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Are You An Alcoholic?
Before I begin this article let’s set the record straight on a few things.
Although the title of this article appears to make light of a serious disease, I am in no way doing so. It may be a different approach to a serious subject but it in no way is meant to diminish the seriousness of alcoholism. If anyone recognizes the deadly nature of alcoholism it is this writer. I have suffered enough for ten lifetimes, and if there is a single reason that stands above all others for writing this article it is to bring to light just how serious a matter this is.
On the other hand, we alcoholics, as described in the Big Book, are not a glum lot. We absolutely insist on having fun. We have spent far too many years in the throes of this disease and now that we have found happiness we see no reason to dwell on the negatives of our past life. In fact, those of us in recovery do not see our years of active addiction as a negative at all, but rather a positive that has led us to freedom and a new appreciation for the wonders of life.
Lastly, I have no patience with those out there who do not think that alcoholism is a disease. Although I recognize the right of everyone to their opinions I do not have to agree with or tolerate an opinion based on ignorance. If you should choose to make a comment telling me and others that alcoholism is not a disease but rather a matter of lack-of-willpower then I will either ignore the comment or deny it. You are certainly within your rights to publish your own article listing your reasons for your ignorant stance on the matter at hand.
I am a drunk! A recovering drunk true, but still a drunk. The only difference between me and the wino in the street gutter is one drink. I have shattered lives, lost jobs, lost businesses, harmed others and almost died. I have paid my dues and I earned my seat in Alcoholics Anonymous. What I say in this article is the truth as I know it; whether you believe me or not is completely up to you.
Having said all that I now give you a step-by-step course on how to become an alcoholic.
One Drink Is Too Many and Twenty Are Never Enough
Alcoholics are wired differently in the head. I’m sure there is a medical explanation for it but the fact is that one drink will trigger within our brains a need, a desire, a craving for many more drinks. I have often heard friends say they are going out for a beer with other friends. FOR A BEER? How do you go out for one beer? That kind of thinking is so foreign to me that I can’t even fathom the possibility of it. The first time I had a beer I wanted ten more. The first time I had a mixed drink I was ordering another before I finished the first. I have seen people order a drink and then leave before the drink is finished. What’s up with that? How do you do that? I have had lunches with friends who will sip their glass of wine and then leave the restaurant having only finished half the glass. Hello??? You forgot something! Needless to say I felt it was my responsibility to finish it for them before I left the restaurant. What are good friends for, right?
The simple fact is that I am incapable of having one drink! I have proven this so many times during my lifetime that I thankfully don’t need to prove it any longer. The last time I went out for one drink I almost died three days later, and that is a fairly easy lesson to remember…if I choose to remember it.
So, the first step towards becoming an alcoholic is to never be satisfied with just one drink. Why limit yourself when life is all about unlimited possibilities? Don’t let the worry-warts out there spoil your fun when they tell you that you have had enough. Dig in your heals, get as stubborn as you need to get and show them that you are fully capable of ruining your life without the help of their well-meaning advice.
Ignore Your Responsibilities
Is your job getting in the way of your drinking? Are your family members cramping your drinking style by insisting that you meet your responsibilities? Let’s call that behavior what it is: complete selfishness on their part. If they cared about you they would leave you alone and let you ruin your life without interference. Sheez, how selfish can some people be?
As you slip further and further into the grasp of this disease, things that were once important to you will cease to be important. Attending a school function for your child may have seemed important a month before the event but when the day of the event came upon you and you were out drinking with your friends you came to realize that heck, what’s one event, it isn’t that important. Running an errand for your spouse after work seemed like a good idea that morning but once you stopped by the tavern on the way home (to unwind after a tough day on the job) you either forgot about the errand or it just lost its urgency. What’s the big deal? Intimacy with your partner? You will either become incapable of intimacy or you will lose all desire because hey, your real lover is the booze! Showing up to work on time each day? What the heck do they expect of you? You have given them three good years of hard work; so what if you are suffering from a little hangover? Just call in sick and they can deal with it just as you have dealt with their crap for those three years.
That kind of thinking is vital if you are to truly become an alcoholic. You will reach a point where nothing is more important to you in life than getting the next drink. You can talk the talk all you want and tell anyone who will listen that you love your family and appreciate your job but when push comes to shove all of that pales in comparison to your obsession for alcohol.
DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL (and that ain’t a river in Egypt)
Then the nagging begins. Your wife or husband will start in, first with little suggestions and hints that maybe you are drinking too much, and then demands that you stop drinking and get help. If you are an alcoholic just ignore all of that nonsense.
