The Dimitrius Show

How are Alcohol Addiction and Trauma Linked?

Alcohol addiction has devastating consequences, but it is largely still glamorized by most of our society.

Why don’t we take it more seriously? How do you define what alcohol addiction is? Is there an underlying cause? Dimitrius is joined by guest Shalina Lodhia, a mental health counselor, resume writer, and musician as they peel back the layers of alcohol addiction and the trauma that is often linked to it.

Addiction & Compassion

Shalina Lodhia  00:58

Trauma is a source in the cause of a lot of drinking problems. Personally, to me, it was I had an absent father and I never had a dad growing up.

Dimitrius  01:07

Today’s subject is pretty intense. But I like many people believe it’s a subject that gets overlooked. When we bring up alcohol addiction, many of us know the harmful effects of alcoholism, sometimes firsthand.

Some of us have had friends, we’ve watched struggle with it family members, some of us even had parents who were alcoholics.

Still, alcohol abuse is largely glamorized and not taken as seriously as it should be. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol addiction, otherwise known as alcohol use disorder as a chronic relapsing disorder associated with compulsive alcohol drinking, the loss of control over intake and the emergence of a negative emotional state when alcohol is no longer available.

It’s characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use, despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. So we have a clear definition of what alcohol addiction is.

But is there an underlying cause? We’re going to explore that on today’s episode. So let’s get started.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Dimitrius  02:57

According to heavy drinking is defined as eight or more drinks per week for women, and 15, or more drinks per week for men. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and five or more drinks during a single occasion for men.

Most people who drink excessively aren’t alcohol dependent. But I’m going to be honest with you, I definitely have more than five drinks on occasion.

Which leads me to the long term health risks, such as high blood pressure, cancer, weakening of the immune system, learning and memory problems, mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, social problems that can be family or job related. And lastly, alcohol dependence.

So before you even get to the alcohol dependence portion of it, you have all these others, these other risks that are just associated with excessive drinking, not even alcohol dependency.

Now in my book Life After Low Self-Esteem, one of the first things I talk about is how your self esteem can often be linked to eating disorders, promiscuity, substance abuse, suicide and even theft.

When you think of it that way, to me, all of that begins to make more sense. How even the state of the world begins to make more sense.

Because if you have a negative self image or you don’t see value in yourself, it makes sense why you wouldn’t be concerned with what it is that you put in your body, how it affected you and what the adverse risk effects were.

My New Year’s resolution in particular this year was to cut down on drinking because it was honestly getting a little excessive over long period of time, especially during the holidays.

Today, my guest is Shalina Lodhia. She’s a multifaceted woman of color, AKA a triple threat. She’s a mental health counselor, a resume writer, and a musician. She does it all. She’s fierce. So for a topic like alcohol addiction, I couldn’t think of anyone better to have this conversation with.

So I am joined today by Shalina, and Shalina is in Australia. And I believe Shalina that you are in summer in Australia, and I think you’re actually also a day ahead of me.

Shalina Lodhia  05:41

Yes. Official first day of summer was yesterday. And yes, I am one day ahead of you. It’s 10am here.

Dimitrius  05:49

10am on Friday, yes. Today. I am very privileged to speak to someone from the future. So. So I’m very delighted to be able to do that. I’m noticing Shalina you your professions here I have you listed as a counselor, a resume writer and a musician? Yes. Yes. The musician part of it? Do you play an instrument?

Shalina Lodhia  06:18

No, I sing in a rap.

Dimitrius  06:21

You sing and you rap? Did you go to school for vocal or anything?

Shalina Lodhia  06:26

I did when I was quite young. And then after that, you know, I sort of felt like depressed. And there were times I couldn’t afford it and things like that. So I guess I did a lot of it from home from my bedroom. 

And it, it was a it was sort of an escape from my world and my reality when I when I diverged into music. So I would say that music has sort of saved me in a way so counselling is like for other people. And music is like my form of therapy pretty much.

The Woman of Many Talents

Dimitrius  06:59

Very good. Well, good. We all need that escape. And I’m glad that music works in that way for you, you and I actually share that in common. I was a vocal major in university.

And when I saw musician, I was like, oh, let’s pick her brain a little bit here and see what her experiences so very good to know that you have experience with music? And yes, absolutely. It is definitely a medium where so many forms of expression can take place.

And so many forms of comfort. Can Yes, please as well. The music is a healer. Absolutely. Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. So your current profession? Yes. What is that for you?

Shalina Lodhia  07:43

Trauma counselor. I also do resume writing on the side, I started off doing resume writing, I moved to Korea counseling. Then I moved towards helping women who were suffering from domestic violence in my, in my community.

