An alcoholic – to be or not to be?

The knowledge that ‘I definitely wasn’t an alcoholic’ kept me trapped in a negative binge drinking cycle for years. I would never drink in the morning (unless at a festival), always had at least three days off a week (unless on holiday), never drink at work (unless there was wine), hadn’t been done for drink driving (yet) and always drank socially (except if I was on my own), so thought there was nothing really wrong. I wasn’t an alcoholic, just someone who loved getting smashed.

Sometimes though, I didn’t like getting smashed. I’d think, whatever you do, DO NOT DRINK TOO MUCH. But guess what? Turns out no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t not drink too much. It always seemed to happen no matter what. I tried all sorts of schemes. Drink one, water one. Watering down wine with fizzy water. Unit trackers. Hypnotherapy. Chastising myself into a state of terror. None of it stopped me saying ‘fuck it’ after the second glass. The more I tried not to, the more drunk I seemed to get. All this trying and failing really did a number on my self esteem. I couldn’t keep the promises I made to myself. This lack of trust in myself turned into major self- loathing. It was painful.

And finally that was enough. ‘Painful’ was enough. Instead of asking : ‘was I/wasn’t I…’, ‘I’m not as bad as…’, ‘bla bla bla’, I compiled all the evidence and conceded that the booze was most definitely, beyond all reasonable doubt, effecting me in a negative way.

As I clocked up the sober days, I managed to turn this around, proving to myself day-by-day that I could keep my promises to myself. I started introducing little habits that I somehow managed to not break – oh my god I can actually do shit and stick to it! I felt disciplined. I felt myself improving. I could run further for longing without feeling like my throat was bleeding. Practicing these good habits helped heal that self betrayal. I was finally doing stuff that was good for me! Rather than seeking self care in a bottle.

The further I get away from my last drink the fewer and far between the cravings come. But sometimes they do, a sneaky thought of ‘a glass of white wine would be very good right now’ might flash into my consciousness. And I think fuck. It still hasn’t left me. And I play the tape forward… I remember the slips I’ve had, where I’ve woken up fully clothed, wet (is it piss?) not knowing how I got back… And I know from all I’ve learned about alcohol(ism) that shit just gets worse. All those ‘yets’ start happening, all the lines you said you’d never cross start being crossed. And everyone is cross at you!!! It’s a PROGRESSIVE thing. It starts with funny ‘I can’t believe you did that’ to not so funny car wrecks, divorce and suicide attempts. It’s like one of those swirly coin collector things… You get sucked in and it speeds up towards the bottom. It goes: habit-abuse-addiction before you can blink, so better to blink and stop when the negative consequences are still bounce-backable. If you’re worried, it’s a problem. You don’t need to waste time pondering the ‘Am I an alcoholic’ question. Because you don’t need to be an alcoholic to quit drinking 😊

Published by Free Spirits Recovery

FREE SPIRITS is a coaching and counselling service for people seeking accessible help with grey area problem drinking, compulsive behaviours and mental health issues.

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