Stress, Alcoholism versus Well-Being

April has been quite the eventful month. We started with stress awareness on the first half of the month. Then moved to alcohol awareness month. Which brought up very insightful questions and discourses on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Our guiding question was whether there was a link between stress and alcoholism.

We found that they are both linked. This is because people adopt drinking as a coping mechanism. Which is unhealthy by the way. A lot of people recovering from alcoholism say that drinking never solved their issues. In fact, they say that things tend to get worse because of the hangover, mood swings and sometimes illness that follows drinking.

The second question welcomed us to tap into empathy and compassion when trying to make sense of alcoholism.

There is no straight answer though. Alcoholism could be a result of a choice which leads to dependency. Or someone could be predisposed to the disease by their parents who are alcoholics. Which means that a sudden shift in lifestyle choices would put them at even greater risk of alcohol dependency.

Alcoholism adversely affects the family unit. We chose to have such a narrow focus given the reality of many Kenyans. When the father is a drunkard, the family is exposed to violence, diseases, nursing wounds, paying fines and bribes. All these make the family’s financial and emotional burden even bigger.

Yes,we mentioned bribing since it’s a norm where families cover up for their loved one’s misdeeds by paying off problems. Otherwise, more money would be spent on paying fines, bonds and other government imposed fines. Children brought up in such homes may not perform well in their academic work as they are perpetually stressed.

When the mother is a drunkard it places unborn children at the risk of getting Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) It gets worse when they drink away from home. As it means that these mothers will abandon the children. Which opens up a path for sexual, physical and emotional exploitation of the children.

Stress is at the core of alcoholism. It is also at the core of unhealthy coping mechanisms. One of the most asked questions is, “Can’t alcoholics just stop drinking?” That always sounds like the first and only solution that comes to mind. Yet compassion should help us ask, “What caused them to run to alcohol as first and best solution?

Empathy should help us not only hear the reasons but to also offer assistance where applicable. When someone who’s struggling is met with this kind of care, it helps them find a way of overcoming shame and guilt. In the best cases, such people ask for help and actually transform.

Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing to see more often? Remember, the family is the bedrock of society. It needs to heal for the entire society to heal.

Here are additional thoughts that help us understand why asking the right questions opens up a chance to address stress and heal addiction. Read full blog here

What’s your poison, people sometimes ask, but Gabor Maté doesn’t want to ask what my poison is, he wants to ask how it makes me feel. Whatever it is I’m addicted to, or ever have been addicted to, it’s not what it is but what it does – to me, to you, to anyone. He believes that anything we’ve ever craved helped us escape emotional pain. It gave us peace of mind, a sense of control and a feeling of happiness.

How dealing with past trauma may be the key to breaking addiction- Joanna Moorhead
Sat 24 Nov 2018 11.00 EST

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