So I’m Indian. And from there, I realized that so many women that going through domestic violence, but there’s so much more sort of going on in their mind and in their lives.

And from that I thought, You know what, I want to help people on a bigger scale, not just with domestic violence, and it’s sort of led me to reflect upon the things I have gone through.

And I guess I had to start my own healing journey. You can’t help other people if you haven’t started your own journey and healed yourself. So that and I realized how much my own traumas played a part in, you know, my drinking and trying to escape from reality in negative ways.

And so once I dealt with all that, I thought, I actually want to be a counselor, and I want to be the person that I never got to have what I was young.

And so with the knowledge that I have, in the experience, I have a I help I heal through helping other people with my knowledge and my experience and sharing it on on a platform to be like the voice of the voiceless. And I really enjoy doing that.

Dimitrius  09:11

Very good. Very good. So I’m noticing right away. So the topic of the episode that we have, or in our discussion today was alcohol addiction.

But I’m immediately picking up on where it begins with something else outside of that. And would you want to kind of elaborate on that?

Shalina Lodhia  09:33

Yeah, so I mean, trauma is a source in the cause of a lot of drinking problems. Personally, to me, it was I had an absent father.

I never had a dad growing up. And I went through a lot of bullying and racism at school, to the point where I just completely hated who I was. I hated myself, my name, my face, you name it, I hated it all.

And then I also realized there was a lot of intergenerational trauma that had gone on in my life and other have problems at home.

So when somebody comes to me and tells tells me that they or someone they know has a drinking problem, I usually ask them about their past experiences and their life growing up, and what’s really going on for them now, because you know, when you first drink it, alcohol can make you feel so happy and so calm.

But then alcohol really is a central nervous system depressant. And it’s a depressant that reduces the speed of your brain activity.

So while alcohol can offer temporary, physiological or emotional relief, it can make you feel confident escape from reality and your problems. It can also make you overly emotional and you lose inhibitions. And you can end up making poor choices.

So and you know, some people just blank out and have no idea of what happened, and never recover their memory, which means that if there is something they need to remember, they never will.

And obviously, it affects people differently. So my profession helps to uncover why exactly a person drinks and to link it to the source of that, which is, in my experience in my own life.

And from what I’ve seen, it’s trauma, and it is trauma that usually has been passed down from one generation to the other, which we call intergenerational trauma.

And once you start to acknowledge and put the pieces together, you don’t always feel like you need to drink because you’ve now realized, where your your pain and your suffering is coming from.

Dimitrius  11:31

Very good. So that’s so interesting that you’re mentioning all that it’s tied back to, I’ve written about and I’ve, I’m of the belief that many of the I want to say it, not toxic, but problematic behaviors that we often find ourselves constantly going back to, and participating in, are tied back to like you mentioned trauma.

And also, back to kind of lack of low sense of self worth. Yes. Personally, I can speak that I’ve I’ve definitely gone through that journey of overcoming those negative self image thoughts and everything like that.

And I once I did that, I realized that a lot of God, drug addiction, going into relationships that are kind of harmful to us can tie back to trauma that we’ve experienced, and also that negative self image, when we feel like well, maybe we don’t voice actively that we feel worthless, or we feel that we are not a good person.

But it comes out in other ways that we don’t recognize right away. So like you mentioned earlier, someone may come to you and say that they have a drinking problem, and they have a problem with addiction.

But then you’re asking them, okay, well, what is Wendy, for instance, when do you feel like you have to drink and why?

What does that tie back to? And I think that is absolutely important to root cause that and see what’s what’s going on that’s leading to that.

Shalina Lodhia  13:14

Absolutely. Okay. I know for me that not having a debt and not having a father in my life was one of the major causes.

Because you you don’t feel worthy you don’t feel that love. You don’t you don’t have your self love. You. You don’t you sometimes you don’t even care about your own self.

Because you think well, you know, my absent parent, my father, mother, whoever was absent or if it was both, you think what they didn’t care about me, I don’t give a damn about myself, I’ll just drink and smoke and do whatever I like, you just don’t care.

You don’t love yourself enough, because they didn’t love you. So I’m having an absent father is a major cause for alcohol addiction.

And just as well as obviously problems at home because you mostly drink to escape. You don’t you? People don’t drink to usually just party up because you can party without alcohol.

So why is it that you feel the need to drink? 

Dimitrius  14:12

I also feel like it goes back to No, I’m not an expert on attachment theory and everything of that nature.

But I do believe that it also goes back to the attachments that we either receive or we don’t receive an early childhood and speaking back about the absent father and the familial bonds that we’re supposed to get during certain development cycles as we’re growing up.

