Am I an alcoholic? I’ve asked myself this question countless times, always afraid of what the answer might be. I’m sure anyone who feels like alcohol is causing problems in their life thinks about the possibility of being this terrifying word. I told myself for years that I was ok. I just got a little too carried away at times. I had friends and family convince me that I didn’t have a problem. I just needed to learn how to control myself. I loved these excuses because it meant I could continue drinking. Even though I had all of this reassurance, deep down I knew that I wasn’t ok. I knew there was something wrong with me. I tried my best to learn how to control myself but I failed every time. I felt like nobody understood that I had no control over this. Once I started I couldn’t stop but all of my past attempts of just saying no didn’t work. I absolutely hated myself.
I posted a photo the other day on one of my social media sites stating that “Not everyone who struggles with alcohol drinks everyday”. I believe this because I didn’t always drink everyday! At different times in my life I have drank on a regular basis but at other times I drank 2-3 times per week. I had a man tell me that I didn’t need to be promoting sobriety because I was not truly an alcoholic and then wanted to tell me how much worse his life has been than mine. I was furious! Anyone can promote sobriety! There is no hidden rule saying you must be a “true alcoholic” to want to live a sober life and there is no reward for being the best Alcoholic! I know there are people in the world who have been worse off then me and there are people who weren’t quite as destructive as I was. I don’t care if you are an “Alcoholic” or an “Alcohol abuser” if drinking is causing problems in your life then IT’S A PROBLEM!! Unfortunately, through this ordeal the question of the ages came back in my mind “Am I An Alcoholic”? I wanted to find the most reliable source of information on the matter so I did what anyone would do and I Googled it! I found several sites basically all giving the same signs and symptoms of Alcoholism that i have read thousands of times over the years!
The first two signs being: The person develops a “tolerance” for alcohol and the person has withdrawal symptoms. Meaning you feel sick whenever there is no alcohol in your body. Symptoms include nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
Well for me I can say that yes I could consume high amounts of alcohol and yes at different stages in my life I have experienced different withdrawal symptoms. As a teenager my body would feel physically ill until I would drink a beer. In my adult life I have had multiple different symptoms of withdrawal. The anxiety was horrible. I rarely slept even after my binges because I would wake to panic attacks. At another low point in my life I was trying to quit and I had to be put on medicine to make the shaking stop. I’ve had two different doctors tell me that I was an alcoholic yet I didn’t believe it. I was in complete denial.
The next two symptoms reflect the way that people start to lose control over their choices: The person often drinks more than he or she had intended to and the person had been planning to cut down on their drinking or attempting to control the drinking but those attempts keep failing.
I will just say that is the story of my past life!
The next three symptoms reflect the way that alcohol begins to dominate a person’s life: The person spends a lot of time making sure he or she can get alcohol. Often times by going to bars, planning social events that will include alcohol and avoid social events that will not have alcohol. The person may also start spending a lot of time alone drinking. The person begins to give up important social and professional activities because the person feels torn between alcohol and other priorities. The person continues drinking even after being aware of having physical or psychological problems as a result.
Yes, Yes, & Yes! I couldn’t have described myself better! There have been times in my life that weekends and mid week nights were spent in bars. I loved planning parties and avoided sober outings like they had the plague! I loved to drink all alone. I think I preferred this method over going out. I was also not the type of girl that you would call “dependable” because I never knew if I would be hungover. So I stopped committing to do things.
A few more signs: People vow to cut down on their drinking, but find themselves giving in to the impulse to drink more.
People quit for periods of time but go back to drinking in a weak moment.
People promise their loved ones that they will stop but then don’t.
People know that drinking is damaging the things that matter to them like their family, their careers, and health, but still don’t stop.
I can honestly say that every one of these signs describes who I use to be. I was a complete slave to this addiction. I know that I was once sick and some days I still struggle. I know that I have to fight to stay sober! So really does it matter how I label myself? Your journey is your journey! It’s between you and God! So do what’s best for you and don’t let others try to tell you how your recovery should go! Especially don’t let others tell you that your ok when inside you know your not. For me I’ve enjoyed the times I have been able to make it to Celebrate Recovery and I honestly need to make it more of a priority. I’m ok with saying that I’m a Great Believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with alcohol. I also receive counseling and I’m part of an amazing church congregation that is full of people in recovery. I’m always learning so much from all of them! Above all of these things I completely rely on my Lord and Savior! I know that I couldn’t do this without him! I’ve tried too many times to quit on my own. So do what works for you! Whether it’s Celebrate Recovery, AA, or going to counseling, you have to do what feels best for your recovery. Just don’t try to do it on your. It’s ok to ask for help.
Anyone who is among the living has hope. Ecclesiastes 9:4