July is an interesting month in the city of Calgary. For ten days in July, the city basically shuts down. Many businesses operate at half capacity and the work that they do is focused mostly on parties where a lot of drinking happens. With all the parties happening, it can be very difficult for those who struggle with addiction. However, there are some people who may not describe themselves as alcoholics or addicts yet are finding negative consequences associated with the drinking that has been happening over Stampede. There are individuals who find that their relationship is suffering after Stampede; they may have gotten a DUI after a Stampede party; or they may just be feeling ill after all the alcohol they have consumed. So, if they are not addicts, then what are they?
Charlotte Kasl describes different faces of alcohol abuse in her book “Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps.” One of the tendencies she describes is the “Escape-Hatch Drinker.” One of the key descriptors of an escape-hatch drinker is that they will drink in order to fit in socially. Because they want to fit in, they have a hard time saying “no.” Because the escape-hatch drinker does not consume alcohol all the time, he may be in denial of his problem. Through the denial, the person may also be more likely to drink and drive. I have also noticed with escape-hatch drinkers that they will have problems in their relationships after drinking because they have a tendency to block their emotions. With alcohol in their system, they experience less inhibition and will let out many of their repressed emotions on their partner while intoxicated.
The escape-hatch drinker may struggle for some time with making a change regarding their drinking because they are able to abstain from alcohol for long periods of time. However, it is not until they start to recognize how their drinking is related to some negative consequences in their lives that they may decide to make a change.
So, if you are among many other people who come to the end of Stampede feeling strained in your relationship or experiencing guilt over an incident that happened over Stampede, it might be time to reflect on whether you may be an escape-hatch drinker.
Tessa, Registered Psychologist
P.S.- If you or someone you love can relate to the escape-hatch drinking patterns and want to learn how to step out of that pattern, please send me an email or book a 15 minute consultation and we can chat more.