Alcohol Abuse & Addiction Vs Alcohol Dependence – What Lead Me To Alcohlism & How I Got Out

What’s up guys? Matt here with Project Unbroken. Today I want to talk about alcohol, alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, alcohol dependence, and the difference between the three of them. Stay tuned. So guys, a lot of you know, if you’ve seen any of our videos where Greg and I talk about our drug of choice, booze was my go to. I started drinking at a pretty young age regularly. So I had my first drink ever, I think I was like three years old. Long story.

I Started Drinking Alcohol Young!

Somebody gave me a beer, I ended up drinking the whole thing, and who knows if that had anything to do with what came down the path. By the time I was 12 or 13, I was getting drunk on a weekly basis for the most part. Then as about as often as I could get alcohol. I’m sure I’d have been drinking more if I could have gotten my hands on it, but weekends, me and my friends, we would try to get to somebody’s house and camp, out and drink a bunch of beers.

So we didn’t remember anything, and through that period of time, I think it’s really dangerous as a young teenager to have that kind of influence take over at such a young age, because it’s a really important vital time when you start to develop your coping mechanisms, and your social awareness skills.

Alcohol Abuse Vs Alcohol Addiction Vs Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol for me completely took that over, but today I wanted to talk about my experience with alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. I wanted to talk about alcohol dependency, and I think there’s a lot of confusion between these terms and with alcoholism in general. Just to be clear and straight up and honest, I don’t think there’s really, you can’t nail any of these terms to a person, and you can’t define any person by any of these terms.

I feel like there’s a lot of stuff on a sliding scale here, and you have to, if you’re looking at yourself, be very honest and accountable with your actions and your habits. If you’re watching this because of somebody you care about, I think there needs to be a level of honesty in that discussion as well. So I know that when I was going through my problems with drinking, that eventually turned into, it was the gateway drug for me that turned into using harder drugs like cocaine and eventually heroin.

A lot was going on. There was different points in my life where I used alcohol in different ways, and it was always as a tool to manage emotions or social interactions, and the way that I felt through those social interactions.

Drinking Was Fun…

Like I said, at an early age I was drinking. I had a lot of fun with it and I felt like it lowered my inhibitions. I had, as most teenagers do, some issues with self esteem that seemed to disappear with the alcohol. So of course, when you don’t know any better and something seems to fix an issue that easily, you’re just going to go right at it. That’s what I did in the party scene through high school, and what should have been college was just fueled by alcohol.

Again, the way these terms are written out, your habits or the side effects because of these habits, it’s all really confusing. I would have definitely considered myself an alcoholic at the time, because when I drank I decided to drink a lot. I didn’t of course, well not of course, but I wasn’t the type of alcoholic that needed to drink every single day or anything like that, but when I was going out I was getting hammered.

Classifications Of Alcoholism?

That was my goal and that’s what I intended to do. So when I started looking into these different classifications for these different levels of alcoholism, some things became a little bit more clear to me about my past with drinking. So as it’s defined, alcohol abuse is using alcohol too often or too much in a very general term, but it’s binge drinking to a point that you’re starting to see some negative effects in your life. So social interactions might be going south, relationships are being damaged.

You might make some really terrible decisions like inciting violence, or drinking and driving, or something like that. The next step on the list is alcohol addiction, and that’s when you see these negative effects from alcohol abuse coming into your life, but you can’t stop yourself from drinking.

So even though you’re aware that this is starting to have a negative effect on your overall wellbeing, you continue to drink. The next step after that is alcohol dependency. This is where you’re actually having a physical dependency to the drug alcohol. If you don’t have alcohol, you’re going to experience withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol can be, alcohol withdrawal can be really dangerous.

Alcohol Withdrawal…

For some people, lead to death. You can go through delirium tremens, or you have the shakes, and it can lead to seizures. There’s a lot of really bad effects with the alcohol withdraw that I have not experienced personally. So again, I think alcohol dependency, you do not have to be addicted to alcohol and to be addicted to alcohol, you don’t have to be alcohol dependent.

So again, everybody has their own relationship with this thing, and I think alcoholism is very interesting because of that fact.

Alcoholics Are Different

Some alcoholics need to drink every single day, some alcoholics can drink once a month, but when they drink they drink way, way, way too much. So there’s no clear cut label for any type of drinking, or the way that anybody abuses alcohol. So again, for me as I was going through it, I had a really tough time figuring these terms out for myself, because they are vague.

I saw a little bit of the way that I drank in all of those terms. For instance, when I drank, I definitely drank to a point where it was causing negative consequences in my life. So some of you guys know I have had two DUIs. One that I wrecked my car, and it was pretty bad.

