Substance abuse is a common feature of CPTSD.
Day 5, May 18, 2020
It’s bedtime on Monday night, the final day of the long weekend that is solidly linked with the rituals of camping, barbecuing, and of course, drinking. This year is different for me as I quit drinking 5 days ago. I’m not sure what I expected but I have not really been tempted to drink despite all the cues: working outside in the yard, sitting on the deck with family, and date night with my partner.
So why did I make this change? I believe in science and evidence-based decision making and the evidence in this case seems incontrovertible: just Google “WHO alcohol” to see.
Day 3, May 16, 2020
WHO facts about alcohol and the body:
“Alcohol has effects, both short-term and long-term, on almost every single organ of your body. Overall, the evidence suggests that there is no ‘safe limit’ – in fact, the risk of damage to your health increases with each drink of alcohol consumed.”
“Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases.”
“Heavy use of alcohol increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.” (Source)
Day 2, May 15, 2020
I’ve known for a while that this day would come and here we are. It’s been 18 months since I stopped taking Ativan and 9 months since I stopped taking Klonopin (read about that journey here) and it has been my plan for about two years to stop drinking as well. And then, just when I was feeling strong enough to do it — pandemic. And so I put it off, comforted by my old crutch.
However, when your life partner and your only child let you know they are concerned about how much you are drinking, it’s time to stop. So that is what I’ve done.
Day 1, May 14, 2020
The First Time I Drank, I Drank a Bottle
Events foreshadowed my alcoholic tendencies throughout my youth, but never more clearly than the first time I drank. It was 1983, I was 14-years-old and in my first year of high school. Mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and dad was undergoing a tricky spinal surgery. My mom and sister were in Calgary with dad and I was alone in the house on the farm. Although my grandparents lived in the same yard, as is common in farming families, they weren’t home either.
One of our closest neighbors and a good friend of mom’s showed up at the house unexpectedly. Actually, she showed up in my room unexpectedly. It was morning and in typical teenage fashion, I was dead to the world. Vera proceeded to tell me that something had gone wrong. My father’s spinal fluid was leaking and they thought there was a good chance he would die that day. She was very concerned and wanted to know if I was OK. I must have said I was because she left to go about her busy day as a farm wife.
I remember having feelings I could not manage. I was panicking and didn’t know what to do. There was a full bottle of cheap white wine in the fridge. I think it was Chardonnay. I knew people drank to feel better and that is what I tried to do. I tasted it and it was terrible! I guzzled it down as quickly as I could. Then I phoned one of the few friends I had made at my new school and we talked for a short time. The chat was cut short when the wine and my lunch demanded an audience with the sink.
It’s good that it didn’t stay in my system as it may well have killed me. I wish I could claim that was a one-time incident of binge drinking. I can’t. I’ll share more about my journey at a later date.