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What I Wish I Knew Sooner About Alcohol and Grief

Updated: Apr 10


What I Wish I Knew Sooner About Alcohol and Grief

Society will have us believe that only certain milestones warrant revelry. But, celebration is a valuable tool in the healing journey. I feel we need to celebrate everything that we think should be honored. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that celebration is actually memorializing our power to choose.


This week, I am celebrating what I feel is a momentous milestone in my life. On December 1st, I will mark 9 years without alcohol. This road has not been easy, but I honestly can't imagine the life I have created would be possible if I was still drinking.


My journey in alcohol sobriety has taught me more than I could ever imagine about myself, addiction, and grief. Today I'd like to share with you what I wish I knew sooner about alcohol and grief.


My Name Is Dani And I'm An Alcoholic

Alcohol Doesn't Have The Impact You Think

Healing Your Way Forward


 

My Name Is Dani And I'm An Alcoholic


I come from a long line of alcoholics on both sides of my family. Alcohol was always present throughout my childhood. Alcohol was present at every family function and was consumed by almost everyone around me regularly, if not daily.


My father was an alcoholic, and his alcoholism made him a violent person. He terrorized my family and my childhood. I live with the lasting scars seared into my nervous system, my memories, and my relationships.


In 2001, my father died quickly from cancer. He was diagnosed in May and left this world by the end of August. I was 16 years old and had already been silently battling depression and anxiety for many years. Before my dad's passing, I begged for help. I knew that I was living with mental illnesses that I could not navigate by myself. I was continuously denied access to mental health professionals. My immediate family "didn't believe in mental health" (some of them still don't.) So when my dad died, I turned to the only coping mechanism that was shown to me, alcohol.


I became an alcoholic at 16 and continued to engage in almost weekly binge drinking for the next 12 years until one random day when I could finally recognize that I was heading down the same path as my father.


Alcohol Doesn't Have The Impact You Think


Alcohol is a drug. It's a widely available drug but a dangerous drug non the less. According to the National Institute of Health, 25.8% of people 18 or older in the US engaged in binge drinking in the last month. That's close to 54,000,000 people.


A lot of people use alcohol to "take the edge off" of stressful situations. Since alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the processes of our brain and nervous system. In the short term, you may feel more relaxed and less stressed, but these feelings are fleeting. The truth is alcohol does nothing helpful in the process of releasing stress from your body. Alcohol stalls the release of stress.


When we experience grief, the physiological symptoms are almost identical to extreme stress. Just like any other type of stress, the stress of grief is stored in the tissues of our body and nervous system until we can mindfully release it. Since alcohol is a depressant, it suppresses the nervous system and prevents the stress of grief from being released.


Our relationship with alcohol can be intimate and serve as a desperately needed coping mechanism but it has no place in the healing journey. When we consume alcohol we prevent and delay our healing process.


Healing Your Way Forward


I believe knowledge is the most powerful tool for encouraging habitual changes. That is why I think it is incredibly valuable to learn what exactly happens in the body's systems when we consume alcohol and what motivates us to turn to this drug.


The book Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck was a major motivating factor in my decision to walk away from alcohol. I vividly remember the exact moment while listening to the audiobook when I realized that I would never be able to drink again. At that point, I knew too much about what was going on in my body, and I could not sustain the required level of cognitive dissonance to continue my addiction.


There are a lot of areas to learn about when you decide to not drink. Healing from an addiction isn't just working with that addiction. It is also exploring and healing from poverty, PSTD, depression, and anxiety, and learning to stand firm in the truth of your identity. Addiction is always a sign of something much deeper. Working with a licensed mental health provider can help you go deep to unravel and heal.


Yoga is an invaluable tool in healing both grief and addiction. The 8 Limbs of yoga provides a framework for living and caring for yourself and your community. Comprehensive yoga practice offers a safe space for us to explore our complex and powerful emotions while releasing the physical tightness throughout the body that is associated with stress caused by grief. Yoga practice can also provide a healthy coping mechanism and outlet to navigate triggers and life stressors that lead us toward substance abuse.


I recorded a short Yoga for Grief practice that is designed to guide you toward subtly releasing the stored stress of grief from your nervous system. Click Here to gain access to this powerful practice. The 25-minute practice is just a taste of what a comprehensive Yoga for Grief practice entails. If you are ready to commit to yourself and dedicate time every week towards your healing, I invite you to join me for the December cohort of Yoga for Grief. Click Here to learn more and reserve your spot today.

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I'm Dani

I blend the transformative power of therapeutic yoga and career coaching to guide your toward holistic well-being and professional fulfillment. 

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