‘How does alcoholism develop?’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-1Here’s an interesting and important blog from Veronica Valli which she has take from her book Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Journey to Freedom. I like Veronica’s sentence: “Alcoholism develops because it has an internal environment to grow in.”

‘In order to overcome alcoholism, stopping the drinking of alcohol simply isn’t enough.

Alcoholism develops because it has an internal environment to grow in. Although external conditions enable drinking, it is the internal conditions that allow alcoholism to control someone’s life. There is a need for a greater understanding of this.

  • Alcoholism is an internal (spiritual) illness. Drinking is only a symptom.
  • Alcoholism’s key motivator is about changing how you feel.
  • Alcoholism grows out of a faulty system of thinking and emotional responses.

Medically, alcoholism is often diagnosed when physical dependence is established, which means the drinker goes into physical withdrawal (which is extremely dangerous and can be life threatening) when they don’t have a drink.

However, it is my experience, personally and professionally, that alcoholism is a condition that exists long before dependency, or even before the first drink is even taken.

Let’s look at this.

Self-defeating behaviours, including alcoholism, addiction and eating disorders, have their roots in a deficient and faulty system of thinking and emotional responses, and these existed long before any substance abuse or self-defeating behaviours started.

This faulty system of thinking, feeling and responding establishes itself at an extremely young age. It is not the case for everyone, but commonly, you can trace an alcoholic’s journey from a young age, when they began to notice and act upon a feeling of internal (spiritual) discomfort and dissatisfaction. Nearly every alcoholic I have ever worked with has described feeling ‘different’ when they were children.

“But for some, the accumulated insults over a lifetime become a disease in their inner world, and some turn to chemicals to fill the perceived void within or to ease their pain.” Doweiko (2012)

A faulty system of thinking, and the feelings and responses that go with it, doesn’t go away of its own accord. Instead, the sufferer develops coping behaviours that enable them to cope with their internal experience. The crucial factor to understand here is that the sufferer’s internal experience of life is at times deeply unpleasant and uncomfortable.

These feelings will then manifest as behaviours, which are visible manifestations of the unpleasant feelings. Therefore it is easy to see when surveying an alcoholic’s behaviour just how dark their internal world is. Their emotions and feelings are being expressed in the destructive way they behave.

Now these feelings can be experienced by many people who don’t go on to develop alcohol problems, but it seems to be a common factor that potential alcoholics or addicts never had, or have been unable to develop, the necessary coping tools required to deal with life.

Other people learn to cope, potential alcoholics don’t. Potential alcoholics are born without the ‘instruction manual’ for living. All else follows.

I’m aware that many people feel they lack an ‘instruction manual’ for life, and would love a set of instructions that would ensure we always made the right decisions and took the right actions.

However, with a potential alcoholic or addict, they not only lack an ability to make the best choices or decisions for themselves, they are additionally unable to learn from their mistakes, or to grow emotionally.

They remain emotionally immature, which causes them even further internal distress, and they become even more self-destructive. They feel ‘wrong’ inside and empty; there is a near constant feeling of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, discontent or even despair, which inevitably drives them to seek ways and means to numb the pain.

Enter drugs and alcohol. These substances alter how a person feels, very quickly and very effectively.

So to understand the alcoholic or addict, it is vital to understand the emotional precondition. Emotional pain is the pain we are least equipped to understand or treat.

If we can’t treat it then we have to kill or numb it. This is the basis for alcoholism.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’ Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.’