I’ve often wondered if anyone who ever felt the need to say those words, was actually speaking the truth. At what point do you feel like you need to clarify that you don’t have a drinking problem? What even makes one an alcoholic?
I have been known to enjoy a beverage or two. In my younger days I would say I definitely participated in binge drinking. I have never drunk because I like the taste of something, or to “just have one”. I’ve drunk to feel the numbness, the high, the feeling of complete freedom, the loss of inhibitions that comes with being drunk. Or at least tipsy.
I didn’t touch one drop of alcohol while pregnant because I didn’t see the point. I have never, until recently, been the type to just stop at one. Wine with lunch? Why would I, when I have to drive and can’t have three?
Recently I found myself coming home and having “a drink” every night. Sometimes it was a glass of wine, sometimes two. Sometimes it was a Bacardi and Coke. Ok, it was never just “a” Bacardi and coke, it was always at least three. I’d drink on Mondays because Monday is my Friday. I’d drink on Tuesday because Tuesday is my Saturday. I’d drink on Wednesday because I’d just been at training and had “earned” it. I’d drink Friday and Saturday because it was the weekend. It soon became apparently that not only was I drinking too much, but it was now affecting my weight loss (it had stopped!), my sleep (I was waking up more at night), my moods (I was cranky until I got that drink!), and I was becoming reliant. I was at the point where I wasn’t having a drink just because I could, I was having one because I needed it. And Bacardi aside, I was also now drinking WAY too much coke!
My dad enjoyed his nightly beverage of bundy and coke and really splashed out on the weekends. I sometimes wondered if he drank too much, and I’m sure the fatal heart attack at 61 years old was somehow related to how much he drank (and his heart condition for which he didn’t take better care of himself). The fact that alcoholism is hereditary, or at least can be, was always in the back of my mind.
ALl that to say, I am now in the second week of being 100% alcohol-free. I don’t know how long I will go without a drink (if I can make it to Sept 7th, when I have a girls night out, I’ll be happy). It’s not that I think I am an alcoholic to the point of needing to attend AA and go without for the rest of my life. But I do think I was becoming reliant on a drug that is fine in moderation once in a while, but not to be abused. If I am going to get serious about my weight loss, serious about my health, and preach the benefits of being fit and healthy to others, I can’t be coming home drinking every night.
Reading Michelle Bridge’s book helped me make a choice that was easy to make. She said when trying to lose weight, you need to completely detox – no alcohol, no tobacco and no caffein. I don’t smoke, so that was easy. I can (and will) go without alcohol. I’m sorry, I draw the line at coffee. Take my booze, but please don’t take my coffee! She also said that once you had seen results, you could then enjoy a beverage or two, in moderation, but that if you couldn’t go 2 days without a drink, you might have some hard questions to ask yourself.
I found myself “not addicted” to a drink in the same way that pot heads say “I’m not addicted, I can stop when I want to, I just don’t want to”. It started off as having a drink because I wanted to and I could. But it was quickly becoming having a drink because I had to.
We have such a drinking culture in this country. We go out for lunch and have a drink, we go to a friend’s place, we have a drink, we go to the pub after work for a drink, we have a picnic at the beach or park and we take a drink. We have a whole day dedicated to drinking – if you’ve never been involved in a “Sunday Session” you don’t know what you’re missing! It usually involves, live music, friends and drinks! Great, for once in a while, not for every Sunday! If you’re not drinking you must be pregnant. There are a million and one “funny” drinking memes/images on the internet. Funny to everyone, except anyone who has ever been an alcoholic or loved an alcoholic. Ever heard, or worse used, the saying, “I’m not an alcoholic, alcoholics go to meetings!” I have, and am ashamed to admit it. Alcoholism is a serious problem with very real and very serious consequences. It destroys marriages, families, lives, not to mention vital organs!
If you think you or someone you know might have a drinking problem, take a look at some of these sites. There is a questionnaire on the AA site worth taking a look at. I know for most people, they have to come to the realisation themselves, and it can be frustrating not knowing how to help someone.
Australian Drug Foundation – http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/alcohol
Drink Wise Australia – http://www.drinkwise.org.au/you-alcohol/alcohol-facts/
Facts & Myths about alcohol from the Vic Health Dept – http://www.health.vic.gov.au/aod/alcohol/factsmyths.htm
Alcoholics Anonymous Australia – http://www.aa.org.au/
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