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I’m an Alcoholic — Now What?

The fact is, it doesn’t matter what everyone else says. Your family can suggest you need help. Friends may start spending less time with you. Your doctor may be urging you to consider the possibility. Co-workers are distancing themselves. It simply won’t matter. It will not be until we can say to ourselves “I’m an alcoholic, now what?” can any type of healing begin.

Alcoholic Signs

It’s always hard to look in the mirror and see what everyone else does. Recognizing faults requires an honesty a lot of us are willing to avoid for our own peace of mind. We don’t want to confront the shame and embarrassment. We often fear what we have to do to change ourselves once we do admit something’s wrong. On top of that, alcoholism itself can be difficult to diagnose. It can be deceptive and confusing. When drinking, we don’t really see how our actions and behavior affects others. When sober, denial, confusion, and justification come into play.

One should define alcoholism in the simplest terms. That would ultimately be I can’t say I know when to stop. We’re not just drinking at social occasions. We start our day with a drink. We’re having drinks during most meals. We drink alone, even when we’re around family. We feel the need to cover up the smell of our breath.

Here are some other things to consider in terms of defining alcoholism.

You spend a lot of time with people you don’t even know. They may be faces you simply recognize. They may be individuals you normally would not spend time with or introduce to real friends or co-workers.

  • One of the easiest signs is, you’re hiding alcohol.
  • The coffee cup on your desk at work has alcohol in it.
  • In that same vein, you have to bring alcohol where it otherwise wouldn’t be, such as a movie.
  • You’re famous for throwing up, passing out, or blacking out, especially in strange places.
  • You don’t believe you’re having a good time until you’ve had a lot to drink.
  • You drink even when you’re sick.
  • Do you insist everyone around you drink, that it’s not a party unless they are? Do you then go seeking people who are drinking and join them?
  • You’ve lost control of your bladder, or woke up wet, after a night of drinking.
  • People either criticize or praise your drinking. No one should want a reputation based on the fact that they drink.
  • Along those same lines, do you have to drink more than everyone else to get that buzz or to get drunk? This could be because you drink too much and your system has built up a tolerance to alcohol.
  • You drink and drive.
  • When you’re not drinking, do you get the shakes?
  • Your relationships are profoundly affected by drinking. In fact, from your perspective, the fact that people have problems with your drinking is the problem.

Recognizing one or two of these traits may not make one an alcoholic (though one might want to reconsider their drinking habits). But if you found yourself nodding to several of them, you probably have a drinking problem.

Looking in that Damned Mirror

Coming to grips with alcoholism is going to require a self-exploration that many of us don’t want to deal with. It means identifying and connecting to actions and interactions in our life that have had a significantly negative impact. At the center of it is our addiction.

Drinkers have narrowed vision. We usually can’t see when we cross that line from social and moderate drinking to problem drinking. There are many factors that can be attributed to problem drinking. Genetics are critical. Individuals with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to become an alcoholic than one without. People who associate with drinkers could develop drinking problems. The depressed, sufferers of anxiety, bipolar disorders, or other mental health issues tend to unknowingly use alcohol to self-medicate. Social influence can play a part. Native Alaskans and Native Americans have a long history of battling alcoholism.

When we’re looking for answers, we have to look at ourselves. We need to look for, not just signs and symptoms, we need to find the reasons. What is going on in our life that makes us reach for a drink before we even have breakfast? Do we hate our jobs? Are we unhappy in our relationships? Relying on alcohol to function through what should be routine or enjoyable habits, like working or being with family, means we have lost control of our lives and chosen to focus energy on alcohol.

Until we are able to look in the mirror and see the problem is ours — not everyone else’s — will we ever be able to deal with our alcoholism.

The Big Obstacle

There is only one real obstacle to dealing with alcoholism, and that’s denial. The need to drink can be overwhelming and regardless of what it is doing to us and others, we will wrestle to find ways to rationalize our actions. Work, finances, and relationships can crumble around us and we will still seek out reasons to avoid looking in the mirror. The arguments are always the same.

I can stop whenever I want to.

  • The most common rationale used to continue on the destructive path. The truth is while everything else may seem out of our control, we’re convinced drinking is something we do control. But we’re not in control. We don’t even want to stop.

I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t drink every day. And I only drink beer or wine.

  • Being an alcoholic is not about what or when you drink. It’s about the effects that activity has on you and those around you. It’s causing problems at work because we had to have a couple at lunch or if everyone at home goes to their room while we enjoy those beers. It’s realizing the act of drinking has become far more important than anything else.

Drinking is my problem, not yours.

  • Certainly the decision to drink is ours. Implying that it doesn’t affect anybody else is part of the denial. An addiction is like a mental illness or a physical handicap. It can have a dynamic impact on the lives of everyone around us, particularly those that love and care for our well-being. They are the ones that ultimately have to suffer the repercussions. Alcoholism has played major parts in divorce, domestic violence, living in poverty, and unemployment.

Conclusion On Being An Alcoholic

We have only talked about coming to terms with our drinking, its effects on our mental well-being, and the impact on others. We haven’t touched upon the lethal damage long-term drinking can do to us physically. It can lead to liver and kidney failure. There can be heart problems and cancer.

This, in the end, is how those around us have to deal with our drinking. They must take care of us when we’re no longer able to care for ourselves. Much like they always have, cleaning up our messes, covering for us, working to make ends meet, and lying for us and to themselves.

Look in the mirror and at least tell yourself that’s enough of a reason to reconsider what you’re doing and seek addiction treatment.

Call Today for 24/7 Addiction Help: 1 (269) 704-7243