By: Nate Webster, IMH
The term “Dry Drunk” was coined by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) decades ago. It is used to distinguish someone who is truly sober from someone who might be sober physically, but who is still a “drunk” mentally and emotionally. The term encapsulates the idea that even though someone’s dysfunctional behavior isn’t acting up, his or her heart remains unchanged and that ultimately it’s only a matter of time until he or she acts out again. Even though this term is applied mostly to addiction, the concept is applicable to most bad habits as well. How many of us have bad habits or dependencies we’re trying to stop, but we still just really want to do them?
Stopping a bad habit can feel like trying to stop a desire for breathing. You hold your breath, hoping that while you’re suffocating your body will suddenly stop needing oxygen, but eventually you just grow tired and frustrated and stop holding your breath! In my work as a counselor I have noticed that there are three patterns of behavior that make it hard for people to break bad habits: secrecy, idolization and dabbling.
· Secrecy causes you to hide behind a mask, which often leads to stress that encourages your bad habit.
· Secrecy gives your bad habit control over you, rather than you over your bad habit.
· Secrecy isolates you from others, leaving you to deal with your habit and its residual effects alone without help or support.
· Idolization gives a bad habit more power and influence over your life than God.
· You can become a slave to your bad habit when you idolize it.
· Your bad habit becomes your source of comfort instead of God or other people.
· Choosing to only dabble in your bad habit once in a while can feel like a good way to stop it, but actually only increases it. Each time you dabble, it renews your emotional, psychological and physical connection to your bad habit.
· Dabbling gives you a fake sense of management and self-control over your bad habit.
· Dabbling more often leads to excuses rather ownership of a bad habit.
If you’re trying to stop a bad habit, but are running into some of these behaviors, try these solutions below. Also consider seeking out some good counseling. A counselor helps you understand what life experiences have contributed to your bad habits and can help you overcome them to lead a fuller, healthier life.
Secrecy: Try being more honest about your bad habit with a few people you trust. You will become more of a master over your bad habit rather than a victim of your bad habit.
Idolization: Try drawing some biblically-based boundaries for your bad habit. For example: God still loves me no matter how many times I do my bad habit or God is more powerful than my bad habit, even though I’m still struggling with it.
Dabbling: Try treating your bad habit differently. Instead of it being a tank that just needs to let off some steam, treat it like a backpack that you put a rock into every time you dabble. Eventually your bad habit will break your back.
For more counseling resources check out LifeWorksGroup.org.