Am I an Alcoholic or Did I Just Make a Mistake?

A mistake is defined as an erroneous act resulting from bad judgment, lack of knowledge, and poor execution in planning. Everybody makes mistakes. Some mistakes are easy to move past, while others may come with consequences.

For example, if you get pulled over for speeding, this is a common mistake for many — to occasionally test the law by breaking the speed limit. But what if you have also been drinking? Suddenly, this situation escalates to a very serious crime, even if it’s only a one-time offense. It’s up to you how you learn and move on from such a mistake.

Repeated behavior and recurring situations typically garner the same outcome but with harsher consequences. This is especially true when it comes to substance use. How you learn from your mistakes — or don’t learn — could mean the difference between using substances occasionally, abusing substances, or being controlled by addiction. You will need to consider some things before discovering which one applies to you.

Behaviors and Impulses for Casual Drinkers

If you consider yourself a casual drinker, evaluate your past couple of months in quarantine. Do you find yourself drinking more often? Is drinking beginning to interfere with the rest of your day? Did drinking go from just a weekend thing to an evening thing to now a couple of drinks a night? Does the promise of drinking motivate you to finish work a little earlier?

Factors like these tend to creep into your life and before you know it, you are depending more and more on a substance to cope with stress and get you through the day. It’s important to identify and admit your drinking habits at the onset, so you can correct the behavior in the appropriate way.

Behaviors and Impulses in Recovery

If you are struggling with addiction in recovery, handling the problem at the onset means addressing the impulse to drink — never wait until your behavior has already carried out the impulse to drink. By then, it’s too late. Has your addiction altered your thoughts and behaviors to justify drinking? Are you using the pandemic as a means to support your impulse? Perhaps telling yourself, things are so hard right now that I can at least have one drink.

Think about when you applied this reasoning to your life in the past. How did it resolve? While mistakes happen and can be overcome, the same mistakes can happen again and again when you continue to succumb to the same behaviors and thought patterns that resulted in your addiction.

Track Your Behavior

The reasons you want to drink can stem from a positive or negative experience. When you feel the urge to drink under any circumstance, be mindful of the present situation around you. Have you just watched the news and feel stressed? Argued with a loved one? Finished a big project for work and feel the need to celebrate? Or are you simply feeling lonely?

The point of this exercise is to help you monitor your feelings. Sit with them and let them flow through you because they are connected to your impulses. When you become aware of what triggers your need to use, write them down, including the what, where, and when during the day. Remember, it is when you validate negative thoughts that they have the power to defeat you. Instead, turn to uplifting thoughts of how you might find healthier alternatives to cope.

Prevent Future Mistakes

Once you understand where your patterns of thought are coming from, you can begin to find ways to cope. Just because these times call for alternative ways to attain treatment, there is certainly no shortage of ways to help yourself. Things like meditation, exercise, pursuing a hobby, or seeking therapy are terrific ways to distract your thoughts, challenge yourself, and achieve the benefits of a sound mind and body.

There are plenty of social opportunities provided online so you never need to lose touch. The bottom line is to avoid drinking, so having a support network to hold you accountable is essential. Stay in touch with friends and family and plan events together online, whether it’s playing games or having coffee, so you can all stay connected.

Use Telehealth to seek any professional help that you need, such as doctor visits, therapy, and support meetings. Making yourself available and expressing your feelings can help reduce the stresses and anxieties you experience from everyday living. Communication also promotes vulnerability and honesty, which will help keep you present and accessible for friends, family, and the professionals you are working with.

What’s Next?

This all depends on you, your choices, and your actions. If alcohol has taken control over your life, causing you to give in to impulsive and compulsive behavior with no regard for consequences, then you have a problem. You are likely an alcoholic and you need to get help.

However, if you have been managing your drinking and practicing ways to combat the negatives, but you had a slip, consider it a mistake — and then work on ways to avoid ever making it again.

Recovery and growth are about learning from mistakes by being willing to transform yourself and your way of thinking so you can stay sober. If you close yourself up and do not learn from mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.

If drinking has interfered with your life to the point of taking control, it’s time to seek immediate help. True Recovery is determined to find the right treatment that will work for you, including alternative treatment methods that are proven and effective. If you made a mistake and are now facing legal ramifications, we also offer a Court Services program. Whether you are in custody, out on bail, or facing current charges, True Recovery can help you navigate the complex legal system to find the treatment you need. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.