Your family members, mom and dad and sister and brother, will make snide little comments about how they wish you could behave yourself at social functions and how they wish you would just drink normally. If you truly wish to reach the level of alcoholic then you need to ignore these namby-pambies and do your thing because let’s face it, you know yourself better than they do, right? You leave them alone to do their thing so why can’t they leave you alone? The world would be a better place if people just minded their own business! Oh, they will say they are acting out of love but that’s just so much hogwash! If they really cared about you they would just stay out of your life and treat you like the responsible person you are.
Alcoholism has been called the “disease of aloneness.” Truer words were never spoken, and even though that may have never been your intention you will nonetheless find yourself quite alone at some point during the progression of your disease. If you truly wish to be an alcoholic then just realize that nothing is more important than your relationship with the next drink.
What goes on in your brain?
It Is Imperative That You Hide Your Drinking
At some point in your drinking career the comments of others, the nagging from others, the worry of others, will all become too much for you to endure. It is at this point that you will find it necessary to hide your drinking so you don’t have to listen to any more of their cryptic comments and you won’t have to watch as their concern for you turns into tears.
We alcoholics can be quite resourceful when it comes to hiding our drinking. This writer used to hide bottles of booze in strategic locations throughout the house so I was never far from the next drink. I would hide empties where I thought they could never be found. In one house we lived in we had recessed lighting in the basement; you know, that false ceiling that you can just lift up? I would hide my empties up in the ceiling, the perfect solution so that I didn’t have to listen to my wife nag. Or so I thought! One day while we were watching television in that basement there was an earthquake and yes, over fifty empty bottles came raining down on us. It was a bit difficult to explain that one away but that didn’t prevent me from trying.
Lying becomes second nature to an alcoholic. We lie about the quantities we are drinking; we lie about whether or not we have been drinking. We lie when we say we will stop and we lie when we say we will do anything we can to not let it happen again. We tell so many lies that we simply can’t keep track of all the lies and we eventually trip over one of our lies and then have to lie to cover up the lie. It is an exhaustive existence and it is never-ending, but if you truly want to become an alcoholic you will have to learn how to lie and lie well. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Toss Those Morals Away Because They Are a Pain in The…….
Alcohol reduces the inhibitions in humans. You don’t need to be an alcoholic to understand this to be true. Anyone who has had a couple drinks is capable of being louder, being more amorous, flirting more, saying things once considered a no-no or walking that narrow line between acceptable and non-acceptable.
For an alcoholic that narrow line is rubbed out completely. Moral questions of faithfulness and acceptable behavior in society are eventually ignored completely. Are you short on money but need another bottle? Then just steal one! Sure you are married but that woman at the bar looks pretty damn good so why not go for it? Yes, you are drunk, but you need to drive to the store; the chances of actually killing someone on the road are so miniscule that it’s worth the risk, right?
You can toss away all of the lessons about right and wrong that you learned when you were younger if you truly aspire to be an alcoholic. None of them matter any longer so get used to that fact! All that matters is the next drink, and the next, and the next! Morality is for the Bible-thumpers and you can’t be bothered with some ancient ambiguous lessons of proper behavior when you have some serious drinking to do.
The Bottom Line
Alcoholism has been defined as an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind. I have no argument with that definition at all and looking back over my drinking career I can certainly see many examples that it is true. Are there alcoholics reading this right now? Probably! There are alcoholics in every walk of life and many of them are very good at hiding their disease. Are you an alcoholic? Eventually only you can answer that question. There are heavy drinkers who are not alcoholic and there are light drinkers who are not aware yet that they are alcoholic. I have tried to give you a short guide filled with behaviors that most alcoholics exhibit. Go back over the article again and ask yourself if any of it sounds like you. If it does then you just might be on your way to reaching the lofty status of an alcoholic.
I’ve been there and I’m more than willing to give you my seat on the Nowhere Train. I paid for my ticket and I suffered the consequences and I think I’ll sit out the next ride and let someone else take my place. I hope nobody accepts my offer but I’m not betting on it.
What is your experience with alcoholism?
One Final Point
An alcoholic has no choice in being an alcoholic, just as a cancer victim has no choice in having that disease. There is, however, one difference between the two: once an alcoholic is aware that there is a way to stop the suffering then the suffering after that awareness becomes optional. Unlike the cancer patient we have a choice; we can choose to continue on, ruining the lives of others and ourselves, or we can choose to find a better life, a fuller life and a happier life. It is hard work and a bumpy ride to freedom but it is so worth it.
I once had a dear friend in Alcoholics Anonymous who loved to say that the miracle isn’t that he no longer drinks because anyone can stop drinking for a short period of time; he said the miracle is that he no longer has any desire to drink. That, my friends, is true freedom for an alcoholic!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)