You would think that the decision to go to a treatment center for my alcohol use would mean that I was willing to admit I was an alcoholic.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
For several days, every single time I woke up, I would think “Why in the world am I here? What am I doing?” I didn’t feel that I belonged. I felt that I was somehow different than the people around me. I mean, I didn’t drink a bottle of vodka a day. I didn’t even drink every single day. I could quit for a time (a few weeks). Surely I’m not really an alcoholic.
It took a lot of explanation from the addiction doctor for me to understand. AND reading the Big Book, the AA meetings, Big Book meetings, meeting with the Big Book teacher, etc. It took a while for me to come to terms with it (which is step 1).
Some quotes from the Big Book that helped me understand:
“Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.”
“But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.”
“Once in a while he may tell the truth. And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have. Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are baffled a lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are down for the count.”
“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice to drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
“If you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably an alcoholic.”
This last quote specifically is when I realized I was an alcoholic. I’ve been able to quit for a few weeks at a time, but I have never been able to stay that way. I always pick it right back up and drink more than before. Also, when I start drinking, I don’t stop until I run out. I would drink all the beer that Robert wouldn’t drink. I would buy beer, come home before Robert did, and drink it all before he got home (being drunk by the time he got home at 5 or 5:30). I would drink 12-15 beers at a time some times. If I had rum or vodka, I always started in the morning, not long after I woke up. Well, even beer… I mean, I rarely had any beer left for the next morning. But if I did, I would start early. Again, this wasn’t every day, but it was often enough (4-5 times a week… sometimes more). This has been going on for several years and had just gotten worse over time.
Then… I got out of La Ha and met with my counselor as soon as I got out. She read to me the description of someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says:
“To assess whether you or loved one may have an AUD, here are some questions to ask. In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
- Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
- Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?”
I literally had every single one of these. So apparently I have severe AUD and didn’t know it!
The beautiful thing is, there is a solution!
The first thing I needed to do was find a sponsor. I had one sponsor, then decided she wasn’t a good fit. I’m so thankful that I went to a women’s meeting and found a new one! She is amazing!
I talk to her every single day and tell her what I’m grateful for (minimum of 3 things, but I often tell up to 10). I meet with her once a week. I’m going through the twelve steps with her.
These are the twelve steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The most important thing is connecting with God every day through Bible study (at least for me) and prayer. I am learning to meditate. It’s been life changing!
Self care is also huge. If I can’t focus on my self care, then I have more anxiety, which in turn, makes me want to drink. So I have to be very careful to put that first.
I drive to AA 3 times a week. Twice a week to women’s AA (Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions study) and once a week to the 720 Club Brown Bag group (joint men and women).
This is how I realized I am a true alcoholic, what AUD is, and what the solution is. God is so good!