Drinking as a way to cope with the past

Has something happened to you in the past…something so painful, shocking or dangerous that you don’t even want to remember it? It could be robbery, rape, death of a loved one, physical abuse, accident, or illness. This kind of experience is called a trauma.

Some people drink alcohol to relax or have fun. They control the amount of drinks they have, and don’t have more than they can handle. But for someone who has been through a trauma, drinking can become a way to forget about the pain they experienced. If you drink to forget or escape, you might feel like drinking a lot, or like drinking whenever you can.

While drinking can help you to forget the trauma for a while, it actually makes it harder to cope with your stress, for 2 reasons:

1.       Drinking doesn’t take the feelings or memories away. They’re still there, and they will come back. It just means you’ll have to deal with it later on.

2.       Drinking can cause more problems for you. Alcohol makes it a lot harder to focus, to be productive and to look forward to anything. You could end up angry, depressed or not feeling any emotions. It could also make it difficult to get along with others, and this could make you lonely.

There are other ways to deal with trauma, like speaking to a friend or trusted adult about it, or getting counselling. Seek help if you find that you can’t function without using alcohol. Contact the Department of Social Development’s 24hr Substance Abuse helpline: 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312. Learn more about what could happen if you drink too much in our article “Binge drinking and alcohol poisoning”.



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B-Wise User Anonymous 24 April 2018 12:35

It is true

B-Wise Expert Expert 9 May 2018 17:12

Hi there, yes it is