We’re not receiving those and we’re having to make do without them and we’re kind of putting certain things on hold in order for that to happen.

I think that also contributes to later on, we’re kind of still doing that with alcohol with drugs with seeking out toxic relationships.

We’re kind of still kind of just making do and Yeah, I think it’s important to kind of recognize that for what it is and try to identify it.

So I do like that you do focus on the fact that when you’re speaking to the people who are coming to you, you’re focusing on trying to root cause and get behind. What is driving all have that.

What is the Underlying Cause of Addiction?

Shalina Lodhia  15:19

Yeah. See addiction is is a is a medicalization, you’re medicalizing something that’s not the main problem. There’s so much medicalization of mental health going on that if somebody has a reaction to something they go through, people are immediately labeling them, oh, you’re this and you’re that you’ve got this disorder and this personality disorder.

But most of the time, when we are reacting to something that has happened to us in the past, or, you know, in the day ago, or something, it’s such a normal reaction.

Like, it’s such a normal reaction to want to escape from the world when your world feels so dark and cold, due to whatever trauma you’ve been through, and it’s so natural to turn towards alcohol and drugs and, you know, self harming, and people make it out to be like, You’re crazy.

Or, or you’ve got an addiction. It’s like, No, I’ve got pain, and I’m trying to numb the pain, everybody’s trying to escape the pain, but they just do it in ways that is comfortable for them.

And alcohol just happens to be one of those things that provides so much comfort to a person because it alters how you see things, it alters how you feel. If you drink a little bit, it’s okay.

But if you overdo it, it’s not. So if we stop medicalizing everything that a person goes through and make them feel crazy, perhaps people wouldn’t feel the need to go to alcohol, perhaps they would feel like their emotions are validated and their experiences are validated.

Therefore, they feel understood, and they don’t need the alcohol. But I think that we’re very judgmental at times. We point the finger at times.

And then people what people suffer so much because of that, and they think, oh, you know, stuff that I’m gonna go and have a drink. I just, I can’t cope with this.

You know, being sober. I need I need alcohol. So yes, the problem is, have you heard this quote, and I forgot the name of the person who said it. But they said that a abnormal reaction to an abnormal event is a normal reaction.

So abnormal things that happen in our lives, like parental absenteeism, or whatever form of trauma, sexual abuse, whatever you’ve been through, that’s abnormal

But our reaction of drinking and doing things may also be considered to be abnormal as well. But it’s not. It’s it’s actually quite normal. All these things that people do to escape the pain. And I think it’s very important to remember that.

Dimitrius  17:46

Absolutely. I agree with that. Because you see, you see the correlation, number one, and you also see how common it is.

I don’t know how, I don’t know if the media in Australia portrays drinking as just like an everyday thing. And characters on TV, they have like, six drinks, and then they go about their day.

Whereas in reality, if you did that, I don’t know if you just want to go save the world right after. But I when mentioning that, of course, I absolutely. I agree.

I agree that they’re for the abnormal event and the abnormal reaction to it, and how it actually isn’t normal.

Absolutely. I agree with that. 100%. So for you mentioning your personal journey, what was the aha moment for you were you said, this is maybe the root cause of what I’m experiencing.

Shalina Lodhia  18:41

I think I always knew why I did what I did. I always especially because when I would drink, a lot of my emotions would come out.

And I would think a lot about my dad, and I’d get emotional. And I think about the things that really hurt me. I knew why I was drinking, but I couldn’t find a reason to stop.

Because I couldn’t find a way to accept the absence of my dad and the trauma that I had faced in my family, like with intergenerational trauma and the family problems I was facing, I couldn’t find a solution to fix it.

And I couldn’t find a way to accept that my dad was never going to be in my life and for the rest of my life, I’m never going to have him.

So because I found it very hard to you know, say to myself that this is how it’s always going to be you can’t change it.

I would drink because it just helped me to cope with the overwhelming emotion. But in the last couple of years, it’s been like, Well, I would be a hypocrite if I’m constantly drinking every day or every weekend, and then getting upset and getting drunk and acting out if I’m also trying to help other people.

You can’t have both. So it was like an COVID was quite hard not to drink either, because we were locked down in our houses, and we couldn’t go anywhere, here in Australia, and it was for a long time.

So I think a lot of people develop drinking problems at that point. Everybody was drinking, I was like, what else do you do you smoke you drink…

Dimitrius  20:23

There was a lot of uncertainty, there was so much uncertainty, we were told that it was just going to be a mild thing, then all of a sudden, you’re not sure when you’re going to be able to go back outside.

And so at that point, you’re just like, well, what’s left? To do for me to try to hope for accomplish?

