Do Alcoholics Have Any Choice About Drinking?

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By Mike Highstead

Its very simple. The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your choices. When you make choices that are good for you, you feel good about yourself, do good things for yourself, and have many good experiences. When you make choices that are bad for you, you feel bad about yourself, do bad things to yourself, and have many bad experiences. One road leads to pleasure, the other, pain

Have you ever wondered why people do things that are clearly harmful to their health? Perhaps its because they really dont feel they have a choice.

This is why the alcoholic reaches for booze, the junkie for drugs, the sex-addict for porn. Its because deep in their hearts they have a subconscious need that must be satisfied, and the bottom line is, they havent learned to meet that need in a way that truly serves them. Since they cant see any other way, they havent got a choice.

The dictionary defines the word habit as an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. An addiction meanwhile, can be defined as a habit you cant break without feeling some adverse effects. At that point it becomes a matter of accurately assessing those effects, and then making your decision accordingly. In either case, there is one thing you must know before dealing with an alcohol addiction

There is always a choice.

The Biggest Choice of All: Personal Responsibility.

The good news is, you already have everything you need to get where you want to go. You have a mind that thinks, a body that feels, and a soul that knows the way. The challenge is getting them all to agree, especially when your mind keeps trying to control the show. But who is really in charge of your life? Is it you, or is it your mind? Are you the master of your thoughts and behavior? Or are you a slave to your own mental impulses?


Consider your actions in life. Everything you do can be attributed to one of two things: Your need to avoid pain, or your desire to gain pleasure. Test this out for yourself. Think of anything you might do today, and see if it cant be reduced to one of these primary motivations. Heres a few examples:

Read a book? Gain pleasure.

Pay a bill? Avoid pain.

Go for a walk? Gain pleasure.

Lie to your boss? Avoid pain.

Sleep in? Watch a movie? Answer the phone? Maybe a little of both.

The point is, all your actions, even the actions you really dont like, originate from either a positive or negative impulse. And every impulse is nothing more than a suggestion that your mind has served up for you to do with as you will. The problem is, being unaware of the essential relationship between yourself and your mind, you react to every thought as if it were a command.

Consider your thoughts for a moment. You have both negative and positive thoughts to choose from. You have negative thoughts to protect you from danger, and you have positive thoughts to bring you delight. The best way to think of this is having a negative mind that wants to avoid pain, and a positive mind that wants to experience pleasure.

But then you have a conflict. To your negative mind, all the potential pleasures in life involve some kind of risk, so it doesnt want you to go there. And to your positive way of thinking, you cant fully experience the pleasures in life while you keep holding yourself back, so you disregard the danger.

Imagine an overweight woman standing in front of her refrigerator. On the outside she appears quite calm. But inside, theres a battle raging over whether or not shes going to reach in there and grab that slice of chocolate cake. Her positive mind is saying MMMMM! YES! That cake is gonna taste YUMMY! While her negative mind keeps saying NO! Dont do it! Youre already big as a whale!

Can you think of a similar example for yourself? A time when you were torn between two possible courses of action? In that situation, what was the pleasurable experience you wanted, and what was the pain or danger you perceived?

Personal response ability means the ability to respond. It is the ability to see various points of view, decide what serves your purpose, and take effective action. It means having the confidence and maturity to figure things out for your self. This way, you can actually move forward instead of feeling stuck or trapped.

The Challenge is

If you only have two options pain or pleasure then its not really a choice. Its a dilemma. So thats when you have to be clear. Sometimes it is good to think in negative terms, carefully considering the potential threats. Sometimes it is good to think in positive terms, focusing on the potential opportunities. And your third option is to simply stop and be neutral for a moment. To look at both sides equally and objectively before deciding what serves you best.

The reason you struggle is because you have not yet learned how to effectively direct your mind. You are bouncing back and forth between extremes, with no stability in between. Because you have no neutral way to assess your situation, you cant see all your options. Because you cant see any options, you remain a victim of your fears and desires.

But there is a path with your name on it. One that takes into consideration both the positive and negative points of view, and enables you to make decisions according to your vision, values and objectives. To find that path, there is one decision that must be made before any other decision will matter:

Is your mind going to serve you? Or are you going to serve your mind?

Either you are going to find a way to master your thoughts, or you will always be a victim of your own mental impulses. Either you are going to learn how to control your thoughts, or your thoughts will always be in control of you. There is no way to succeed without addressing this simple truth.

About the Author: Mike Highstead is an expert on Alcohol Rehab & Treatment. With a private practice quietly serving many well-known people around the world, his professional success is founded on the personal success of overcoming his own addictions and helping others do the same. Get his free videos for alcoholism and binge drinking at


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Dentist June 20th 2019

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