YOU are not awful just because you drink or were a drunk:

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(03/05/13)

I realize that this is a bold statement for me to make. I don’t know YOU personally, so maybe you are an awful person even if you’re sober? And how do I know? Maybe some of the things that you’ve done while drunk may have been quite awful? But I have found that most alcohol abusers are NOT awful people, they just drink too much.

Let me be very clear here. This doesn’t mean that you get a free pass on any of the things you are responsible for doing or causing. My point is that if you keep telling yourself and thinking that you’re rotten, it will take longer to begin being a decent sober person. You may not enjoy your own sobriety and others may not be able to enjoy your sobriety with you if you live under the belief that you are weak, powerless, flawed, awful and rotten.

Your behavior and actions—NOW—will show what you are.

YOU are not awful just because you drink or were a drunk. True, your behavior while drunk may have been reprehensible (and may require restitution), but in a sober state YOU probably would not behave that way. Again, this doesn’t mean that drunken behavior can just be forgiven or overlooked as “drunken behavior,” even if it’s past behavior. The person committing such behavior is responsible for getting drunk in the first place. Alcohol will alter someone’s mental processing, which is why they do stupid drunken shit. So not until the perpetrator has stopped drinking can (or should) forgiveness begin.

One can answer a question (or challenge) in both principle and in practice. However, it’s far easier to answer a question in principle than it is in practice. For instance, I know right from wrong, but whether I do right from wrong is another matter. Most of us instinctively know right from wrong—so deep inside we are good people—but we must apply what we know to show that we are good people.

Alcohol can be the catalyst that brings out the worst in you. If past evidence shows you that you become belligerent or behave in ways you don’t like when you’re drunk, then you know what the right thing to do is. Stopping your destructive drinking is the way to show that you are not an awful person. This may not be easy or fun, but doing the right thing isn’t always easy.

Sobriety in itself will not automatically make you a wonderful person. You may do fewer bad or dumb things as a result of sobriety, but just stopping alcohol consumption will not qualify you for sainthood. Sober people can be just as awful and reprehensible as a drunk. A sober person can lie on their taxes, steal, say hurtful things, get into fights, have affairs and drive like a maniac. They may not drink alcohol but they still have problems with impulse control.

Impulse control is the base of doing right or wrong, for yourself and for others. Lack of impulse control is most likely what got the majority of us drinking or doing drugs in the first place. There may have been outside factors which sparked our “reasons” to self-medicate or to enhance our social behavior with drinking or drugs, but not controlling our impulse to “party like everyone else” is what probably got us started and is the most likely basis behind relapses. So our biggest problem is impulse control, not that we’re rotten.

I believe that the majority of people instinctively know what is right and what is wrong. Many people are influenced by outside sources. Friends, family, advertising, academia and even our government can influence what we believe as right from wrong. Many people will turn to religious teachings to support their belief or give them confirmation on what they feel is right or wrong. For example, Mosaic Law in the Old Testament says, “An eye for an eye.” Whereas Jesus in the New Testament says, “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Instinctively, most of us realize that Moses is referring to judicial law (a crime should be punished), but Jesus is referring to moral and social law (forgive those who may unintentionally or senselessly hurt you). A lot of times, people will adjust and adapt scripture to serve and suite their own purposes. But you know what’s right from wrong. Regardless of what source of reference you use to help guide you, I believe that most of us instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.

And as far as you thinking that you’re an awful person because you were at one time a drunk is a self-imposed prison sentence. It is my belief—and through my own personal experience—that by retaining feelings that you are weak, powerless, flawed, awful, etc., only holds you back from rebuilding your self-esteem and living genuine amends towards the people you care about. You are not awful—you are human and fallible and you will make mistakes—but you are not a flawed and rotten person. Remind yourself of that and behave today like the good, caring and healthy person that you instinctively know you are.

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