The High-Functioning Alcoholic

Understanding this Hidden Class of Alcoholics from a Professional and Personal View

The Power of Drinking Memories

Warm weather is arriving...cravings may come in all forms

Memorial Day is just around the corner and summer to follow. Those living in areas where there are four seasons may finally be coming out of hibernation, getting small tastes of sun, heat and outdoor activity- along with memories of the past drinking. Cravings for alcohol come in many forms, and often sober individuals identify cravings as a clear thought about drinking, feeling or physiological sensation. However, the most dangerous cravings are the subtle ones that hide in the good times and romantic ideas about the past or future. Those with alcoholic minds seem to cling to the “good ole’ days” and to forget about the negative aspects of their drinking. The thoughts can be subtle, and can start from conversations about past occasions, good times, vacations, parties,smelling a certain beverage, seeing pictures or could even be random—but they should not be underestimated.

When a craving is obvious, a sober individual can take action, call a friend, someone in his or her support group, therapist, or apply some type of coping skill. However, when the craving to drink manifests in the form of fond memories and missing the past, they are harder to recognize and to be proactive in combating. Awareness of these “romantic” idea cravings can help a person to detach and take the power away from the thoughts and memories. It can also allow a person to talk to those who are supportive of their sobriety and process how they are feeling.

I have been sober for 10 years and still struggle with romantic thoughts of my past drinking and good times. I have so many positive associations with my past drinking, but that is partially because I would blackout and not remember the “ugly” part of the night. However, if I really play the “tape” forward, I know that drinking now would not create the good times or camaraderie of the past. Instead, it would result in wreckage and hurting my loved ones for selfish reasons. Staying sober for an alcoholic is an act of going against our nature, and we need ongoing social support, therapy, self-care and continued work on ourselves in order to maintain long-term sobriety.

For more resourcesn and information about high-functioning alcoholics, please visit www.highfunctioningalcoholic.com

Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., L.M.H.C., LPC, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and author of Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic: Professional Views and Personal Insights.

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