Welcome to episode 101 of my podcast, The Executive Edge, with Peg O’Connor.
Peg is a Professor of Philosophy and Gender, Women and Sexuality studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota.
She and I connected because we were introduced to each other, and I invited her on to the show because of her work on addiction. Although I seldom come across someone I would say is addicted to alcohol, I did want to explore the subject. This is because I regularly meet people who are by their own admission, abusing it.
It comes about I feel, because of a reduced ability to manage stress, and therefore an increased desire to fix it quickly. I wanted to learn where ‘just ok’ passes in to ‘not ok’ when using alcohol to destress. I also wanted to be able to help people if I believe it’s a problem
So, what does this episode cover:
Peg and I covered her own background and previous struggles with alcohol. She hasn’t had any for many years but much of her work and recommendations are covered in her excellent book. ‘Higher & Friendly Powers – Transforming Addiction and Suffering’ We began by explaining what Peg means when she refers to higher and friendly powers. This refers to Alcoholics Anonymous and their belief that a greater, or higher presence, particularly God, is helping you in life.
Her struggle with this in the past related to the belief that ‘if you offend, you are offending God’. She was unhappy with this. She felt judged and uncertain even though she knew she needed help. This is what she writes about. Real strength she feels, comes from recognising what you need and having the courage to look for support. You don’t have to seek help from AA but the starting block is understanding whether you are truly addicted. That is, as opposed to ‘leaning’ on something.
How can you tell if you’re addicted?
She completely agrees that it’s very difficult for people to determine this. How do we know when something is over-used as opposed to it being ok for us? She thinks of addiction as a medical condition for some, and that substances trigger a dopamine surge. These, in turn, hook us.
“It’s a problem of life” she believes but the key is recognising what it’s doing to you or your loved ones. If the substance comes to occupy a pivotal place in your life and you feel you can’t do without it then consider this. Often we are out with our friends or partners and sometimes they are the better judge of this rather than us. They get to see, and perhaps feel, the impact of the changes that come in our behaviour. Especially, if we’re drinking to excess without thinking it’s doing much to us.
This is where we discuss the concept of ‘tolerance’ for alcohol. We cover how that tolerance grows over time to the point where more is needed to achieve the same effect.
Do listen in, this was a very interesting subject and you can read Peg’s book on Amazon.co.uk