So absolutely. I could see a lot of people turning to different substances, mine was over indulging in food, of course, I was like, Well, I’m not going anywhere. No one’s gonna see me.

So I’m just going to not care about my diet at this point. So, but again, that goes back to why why do you need to? Why do you feel as though it’s not worth caring about your, your health, or your mental well being?

Shalina Lodhia  21:14

Yeah. But when I really discovered, when I put all the pieces together in my life about where my trauma was coming from, it was one, my dad, it was too, I guess, the traumas that I felt like my mom was passing down to me as well.

One of the major causes of me drinking was the fact that my mom wouldn’t let me go out and on the weekends and enjoy my time out.

So in my head, I felt like, Okay, I’m gonna make up for it by drinking, because I’m stuck at home.

That was a pattern that was a very, that was a recurring pattern for a number of years that I wasn’t allowed to experience the life I wanted to because of my mom.

So I needed to escape mentally, because physically, I could not assume which, which it continued for a while. And then I had to get to the source of the problem, which is my mom’s problem with me going out.

That was one, the other one was accepting the problems with my dad, that he was never going to be in my life and accepting that, that’s just how it’s always going to be.

And then trying to find a way that like, I mean, I drank to escape from reality. But what else could I do in place of alcohol, because at the end of the day, alcohol is just temporary, it’s a temporary high, it’s releasing dopamine, it’s not serotonin.

You know, dopamine is the pleasure chemical, that’s what alcohol does. And but you’re you should be searching for serotonin, which is the happiness and when you find happiness from within, and happiness from within camp, for me came from learning about learning so much more about myself and mental health and combining that with music and helping other people.

Shalina Lodhia  22:54

So once I diverted my mind elsewhere, and fixed, the root cause of my drinking, I didn’t, I don’t feel like I constantly need to drink.

And I don’t feel the need to get away from the world, because my world is beautiful now. But it takes a lot of work.

You know, it’s not like a one or two week thing. It can take months and months to really get age. But I think some people think that, oh, I need to go to rehab.

And I need to do all these things. It’s like, you don’t really need to go to rehab you, you just need to get to the cause of it.

By being honest with yourself that, you know, it’s a very uncomfortable place, when you have to get honest with yourself, it’s very uncomfortable.

Because once you’ve acknowledged what the problem is, you’re then like, okay, great, now I have to fix it.

And fixing it is the part that takes very long and gets you out of your comfort zone. So I think that’s why some people resist.

Therapy & Honesty

Dimitrius  23:48

I want to touch on the part that you mentioned about honesty, in particular about when you are going to a therapy session.

And because I hear a lot, I go to therapy, and that’s like, I don’t have any shame towards any of that.

I go and I tell people I’m going to therapy today. Like I’m going to McDonald’s or something.

And so I think people they they bring up where when I tried therapy wasn’t really for me, or whatever they’ve tried to do. And I asked them, well, how honest Are you being? How honest Are you being in your sessions?

Are you going into the session and just kind of sitting there and waiting for them to say these magical words that will make you feel better?

Or are you kind of bringing that, you know, that muck to the surface that you have to sometimes bring up to the surface so that you can really deal with that.

And that means for me personally, when I was coming to terms with low self esteem, there were times where or I didn’t want to tell exactly what happened, how I felt about my day.

Because it meant that I would have to, I felt like I was failing, I felt like I was admitting to some personal fault that once I brought it up to the surface, it was just going to be a defeat.

So sessions would go on. And it was seemed like everything’s going great. And my therapists would be of the opinion that

Well, I mean, I don’t really know why you here, because it seems like you got it under control. I didn’t have it under control at all. So I had to sit down with myself one day, and go, Okay, you’re not being 100% honest about what you feel about yourself, and about your day to day interactions that your counselor is asking you about.

And that’s why you’re not getting out of these sessions, what you feel that you’re not getting what you’re supposed to be getting.

And so it ties back to once I started really being completely honest, and I mean, just raw in tears, and just, I can’t believe I’m admitting to this sort of things.

Once I started doing that, and we kind of started pulling back and going, I understand why you feel this way.

And I know it feels this way to you. But let’s put it up. And let’s really examine it. And it’s really see where that’s coming from. And once I was able to do that, that was when I finally started making some improvement.

Yeah, when I finally realized, I don’t really need to be on 75 milligrams of whatever I’m taking 37 points, whatever is fine.

When I need it, yeah, because you have those days, but and then of course, the eating. And whatever else that I did that was problematic that I did, because unconsciously, I was just like, well, this is going to help me just feel better, until I’m ready to just do whatever I need to do.

So the honesty aspect of being okay with sitting with the parts of yourself, that are not comfortable at all. But still recognizing that you have to do that in order to truly move forward.

