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Old 11-06-2011, 01:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How long does it take to become an alcoholic?

I read in a scientific book that it takes at least 20 years of drinking to become an alcoholic. I was kind of skeptical when I first read that, but whenever I hear someone in their early 20's say their name and that they are an alcoholic I always kind of laugh to myself because I know the roller coaster ride for them has really just begun.

I mean my hope for them is that they do recover early, for their sake, but a lot of the youngsters I have met that say they are an alcoholic just haven't really deteriorated enough to really even be an alcoholic. I am probably wrong about this. But I don't even like to call myself an alcoholic, I think that the label "alcoholic" is too much of a stereotype and doesn't really do much to describe the true person.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No way I agree with that...I just turned 24 and am MOST ASSUREDLY an alcoholic. Some people's progressions are faster than others. Some people are just destined for it if they drink; I was a binge drinker from the start and it only got worse.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i became an alcoholic from my first swig of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill at age 16! it clicked with me and off to the races...When i finally admitted to my self I truly was an alcohlic was probably in my late twenties! but that still did not stop the drinking
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hmm... I don't think it helps much in this context to worry about terminology, like whether someone is an alcoholic or not. I think it is better to think in terms of whether you have a problem with drinking too much alcohol.

Put it this way though: if someone in their early 20's tells you that they are a heroin addict do you think of them as not really an addict? Would you tell that person that they haven't lost enough to be an addict?
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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it's not that, but what was bothering me about the label "alcoholic" is that I am not sure that it's really healthy to identify ones core identity in a word with such negative connotations at any age, but especially as a youngster...

People are just so judgemental about alcoholics, and to define oneself by an illness or character defect seems like a terrible thing to do.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think this is one of those 'how long is a piece of string questions' cuyoutoo.
There's many different stories and many different yardsticks.

Some people I know didn't make it to 20 years drinking but they still died from it.
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it's not that, but what was bothering me about the label "alcoholic" is that I am not sure that it's really healthy to identify ones core identity in a word with such negative connotations at any age, but especially as a youngster...

People are just so judgemental about alcoholics, and to define oneself by an illness or character defect seems like a terrible thing to do.
I can still identify myself as an 'alcoholic' here and not accept the cultural baggage or other peoples definitions that might go with it.

D
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuyootoo View Post
People are just so judgemental about alcoholics, and to define oneself by an illness or character defect seems like a terrible thing to do.
That makes sense. I guess I don't really define myself as an alcoholic in the way you describe. In other words, the fact that I am an alcoholic does not define my being, but rather serves as a way to contextualize and categorize my behavior, thinking and tendencies in terms that others can understand.

I do define myself as a fundamentally broken person, but that has more to do with my views on God than it does with my views on addiction.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Alcoholic drinking/behavior is just that: alcoholic, no matter what age one is or how long one has been drinking.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Let's face it - there is a huge misconception and stigma with being labeled an "alcoholic". If being labeled an "alcoholic" is an issue, admitting a drinking problem might be more beneficial.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I was a Boone's Farm inductee to the World of Alcoholism also, at age 17! One sip and I was hooked. I still remember that moment.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Alcoholic to me is no more a negative descriptive than athlete or musician. It's a descriptive term that can have negative stereotypes if you allow them. I'm proud to be an alcoholic today, it's part of me just like being a brunette is a part of me.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
People are just so judgemental about alcoholics, and to define oneself by an illness or character defect seems like a terrible thing to do.
I feel the same way as it pertains to young people. I mean it is what it is. These young people are experiencing alcoholism but it takes emotional maturity to be able to separate the truth of it from the stigma. I agree that this can be hard at a young age.

I think this was posted somewhere else on this site

5 Types of Alcoholics
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Perchance was the scientific text published during the 19th century?
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Being an alcoholic does not define the person, it speaks to the illness of alcoholism. Of course, people can make what they want out of what is or isn't alcoholism.

For some alcoholism is a sham, not a true illness, just a weakness in the alcoholic who cant manage their drink socially.

