The other night, I was talking with someone about her struggles with anxiety. She was telling me that there are days that she can’t sit still for even a minute; her mind races and she has no control over her ruminating thoughts. As we talked, I learned about her history of abuse and it was clear that she needed resources for helping her sort through PTSD. However, she probably served herself about four (4) glasses of wine. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just need it to calm down long enough to talk with you.”
She’s not alone. More often than not, people turn to substances in order to change their feelings, one way or another. Since alcohol is a nervous system depressant, it makes sense that it would help calk someone’s racing thoughts. However, alcohol is a quote toxic substance and in the long run causes far more harm than good. Yet, people frequently turn to alcohol as though it’s a god that demands their attention and servitude.
But there are many, many organic and non-substance induced ways to “change the channel.” Exercise, meditation, and prayer are just a few activities through which people can slow their racing thoughts (as one example). Yet, rather than trust these things, people use alcohol to change the way they feel.
These days, I find that talking about substance use and abuse is pointless. The reality is that trying to have people see that alcohol, for example, is a failing god doesn’t do much for redirecting the behavior. What I do find useful, however, is providing information about mindful therapies, such as Tai Chi, Meditation, Prayer, and other formal and mindful practices. They absolutely work and I know that through these formal practices, people can learn to take control of their mental and physical health and thereby reduce their need to follow gods that fail.