That’s what a lot of people struggle with, in my personal experience, when they mentioned, any sort of self improvement or going to a therapist, is what I don’t feel like it’s worth it.

And the correlation there is usually that. I don’t know if you’re being completely honest. And I don’t know if you are properly identifying what you’re feeling, and why it is that you’re feeling that way.

Shalina Lodhia  28:01

Absolutely. I think people are like, go to therapy, thinking, you know, I want to go fix myself, they think the therapist is going to fix them. And my job is not to fix you. My job is to number one, give you tools to help yourself.

And number two, be that you know, be that older brother, older sister, older mother figure for you, whichever therapist you go to, and sort of ask you questions to help you think about the answers help you reframe your mind and retrain your mind. It’s not for us to just fix it because I can’t I can’t fix a problem. I can just give you the tools.

And I can ask you the questions to make you think. But I think people fear being judged going to a therapist because they think that oh, if a person’s a therapist, it means they have no problems of their own.

Like therapists don’t have problems and it makes it sometimes I laugh about it, because it’s like, I have people say things to me, like, oh, you’re a counselor, you should know.

And it’s like, I don’t have the answers to everything. I don’t know the answers to everything. I’m a human and I feel emotions too. So we need to like we need to normalize the fact that mental health professionals sometimes need help.

But also when people come to us, they need to know that hey, we’re not perfect, I can only guide a person up to the level that I am at right now.

And the level I’m at right now in 2022 might be very different to 2025 when I’ve elevated another three years and can help people are at an at a higher capacity.

And I think that’s why it’s so important to share your story so people can hear it and be like okay, this person can be like a mentor to me or I can I can learn from them.

You don’t have to, you know, the be a counselor or a therapist to help someone either. It’s it’s how you’ve gotten out of your situation and how you can use that to help others.

But yeah, people are afraid of being judged. And when you’re honest with yourself, it opens up a whole new can of worms as as well, because like, Oh, you’ve admitted, and you almost like you said, like, you feel like you’ve admitted defeat.

So you feel defeated, you feel like, oh, there’s nothing like, what am I going to do now? You know what’s next?

And you get scared once you’ve admitted. But the beauty of admitting the problem means that you can look for solutions. Like that’s like that’s the whole point of talking about your problem is to find a solution.

But, and I think some people are also scared of what am I going to do with that the alcohol? Like, who am I going to become if it’s such an integral part of the person’s identity, and their coping mechanism and in the way they live? It’s that fear of letting go?

What if I don’t have alcohol? What am I going to do in my spare time? What am I going to do on the weekends?

How am I going to have fun? How am I going to cope with the pain? So people stick to the addiction? Because of the fear? And it becomes a cycle?

Dimitrius  30:59

Absolutely, absolutely.

Shalina Lodhia  31:01

And I know I went through that fear as well, because it was like, Well, how am I going to enjoy? How am I going to go clubbing? Without alcohol? How am I going to enjoy my weekends without alcohol?

But then you do it, and you’re like, Oh, I survived it. Like it wasn’t really that bad? How am I gonna go through New Year’s Eve without alcohol?

Dimitrius  31:18

Yes, it was especially difficult for people who struggle with alcohol addiction, because I’m not sure how it is in Australia, here in America, it’s every function. You not really expected. But it’s encouraged that you have a drink and you overindulge. And drinking.

And so, course, it becomes very difficult for someone to who just wants to not be in the house with their thoughts, because they’ve had enough thinking for one week.

And they’ve maybe been to therapy, and they’ve uncovered some things and they’re exhausted, which I understand, and they want to go out.

But they don’t want to be surrounded by just martinis and beer and whatever the case may be, that’s hard to escape from sometimes it’s hard to go to an invite find environment, that you can sit with someone.

And there’s not the encouragement of, Oh, I’m gonna order a drink. Let’s order a drink and do this and do that.

And so yeah, I can see how that in those initial moments where you’re, you’re trying to move forward and try to develop personality outside of drinking.

Where it is especially difficult, because that’s everywhere, here at least. And it’s like I mentioned before on TV, where every character you see on TV, they have a drink in their hand.

And even if someone does clearly have a problem with alcohol, it’s usually just a joke. It’s not the same as like hard drugs or meth or anything like that. It’s usually just Oh, yeah, they drink all the time. And you’ll see them drink 10 martinis in one episode, and they’re just passed out or something.

It’s like, okay, yeah, that’s just what they do. And because it’s so normalized, it is very difficult to feel as though you need to put yourself in an environment where that isn’t at the forefront, so much. So that you can identify those places where you can just be a person that isn’t tied to that.

