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Old 03-15-2011, 04:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Alcoholic or temporal description of alcohol consumption?

I'm a little at odds with myself and societies possible description of myself.

I know my limits of alcohol, but l can drink heavily. I regularly consume around 30-40 units of alcohol (by UK standards) per week. I experience brownouts and blackouts weekly. However my function in society and family life is completely unaffected. I accept I experience big headaches and sore stomach hangovers at weekends and some tiredness if I drink during the week. My friends and family think I drink too much and that if I drink any alcohol at home alone during the week it is alcoholism. I have experienced harm during drunk episodes but hasn't everyone during a period of chemical influence?

I am a 3rd year medical student and find it difficult to believe I am close to an alcoholic. I have had blood, liver and kidney tests, all which are completely normal. I have no physical or social damage. I may drink more than others, but if you factually describe an addiction or abuse of a drug, it is only the consumption of a drug which is outside of social acceptable boundaries. That doesn't necessarily imply damage. Which is why I don't understand how you can label anybody a highly functioning alcoholic if there is no damage? Which is what, if I had to label myself, I would label myself possibly. I don't understand how drinking coffee, a drink with addictive caffeine is any different to alcohol if the side effects arn't any different?

I'm not looking for excuses, just a desire to know why the definition of what an alcoholic is, is broadening. I view an alcoholic to be socially or physically damaging. I am neither of those yet others would call me an alcoholic based on my consumption?
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm going to assume that you're being serious.

I do not label anyone an alcoholic. It's up to you to make that decision for yourself. But, from someone who experienced blackouts, you can never say that you didn't cause harm, because how do you know.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi PabloRimp110110

If you don't believe you're an alcoholic then nothing I or anyone else can say will sway you.

I drank all day every day for several years - but because I always paid my bills, never got in legal trouble, was quiet and considerate, I didn't think I was an alcoholic....

the wrecked relationships, the injuries aches and scrapes, and the embarrassing incidents were just things everyone went through, right?

My drinking still nearly killed me tho.

D
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I feel like I've been posting this a lot lately

Quote:
"If, when 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 alcoholic."
~Alcoholics Anonymous, page 44
Decide for yourself.

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Old 03-15-2011, 04:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I strongly suggest you do some medical research
on how alcohol afects the brain chemistry.

Forget the term alcoholic for now... ..you may or may not be
but you are doing damage to your brain.

welcome....
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It isn't a matter of how much or how often you drink. It matters how alcohol affects you. If it has caused problems in your life, then that's something you should look at. A person doesn't have to drink every day or even once a week to be alcoholic. Binge drinkers can go days, weeks, sometimes even months without drinking, but when they do drink, they almost always drink more than they intend to. They can't just have one or two drinks and then walk away not wanting more.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yes l am being totally serious.

Yes I do a mix of binge drinking and moderate drinking, it totally depends on my mindset and company. On some occasions if I'm not in the mood l'll have a few drinks and switch to coffee. On others I know my limits and l'll be well aware l'm going well well past them, say 1L of vodka and recognise I'll probably vomit later. Most of my blackouts are in company of others so they are able to tell me of my blackouts.

I do have 2x alcoholic family members within immediate family ie grandad and sister. Maybe l'm deluding myself, it's just that l have never caused any social harm like they have done as a result of their drinking which is why I get very angry/annoyed when people should say I should not cut, or drink on my own because it's like becoming an alcoholic?!
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I do have 2x alcoholic family members within immediate family ie grandad and sister. Maybe l'm deluding myself, it's just that l have never caused any social harm like they have done as a result of their drinking

Alcoholism can be genetic. It's something to consider. Also, you are still young. Just because you haven't yet done any "social harm" doesn't mean you won't. It only takes a split second. Being drunk has a way of catching up with us, sooner or later.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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"say 1L of vodka and recognise I'll probably vomit later. Most of my blackouts are in company of others so they are able to tell me of my blackouts."

Yikes.

That sounds like 0% fun. So you plan to vomit and blackout? What kind of person plans that? Only an alcoholic would.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah I was annoyed too - I thought I managed my life very well too.
Whatever you decide I wish you the best with it.

As a medical student you may get a lot out of Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism by James Robert Milam and Katherine Ketcham.

D
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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That's what I agree with suki44883. I believe what l'm wrestling with is the definition of what alcoholism should be. IF something causes no damage then it shouldn't be a problem.

Yes Bellakeller. In the sense of some nights I know I don't want to stop drinking and am well prepared for the blackouts or vomiting, sometimes I self induce the vomit at the end of the night to lessen the hangover the next day as I know l'll have less alcohol in me as a result of vomiting the night before.

I'm guessing what l'm really asking is, is it ok to carry on this way if there arn't any apparent damages until damages occur? Dunno...
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Either way l'd like to applaud any persons who has given up alcohol for the better!!! I am NOT advertising it's advantages in any shape or form for the record.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:01 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Depends on your definition of damages.