Luckily it was a single car accident, but I totaled the car, and it was not a good situation for me at all clearly. Two DUIs, a bunch of different fights. So when I used to binge drink like that, I would tend to take things too personally and a lot of times lead to violence, and I was arrested several times for drinking and fighting.

So there’s the alcohol abuse where I would drink to get drunk, and saw some real negative effects because of that. Then there’s definitely some signs of alcohol addition when I look back on my drinking history, especially after my second DUI, I really … Well after the first DUI I think I knew all right, this is starting to become an issue.

After my second DUI, I really knew like all right, this is ruining your life now because that second DUI I had to spend some time in prison. I did spend some time on house arrest. Of course, I lost my license both times and it really was throwing the wrench in my path to success.

Not that there was one back then by any means, but I knew that it was screwing up my life pretty good, but I continued to drink. While I never experienced any physical withdrawal from alcohol, I feel like I was dependent on alcohol to behave in a way that I thought was ideal in social situations.

For instance, for a while I was bartending and waiting tables, and I would feel the need. I just straight up would drink before my shift. Not a lot, but just enough to “take off the edge” so I could comfortably talk to strangers, and interact in a busy social environment without feeling really nervous.

I feel like this was due to the fact that I spent most of my teenage years developing my social skills around alcohol. So I didn’t really have any other coping mechanism for what people I guess would call social anxiety, or just being nervous, being around a bunch of people that I don’t know and having to hold a conversation.

It was bizarre because I knew the negative effects of alcohol, especially as I started to pay for them with getting arrested and spending time in court, and getting myself into that revolving door or vicious cycle of alcoholism.

I knew of what it was doing to my life, but when I would go to be in a social situation, the feelings of anxiety or whatever negative thoughts I had, it was so overwhelming. I was like, I can’t do it without a drink. I needed that to curb that base level of anxiety.

What Got Me Away From Alcohol Addiction

Greg and I in our videos, if you guys watched some of the other ones when we talk about what brought us out of our heroin addiction, it’s really the same thing that brought me away from my alcohol addiction, or alcohol abuse, or alcohol dependency, wherever that landed for me. A lot of those negative effects started to go away as I got a handle on my heroin addiction.

So the two stories for me at least run parallel with each other, because alcohol was always in the background of my heroin use. If you guys have seen that video, you guys know that I started as my maintenance program for heroin addiction was weaning off.

I was using suboxone as I started to come off of that, I started to implement a lot of exercise, and I started improving my diet strictly in an effort to help a more natural production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Those feel good chemicals, I knew that I wasn’t going to be getting them anymore from heroin or from suboxone. So I started putting these habits in place in an effort to try to naturally make myself feel better. For me it had a really profound effect.

So I actually started exercising while I was on house arrest for my second DUI, and it was cool. It worked faster than I expected it to work. So I was still smoking cigarettes at the time. Again, I was still drinking a pretty good amount. I started to dial it in as I started to work on my suboxone taper. I went, I had a couple of things in the basement, some free weights and I drew up a small little circuit workout.

I had no idea what I was doing at all, like none. I just went down there and just started lifting weights. It was maybe a half hour and I wouldn’t say that I did anything that was strenuous by any means at all, but I got the blood pumping so to speak. I got moving around, and I got done and I felt pretty good about it. I don’t know, it was just this feeling just … Again I guess I do know it was probably endorphins and dopamine, those are the two you really get from exercise and it felt awesome.

I went right after and smoked a cigarette and was proud of myself for working out. Then the next day, I did the same kind of thing. Similar routine, again, I didn’t really know much, but it started to catch on and just day by day I would do a little bit more, do something different, and I just started. I don’t know. I started feeling good about myself.

I started to think that I was getting more results than I was probably actually getting, but I think the important thing here is I started to look at myself with some level of self respect. My self esteem started to improve a little bit. I started to talk to other people about lifting weights, and I started to look at myself as somebody who exercises.

As somebody who was healthy, and I’m not sure how this shifts started to happen, but I slowly started making decisions based off of the person that I was talking about myself as. I started making decisions off of somebody who lifted weights, instead of somebody who smoked cigarettes and drank too much booze. I started to think of myself as somebody who was becoming relatively healthy, as instead of somebody who was a heroin addict and an alcoholic.

I completely shifted my focus away from thinking that I was somebody who was inadequate, or a drunk, or a junkie and unhealthy. I started looking at myself as somebody who was becoming healthy. Somebody who’s making good decisions for their future, somebody who could chop it up about diet and exercise. Somewhere along the line, I just became that person.