Shalina Lodhia  33:45

Yeah, and you need to have the courage to face the truth of why you drink and admit it to yourself. Like that.

You don’t have to go to rehab, but it’s more about learning what alcohol does. And replacing the drink or doing something else or minimizing it, you know, if you’re if you normally have, I don’t know, five glasses of wine have to that’s an achievement and you can celebrate that.

Because alcoholism is linked to your nervous system. So when you crave a drink, and you can’t focus on anything else until you get one that’s your sympathetic nervous system, which has been activated and the goal is to, you know, activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

So you’ve got your, your central nervous system, one sympathetic one’s parasympathetic, your sympathetic nervous system is the gets you going, you ready for the fight or flight.

Your parasympathetic nervous system is that calm mental state that does not need the alcohol. So if you start doing activities like art therapy, or meditation or gym, things that are coming to your nerves and your physiological state, that helps with your mental state, but because alcohol also increases your dopamine levels, and that’s the pleasure can recall.

But over time, alcohol depletes these levels. In order to feel better, you just want more alcohol. And, but when you do activities to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, you are actually increasing your serotonin levels. And that’s a mood natural mood stabilizer that controls your well being and your happiness.

So, you know, even in general, as I was saying before, some people are chasing the dopamine, that temporary pleasure and high instead of searching for ways to increase the serotonin, which you need to have a natural state of happiness.

So it’s, it’s about learning the physiologic, the physiology, behind your drinking, and what it really does to you. And that’s where most addictions are linked to the chasing the dopamine that that temporary pleasure. And alcohol is just a temporary pleasure.

That’s all it is, it doesn’t last long. But things like going to therapy and learning meditation and going to the gym to improve how yourself and your health, that’s long term that will in turn bring you the state of happiness that you need.

But people live people’s mental state I think is really temporary. It’s destination addiction, like, the next thing I do will make me happy.

If I do, it’ll make me happy. They’re not looking long term. What will make them happy? Everything seems to be a short term thing. So alcohol is a short term. Pleasure. I mean, how, how much do you drink to get tipsy and then drunk and then pass out, it’s just temporary.

But if you actually within yourself, you try and turn more towards spirituality or turn to your other hobbies. Like for me music, that’s long term happiness for me, you know.

So I think that’s something that people need to really sort of look into the physiology behind it, because the cravings that you have for alcohol, it can affect your physiology, like, physically, because you crave it.

And then when your body doesn’t get it, you either you can start having withdrawals, if it’s been a long addiction, or you start feeling angry, your heart goes past, pupils dilate, you can have such a strong reaction, if you’re craving it so badly.

So it’s really about finding ways to reduce replace, and activating that that parasympathetic nervous system to eventually not feel the need to drink.

Even Therapists Need to be Human Sometimes

Dimitrius 37:28

Absolutely, absolutely. So we’re trying to your personal journey. I want to ask you, because I think we touched on it earlier, where when you get to a certain place, do you ever feel like this pressure to now that you are a counselor, and now that you are helping others overcome their experiences?

Where if you find yourself noticing something that you do, and it may not be something old, that you’re, you know, kind of backsliding, or something like that, something new that you do.

And there’s this pressure that you put on yourself, where you’re like, I feel like I should be better than this? Do you ever experience that?

Shalina Lodhia  38:17

I’m better than this meaning like, in terms of my options, and my reactions to certain situations is yeah, all the time. I not all the time. But a lot of the times I sometimes think, oh, you know, I’m a counselor, like at the back of my mind, I know the answer to this.

Why am I not behaving the way I should behave? Why am I not? It’s like, do I have this image I have to uphold?

Am I a counselor all the time? Or do I only go into counselor mode when I need to go into counselor mode? So sometimes it’s a conflict between rational and irrational?

And what do you call in not logical? And I think I get fired up when I might react in a way that a person would think, Oh, but a counselor shouldn’t react like that, and will turn around and belittle me.

Well, it feels like they’re belittling me. And they say things like, oh, you’re a counselor, you should know. And then that sort of, I guess, you could say it hurts my ego.

Or it hurts me personally, because I think, but I’m not in counselor mode. 24/7 Like, I might be helping people whenever every time I can.

But I feel things and I react to things. I might recognize why I react so strongly, which is some people can’t are not able to know why they recognize why they react so strongly to things.

But you know, sometimes I’m not in the zone to be a counselor. And once I’m done reacting in a way that people think I shouldn’t and when I reflect back, I think oh, God, like does that put me in a different light? Do they think I’m not a good counselor? Like, am I not supposed to have my own emotions?

Am I not supposed to feel how I feel like, you go through these up and down motions between who you are versus who people expect you to be versus who you want to be. It’s like, it’s like you’re trying there. And it can be it can be exhausting and overwhelming.

