I was reluctant to call myself an alcoholic for about five years. It wasn’t because I didn’t know I was one, but because I didn’t feel like I fit the classic definition. I got out of bed when my alarm started to ring, ate my bowl of cereal with milk instead of super-strength lager, and went to work without a gravy stain on my tie or stinking of last night’s booze. I only drank reasonably moderately throughout the week, even managing to have some dry days, but when the weekend came, my employment-oppressed Withnail came out to play. I was free from the shackles of doing regular life-type stuff for two and a third days. How did I spend that time? Bankrupting myself financially, physically, and emotionally by drinking a shit-ton of craft beer.
I struggled to moderate my drinking from the time I recognized I was an alcoholic to the time I quit. Sure, I had long periods where I wouldn’t drink anything—riding that wagon for a predetermined period of time—but when I started drinking again, I fell into the same pattern. It was at this point that I had to rethink what an alcoholic is. I wasn’t a falling-down, punching-my-boss-in-the-face-on-a-Monday-morning drunk, but my relationship to alcohol was a destructive one. Whatever new, enlightened definition I came up with, I fit it. Whether I based it on consumption level, the level of destruction alcohol caused to my life, or how many times I visited the bathroom for a number two before midday (see below), the shoe fit like a motherfucker.
It’s up to you to decide whether you’re an alcoholic. It would be unethical of me to go around defining people as such . But even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to come across as Mr. Judgy McJudgerson. My consumption level aside, there were a few subtle hints for me over the years that indicated I might have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol. A few red flags that, had I not been drunk and/or hungover when they popped up, I might’ve spotted and be writing this blog five years earlier. As a way of entertaining you more than enlightening you—I am a comedy writer first and a sobriety blogger second—I’d like to share those telltale signs with you.
- You’re not an alcoholic, you’re an enthusiast of some type of alcoholic drink
As I mentioned above, craft beer was my tipple. Namely, Belgian beer. I would taste the shit out of those all Saturday afternoon and alleviate my hangover by discovering and tasting new ones on Sundays. If I were to base level of enthusiasm solely on consumption level, I was up there with craft beer nerds who write for Craft Beer Monthly, a fictional magazine I made up to make this point more humorous. I’m not a craft beer enthusiast, but an alcoholic who hid behind his casual interest in snobbish beer like a flasher hides his perversion behind an expensive fur-lined trench coat only to reveal his, um, true self a couple hours later. Just to make that simile clear, the flasher exposing his genitals is analogous with my getting shitfaced. Unless you’re the type of wine drinker who spits it out after tasting it, you’re enthusiasm for wine might be bordering on or is alcoholism.
2. You spend more money on toilet paper than you do on vacations
I’m going to go ahead and assume that A) you only go on vacation once a year, and that B) you don’t steal toilet paper from the supply room at work. Anyone who’s had a hard night drinking knows that the next morning you get up and star in your very own horror movie while sitting on the can. Drink a skinful of beer, and you could be convinced, upon visiting bathroom the first of five times the next morning, that the only thing you had for dinner was a super-size spinach and sweet corn smoothie. All that time you spend in the bathroom the morning after the night before means a whole lot of wiping. If you get drunk on the regular, you could literally be flushing that trip to Disneyworld with the family you’ve dreamed about for so long down the toilet.
3. You’ll find any excuse to turn a Monday into a Friday
When I took the train to work on a Monday morning, I used to mourn the loss of the weekend. But I was hungover, and there was no way I would spend Tuesday morning feeling like this. Around closing time at work, I would start to wrack my brain for any excuse to go to the store and pick up some beers afterwards. It could’ve been that I’d had a bad day at work, or a good day, or that there was a new Rob Schneider comedy on Netflix to stream. I had to sit through it, even though his last five movies had been subpar, and what better way to get through that ordeal than with a beer in my hand? You get where I’m going with this, especially if you’ve seen Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
4. Only nausea or something out of your control can stop you drinking
If I look back, only the first five or six beers were really any fun. After that, beer changed into sickly sweet treacle that I sipped at, hoping to bring back the level of optimism and excitement I felt two beers in. If I planned to have a light drinking session and only bought three or four, when they were finished, I’d put on my shoes faster than a centipede that’s late for work, so that I could go back to the store and resupply the refrigerator. I’d only stop drinking when I thought I was going to break my X-number-of-years record of avoiding throwing up, which I both fear and hate in equal measures. If the only thing stopping you from drinking more is an empty wallet, a closed bar, or your lack of consciousness, alcohol might not be for you.
5. You can’t imagine your life without alcohol
I’m going to try my best to finish on a serious note. If you can’t imagine spending a Friday evening, a Saturday night, or your unusually younger brother’s Briss without a glass of something in your hand, then Mr. Judgy McJudgerson thinks you maybe, probably have a problem with alcohol. Me? I’m not saying shit.
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Days sober: 13
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