First of all, let me start out by saying that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to have a drinking problem. If you are wondering if you might have a drinking problem, you probably do. Ignorant people tend to picture alcoholics as falling-down, smelly boozers or bitchy trailer park whores, but the majority of alcoholics walk around looking and acting like “normal” people. If you don’t want to label yourself as an alcoholic or problem drinker, then don’t. Nobody is asking you to. Awareness is all I am going for here. Here are some warning signs:
- Not being able to imagine your life without alcohol in it – if this scenario is just too hard to grasp, I can certainly relate. Who the hell would want to hang out with you? Why would you want to hang out with your dumbass friends if you were the only one sober? What would you do with your time? Where the hell would you go? How would you deal with every single situation where alcohol is present?
- Obsessing about alcohol – about the next time you can drink, how you are going to get it and who you’re going to go out drinking with. I’m not talking about getting all frazzled like a crack whore, it can be as simple as daydreaming about those beers after work every day, or worse, putting a few back in the middle of the day, just to make it through.
- Surrounding yourself socially with heavy drinkers – all of my friends were partiers. I barely knew of any sober people. There are so many heavy drinkers out there; I’d say a large majority of the ones that I know have a problem to some degree. But what does that mean? Whatever the hell you want it to mean. Our society encourages heavy drinking, sadly. It just seems so glamorous to be instantly accepted into that “club”. Am I judgmental? Hell yeah, I am. I’ve earned that right, plus, what’s it matter to you?
- Binge drinking – considered to be 5 drinks or more consumed within one sitting – is there any other way? Anything less than that and I figured you just couldn’t hang. If you weren’t beer bonging, keg standing, shot gunning, or just plain trying to get wasted, I could not and did not want to relate to you.
- Inability to control your alcohol intake after starting to drink – I actually don’t think I fell into this category. I was usually pretty good at keeping a steady buzz without going off the deep end, or having the spins set in. I know many who cannot control their intake, however and decide to jump over fires, jump off of houses, drive around, break stuff by being retarded or have to cut a good time short because they’re so blitzed, they have to go pass out.
- Behaving in ways, while drunk, that are uncharacteristic of your sober personality – I don’t really have to go here, do I? Been there. Done that. Repeatedly.
- Feeling guilt and shame about your drunken behaviors – I’m not going here either, but I will say that toward the end of my drinking career, I was apologizing to my husband (then boyfriend) on a regular basis. I would turn into a royal bitch and basically become verbally abusive toward him. He would never repeat what I said to him…it must have been some awful shit…but thankfully, he forgave me and we worked through it all together.
- Repeating unwanted drinking patterns – in a normal person’s brain, they would likely learn from episodes and choose not to repeat them, at least not for a very long time. In an alcoholic’s brain (in my dumbed-down opinion), this choice is overridden by some type of chemical blip that almost makes you forget about the episode, or something like that. I had a friend who had to look at the guy’s mail on his table in the morning, to figure out what his name was…she was absolutely mortified, scared…she was right back out on the town the next weekend boozing and whoring around. Normal people don’t do that.
- Driving drunk – Here’s something scary, I drove during my blackouts. I honestly thought I was an exception to the rule. I’m damn lucky I never killed anyone. I am still ashamed about this and feel a little hypocritical now, but no, not really. I’m sober now, so that means I’m better than all of you who choose to drive drunk. If I see any of you bitches driving around, I’m calling 911. You need to actually think before you start drinking.
- Driving buzzed – even if you’re buzzed, you have no right to be behind that wheel. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. The alcohol makes you think you can do it. Here’s my advice: Plan. Plan. Plan. If you’re going out after work and you have two drinks on an empty stomach, you should have planned it out to have someone else drive you or pick you up. Inconvenient you say? So is a DUI or even worse, running over a pedestrian or killing someone. There are so many dumbasses that drive with a buzz; I really need to write a separate post on this subject.
- Getting drunk before actually arriving at parties/bars – PRE-FUNK, baby! It’s much cheaper, more fun and it’s so much more convenient to already be loose and extra social when you arrive to a function.
- Setting drinking limits – if you try to “only drink on the weekends” or have only 1 glass of wine with dinner, you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. If not, more power to you, but if you even have to consider setting limits, maybe you should honestly explore why that is.
