Why Did You Choose Alcohol Over Me? 3 Good Answers

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To loved ones, addiction feels like a choice.

 

One of the most challenging questions for those recovering from an alcohol use disorder is, “Why did you choose alcohol over me?” No matter how often you tell the family of a person in active addiction their loved one has a chronic, progressive brain disease, someone will stand up and say, “Yes, but they decided to pick up that drink in the first place.”

 

Why Did You Choose Alcohol?

It is the million-dollar question. And not easy to answer. If you never pick up a drink, you will never have an alcohol problem. Consequently, a daughter might ask, “Why now? You’ve always been a drinker. Why did you become addicted now?” Or a spouse might say, “I’ve read all the literature, but there had to be a time when you could have stopped – before it escalated into this mess.” A child might ask, “Do you love wine more than me?” A parent wonders aloud, “What did we do wrong?”

 

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But the “choice” is not an option!

 

How do we answer all the questions?

All these musings and questions stem from the same emotional wellspring: anger, hurt, resentment, and the personification of alcohol. Unfortunately, for those in treatment or long-term recovery, questions like the above are often met with a dry mouth and an empty head. We’ve read the books, know the facts, and have done the required self-analysis. But we get tongue-tied when trying to explain ourselves. It seems we end up saying, “I’m so sorry.” Or a bit defensively, “Do you think I wanted this to happen?”

 

Alcohol-related problems—which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often—are among the most significant public health issues in the United States. Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some time in their lives. More than 14 million adults ages 18 and older have alcohol use disorder (AUD), and 1 in 10 children live in a home with a parent with a drinking problem. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

 

3 Good Answers to the Question, “Why Did You Choose Alcohol Over Me?”

Three experts at Sanford Behavioral Health answer the question for us. Their quotes help provide some perspective on the correlation between alcohol, relationships, and families.

 

Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC, Sanford Behavioral Health Founder and President

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” In other words, I chose that first and second drink. I crossed a line at some point, which was beyond my control; alcohol hijacked my rational thoughts. I have a chronic brain disease that controls reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. I have chosen abstinence from alcohol to manage my disease, and I could use your support.

 

Lynnel Brewster, RN, LPC, LLMFT, CCTP, Sanford Behavioral Health Clinical Director

When a person learns to swim, they cannot unlearn to swim. Their brain is programmed. I chose to learn to swim, not the inability not to swim. Similarly, when I became addicted to alcohol, I decided to take a drink, not the inability to quit drinking. As a result, I have been impacted for life. I can wade in the water if I don’t want to swim. But being knee-deep is like taking one drink – tempting and potentially triggering an emotional response to dive in fully. Better I should stay out of the water entirely.

 

Christine Walkons, LPC, CAADC, CCS-M, Sanford Behavioral Health Clinical Director Emeritus

My relationship with alcohol may look like a threat to our relationship. It may look like a love affair with a substance, but I assure you, it is not. I do not choose alcohol over you, especially knowing my drinking hurts you. It is not a choice for me. It is an addiction, an illness for which I need help and support. I hope you can support me.

 

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The Family Program educates loved ones about the disease of addiction.

 

Be Prepared – It is a Family Disease

Family members can be powerful allies in the recovery process. At Sanford, we begin the education process in our Family Program while a loved one is in treatment. Treatment is the perfect time to involve family members in the recovery process. Family members may begin recognizing their non-productive behaviors during their loved one’s care. These behaviors might have developed while trying to cope with addiction in the family. Often, family members have spent so much time putting the person with the substance use disorder ahead of all others they have forgotten how to prioritize themselves.

 

Read the answers above a few times. Print them, or choose the one that fits your personality and commit it to memory. Our loved ones deserve answers. We have been through a lot together. Properly articulating the reasons for alcohol misuse helps everyone feel more resolved, less hurt, and less angry. And it puts the responsibility where it belongs; it allows us to draw back the curtains and shine a joyful, unabashed light on recovery.

 

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Founded in 2015, Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as a substance use disorder, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving the state of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s five facilities in Greater Grand Rapids, is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a growing team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com