I didn't think I was hurting anyone, but I broke up with two long term girlfriends and I pushed a lot of good friends away by choosing the bottle.

I worried my family and friends.

I didn't do as good as I could have in my work, and I eventually (after 15 years drinking) lost my career over my drinking.

I didn't think I was hurting myself but I've been in car smashes, put myself through a plate glass door, demolished a coffee table, fell down innumerable flights of stairs and did some pretty hefty damage to my reputation by being a jerk and being generally embarrassing.

I could go on...but I didn't think any of that was damage...at the time.

D
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi PabloRimp

I never had the classic repercussions of alcohol abuse - DUI, lost job, jail, hospitalization.

But I never could control my drinking, never really wanted to, and over time I kept drinking more and more. The trend was obvious and simple. Over time, I'd need more alcohol to get drunk - a sure sign of physical dependence - and the repercussions would follow soon after. For me, it was only a matter of time.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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It sounds to me from the way you were describing yourself that you already know you may have some serious issues with alcohol. Blackouts don't happen because you are a social drinker. When you vomit your body is trying to tell you something.Listen to people who have been there.It only gets worse. I hope that you consider talking to someone who can be objective. Our friends mean well but they are one of our biggest enablers. But I think the fact that you came to this site was a way of reaching out. There is a lot of support here!
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Why would you want to take that chance "if there aren't any apparent damages until damages occur?" Do something about it now before you have to answer that question and the outcome is not what you expect. Please seek some advice.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PabloRimp110110 View Post
. I don't understand how drinking coffee, a drink with addictive caffeine is any different to alcohol if the side effects arn't any different?
Hi,

I don't agree that alcohol and caffeine are parallel in terms of their side effects/consequences. Think blackouts, car crashes, death during physical withdrawal....not something you get from too much coffee.

But on a more serious note, alcoholism is progressive. If you read people's personal stories on SR you will note that many people had it "under control" for years until things became intolerable one way or another.

If you try to stop drinking for a while (several months) and can't, that should answer your question about your alcoholism. Many of us thought we had things under control and could stop any time, we just didn't want to. I drank a lot less than you, but when I tried to moderate I really couldn't. Stopping was the only way.

I too recommend reading "Under the Influence". You might find some of the science persuasive.

By the way, blood tests for liver damage may not show as abnormal until some degree of liver function is already compromised (I've read that as much as 1/3 of capacity can be gone by the time the liver enzymes are elevated).

Welcome to SR. Hope you keep reading and posting.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Hmmm.
On the one hand you say it's causing no damage, but you list a lot of things in your few post that sound like damage - or at least classic alcoholic stuff. I also very cleverly intellectualised my behaviour.

I'm 53. For the first twenty or so years of my drinking and drug-taking, I was active, successful, total party girl, started a couple of businesses, bout a couple of houses, travelled all over the world, got a couple of degrees, blah blah. No problems here! No legal ramifications (God, was I lucky), no waking up in gutters or strange places (that came later), no failed marriages or relationships (that came later too), liver function tests good, always absolutely healthy as a horse, never sick.

Remember, alcoholism is progressive for many people. The last 15 years, a lot of that has caught up to me.
Had I quit drinking when I was much younger, I'd be in a very different place now.

Is it OK to carry on the way you are now until something bad happens - is that like asking, is it OK to smoke until I get lung cancer, then quit? I dunno...that was one of my rationalizations too. I can't be that bad off! I haven't hit bottom or killed anyone yet! It's not time to quit yet!

BTW I am the same sort of drinker my father was, quite "functional". My father was a biker, hiker, tennis player, very active and healthy despite the drinking (he even quit smoking at 40.) By his mid-late 50s, his considerable intellect was waning noticeably. Drinking cost him his marriage to my mother. At 61 or 62, he was operated on for normal pressure hydrocephalus, drinking probably the cause according to his surgeon. At 64 he died of liver cancer.

I think it is great you are asking these questions now, good for you. The decision about whether you're an alcoholic or whether you ought to quit is yours alone, though.
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:31 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Considering that moderate drinking is defined as up to 2 units daily for men (1 for women) you are drinking way over the healthy limit.....

If something other than alcohol (like eating apples, for example) caused vomiting, black outs, concern from family, would you still insist that it wasn't a problem for you?

I think you're doing a lot of rationalization (which is another typical behavior for us) and as a medical student I'm surprised you seem to feel that your level of drinking isn't doing harm to your body.

AA suggests that if you doubt you're an alcoholic/alcohol abuser, try stopping for a period of time, like 3-6 months. Most of us couldn't do it until we committed ourselves to a program of recovery.

I don't think I even knew how much of a problem I had until I tried to quit!
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hi. I know that you said that you have had no family, work or social problems from drinking...yet. You are Eligible Too
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