- Taking breaks from drinking – “We were on a break!” Like that ever works out! Seriously, if you have to take a freaking break, you’re not being real with yourself.
- Always having to finish your alcoholic beverage or someone else’s – it’s a damn shame to waste perfectly good alcohol, I know. The only acceptable instance would be a very small pour out for all of your fallen homies. Bet.
- People have expressed concern about your negative drunken behaviors – here’s where I am confused and shocked…no one ever said anything to me that I remember. Most of my friends and family were surprised to hear that I had quit! It is such a shame how our society puts drinking and partying on such a pedestal. I wish someone would have expressed genuine concern for me, as deep down, I was breaking my own heart and wanting someone to really SEE me. Who knows, I may have laughed in their face or bitched them out if they tried, but I’d like to think it would have resonated on some level…if ifs were fifths…
- Having chronic blackouts – shit, that was the goal half the time. I blacked out on a very regular basis. A piece of advice for everyone: DON’T DRINK EVEN ONE DRINK ON ANTI-DEPRESSANTS, EVER!
- An increasing sense of denial that your heavy drinking is a problem because you are able to succeed professionally and personally – I think people hear the phrase, “functioning alcoholic” and forget that the majority of alcoholics ARE functioning, really. Alcoholics, problem drinkers, whatever you want to call it.
If you do determine you or someone you love has a problem, there are many options for help and many different ways to go about it. Google it. Comments are welcome.
4 thoughts on “Got a prob? Could you be an alcoholic?”
Chrystal, this is an awesome blog! You’re onto something here, and you’re a topnotch writer. We are going to look forward to more.
Just wanted to chime in that we’ve been talking a lot about doing some resources about the “high functioning” alcoholic, for families and people seeking recovery. The theme is (basically) “Just because you’re not drunk doesn’t mean you’re not an alcoholic.” The disease hits different people different ways. Some folks can go years on a high-functioning plateau, drinking at high-tolerance maintenance levels that don’t appear “drunk” to others.
Or (as you point out) binging only on weekends and functioning well through the week. They ‘compare out’ with comforting minimizations like “Well, I don’t get DUIs, I never embarrass myself at a party, I’m always at work on Mondays, so I can’t possibly be an alcoholic!” Their disease just hasn’t reached the “loss of control” stage. Doesn’t mean they don’t have it.
The more we explore the online recovery community (we’re newbs to social media,) the more we appreciate the level of fellowship and message-carrying that blogs like this represent.
Only one request– is there any way you can add a “Share/Like on Facebook” button to your posts? Because I have a feeling we’re going to be wanting to do that!
Thanks so much, Cecile! I love your site and your mission! I can’t wait to dive a little deeper into your site. I agree with you, that we need to reach those who haven’t yet “lost control”. There are so many out there.
I’ve added sharing buttons and am extremely excited for you to share some of my posts! I was searching for a source out there that I could relate to, offering an easy, entertaining way to digest a real, everyday perspective from a “normal” person. I couldn’t find it, so I hope maybe I can be that for someone else.
I’m so pleased to “meet” you.
That’s one thing that always seemed odd to me, when I would try to “just drink on the weekends.” Then one day a week would be fine, then there would be someone’s birthday dinner, a good movie on, or monday night football. All of the sudden it was on! Everyday was a celebration of life! Fuck it!
I would even do a sober January to start the year sometimes, to make myself feel better. While I never had any DUIs, traffic accidents, or jobs (maybe relationships?) ended by boozing, I knew i was’t helping myself in life.
The thing that was my sign, my worst moment of the day: any day of the week, usually week days I felt it the most. In the morning I would get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, and look myself in the eyes. I was looking at someone else, someone scared, someone hiding, someone who was a disappointment. I would just stand there thinking, “what are you doing?”, with cotton mouth and a headache brewing. This also happened a lot looking in the rearview mirror on my way to work. And I just looked so horribly tired, with no energy and no confidence to make a day a productive one.
One thing I’ve found out since being normal (sober), I’m still pretty lazy! Dammit.
Anyways, sorry to hijack your blog, but let’s hear it people! What was/is your sign? Sack up and say it, Sally. You’ll feel better, if even just for a few minutes.
I am so proud of you and so glad you’ve hopped on the wagon. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s nice and dry and the horses are raring to go!