“I can have just one.” Those are common words that I always told myself when it came to drinking. I thought I was capable of moderation and self-control. I learned the hard way that that was never the case. I was too careless and perhaps somewhat oblivious to the fact that one drink would ALWAYS lead to another and another and another.
After one drink, it was all downhill from there. Nobody could talk me out of having another. Nobody could get in between me and my love for alcohol. It was in fact, a problem. I just wish I was capable of seeing it earlier on in life instead of later. Alcoholism is more of a curse than it is an addiction.
Alcoholism: Nature or Nurture?
I feel like alcoholism can definitely run in the family but environmental factors increase the chances of unleashing the alcoholic in us. I don’t think anyone wakes up and decides they want to be an alcoholic.
There is an ongoing debate among the scientific community as to whether it is hereditary or genetic, nature or nurture.
My grandfather was an alcoholic who also struggled with depression. I sometimes wonder if maybe it skipped a generation and I was the unfortunate one to inherit this curse. Anyone who isn’t an alcoholic doesn’t seem to be capable of putting themselves in our shoes or understand whats going on in our heads.
We’re incapable of seeing things the way a normal person might see it. Alcohol has been proven to affect brain chemistry too but as an alcoholic, we’re too set in our ways and trapped in our own selfish need for alcohol to care. We don’t care if alcohol changes our behaviors, for better or worse, until it’s too late.
Everyone has different reasons for turning to alcohol as a solution. Personally, I usually drank as a need to self-medicate because of the stress of certain jobs and living situations that I didn’t see as ideal. People don’t understand that we don’t always drink because we’re completely unhappy, we drink because certain things just have a way of building up and getting to us and we don’t know how else to cope.
I remember one year I was invited to an employee Christmas party with an open bar. Against my better judgment, I decided to crush a six pack and take a cab to the party. Once I got there, I started pounding the strongest drink I could think of- long island ice teas. I was unhappy with this job at the time and felt like I was unappreciated.
Sure enough, I ended up falling down and busting my head on the floor on the way to the bathroom. I was cut off. I remember being belligerent and saying how I felt like I was unappreciated. I thought getting drunk was the best solution to show my frustration.
The rest of the night was a blur. I just remember my girlfriend at the time coming to pick me up from the bar. I believe I fell asleep in her car in the garage, woke up and somehow found my way outside in the backyard. I drank because I was clearly depressed and unhappy not only with my job but with our living situation as well.
Unfortunately my girlfriend at the time was the one that had to unfairly deal with the repercussions of my actions. As an alcoholic, that incident still didn’t deter me from drinking. I would like to reiterate that alcoholism is a curse more than an addiction. I compare it to like being a werewolf- a werewolf can’t help itself when the moon is full.
Alcoholics can’t help themselves when it comes to alcohol, let alone our behavior once intoxicated. There were times where I would start to believe that maybe I did have a problem with alcohol but somehow it still wouldn’t deter me.
I wish I wasn’t too blind and ignorant to see just how much alcohol had control over me, my actions and my behaviors. Alcohol turned me into a person that I was not.
Everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing me sober and the displeasure of knowing me drunk knows this. I feel like the same could be said for a lot of people who struggle with alcoholism. Even when we want to try and moderate or control it, we just somehow cannot.
It isn’t that we don’t want to, it really is that, for whatever reason, we just can’t. Once we finally do control it or quit drinking altogether, it’s too little too late. All the damage our drinking has caused has already been done. Not in all cases but I would say most.
The Alcoholic Spectrum
I believe there are different parts of the spectrum when it comes to drinking and I experienced all of them. The first is drinking because it makes life more entertaining and fun- the “life of the party” drinker. I would drink with friends because it made me feel more comfortable in my skin and I felt like it made me an a lot more enjoyable person to be around. The second is the “in-between” drinker.
The person who drinks because some aspects in life are going well but other areas drag us down and lead us to drink. For example, a person is happy with a relationship but stressed out because of work or vice versa. The third is the depressed, self-medicating drinker- the one who drinks because they’re going through a rough time and are in a dark place in life.
We generally isolate ourselves and push everyone else away. We don’t know what else to do but drown our own misery and sorrows out with alcohol. I reached a rock bottom in my life where I legitimately wanted to drink myself to death. My family decided to send me to a detox and rehab center for treatment because if I didn’t get help, it would have put an end to me.
The Only Solution
The worst part about being an alcoholic is that we always find reasons and excuses to drink even when we shouldn’t or don’t need to. We try to rationalize our alcoholism without even realizing it.
There’s a game on tv? Time to drink. It’s a holiday? Time to drink. It’s the weekend? Time to drink. Going to the movies? Time to drink. I just got off work, time to drink. The weather is nasty outside so might as well just stay in and drink.
The most difficult part about being an alcoholic is trying to stop the drinking. It’s easy to start but a lot more difficult to stop. I found there really is only one solution to stop drinking. I tried the whole “drink in moderation” or “establish a limit” thing. For the alcoholic, it simply does not work.
The problem is we THINK we can control our drinking and limit ourselves to a specific number of drinks but the sad reality is we can’t. We can’t just drink one or two beers or take one or two shots and be content. As alcoholics, we’re selfish. We drink only to get drunk and that’s the bottom line.
The only foolproof way for the alcoholic to stop drinking is to just not drink at all. I know it takes a lot of willpower to stop but it really is the only one true way. We have no self-control and one drink will always lead to plenty more- that is the curse of alcoholism.
Life After Death of the Alcoholic
Breaking free from alcoholism was one of the most difficult uphill battles i’ve ever had to fight throughout my life. I did not see it at first but alcohol did have full control over me when I thought I had the control over it. I had to learn my lessons the hard way that alcohol does me more harm than good. There was a point in my life I could drink and be happy. There was also points in time where I would drink but it would only end up making those around me miserable.
There was also a time where I drank alone because I was miserable and alcohol was my best friend, my only comfort and only solution. It hurt me knowing and realizing that if I had just been able to stop sooner, my life would have turned out differently.
I think that is the real reason alcoholism is a curse- we are not capable of changing our alcoholic behaviour until it’s too late. We have to learn our lessons the hard way and continue to suffer from the actions and consequences our drinking created.
Life after breaking the curse of alcoholism is better but it will never completely heal the scars that alcoholics give to or receive from others. It is like a werewolf changing back into a human, only to realize the path of destruction it left behind and can’t do anything to undo the damage.