Peace Officers Fellowship


We have all seen alcohol used as liquid courage on television — the high-class lawyer takes a drink during lunch just before going into the courtroom for closing remarks. We have likely also seen alcohol used to find courage in real life — having a few drinks before singing karaoke at a bar, before getting on a plane or maybe even before having a difficult conversation. Have you tried taking a shot to free yourself of a nervous, uneasy feeling? If so, you have possibly concluded that alcohol offers an extra dose of bravado to help you take on the world.

You might already know that alcohol offers a flood of dopamine, a chemical released by the brain associated with pleasure, as well as leading to a reduction of inhibitions. Alcohol numbs your senses and prevents you from feeling fear. Alcohol will not give you courage; it simply numbs the feelings of danger. But aren’t fear and a sense of danger important?

Let’s take a look at the impact of reducing our fear. In today’s world, the ultimate danger (being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger while hunting and/or gathering) is no longer an issue. I’m sure we can agree that while grocery shopping can be annoying or even frustrating, it is not typically life threatening. However, does that mean we have no need for fear? If we are out having a few drinks and our fear and inhibition are lessened, aren’t we more likely to get in the car to drive home even though we might be over the legal limit? Have you ever seen someone who had been drinking get into a physical altercation that they likely wouldn’t have engaged in if they were sober? The fear of getting hurt, getting in trouble, getting arrested, losing your job, losing your life or causing the loss of someone else’s life are important fears to keep intact.

Fear is a key to survival. It prevents us from taking unnecessary risks, allows us to exercise caution and make better decisions, and motivates us to action. We protect ourselves because of fear. So yes … even though it is uncomfortable, and we might want to live a life without feeling fear, it is important to our survival.

Now it’s time for a potentially uncomfortable question. Ask yourself if you tend to use alcohol to help you find the courage you need. If the answer is yes, or even maybe, consider the impact of using alcohol in this way. What are the costs you have already paid? What are the potential costs you could face in the future? If alcohol is making your decisions for you and the cost of those decisions is too high, maybe it’s time to do things differently. What would happen if you decided to stop drinking? Perhaps do some research on getting sober. What might be different? What relationships could be mended? What goals could be reached?

When you stop drinking, you will start to see the benefits. Inevitably, you start to feel strong and empowered because of the strength you have shown by changing your behavior. You become healthier, and your situation in life improves. And … you don’t have to go it alone.