For others its a complete illness and the alcoholic can't and shouldn't being held responsible ie they are sick.

For most its somewhere in between those two extremes.

The idea though that it takes a certain defined amount of time to become an alcoholic is not held up by most people nowadays. Society has too often seen the teenage alcoholic and drug addict too many times in real life to think alcoholism takes years and years to manifest. Society knows better now. The "Just Say No" educational campaigns of the last 30 years have proven very effective in raising the publics consciousness.

Alcoholism is no respecter of ages, or anything else, for that matter.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:17 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Started drinking at 18 & knew I was an alcoholic by 19 though I'd have never said that to a soul, just knew my drinking was essentially different from my friends.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:24 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Hard to say... Could have some truth to it...

My alcoholic tendencies had to develop over many years. Not quite twenty years, but I did take the majority of a decade to become an alki. Above all It probably just depends on the person.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:29 PM   #17 (permalink)
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a lot of the behaviors associated with what is called alcoholism are better characterized a self destructive behavior, it's like somewhere along the line we didn't care enough about ourselves to stop drinking
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
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a lot of the behaviors associated with what is called alcoholism are better characterized a self destructive behavior, it's like somewhere along the line we didn't care enough about ourselves to stop drinking
Well we could chase our tails forever on this one, but I think the self-destructiveness is often a result of the alcoholic/addictive cycle, not the cause.

I think evidence for this can be found in a lot of people's sobriety. Once they break the addictive cycle, for many people the depression and self-destruction lifts fairly rapidly. Many others find there are still deeper issues to address, of course, such as true biochemical depression, but that's not true for everyone.
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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For me, though, I can say that I wanted to drink myself into oblivion because I was mad at my parents. I was acting out against myself to hurt them. That was when I was a teenager. Then when I was an adult I wanted to drink myself into oblivion because I was mad at my wife. I was always hurting myself to try to show others how they were hurting me.

I would hurt myself all the time by drinking. The end result was injury to myself physically, emotionally, occupationally, psychologically. I tend to believe that my self destructive attitude is more of a root cause. And for me, I am not really chasing my tail. Rather, I am expressing some things that I have been thinking about for a long time.

Just cutting out the drinking, while continuing with the self destructive and self hating attitudes won't let me grow as much as I can. My parents taught me how to hate myself and mistreat myself. My stepfather taught me what a mess up I was by his constant insults and name calling and other physical abuse. My mother taught me to mistreat myself through her role modeling. My mom let my stepdad mistreat her all the time. My mom would always put herself last. She would always take the leftovers. So many of us so called "alcoholics" are really first and foremost victims of abuse, just consider myself, or Dominica, or even yourself for example.

One realization that was really freeing for me was when I read a psychoanalytical book that suggested that as adults we are living out what our parents told us what we were through their words and ACTIONS. It helped me a lot to realize that I was just living out my parents expectations.

I have a friend that always tells his perspective employer that he is a recovering alcoholic during his interviews. He never gets the job. I wonder why ??? If he would characterize himself in a better way then he would probably have a job already. And yes, he was a victim of abuse too.

I don't think it's really worthwhile to label oneself a victim either, but it is important to process the truth. That's why I don't think a person has to constantly call themselves an alcoholic in public all the time ei. "My names cuyootoo and I am an alcoholic" I think a better way to publicly introduce oneself on a regular basis would be "My name is cuyootoo and I am worth taking care of" or something like that.

Most people in aa introduce themselves in a negative way to people first and foremost as an alcoholic, especially on a regular basis in public. I think that's psychologically harmful. Furthermore, the reason I think they are publicly humiliating themselves on a constant basis is because the have a low self esteem and feel comfortable playing the role of an "alcoholic" in recovery or not. I say they feel comfortable hurting their reputation on a constant basis, not because it feels good for them, but because it feels normal for them to mistreat themselves.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:06 PM   #20 (permalink)
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To further confuse the issue, someone once told me you're already an alcoholic when you're born, if you carry the gene. (It was a doctor, telling me my son would be an alcoholic if his parents both were. I always wondered if he got it wrong.)
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