Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Liquid Courage

Imagine a bottle filled with an elixir of courage that could be taken whenever needed with no ill effects to your mind and body.  Certainly sounds like a gift from God! I wish it was true but as we all know too well, nothing in life that is valuable or desirable comes free and easy. While I was writing a blog on this topic, an article titled “Liquid Courage” written by Randall W. Forsyth in Barron’s Weekly (February 18, 2013) captured my attention. He cited a study in the journal Science about fish swimming in a river in Sweden contaminated with benzodiazepine (Xanax) that made them bolder, greedier and more efficient feeders compared to a similar type of fish that lived in clean water. The author stated that the chemically contaminated water was tantamount to “liquid courage” for those fish. However, losing their inhibitions made these fish dangerous by feeding on other beneficial species as well as more susceptible to attack by predators.

Two years ago, a patient came to my office who had struggled with his alcohol addiction. He was a sensitive, timid, socially shy individual with low self-esteem. He recognized that alcohol lowered his inhibitions and transformed him into a talkative, confident and socially assertive individual. He said alcohol was his liquid courage.

However, the alcohol-induced appealing transformation came with a hefty price tag which was a loss of clarity and clouded judgment. In actuality, alcohol turned him into a bold but reckless individual. He liked being cool, but hated to lose control. His Alcohol Addiction cost him his job, marriage, credibility and driver’s license. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I told him that if he wants to conquer his alcohol addiction, he must first stop looking for an easy way to foster his courage. Of course, this is easier said than done. The right way to boost his courage and self-esteem is to be the best he can be and make the most out of the talents, tools and opportunities bestowed upon him by Our Maker (Nature). Once he accepted this fact, he reached his turning point and was able to perform to his satisfaction. Alcohol no longer served as a crutch.

Honest, honorable and hardworking individuals will never resort to artificial means to boost their self-esteem, courage and confidence.

By Balasa Prasad M.D.

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