And then I just have to, then I have to counsel myself and be like, You know what, Shelina you have emotions, you’re entitled to feel it.

People can’t, a person’s expectation of you is a reflection of them. It’s not a reflection of you that they see you in a certain way. They want you to react in a certain way, because they have some sort of expectation or when a counselor, it doesn’t mean that I can’t react how I want to, or I can’t feel how I want to feel.

So it can be a bit of a battle. In my mind. Yes, it does happen. I think it happens to quite a lot of people.

Dimitrius  40:51

Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah, at the end of the day, you’re being positioned as a role model for other people.

And the people that are not in that role model position, don’t often see the just how much extra tation you’re putting on someone that they you poor, you expect or certain behaviors of them each and every time you encounter them, forgetting that, like you mentioned, you’re not always in counselor mode.

And you’re also still a human being. And you also are going to have your moments, your days, where you’re not going to always fit into what their idea of the role model is.

That’s fine. That’s okay. That’s perfectly okay. And I asked that, because when I finished writing my book about overcoming low self esteem, there were many times where I would I find new things that I still needed to work on.

Dimitrius  41:58

Even though I had worked on the huge major things. Now there are other new things that we still need to work on and overcome.

Now, of course, I would have never gotten to this place, if I wasn’t able to develop that crucial skill of stepping back and going, Okay, let’s be completely honest about how we feel right?

When now, you get to that point where you can see the other things that you do, and the other things you need to work on.

And so some people get stuck on, oh, my gosh, like, I’ve done all this work, does that mean that I’m backtracking or I’m not where I should be.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it just means that, okay, you still have some work to do, but you’re not a perfect individual, and you’re never going to be, and it’s okay. to still have those things that you can identify and work on and work towards.

It doesn’t mean that you are and it really doesn’t even necessarily mean that you’re backsliding or anything just means that there’s now something else that you can focus on, now that you have identified and worked on the major things that you needed to overcome.

Dimitrius  43:23

Well, now that you’ve identified all of that, and from there, it’s just a matter of continuing to use what you’ve learned. Just keep improving. That’s really all it is.

Shalina Lodhia  43:37

Yeah, that’s exactly what I was gonna say. We, people like you and I, we have the knowledge and the tools. And we know, so we have so much information and so much knowledge that we can put it into practice as often as we can.

So we can explain, I’m able to explain why I reacted in such a strong way or why I, you know, did this or did that, but some people don’t even have that self awareness of why they do.

And I think it’s so important to have that self awareness like, I reacted like this, because of this, or I do this because of x, y, and Zed to if people can become more self aware.

It’s just tapping into yourself, about why you do what you do. So many things up so many problems, you can solve your own self, honestly, like so many problems people have, can be solved by themselves, if they’re willing to open up their mind and their heart to it.

But yeah, going back to the role model image that we have yet you have it and then people associate up sorry, people have expectations of you.

And then when you don’t meet it, it’s like in their eyes. It’s like you’ve failed to an extent and in it It’s just, it’s it can be it can be a battle of the mind.

But I guess it’s something that it’s the person who’s expecting, they need to understand that just like they’re humans, were humans as well.

Like, we’re not superhuman, you know, just like they react and have emotions. We do too. We just probably, maybe we know how to express it in a different way. Maybe we’re just more self aware, maybe maybe we can explain it in a in a better way or understand something with more depth.

But it doesn’t mean that, you know, we don’t we don’t, we don’t act out. We’re not irrational at times. But it’s just, it’s just the beauty of being human. That’s who we are. I’ll never be perfect.

Whether I’m a psychologist or a counselor or anything like psychologists, Sydney to see psychologists, counselors need to go see counselors, you know, they’re just at a different level to somebody who may not be, you know, interested in dealing with their mental health right now.

But it doesn’t mean that I’m better than someone. I think people think that, as I said, like you’re a counselor, you just know everything and fix your problems just like that and can solve everybody’s problems.

And it’s like, not all the time. No. We’re, we’re equipped with knowledge. But we’re not like superhuman here.

Addiction & Success

Dimitrius  46:15

Yes. Precisely. So I think my last question for you is, we mentioned earlier, I asked you about your aha moment. What do you feel today has was the moment that you felt the greatest success in your journey? Oh,

Shalina Lodhia  46:38

I think it’s when I started receiving feedback from people that I had helped them open their minds up, and I had helped them with their trauma and that I had validated their pain and that they felt so much better.

It made me realize that I’m actually doing the right thing. I’m, I am on the right path. It was the feedback I started receiving from people. That was like, Okay, I’ve, I have a purpose in my life now. You know, and this, there’s so many ways I can help a person.

