I'm a recovering alcoholic. Living free of the booze is the best decision I have ever made in my life.
Recognizing The Problem
Ask 100 people who drink if any of them think they're an alcoholic. Regardless of how much they drink or how often they partake in this activity, a large majority (if not all) would probably answer "no" to that question. Some may be too embarrassed to admit it; some may not even be aware of it; others may just flat out not care about it.
The stigma of alcoholism denotes all the negative connotations associated with an affliction that fosters pain, weakness, and self-loathing. The very word, in itself, is the epitome of explorable addiction.
I was just 16 years old when I took my first drink. It started out as a playful dare but turned into a lifelong habit. I'm now 49. I won't detail all the drunken escapades I've encountered throughout my drinking career, but I will say I've been sober for just over four months, and it really didn't take that much effort to kick the bottle for good, just a good ole' fashioned desire to change for better health. Of course, everyone is different as the severity level of dependency varies with each person. My level was pretty severe. I was considered what some experts call a "functional alcoholic"
My last drink (to date) was one night before I had to work in the morning. I guzzled two 1.5 liter bottles of wine before bed with little effort. My tolerance level was extremely high at that time, so I only felt slightly buzzed when I laid down. Well, It seemed like I clocked in a good night of uninterrupted sleep, but in reality, the alcohol level crept up while I slept and I fell into a drunken stupor. I woke up three hours late for work that morning.
In my line of business, that's basically job abandonment, or at least it appears to be—a no-call no-show. Employers hate that and have zero-tolerance for it. I rushed to the office in a complete and utter mess.
Needless to say, my appearance drew much-unwanted attention. The kind of attention you really don't want; like your boss summoning you to the office for a conference call with HR. That was the day I had a "moment of clarity".
By the grace of God, my boss was dealing with her own personal tragedy and recommended I seek help to remain employed. So I took FMLA and checked into a treatment center for 2 months.
It was in detox where I discovered the person I became when I drank and the person I am.
"It was a life-altering close call"
— Yours Truly
Science Says There Are 4 Types of Drunks
"The reality of the situation is that most adults who drink, they're drinking maybe a couple drinks during the week and then typically drinking [larger] amounts on weekends,"
"As a woman, if you were to drink eight or more [drinks] per week, that is considered in the category of excessive drinking,"
— Robert Brewer - Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Substitute the Sauce
We all know drinking alcohol is a socially acceptable activity in today's culture. It's the fluid that keeps the fire burning at any event or situation that allows for it. Some events just wouldn't seem right without it. Imagine going to a sports pub to watch the game. Instead of draft beer and liquor, the bar only served glasses and shots of water. Now that's a scene right out of the Twilight Zone.
As strange as that may seem, places like that do exist. They're called..well...water bars. And they're just that. Bars that serve only tap water. There are only a few in operation right now, but seem to be trending. Tap water has a unique taste in different parts of the country and this allows people to sample each. I'm sure there are other types of water but the point is, it's just water.
As a person heavy on the sauce and trying to abstain when out on the town, something like this could be interesting. You get to be on the bar scene mingling, but with a glass of tap on the rocks. Sorry Uber.
"I'll take a double shot of H2O please"
Healthy Motivation to Quit
I had just turned 45 when I took a hard look in the mirror and I hated what I saw. Here was a guy in his mid-forties with a beer gut the size of a pregnant woman in her second trimester, a bird chest, no muscle mass whatsoever and a bloated face. I'm 5'10 and my current weight was at 210lbs. My confidence had been slaughtered and rested six feet under.
It got that way from years of drinking, bad eating habits (mostly fast food) and literally no exercise (outside from normal walking, sitting, etc.).
That very moment, I had an epiphany and quit drinking beer cold-turkey. I signed up for a gym membership at the local YMCA and started a regular exercise routine. I wanted to become more knowledgeable about healthy living, so I began to read books and recipes on healthy foods and how to prepare them. It worked.
3 months later, I was down to 169lbs. I became extremely concerned, almost paranoid, because I had never been at that weight in my life and feared I had some kind of disease. And of course, I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. People looked at me as if I were hitting the pipe.
But my weight wasn't the problem. It was my eating habits. Although I learned how to cook and eat healthily, I just wasn't eating enough. Ditching the beer was the main catalyst of the weight loss, but lack of sufficient nutrients (protein, carbs, etc.) was accelerating the process.
Your Health Will Prevail
If the body had the ability to speak words out loud, it would scream, "I don't want vodka, I want a steak!"
Well, in essence, it does speak to you like that. The only difference is whether it gets what it wants is if you listen to it. Unfortunately, when you have an addiction or your brain is craving something in particular, it can pretty much override the body's ruling.
The brain is very smart. It's like playing chess against a computer. It anticipates your every move and counters, so you have to think outside the box to trick it.
"I had achieved my health goals but made the mistake of thinking I could handle a glass of wine every now and then. I didn't realize my brain had other plans"
— Yours Truly
Learning to Love This New You
Once you're successful at living a healthy lifestyle, you must maintain it—for the rest of your life. It can be an arduous process, but that's why it's a "lifestyle" and not some fad you try for three months and expect everlasting results. You actually love it and wouldn't want life any other way.
Everything from food, exercise, mental state to basic daily habits must be strictly adhered to in order to stay in your body's good graces. You treat your body well, and it'll make sure it treats you even better.
That's a high so incredible, alcohol doesn't even come close. Health and loving yourself is how you defeat it. At least that's how I did.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on December 12, 2019:
This is a good article for those who drink or live with alcoholism. I'm not a drinker and never have been, but I've seen what an addiction like this can do to people.
Thanks for sharing your story.