Persistent challenges around emotional regulation often serve as precursors to challenges with dependency on external conditions to manifest in a certain way in order to provide a sense of safety or comfort. Often dependency can manifest in relationships, but often such a relationship may take the form of alcohol and or drug dependency. Alcohol, for example, often produces a certain effect that may be qualitatively comparable to “emotional regulation“ and can become an attractive substitute over time. Alcohol, however, simply produces an effect where we “do not care“ about outcomes; this is qualitatively different from effective emotional regulation which grounds us in reality and allows us to identify and consider a more broad range of potential consequences of our actions. To the contrary, alcohol often leads to undesirable behaviors that create their own set of problems for the attorney. In addition, alcohol invariably impacts one’s physical functioning which produces yet another set of undesirable results.
What becomes necessary to break one’s dependence on alcohol and other substances is cultivation of an ability to be with the inevitable discomfort that is an inherent part of human existence. Mindfulness practice, described earlier, becomes an essential tool in becoming better able to relate to underlying discomfort in a way that no longer requires numbing or avoidance behavior which so often prompts alcohol and substance abuse. Through practice, we become better able to realize the nature of underlying discomfort as relating to conditioned, thought-driven fears. As we become more appreciative of the ephemeral, insubstantial nature of our thoughts, we come to appreciate how thoughts come and go. Through this process, we become de-fused from our thoughts and come to realize that we need not react to thoughts that arise as they will simply dissipate on their own accord.