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Beating Alcohol Abuse: 101 Days to Sobriety
Definining the Potential Problem
Do you or a loved one have a drinking problem? Will you admit it? Perhaps you do not know how to define what such a problem is. No, it does not mean that you are hiding bottles all over the house, or taking swigs out of a paper sack. Merely knocking back more than 2 drinks a day as a woman may qualify you in the category of abusing alcohol, particularly if you do this on a regular basis. For men, you get to have one more per day. And let's not kid ourselves either. A "drink" is only 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol. Measure it out before you pour your next cocktail, or host your next gathering and you'll probably see that each "drink" is really closer to two.
Do you make "rules" about when you can drink, pace yourself, or intersperse alcoholic beverages with water? That may be an early red flag, as well. A person that does not have an issue with alcohol does not need to pay such close attention to when or how much they imbibe. Sorry, but we are going to be brutally honest here. There is no room for shades of gray when it comes to this dangerous, but legal drug.
Resources for You and for Me
Going to the Next Step
While no one ever wants to admit they might be addicted to alcohol, oftentimes, the awareness is lurking in the back of their mind, long before any problem ever arises. It does not take an arrest for DUI (driving under the influence), being drunk at work, or a custody battle for a person to be aware of the fact that drinking is taking over more and more of their life. The Internet contains a number of tests and questionnaires designed to help people figure out of they or a loved one has a drinking problem. The easiest, most simple one is an acronym: CAGE:
1. Do you need to Cut down on your drinking?
2. Are people Annoyed by your drinking?
3. Do you feel Guilty about your drinking?
4. Do you ever need an Eye-opener (i.e. another drink) the morning after drinking?
If you said yes to two or more of these questions, then its time to put down the bottle and seek help immediately. Do not wait. Alcoholism (alcohol abuse) is progressive. It gets worse over time. Drinking increases and the urges get more intense. It takes more and more to feel intoxicated, which often drives the person ingesting the alcohol in the first place. If you wait 5 years to get into recovery, it could be significantly more difficult than if you stop now. Plus, not to state the obvious, but you could end up hurting yourself or someone else in the process, if that has not already happened.
What if you think you have a problem? Get help as soon as possible, and don't try to get sober alone. See your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist, or at least to a good therapist. There are definitely some things to discuss. At the very least, you will want to get into regular face-to-face meetings that will keep you "honest." The touchstone program with the most success is AA, or Alcoholics Anonymous. Many people - even those without an alcohol addiction - are probably familiar with the 12-step program of AA. There are chapters in every community all over the United States and in many countries throughout the world. There are similar programs with other approaches, as well, such as Rational Recovery and Women for Sobriety. You may want to see if there are chapters in your area. Some have on-line chat rooms and message boards for extra support.
Talk to your doctor, your spouse or significant other, and perhaps even a trusted friend. See what they think about what program may be best for you. Let them know that you are embarking on a new chapter in your life and ask for their support. This includes, no offering you drinks, no invites to tempting locations, and being available for phone calls and more when you need it.
A Very Powerful Video About Recovery
So What's My Story?
I have known for the past 5 years (maybe more) that I abuse alcohol. I drink too much wine. Only in the evenings. Only a couple of glasses. But every night! Alcoholism runs in my family. But even if it is not in your family, it does not mean that you are immune. I am a member of the Women for Sobriety community and I am recommitting myself to a sober life. There is no "moderation." I believe that you cannot drink a little bit if you have a problem. I stopped drinking 2 days ago. I am pledging to go 101 days (with the intention of carrying that forward for the rest of my life) without any alcohol. I plan to "keep myself honest" by writing new Hubs describing my journey - the ups, the downs, and everything in between. There will be more resources, as well, for those that wish to join me along the way.
Day 1: Monday. Thought about the left-over Chardonnay in my fridge most of the day. It was not easy. I have not gone a single day without a drink since Lent (and even then, it was only 2 days over the entire 40 days - an entirely failed effort!). Fortunately, the kids had lessons at 7:00, which made it late when I got home.
Day 2: Tuesday. We're not through it yet. My husband is out of town, and it would be easy to drink without his watchful eye. I am taking the kids to a movie tonight to stay out of the house. Once I get home, it will be 8:30 and time to bathe the kids, wind down and generally "safe" for me. I'll enjoy plenty of popcorn at the film.
Looking ahead.... "Happy Hour" on Thursday at work. Got to make excuses for that one. Plus, this summer will include a bunch of celebrations, including my good friend's wedding in Hawaii! Can I make it the full 101 days? Summer is a time for relaxing. This dog needs new tricks.