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Alcohol to get through social situations

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Hi, I am new to autism and starting to understand that it is not normal to rely on alcohol to get through social situations or to suppress certain traits to the extent that I do. By relying on alcohol, I mean either drinking to be more social, or drinking after a stressful day/week of socialization to try and get it out of my system.

Has anyone been through this and what is involved in getting off alcohol as a crutch? I worry I am just replacing all the problems of alcohol with the anxiety that comes with being autistic.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Forget "normal" (whatever that means).

Focus on the reality that it is not advisable to rely on alcohol for anything. Something to be done occasionally at best, usually associated with socialization. Though using just to seem more sociable....risky business depending on one's metabolism. Where some are more prone to addiction than others. And that even then, it's temporary and never permanent in any perception that it makes us appear more social than we are.

An equation I've been on both sides before. Having drunk a lot in college for entirely social reasons, as well as struggling to maintain a 3-year relationship with an alcoholic girlfriend.
 
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andrew-notfunny

survivor through the dark dumpsterfire
I use caffeine (Soft drinks more specifically). I need lots of it to be able to initiate a conversation or something in real life. Which is... Really bad for my health to say the least. The only thing is... It unfortunately works when it comes to productivity.
Sorry, I don't want this to be about me.
But yes, lots of alcohol bad. Hot take, I know.
And I'm kind of a hypocrite. Yes, I know.
 

Misty Avich

I prefer not to be referred to as autistic
V.I.P Member
Hi, I am new to autism and starting to understand that it is not normal to rely on alcohol to get through social situations or to suppress certain traits to the extent that I do. By relying on alcohol, I mean either drinking to be more social, or drinking after a stressful day/week of socialization to try and get it out of my system.
It's normal where I come from to get drunk when socialising. I think that if bars and pubs didn't sell any alcohol at all a lot of NTs probably wouldn't bother going. They use alcohol to relax in social situations. I don't know where you're from, so maybe it isn't as normal in your culture, but it is mine. I'm teetotal and have never cared for alcohol (even though I'm an anxious, nervous wreck in myself), but I've often been interrogated by others because of being able to actually go out without drinking any alcohol.

And nearly every NT I know drinks alcohol in evenings to relax after a hard day's work.
Has anyone been through this and what is involved in getting off alcohol as a crutch? I worry I am just replacing all the problems of alcohol with the anxiety that comes with being autistic.
If you're from the UK then consider yourself normal by doing this. If you're from certain other cultures then I understand why you might worry.
 

Xinyta

Lost wandering entity
You've already taken the first step, @jsilver256

Recognizing you have a problem, is part of healing. The next steps are going to be harder.

I would also like to echo @Judge in the sentiment of avoiding the generalized ideal of 'normal'. It's subjective and perception based.

But the trick with addiction is trying to disconnect yourself from the habit. We on the spectrum tend to go to addictive things far more easily than NTs, but it's far harder to drop said addictions for us because of how ingrained into our cycle it can get. A habit that brings comfort is harder to break, than a in the moment muse. But we must be actively willing to think another way, to break bad habits.

Seek things that you enjoy that will do less harm. Whether a activity, a drink that isn't harmful to you, a figet toy.

I do share, or use to share, a nasty habit with soda, that @andrew-notfunny mentions with himself. Though that addiction was easier to kick, comparatively to my videogame addiction.

But you are not alone. We all suffer from similar struggles, despite differing circumstances.

Keep trying to be your best self, even if the obstacles are seemingly impossible to surmount. There is a way, but we must be willing to fight for it.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
By relying on alcohol, I mean either drinking to be more social, or drinking after a stressful day/week of socialization to try and get it out of my system.

@jsilver256

I think it's really important that you can articulate this. As @Xinyta said, it really is the first step.

I am in recovery from drugs and alcohol and just past my first year sober. Learning about autism starting 3 years ago was the one thing that finally helped me to walk away from my substance abuse issues and I have no intention to ever go back. Walking away from drugs and alcohol allowed me to finally learn who I really am and start creating the kind of life that I want to live. It takes work, but it is the kind of work that makes everything better.

I wouldn't put too much stock in "normal" unless you are considering what is normal for you. If you know you are using alcohol to deal with your feelings and don't have strong coping skills for being able to process your experience in the world, then this tells you that it could be a very real problem. I accept that not everyone out there has a problematic relationship with alcohol, but some of us do. Addicts of all types become experts at lying to themselves and justifying their substance use.