Identifying As A Drug Addict Or Alcoholic

I think that’s something that I struggled with for a really long time was self identifying as a drug addict, or an alcoholic. I just kept behaving like a drug addict or an alcoholic. When I started to just put these new healthier habits and behaviors in place, I started to look at myself no longer as a drug addict or an alcoholic, but as somebody who was healthy, and doing okay for themselves. Now you look 10 years later, and I own a gym. That’s a really successful gym.

I love what I do and people come to me for advice about lifting weights, and eating better. It’s funny for me to look back on it because I think back 10, 12 years ago, and I just don’t even recognize that person anymore. So for now, when people find out a little bit, and Greg and I are very open about our past with drinking and drugs, they can’t believe it. Some of them catch these videos and they’re like, “Oh my God, I had no idea that you were a heroin addict, or you were an alcoholic, and you did all this stuff.”

I think that’s because I have a hard time believing it too. That’s strictly because again, I stopped looking at myself like the alcoholic, or the drug addict. I started looking at myself like the dude who was in shape, and was healthy. Just subconsciously or internally, I started to change the direction.

I started to make better decisions, because I was making decisions based off of a person that I had more self esteem in, or I had more belief in. My self esteem was higher, and I wanted to do better things for that person. I know I’m talking like I have two personalities, but sometimes I feel like I do, especially because I was able to make this drastic change and only because I instilled a couple healthy habits into my life that again, it started with 20, 30 minutes a day.

Slowly it just took over my whole subconscious, and I just changed my decision making process in a pretty short period of time. When we get comments or emails from people, and they’re saying that it’s either there’s an issue with drinking or drugs, or both and they say, “I’m going to quit. I’m going cold turkey or I’m going to get off of suboxone or whatever.”

There’s some slight feeling of discomfort in me because I know that when I tried to quit like that, and by that I mean everything remains the same except for I’m just going to stop doing something i.e. drinking or drugs, it never worked for me because I still in the back of my mind,, looked at myself as the alcoholic, or the drug addict that was just going to try to quit again.

Success In My Journey To Recovery

I think the only thing that really allowed me to be successful in this whole journey was the fact that I started doing something new. So it wasn’t necessarily that I was quitting something that led me to find success, it was that I started something new that I slowly fell in love with and became passionate about, and that it caused me to want to make better decisions in my life.

Like I know now that if I go back to binge drinking, if I go back to using heroin or pain pills or whatever, it’s going to completely derail all the progress I’ve made in my life doing things that I truly love doing, and that it made me feel good about myself.

So it’s just such a reinforcement that I can’t imagine myself going back down that road, and I have zero fears or doubts about my continued success. I hope that doesn’t come off as, I don’t know, like cocky or whatever because I know how powerful drinking and drugs can be, and the damage they can do to anyone.

Just the shifts I made in my thinking, I just, I don’t see any pull for me going back to that lifestyle. It’s just I think like a different person now. When I think of myself, I don’t think of myself as somebody that would do those sorts of things. I just brainwash myself into being a healthier, happier person in a weird roundabout way.

A lot of what Project Unbroken is about is Greg and I reverse engineering the success that we found with being able to not only quit drinking, quit heroin and everything else, but also lead that into a successful life where we both are now happily married with kids.

We both own successful companies, and we have a lot of freedom and time to do things that we really enjoy, and to try to better the lives of us and our families. So we want to reverse engineer all that, and show you guys what we did even by accident. I think if we can explain to you what helped us, it might take you a lot less time than it took us fumbling around in the dark, and essentially maybe getting lucky and finding our way to where we’re at now.

So that’s again the whole meat and potatoes of what Project Unbroken is about. That’s why Greg and I continue to make these videos again, in hopes that somebody out there might learn something from what we did right, or what we did wrong, and make it work for them.

So guys, I really appreciate you watching. Greg and I both appreciate all the love that we’ve been getting from you. The likes, the comments, the subscriptions, it all just makes us glow. So thank you for that.

If you guys are not following right now, please hit that subscribe button. I promise you that the content we have coming is definitely going to be helpful for you, or somebody you love. If you’re struggling with this addiction, and let’s not joke around like everybody is affected by this in one form or another.

Whether it’s you or a loved one, everybody goes through it. So we would love for you to stay tuned. If you guys have anything that you want us to speak on specifically, leave a comment, or hit us up on our website at and we’re going to absolutely get around to it. Thanks again for watching guys, and I look forward to talking to you soon. See you.


In Category: Addiction

Greg Morrison

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