Substance abuse can dull joy of life

By Amy Bloch
Therapy Talk

“This morning when I woke up, my husband said if I don’t get help for my drinking, he’s going to take our kids and leave me. Last night, I didn’t get home until after 2 a.m., and I guess we got into a fight, but the problem is that I don’t remember any of it.

I don’t drink every day, but when I do have a glass of wine, I end up drinking the entire bottle and more. My husband says it’s affecting our kids but I don’t see how because I don’t even drink around them.

I feel more relaxed when I drink and am happier. I don’t worry about how bills are going to get paid or think about what my dad used to do to me. It’s just a brief period of time where I can feel relief so that I can get through the week. It just numbs me out.

I don’t want to stop but know that I probably should because I am having more and more blackouts and have even started driving when I’m buzzed. But I’m scared. How am I going to stop the memories? I’ve stopped before on my own, so I don’t know why he thinks I need someone to help me. What good would it do anyway? I don’t know what to do.” – Cheryl K.  Sioux City, Iowa

I hear the pain in your words, Cheryl, and for that reason alone, I encourage you to seek help to get support and to sort through what is happening in your family. It sounds as though alcohol has become a way for you to cope with things in your life, both in the present and in the past. Counseling or treatment teaches you different ways to manage those thoughts and feelings.

I have found that the hardest part is just making that call and admitting that you may need help. It sounds as though your husband loves you enough to say, “It’s time!” Most people who have struggled with alcohol or other substances have never slowed down enough to deal with the issues that have been interfering in their lives and relationships for many years.

Substance abuse dulls the joy one experiences, doesn’t allow for intimacy in relationships, creates fear where it doesn’t belong and prohibits peace in one’s life. Often times, people are able to stop for periods of time, but then end up going back. This can be a sign that it may be time to seek professional help.

So what does that look like? The first part of the process is an assessment. The recommendations could range from individual counseling to group therapy or residential treatment, which is typically the most intensive form of treatment. You and your husband can then decide what is the best option for you.

It can feel overwhelming and many individuals in your situation have said they can’t imagine their lives without alcohol and are scared they won’t be able to stop. The good news is: you don’t have to do it alone.

Clearly you have family support and there is an entire community of individuals who are there to help you find peace and hope, if you let them. We, at Catholic Charities, are here to help you, or anyone struggling with this question, navigate whatever first step you want to take.

Our Sioux City contact information is (712) 252-4547. Please send all Therapy Talk questions to

Amy Bloch, LISW, is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Sioux City.

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