There’s a joke about parenthood that goes something like this: “The most expensive part about having a child is all the wine you have to drink.”
At the heart of that quip is the idea that parenting is quite a challenge, and that’s enough to get a chuckle out of most people. But the other implication is that drinking wine to combat stress is perfectly normal.
As anyone who has struggled with addiction — or watched a loved one do so — knows, equating wine with happiness is a slippery slope. One minute you’re enjoying wine with your friends on a special night out, and the next thing you know, you’re struggling to get through the day without downing an entire bottle.
Is this normal? All the jokes and memes floating around the Internet these days, not to mention all the references on TV shows and movies, certainly make it seem like it is.
Yes, Wine Is Alcohol. And Yes, You Might Be an Alcoholic.
Unfortunately, wine is not harmless. It’s an alcoholic drink, and thus can cause the typical side effects of intoxication … including a risk of wine addiction.
The prevailing attitude toward wine is that it is more sophisticated than typical “pub drinks” like beer, lager, whiskey, tequila and the like. Perhaps it is because wine is more expensive, or because it is associated with religious ceremonies and wedding celebrations. It could also be due to the romanticized image we have of wineries and wine connoisseurs.
Whatever the reason for wine’s socially acceptable image, it is dangerous. While you may not like to admit that you misuse alcohol, that’s exactly what is happening when you pour yourself a glass (or three) after a stressful day at work, when the kids leave for a play date, or out of sheer force of habit.
It’s time for some introspection and to honestly evaluate whether you (or a loved one) may have an addictive relationship with wine. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you drink in direct response to stress?
- Do you have to drink more wine than you initially had to in order to feel the same effects?
- Do you have trouble concentrating because you are thinking about wine?
- If wine isn’t available, does it put you in a bad mood?
- Do you pour yourself a glass as soon as you get home?
- Has anyone ever expressed concern over how much you drink?
- Have you ever felt guilty about your wine habits?
- Do you spend more money on wine than is practical, and thus experience financial strain?
It’s true that not everyone who drinks alcohol will become an alcoholic. However, if you are struggling, it is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s best to get help sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom to admit that drinking wine, although socially accepted, is not doing you any favors.
Workaholics Beware: Work Is Your Wine
You don’t have to consume alcohol or take drugs to be considered an addict. Unfortunately, there are a few other subtle and socially accepted addictions that may cause you harm. One of these is a work addiction.
Do you love your job a little too much and can’t wait to get back to the office? Do you spend your off hours thinking of work? Do you sometimes go into the office on the weekends or stay late in the evenings in order to keep working on a project? Are you the parent who misses recitals and sports games because you just couldn’t drag yourself away from your work? You might have even been jokingly or admirably referred to as a workaholic by your colleagues, family or friends.
In U.S. culture in particular, a significant emphasis is placed on having a good work ethic and being productive. Sometimes, this can go too far.
Work addiction is real and can spiral out of control, to the point where your relationships are damaged, you have no work-life balance to speak of or your physical health is compromised. Fortunately, you can overcome a work addiction and bring harmony back into your life. But don’t try to do it alone; you’ll succeed when you have the support of your loved ones and addiction specialists to help you each step of the way.
Exercise: Another Socially Accepted Behavioral Addiction
You might be thinking, “Now hang on a minute — you’re saying exercise is a bad thing?” Well, it can be! If you spend virtually all of your free time training and exercising, you might be addicted to exercise. And if you’ve ever had to cancel plans or break promises because you had to get in another run or workout, you’ve already experienced some of the negative effects that an exercise addiction can have on your life.
The common thread among all addictions, including those that are more socially accepted, is their tendency to become compulsions and to interfere with everyday life. Re-read the questions that wine drinkers should ask themselves or the scenarios that workaholics often find themselves in. Can you see any parallels between your exercise habits and those other two addictions?
If you’re agitated when you can’t exercise, you can’t wait to exercise, or a loved one has expressed concern over your apparent obsession with exercise, you might need to bring your exercise routines under control. And if the thought of that scares you, you might need a bit of professional guidance along the way.
Admitting to an addiction isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing you will ever do for your overall health, for your family and for your quality of life. Whether it’s wine, work, exercise or another behavior that has you concerned, contact us to explore your options.