, so I choose to use wording around alcohol or liquor. It is my hope that you can interchange this wording with your substance of choice, knowing that, regardless of the substance, we each tread its devastating path of destruction together. Now we may walk in the light of recovery together. I hope that wasn't too lofty, my friends.

Are you drinking in the mornings? And not because you partied until the wee hours. Are you waking up, still buzzed, or with the beginnings of a hangover, and downing some booze? To me, that was a sign indicating I'd reached a new level of alcoholism. Woot, woot, I've defeated the boss and made it to the champion's level! It's not all fun and games, though, is it?

It's a deflating and scary moment when you find yourself pouring shots at 6:30 in the morning because you're shaky and clammy. You're going into withdrawal and the easiest way to combat this is to drink more liquor. Which, when you step back and view your situation objectively, makes no friggin sense. Why do we keep perpetuating this insane cycle? Why not just step off the merry-go-round and clean up our acts?

Well, because we're addicts and alcoholics. That is the answer, even if it seems like a cop-out and lame. It's the darn truth. Our biological make-up is just a touch different than others when it comes to ingesting substances. We react slightly differently, and it can cause us major catastrophes.

For years, I knew I shouldn't be drinking in the morning, I knew it was severely unhealthy and dangerous. But, part of me didn't care, and another part of me saw no way out. Sure, I could clean myself up for a while at a detox or rehab, but I knew I'd fall right back off the wagon. I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd enter those revolving doors again. I knew so many things, but that didn't seem to matter. I still took my shots in the morning, and then rushed home on lunch to re-up. I hadn't dealt with my inner demons, and until I learned to do that, I would dive head-first into a bottle over and over again. As a result, pounding shots became my morning routine for years. Seriously, years, probably five or six, at a minimum, if I were to tally them all up.

At this point, I think it's important to note the following: if you're drinking in the morning and experience shakes and loss of appetite, it's probably best you seek medical help. As I've said before, I am not a doctor or nurse practitioner or nurse, or anything of the sort. However, I've been around long enough, and played the game enough times, to have gathered a bit of knowledge. It's not wise or safe to self-detox or go cold turkey, but I've done it. And if that's your only option, do your research and be careful. Let someone, or many people, know that you're self-detoxing. Don't do it alone, don't do it afraid. Please reach out to me if you're planning on doing this. I understand that cost and insurance is a major factor for many people's decision-making, but I shan't advise on any of that. I've received help with and without insurance, however, I'm neither promoting nor discrediting either way. I simply want to stress that if you're kicking the sauce of any kind, get medical help, or at the very least, let people know of your plan and be so very careful and gentle with yourself.

Now, with that said, onto my other concern regarding this post: recognizing and allowing grief for the loss of my constant companion of 11 years, vodka. Grieving the loss of your substance of choice is not a new notion, but it is one that took me a long stretch of time to understand. It wasn't until I'd been sober for several months that I was able to grasp what it meant to mourn the loss of my vodka. It wasn't sadness or an ache to drink, or feel numb. It wasn't despair that I'd never again be able to rage in a bar. No, it wasn't for the loss of the drink itself, but for the loss of a tried and true form of escapism. No matter what dire consequences vodka gifted me, I was consistently able to transport myself to another world, mentally, physically, and emotionally, when under its devastating spell. I could step away from reality and find solace in a hazy, titled, and glittery world that made me feel elevated.

It was strange, for I wasn't sad, really. I was in shock. Shook, I believe is the appropriate term here. A lightbulb had burst over my head, leaving me shocked and stunned. Followed by an intense wave of nausea, for how could I replace the effects of vodka? Where else would I find my happy place? And how else would I find it? Alcohol is powerful, friends, a perfect catalyst for extreme escapism. This was my grief. 

It was in in those days of mourning that I realized my need for escapism ran deeper than I ever knew. I was able to acknowledge it would be wise for me to create another outlet for this need, while also concluding it was imperative I understood why this outlet was so vital to my existence. What about life made me feel the need to hide-out for a while?

Working through these questions allowed me the opportunity to unpack the grief surrounding my recovery. On the one hand, I was enormously grateful and humbled to stroll this new path of sobriety and enlightenment, but on the other hand, I lamented the swirl of a vodka bottle. I needed the duality in order to make progress, though. Standing in my feelings, whatever they may be, was and is essential to my sustained recovery.

I believe it is important that we are not ashamed of our grief concerning our addiction. It's hard for me to understand how that would be productive to one's recovery. Shame may get you sober, but it can't keep you sober. Work through your grief, explore it, and learn from it. We have the power now. And hey, if you don't feel like you have the power, well, right on, then. You'll get there, though. Just keep swimming, keep working, keep your chin up. I wish for you to keep hope, even if it's the smallest flame of them all, let it keep burning. Take deep breaths and smile, it'll help that flame grow.

It is monstrously difficult yet monstrously rewarding, going from morning vodka to mourning vodka, but with support and generosity, we can all get there. I'm here if you need me, and until next time, have fun!


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