Sometimes it is helpful to conceptualize alcohol as a person with whom we have a relationship. Many heavy drinkers and people in recovery are already accustomed to thinking about alcohol in this way. It is not uncommon to hear people say things like, “Alcohol was my constant companion, until it turned against me”. Think about the Brad Paisley country song titled, “Alcohol”.
Much like we evaluate the people in our lives and the ways we are shaped by them, we can do the same with alcohol. For many casual drinkers, alcohol is like an acquaintance whose company is enjoyable, but life would not be disrupted if they moved to another city. We rarely take time to reflect on the nature of our relationships with these people, and we certainly don’t anticipate ever experiencing conflicts with them.
Others have built more of an intimate friendship with alcohol over the years. You got into some trouble together during the college years, but these days the friendship is conducive to the responsibilities, goals, and values that you carry with you in life.
And yet for others, alcohol is like a secret lover with whom they only relate behind closed doors. For them, alcohol has taken priority over the things they truly care about the most: their marriage, spirituality, and career. Perhaps this secret lover has even showed up to their workplace unannounced.
Maybe I have overextended the metaphor a bit, but I hope my point has been clear: We can all benefit from taking a moment to reflect on the nature of our relationship with alcohol. Many people have taken decisive action to change their relationship with alcohol, and you can too if you are not satisfied with your current relationship.