Friday, March 16, 2012

The Myth of "Soon"

There is a common way that people on Internet forums describe something that is being promised, but is not likely to happen. They say that it will happen Soon™. This is a sarcastic way of expressing a well known fact; people who talk a great deal about doing something most often do not do it. Nowhere is the myth of soon more visible than in those with drinking problems.

Problem drinkers are often procrastinators extraordinaire; we prioritize through the lens of alcohol, putting off everything that doesn't positively impact our drinking time. This procrastination gives rise to soon-ism.

In Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change model, recovery begins when an individual moves from being determined to become abstinent to taking action. There is a second path at the determination stage, one in which action is aborted and drinking is resumed. It is this fork in the road that we must overcome in order to move into recovery.

When we say, "I will quit drinking soon," we are telling ourselves - and others - a lie. We will not stop drinking until we stop drinking. Saying that we will stop "soon" is a statement designed to get others (or even our own better instincts) off our backs without tying ourselves to a specific point at which we will cease to be drinkers and become recovering women. We are weaving a tale, a myth in which we are doing our best and should be left alone.

Statement One is the great myth-buster. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility. It doesn't say, I have a life-threatening problem and I'll get around to dealing with it soon. We all know too well that soon never comes, and in many cases "soon" is too late. It's like SCUBA diving. If you ignore the gauge on your tank and keep saying you'll check it soon, you're very likely to find yourself out of air and too far from the surface to get there before you drown.

So how do we stop saying "soon"? How do we reach that fork in the road and pick the path of sobriety over returning to our addiction? It is a matter of deciding that the negatives of drinking outweigh the positives. We must honestly face our lives and acknowledge that alcohol does us no true good. For some, this requires facing the fork many times, shedding excuses each time until the choice is obvious. This is the key; when you are faced with the decision of becoming sober or remaining in your addiction, you must actively examine the reasons you feel there is any choice at all.

I encourage you to make a list of the positive results you achieve from drinking, and then follow each of those results to the end. How many of those "good" reasons for drinking end with very bad results? Now make a list of the positive results you can achieve by remaining abstinent. Keep these lists with you, and pull them out the next time you find yourself at the crossroads. Remind yourself that you cannot quit drinking "soon". Decide that you will quit drinking NOW. Embrace Statement One; take charge of your life and choose the path of sobriety.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck to you. I've been on and off the drinking wagon for years. It's like what Terry Prechart once said about having 10 things better than drinking...if I've got 'em I'm good, if not, that's when the trouble starts.