My issue with substances was that I didn't understand how to manage my own thoughts and feelings and felt alienated from every human that I knew. My life was full of pain and anxiety and I had no coping skills... until I found drugs, and then I developed some really unhealthy ones. The point is that sometimes substances serve an important purpose for us and if we want to leave something like drugs/alcohol behind, we have to figure out how to meet this need in other ways.

I would encourage you to dive into learning about autism. This can be so helpful in understanding how we operate, our propensity to mask, and why we may rely on alcohol in an unhealthy way. Keep in mind that many many people need some help to change substance related habits. Support groups and therapy come to mind as the kind of help I am talking about.

It's a big topic. I hope you stick around on the forum and keep talking about it so that you can get some support.
 

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Thank you. Yes alcohol does serve an important purpose which I currently have no other coping mechanism for and yes it is a problem. I dropped video gaming in the past few years as my drinking increased. I will pick that back up and make it a goal to get through the week without drinking.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
I will pick that back up and make it a goal to get through the week without drinking.
Video games sounds like a good alternative right now. Think of harm reduction. You don't have to be perfect right now, but getting away from the worst vice will be a step in the right direction. The brain can go a bit wild when it is deprived of its drug of choice, so maybe you can have some rewards on hand. For me, it was coffee. 24/7 coffee in early recovery.

Maybe posting on the forum will help, too. When I first got sober, I spent a lot of time on the forum just as a distraction. Sometimes talking about addiction, but sometimes just playing games or reading other people's threads.

Hope your week goes well.
 

Chailatte_

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Yes! And I become a completely different person: friendly, sociable (I already am, but many may not see it that way), I lose the sense of feeling "weird," have quick comebacks, and have no problem delving into my thoughts.

I no longer drink to socialize ,I never liked socializing "without a filter of selection," but I thought it was right to be so sociable and outgoing, this was a lot before the diagnosis. Now I have my circle, and I'm fine with that because I don't want to self-destruct to please others. I did it for too long before my diagnosis, and now I feel "free." I still feel strange and different, but if I'm going to have a drink or two, I want to do it because I want to, not because I think it's necessary. In that case, I don't even put myself in that situation.


Now:


1. I must feel comfortable, and it's also the other person's responsibility. I don't always have to destroy myself to make others comfortable. If they like me, great. If not, they can go elsewhere.
2. My time is sacred, and I don't want to waste it on people who wouldn't accept me or talk to me if I were sober—for what purpose?
3. Sometimes sinking into alcohol as an escape and feeling lighter is a tempting offer (especially since before the diagnosis, marijuana and alcohol were my social anchors). Still, now that I know my limits, I don't want to destroy them anymore—not for others.

If I feel the need to numb my mind, I know I have to face something, and I make an effort to do so. If I don't know what it is, I do other things (sports, DIY, video games,arts,walks), but with the awareness that whatever it is (even if I don't know what it is, sometimes it's a feeling), it's not worth my destructio and I have to face it.
 

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I had a full-blown shutdown then crying at the therapist. Not a good experience. Usually I do a glass of wine or two beforehand to calm my nerves. Should I expect to be "more" ND without the effects of alcohol?
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
Should I expect to be "more" ND without the effects of alcohol?
That was my experience. Lost the mask, lost the lies, lost the pretending when I stopped using substances to try to figure things out.

Without our drug of choice, there are a lot of new feelings to feel. It can be extremely uncomfortable for sure, but it is an integral step of the process - learning to feel again, understanding what feelings mean, and figuring out what to do about them. It's very difficult. It can feel very raw in the beginning.

But this does not last forever. It is a stage to pass through. This is the time to try out some coping strategies - for me very vigorous exercise helped. I let myself drink as much coffee as I wanted. I listened to lots of too loud music. It's a tough time.
 

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
That was my experience. Lost the mask, lost the lies, lost the pretending when I stopped using substances to try to figure things out.

Without our drug of choice, there are a lot of new feelings to feel. It can be extremely uncomfortable for sure, but it is an integral step of the process - learning to feel again, understanding what feelings mean, and figuring out what to do about them. It's very difficult. It can feel very raw in the beginning.

But this does not last forever. It is a stage to pass through. This is the time to try out some coping strategies - for me very vigorous exercise helped. I let myself drink as much coffee as I wanted. I listened to lots of too loud music. It's a tough time.

Thank you. I don't like this. I've been doing this for half my adult life now. A drink after a stressful day, a drink or two before a social event. Out of perceived "need" not "for fun."

