A few years ago, I explored the possibility that I was an alcoholic.
Why did I do that? Because I recognized the following:
- I drank to avoid and hide from reality and feelings
- I drank excessively
- I binge drank
- I drank to the point of vomiting regularly
- Black outs were becoming more and more frequent
- I acted and behaved in shameful ways when I drank
- Because of black outs, I wouldn't remember some of those actions
- A few times, drinking interfered with work responsibilities
- I was no longer fun and entertaining when I drank; I was mean and obnoxious
- I put myself in dangerous situations
- I put others in dangerous situations (ex: I drove more often than I care to admit when I had no business driving; this is not something I take lightly; I'm just trying to be honest.)
- I drank excessively alone, not just in social settings
- I was depressed, and I was adding a depressant
The above mentioned behaviour patterns occurred over a 15 year timespan, from the ages of 21 to 36. Some were a regular part of my drinking habits the entire 15 years; others were just at certain times of my life. All occurred multiple times, some of them regularly and frequently enough for me to admit that I needed something to change. I wasn't just having "fun" anymore. It was a problem.
I went dry for 6(ish) months. During that time, I was seeing a therapist, I read books, and I went to AA meetings for about 3 months. Through this personal journey, I learned that I was abusing alcohol like a drug. Just because it is legal, does not mean the way I was using it was appropriate or acceptable. I made changes in my life with the way that I viewed the use of alcohol, plus the amount and the frequency I drank.
I drink now from time to time in social settings. I go dancing with girlfriends, have drinks, and let loose. Or, I enjoy a few ciders with a BBQ. Every now and then, I enjoy a drink or two at home to wind down. But, I skip it a lot more often than I partake. A couple of Fridays ago, I'd had one of those weeks that I wanted to go home and enjoy some wine. I bought the wine before heading home. That bottle is still in its paper bag. I never even got it out. Once I got home, I didn't want it. So, I haven't opened it. I will at some point, but I won't do it "just because" ... or even worse, because I want to hide and avoid life.
I like alcohol. Beer. Wine. Tequila. Whiskey & Bourbon. We can still be friends, but the kind of friends who catch up once every few months.
I am not in anyway shape or form judging anyone else's drinking patterns or habits. I am a strong believer in personal journeys. And, this is a part of my mine.