Back in the day, I used alcohol whenever I was stressed. Quite frankly, I used alcohol for everything, but if life was difficult, my drinking definitely went up. If things felt like too much to cope with, the bottle would always seem to sort things out.

It was only later that I realized that alcohol never sorts anything out at all – in fact, if anything, it makes all your problems worse.

A bottle can't take action, sweep up the pieces, or solve problems for you. All it does is numb you for a while and waste your time when you could be dealing with whatever is bothering you.

Not only that, but if you're drunk or hungover, you're unlikely to be in a fit state to think your way around things, to deal with the issue at hand, and find solutions. Alcohol skews our perceptions and is more likely to give us crazy ideas than genius ones.

You Can't Solve Problems By Staring Into a Glass

Drinking alcohol when you're faced with problems simply disables you when you most need to be on top of things. And booze doesn't wipe out pain like we think it will – it just delays it for a night. And when the pain re-emerges, it is often even stronger because we've let it fester.

Furthermore, chemically, alcohol is a depressant, so sometimes when we drink, it makes us wallow in the pain even more. I often did that thing of sitting against a wall somewhere with a bottle and crying into it. Alcohol didn't dull the pain then – it just increased it. And then I hated myself for being a sad loser who was sitting there whining into a glass.

So if alcohol doesn't help you solve problems, what does? Here are some tips to solve problems without turning to a tipple:

Start Early: The longer you let a problem sit, the bigger it tends to get. Deal with issues early for the best results.

Be Objective: Instead of getting caught up in the emotional drama that problems sometimes bring, take a step back and imagine the issue was happening to a close friend. What you advise a loved one to do in the same situation?

Break it Down: If you've got a problem that seems overwhelming, deal with it a little at a time so it doesn't completely swallow you up.

Brainstorm: Sit down with a piece of paper and let your creativity run wild. Think of all sorts of ways out of your stressful situation. Then weigh up the pros and cons of each solution.

Take a Walk: If things are getting on top of you, walking can help you get your frustrations out. Walking also helps you relax and get your creativity muscles working, so you should be able to think your way out of problems much more easily than if you were sitting staring into a glass.

Ask for Help: Two heads are better than one, and friends or experts can offer you help or a new perspective to deal with whatever is bothering you.

 by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula and The Happy Addict.


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