As individuals we each play our unique roles in this intricate conglomeration called society, holding it together by the threads that bind us all.

It goes without saying then, that when large portions of our society are spending their weekends in alcohol fueled blackouts, and the rest of the week working through the shame caused by them, that society is not functioning on its highest level. These same individuals saunter into the Monday grind already lagging from not only the hangover but the shame of their actions throughout the course of the weekend, burying themselves in their tasks only to find themselves frustrated and easily agitated.

Only by the time the stress has culminated to what seems to be an unbearable point, does Friday come around in all its glory offering reprieve in the form of another alcohol fueled escape from themselves and the stressors of daily life.

Why do we drink, after all?

Human beings drink for any number of reasons: to ease stress, to relax, to release social inhibitions, to hide from pain, or to become someone else. In the twelve step programs and most clinical settings, alcoholism is defined as “continuing to drink in spite of adverse consequences.” These could be anything from arguing with your partner or losing jobs, to getting into car accidents or being arrested.

But an alcoholic — unlike a non-alcoholic –does not simply drink to relieve stress or relax, because ultimately the drinking causes more stress and anxiety in their life. This begins a cycle that could start out seeming harmless, but ultimately destroys not only the life of the drinker but many of the lives surrounding them. I experienced this firsthand.

Alcohol was my first true love. Alcohol gave me courage. It took away my shyness and inhibitions and suddenly made me the person that I always wanted to be. However at a very young age, alcohol took my morals too. It literally destroyed me, it destroyed my relationships, my family, my jobs, and my future. I had multiple run ins with the legal system and almost lost my life. I was running full speed ahead away from myself, and alcohol was the rocket fuel that powered my journey.

It gets “harder”

Eventually it landed me in the world of hard drugs, and I was stripped bare and left with nothing. It took me years to claw my way out of that wasteland and regain a foothold in some semblance of a normal life. Many of the people who were on that carousel of drug and alcohol abuse with me lost their lives in the process. I was alone in an abyss or misery and self-pity and I had no choice left but to either die or rise out of it.

Luckily, I found the strength to make a few right decisions and find my way into a life of sobriety. I realize that not many people are blessed with or given the chance to do the same and for that I am eternally humbled. It is through this journey of sobriety that I’ve come to realize that our ability to evolve and grow comes from our daily struggles. We are given an option: to face each problem that we encounter and grow through finding a solution, or to stay stagnant by running from problems or finding an easy way out. My alcoholism and addiction stunted me, while the world around me continued to grow.

Can we evolve?

As human beings we are here to evolve. We should embrace hardship and struggle as an opportunity to grow. We can learn new ways of coming together, building and coping and then ultimately overcoming the trials before us. By running headfirst into intoxication to avoid the bumps in the road we are only prolonging our own misery. It is time we focus on not only on cutting the things out of our diet that are hurting us physically, but those that are harming us mentally and emotionally as well.

Society is constantly changing and evolving, trends come and go. The world around us is becoming much more health conscious and leaning further towards self-care. Alcohol-free bars and lounges are popping up in major cities across the United States and Europe, and alternatives to drinking alcohol are becoming increasingly popular amongst the younger generations. As a whole we are taking care of ourselves better, and there is becoming a far greater divide between those who are focused on self-care, and those who are bent on self-destruction.

The challenge

My mission is to help others grow and to get the most out of life, and sometimes that means facing reality head on with no chaser. It is only through this kind of experience that we come face to face with our own fears, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. Once we begin to learn about ourselves, we can grow accordingly.

As we all begin to individually evolve, society will have no choice but to follow suit. This world will benefit from a humanity focused on solving their problems rather than running from them. If you use alcohol or drugs as your first response to stress, sadness, or frustration, I challenge you to try a new healthier approach through fitness, meditation, yoga, therapy or any other form of non-chemical coping, and then watch your life slowly begin to improve in a new, more productive direction.