Arguing with yourself – Substance Abuse

Have you ever felt like you have two people in your head? Sometimes more. When we need to make a decision about something we run over the options in our mind. And many times there are only two options:

Should I?

Should I not?

Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder also have problems with substance abuse – alcohol, smoking, drugs, and anything else that can get us high. We know it’s harming us, but we are not able to stop it; not able to control it. I have been a drinker and there have been days that I have drank every night – binge drinking huge amounts of alcohol. It made me high and it helped me escape. But the problem is that when the ‘high’ is over, then comes the ‘low’. This low is a very depressing feeling and makes us want to get high again – and the vicious cycle is born!

We realize that we should not be drinking (or your choice of high) so much. So, there are times when we try to stop. That’s when the ‘argument’ begins – should I drink? Should I not. And this maddening argument can go on for hours until we give in or give up. Most often we give in. A part of you is telling you – drink. Another part is telling you – no, don’t drink! It can get maddening. And it just doesn’t stop.

Today is the last day I will do it

Compromise. Today is the last day I will drink/smoke/take drugs. What does this solution do? It gives us permission to go ahead and indulge without feelings of guilt. Because, we say to ourselves that tomorrow we wont! What fun is it to get high while feeling guilty? So we find a middle road. But then guess what – ‘tomorrow’ comes. And the argument starts all over again. This pattern can go on for days, weeks and even months. For me, this argument went on for years.

Damn it! I don’t care.

Finally we may reach a point when we say “Damn it! I don’t care!”. And having reached rock bottom, we give ourselves permission to become solid addicts and the argument is over. We no longer bother about the consequences – liver and lung disease, heart problems, compromised brain functioning. This kind of reasoning gives us a certain feeling of Freedom. It’s only when we get diagnosed with something physical that we freeze. I always believed that no, I wouldn’t be a smoker/drinker in my 30s. How the habit would disapper was not something I thought of – I simply expected it to disappear. But the magic never happened. Remember – be it  30s, 40s or even 60s, you are STILL YOU with the same problems and the same damn arguments. Unless you consciously make it go away, it wont. Do not entertain the though that you are ‘different’ that you wont become an addict like someone else. You will. Unless you put a stop to it NOW.

How to end a Self-Argument

We have 5 senses – Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch. When we are arguing with ourselves these senses are on hold – we are not aware of them. What we need to do is become aware of our senses and feed them. The idea is to indulge your senses with a new feeling – a distraction. For some people eating something tasty or eating a favourite snack or dish does it. If your sense of sound is strong you might want to consider listening to some soothing music or relaxing sounds like the falling of rain (YouTube). When we thus engage our senses, our brain gets distracted from the argument. This may sound very new –age and bookish. I’m sure at various times you must have read or heard about yoga, meditation and other such things. But have you actually tried it? Give it a shot. Try a 10 minute yoga session – YouTube has many videos. And you will realize that yes, it does calm you down. After trying many ways to stay clean and off substances, for years I tried different methods. I found that a very effective way to end the mental chaos that is arguing, is to get yourself totally relaxed. What relaxes you? For me it’s a cool room, comfortable cotton clothes and a book. If theres an aroma candle burning, even better. You need to take a break. Stop the thought process – ask yourself what you love doing; what relaxes you; what makes you feel good, and then do it. This may sound too simple but believe me it works! The trick is to:

  • Pause the argument
  • Feed the Senses
  • Relax and feel good
  • Let time pass by!

Letting time pass by is the most important step. As the minutes tick away, your craving will slowly reduce and then go away. I have done this many times when I crave a cigarette or even a drink. No craving is ‘endless’ – with time it simply has to go away. There is nowhere else it can head to.

Extra Tip: Don’t wait for the craving/argument to start. Let’s say you start drinking at 7pm; start the 10 minute Yoga at 6pm. It will set the stage for a calm mind. If you try to start this at 7pm you may be cutting it too close. All these methods may sound simple in the face of the big argument in your head. But give it a shot and see for yourself!

Making Relaxation a part of your life

When you find out your special method of relaxation, slowly stop looking at it as a ‘Crave killer’ and start looking at it as a way of life. Identify with it. Start believing you are a person who does Yoga, you enjoy it, and it relaxes you. Believe you are the kind of person who likes to go for a walk. Believe that you are the person who enjoys doing a certain activity, whatever that activity of your choice may be. Then do it unfailingly every single day. The aim is to change the way you view yourself – change what you think of your ‘self’ to be. With time, you will develop a new identity – one that dislikes getting high. It’s not rocket science – You can do it!

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