And my other aha moment would probably be when I accepted the fact that, you know, I’m probably never going to forgive my dad. And that’s okay. And I don’t need to drink about it. Because it’s not going to make a difference. I don’t have to, I can be angry and not react to it.

It was, it was, I guess, learning about my my emotions, what emotion I was feeling. And that each emotion did not need a reaction.

I used to react to my emotions by drinking, like, Oh, I’m upset, I need a drink. I’m angry, I need a drink. I’m happy, I need a drink.

And then you sit there and you reflect, and you’re like, you know what, I don’t really need to react to any emotion, I feel I can just let the thoughts come into my head and just leave.

And when you realize, and you come to that realization, when it comes to the acceptance of, hey, I can just feel anything I want.

And I don’t have to do anything. It’s like, wow, like you feel free. I think a lot of people in general, they feel like they need to do something when they feel any emotion that is uncomfortable, especially.

So it was it’s mastering your uncomfortable emotions, that gets you to the place that you need to be at. So when I did that, and I can’t say that I’ve just done it and I don’t get angry, and I don’t react I do. But it’s reduced so much from what I used to do.

Ya, my reactions are not, you know, need a bottle straightaway or need to go and, you know, go to the gym and punch the crap out of something like I don’t have physical reactions, when I feel things and that was my other a hot moment that I can be peaceful. I don’t have to. I don’t have to, like, react all the time. With alcohol.

Dimitrius  49:01

Fantastic. Fantastic. Okay, well, I’m glad that you were able to get to that point. And like you mentioned, that’s very important that you are still gonna get angry, you’re still gonna get sad and depressed days. Always. Yeah.

But it’s, it’s reaching that point where you can identify it, you can even identify what’s causing it, but also be okay with sitting in it and not feeling as though you have to get up and do something about it.

Get rid of it. I think that’s what people try to do try to get rid of the negative emotion because we’re taught that you’re not supposed to have them. And it’s like, no, it’s okay to have those.

When it’s when you try to do something about it. That’s usually when it heads into the territory of doing something that is a little problematic.

And I think the more that we learn, not only to identify what we’re feeling but to sit in it and just kind of figure out what’s going on with it, we sort of start to begin to see that, okay, well, this is just a part of life, we’re going to feel different things, we’re going to have different experiences.

And they’re all important. The positive ones are not going to outweigh the negative ones. The negative ones are there for a reason, just like the positive ones are.

And it’s what you do with that, that information. That leads us to the people that we want to be. And so I’m really glad to hear that you were able to get to that point, and help others and you’ve received that feedback.

And that was when you realize that oh, my gosh, you know, I am doing pretty much what I need to do right now. So fantastic.

Shalina Lodhia  51:02

Absolutely. And, um, and I don’t mean to say that I don’t have you know, any reactions or like, I don’t get angry, or I don’t get defensive, I don’t have any negative reactions of 100%. I do that, and I might react.

And then but I’ll quickly be like, Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have, whereas the past, I may not have come to the bowl, I shouldn’t have conclusion, I might have just remained like Nah, I’m not I’m entitled to this.

This is how I feel. So it’s, it’s like you I do react, I just don’t I don’t react for too long, or I don’t feel the need to drink when somebody pisses me off. Right?

Like, it’s about how you what you it’s not about like, you can feel however you feel it’s about what you do when you feel it.

So, I might be I’m still just because I’m a counselor does not mean I’m not irrational at times. But I think that’s the human part of it.

And I think a lot of people would need to realize that even a mental health professional, they can, you know, they have their moments they struggle at times.

So like, Don’t feel ashamed, like whoever you are, whatever you’re doing, like regardless of your profession, like we’re all not, we’re all honestly we all bleed through similar veins. You know what I mean? Our blood still red at the end of the day.

We’re all the same. Some just have more knowledge and awareness. Others don’t. And there’s just there’s no shame in it.

Dimitrius  52:30

Absolutely. Well, Shalina, I want to thank you so much for sharing your experience and really reaching out and just saying reaching out to people in your life course.

And just helping others come to terms with the trauma that they experience and the negative emotions and thoughts that we have that kind of lead into some of the addictions that we tussle with.

Shalina Lodhia  52:56

Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s rewarding. It really is. And I just hope that more people tap into their, their trauma, and realizing that that’s usually the source of their their addictions and really having the courage to face it because there’s just there’s just no shame, like, however you’re feeling whatever you’re going through, there’s no shame in it.

And the sooner you speak up, the sooner you know, you you become the best version of yourself like you owe it to yourself to be that best version should not be feeling ashamed for how you feel in one end, reaching out for help, never any shame.