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What is underlying your alcohol use?

Updated: Apr 25

Alcohol use is something that is deeply ingrained in many communities today as social practices, a rite of passage or a response to celebration. Yet while on the surface alcohol use might appear glamorous and celebratory, underneath there are often a number of deeper, less visible undercurrents that are contributing to this potentially unhelpful, and sometimes harmful pastime.


On the surface, a glass of wine is often associated with terms such as relaxation, calm, confidence and enjoyment. There are certainly circumstances where this may appear to be true. However, in my experience, when individuals start looking at what is underneath their own alcohol use and what it represents in their life, it often opens up a deeper conversation about inner narratives, difficulties and conflicts that they may not have even acknowledged until this moment of reflection.


If we were to look at alcohol use in the context of an iceberg, consumption of alcohol would be the part that we see. And if you spent any time studying glaciers you know that the majority of the iceberg actually lies beneath the surface out of site. So if alcohol use is what you see, what does the bummock (submerged part of an iceberg) consist of? That's the tricky part! Everyone's bummock is unique, based upon their own life circumstances and discovering these underlying pieces is a large portion of our therapy sessions with individuals. Throughout my years of working with individuals struggling addiction concerns, following are only some of the potential concerns that often are lying quietly beneath the surface:

  • Underlying mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder etc)

  • Past traumatic experiences

  • Grief & loss of loved ones, sense of self, or perspective of the world

  • Questioning self-identity

  • Chronic pain

  • Difficulties regulating emotions

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Shame & guilt

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Lack of learned coping skills

I could write pages and pages with an exhaustive list of everything that could be underlying someones substance use iceberg. And while they are sometimes seemingly quiet under there, these areas are the foundation that are pulling together to hold up the structure of your use. Many individuals that we work with have confidently stopped drinking, but wonder why every so often, the temptation rears its ugly head and they find themselves back in an unhelpful pattern of consumption. Removing alcohol is only part of the equation for living a life in alignment with your values. The most important work, is addressing those underlying concerns so that when life becomes difficult, or it's time to celebrate your best friend's wedding, you will have the skills needed to stay true to your goals, whatever they may be.


So what is the positive news to this somewhat dark & dreary post? That you don't have to do this exploration and self-reinvention alone! We have a group of amazingly caring, compassionate and non-judgemental therapists to help you not only discover what's underneath your iceberg and start to move through healing, but will also help you to re-establish joy, security and empowerment into what may have started to feel like a journey you fell into without any control of where it's headed. Reach out today for a free consultation with one of our skilled therapists to see if we are a good fit to guide you on this journey to your new life. One where you are in the drivers seat, instead of the bottle in your cupboard.

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