Updated: Apr 10
“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can't predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”
- Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
When I was actively drinking, I can't tell you how many times I Googled this topic wondering if I was or wasn't ... even though, deep inside, I knew I was. Recently I heard someone say, "There are two questions people ask: Am I an alcoholic? Or am I not an alcoholic? If you have to ask either of these questions, you almost definitely are."
But if you're still seeking an answer, here's a list that may help you decide in the privacy of your home. If you do check many of these, I encourage you to stop hiding your secret and reach out for help.
You CRAVE alcohol
You drink alone - secretly
You don't want to do anything
You're really irritable and your mood is all over the place
When you don't drink, you shake or don't "feel normal"
You put drinking over EVERYTHING - and plan your day around it
You drink first thing when you wake up (again - to feel "normal")
You feel guilty about drinking
You have no control with stopping or how much you drink
Despite your friends and family begging you, or your health is in jeopardy - you continue drinking
I could check EVERY one of these up to my sober date - May 25, 2020. I'll give you my answers:
Crave? I was obsessed. I thought I needed it to get out of bed, to relax, to sooth my anger or depression and I swore I couldn't sleep without it. I couldn't imagine a life without drinking and wondered how then could I ever stop? It seemed impossible.
I was a classic "drapery drunk," hiding behind my curtains, alone at home drinking privately. I thought I wasn't hurting anyone, but I was wrong. I hurt myself and my husband.
Do something? I just wanted to drink! I remember having two months sober and I was practically skipping as I walked my dog one day, thinking, "This is great! I'll never drink again." And then I did. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't stop when I knew I was missing out of so much!
My poor husband should have called me "Eggie" -- he walked on egg shells so often. I had two moods -- passed out and screaming. I wasn't a happy drunk.
When I woke each day I felt like crap. With shaking hands I'd reach under the bed for my almost empty 1 liter bottle of vodka. I'd drink a pint or so just so I could make it down the stairs and maybe have a cup of coffee. THAT was my "normal."
Every morning, after I finished what was left from the night before, I would choose which liquor store to go to. I had three main "go to's" nearby and one back-up a bit further from our home. I rotated the stores so they wouldn't think I was drinking every day and had a problem! I made sure to have enough on weekends since a few of them were closed on Sundays. IF I made plans with a friend, I'd make sure the timing would be fine for me to drink and sleep first. Or early enough that I'd be able to hold on until later and I could race home to the bottle. Yeah -- check "YES" for this one.
Again -- yes, I drank first thing EVERY day.
You feel guilty about drinking ... Not sure on this one. I think I would have if I was discovered, but I was that drapery drunk and kept it secret. I guess I felt guilty, or disappointed with myself, that I couldn't control it.
Which leads to this one -- control. Hell no! I never knew what it was like to have a glass or two! That was a foreign concept from my first drink in college. I drank till I passed out. No control -- EVER.
No one knew about my drinking. My husband knew there was a "slight" problem, but felt I was strong and intelligent and that I would handle it. So I didn't have anyone begging me to drink, but I had ME. I wanted to ... but then I didn't want to ... I didn't think it possible ... and so I gave up trying.
Until that rock bottom, May 24, 2020, when drinking finally frightened me enough to ask for help.
If you think -- or know -- you are an alcoholic then here's something that helped me -- H.O.W.
Getting honest - I had to admit I had a problem and am an alcoholic.
Open - be open to help, and open to suggestions given on how to stop drinking. I opened myself to possibilities and to my Higher Power. Through the 12 Steps and my reconnection with my God, I live a full life. I let go and let God.
Willing - I became willing to go to recovery meetings (it took two weeks of mandatory before a light bulb went off!) and willing to take advice
When I became Honest, Open and Willing I began my first steps toward sobriety. After two and a half years sober, I still live my life in the H.O.W. I work at my sobriety daily. They never said it would be easy, but they said it would be worth it.