Learning LIST-Learning

Alcohol, drugs and self judgment

If you have made a decision to stop or cut down on alcohol or drug use, congratulations! This is a very positive step. Keep in mind, however, that using alcohol or other drugs is a common coping strategy for dealing with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. This means that when you take the ‘numbing’ effect of alcohol and drugs away, memories can return with force. It can get tough if there is nothing else to fall back on. (Hint – Make use of the well-being section in building a ‘solid base’).

Depending on the extent of dependence on alcohol, medical assistance may be required to assist the body to adapt.

The challenge of stopping the use of alcohol and drugs can be added to by negative judgments about yourself or about the process of change. Common self judgments include:

  • I’m too damaged to get through this.
  • I’m not strong enough to handle it.
  • I’m really losing the plot/going crazy.
  • It’s easier not have to feel all this.
  • I wanted to feel better but this just makes things seem worse.

Some men have spoken about the benefit of taking a questioning position to self judgment, checking in with themselves and asking ‘Is this judgment useful for me right now?’, and ‘Do I want to spend time with it? ’

If the answer is no, then it is best to leave the judgment and to focus on doing things that are useful for you right now.

Remember that these judgments are not truths about you; they are ideas and pressures that men can face. It’s OK for you to decide that some judgments are not really useful for how you want to live your life.

If it doesn’t feel possible to directly change or challenge these self- judgements, another strategy is to use a mindfulness exercise that teaches the skill of not getting ‘caught up’ in these thoughts.

Give this a try

One antidote to harsh self-judgements is a caring, supportive connection with another person. When you are with such a person in your own life, an interesting question to reflect on is:

‘I wonder what this person knows and appreciates about me, that they would choose to spend and enjoy time with me?’