Did you have a career or other obligations that you had been using alcohol for mask? What did you do about those?
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
Did you have a career or other obligations that you had been using alcohol for mask? What did you do about those?
I was addicted to drugs and alcohol for over 20 years, so there were different phases. I'll focus on the last 10 years and alcohol because that is what you have been talking about here. I used alcohol for everything. Morning, noon, and night I'd have a few drinks and a smoke (weed) just to get by. Just like you - a couple before therapy helped me get through it, but then a couple after therapy helped me calm down. A couple more later in the evening would help me sleep for a few hours.

I had a job and one of my deepest shames is that I would most certainly be high or a bit intoxicated during work almost every day. I was no sloppy alcoholic. Not at all. I appeared to be functioning very well, but it was all a lie and was taking a devastating toll on my mental and physical health. No one ever showed that they noticed my substance use, and so it carried on for years and years and years. I appeared to be more social and less affected by sensory stimuli than I really am. I did not stim so much. On the outside, this made me look more like those around me, but on the inside it was just suppression which lead to very dark thoughts and an eagerness to meet the end of my life.

This was all before I started learning about autism and I had very little understanding of why I felt so incapable of understanding my feelings and connecting to other humans. I thought I could build connection by deadening the dread and anxiety and depression within by using drugs and alcohol.

I realized that I was in an environment where I was constantly pretending and felt utterly alone. I had to learn about myself, change my expectations, and re-imagine my goals before I could begin to heal. The big change I made was a commitment to myself as I really am and a desire to live in a way that works for me. Life doesn't look like I expected it to, but I sure as hell don't miss how it used to be.
 

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Wow. Thank you for your answer. It is quite helpful to know that you went through a similar experience.

Every time I've tried to stay away from alcohol, I got back on at about day 5 because I found it intolerable after the physical symptoms are gone. I thought it was PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). But the recent ND diagnosis gave a new perspective on all this.
 

jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Got my official diagnosis today. My existing therapist was not qualified to diagnose autism, so had to get it independently.

I thought it'd be liberating but I just want to cry. I have been using alcohol for so long to suppress a part of myself and to give myself capabilities I might never have otherwise.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
Got my official diagnosis today. My existing therapist was not qualified to diagnose autism, so had to get it independently.

I thought it'd be liberating but I just want to cry. I have been using alcohol for so long to suppress a part of myself and to give myself capabilities I might never have otherwise.
Maybe today is a crying day and feelings of liberation come tomorrow. I hope this is an important part of your journey toward better things and not so much need for suppression.
 

marc_101

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Got my official diagnosis today. My existing therapist was not qualified to diagnose autism, so had to get it independently.

I thought it'd be liberating but I just want to cry. I have been using alcohol for so long to suppress a part of myself and to give myself capabilities I might never have otherwise.
Congrats on the diagnosis! It will be very helpful. And yes, work on the alcohol issue. I used to drink a lot when I was a teen, and looking back, it did help socialize. It was a different experience because I grew up in a country where drinking almost every day was what most people my age would do. I left when I was 17 and continued drinking but more moderately. You could seek help to stop, or at least make it more moderate if possible.
 

chincey_james

Well-Known Member
I used alcohol to cope in my 20s before I knew I was autistic. It nearly destroyed me.

Here's the truth I wish I knew then: Alcohol only apparently removes anxiety. In actuality, it causes more stress than it relieves. It is a potent poison and carcinogen. The number of its victims is uncountable. Alcohol is the new tobacco.

How do you leave it behind? First of all, it must be reduced slowly or else one risks deadly withdrawal symptoms. Secondly, one must see the truth about alcohol and not have any illusions that it is a wise thing to do. Thirdly, one must fall in love with life and actualize potential into reality. Find the joy in BEING rather than the nonbeing of drunkenness!

And yes, I do feel and reveal my autism more acutely now. It is not always easy, but I am finding the joy in living honestly. I love myself on a much deeper level now.
 
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jsilver256

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I guess in retrospect I should have realized something was off because the 4th day after drinking is worse than the other three. That's when I've failed the most historically. Fourth, fifth days after the last drink.

It feels like the fogginess and headaches of the first three days were serving as a distraction from the anxiety / energy I'm experiencing now.

This time around, I'm bouncing my legs like crazy, something I used to do when younger, and it actually seems to take a good amount of edge off. I even had to stop myself from rocking. I didn't think I was autistic because I didn't stim unless under pressure (and who doesn't wring hands), but ... here we are.
 

chincey_james

Well-Known Member
The feeling of being healthy will only grow and feed into itself. Nutrition and sleep does wonders.

What an exciting time in your life. A chance to become new. Stim away! I also had to learn who the real me was and that meant being as "weird" as I need to be to get by.
 

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