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How do you know if you're physically-dependent?

Old 01-28-2017, 07:13 PM
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How do you know if you're physically-dependent?

More specifically, how do you differentiate the early signs of dependence from restlessness caused by torturous loneliness. There's the restlessness in the evenings and the daytime tiredness.

I mention this because when I do stop for a few days, I feel excruciatingly tired. Part of me thinks that it's mostly down to bad sleep. When I do start drinking (self-medicating) I do stay-up ridiculously late, wake-up at my normal time, but have less sleep, and poorer quality sleep. This might be 90% responsible for the exhaustion I feel.

When I google the signs of phyical dependence' this, I usually find things like irritability, sleep problems, and general feelings of restlessness. Some of those I relate to. The reason I'm concerned about my drinking is because it takes place in binges. I will go for two or three days without drinks.

RE restlessness;
What I'm having trouble differentiating is the uneasiness caused by extreme loneliness, and am getting suspicious as to whether this has moved beyond that.

I get bad cravings on weekend evenings mainly because that time has become associated over time with the expectation of a drink (or more likely the happy social memories linked to the intoxicated feeling). It's mostly psychological but, how do you know it's gone beyond psychological and progressed to physical?

My pattern. I don't drink every day. Every week I have days off and try to make sure I have a row of two days a week off at least once a week. If I'm good I'll get three, or two rows of two days. That's the pattern. What's the gauge of physical dependence? You don't have to be experiencing shakes. I'm nowhere near that, but I know that there are more benign signs that you should be aware of that might be present.

Current articles do little to differentiate things such as learned associations & distress cause by loneliness from more serious signs of dependence. There's a grey area about unease when stopping. The loneliness, the terrible social life I have, that cause just as much desire to drink as it does now. How do you differentiate?

Sorry this is heavy.
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Old 01-28-2017, 07:36 PM
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I think you are in what a lot of us called the "bargaining" stage right now Vulcan. By that I mean you are trying to find evidence to prove to yourself that drinking really isn't the problem, when you know deep down that it very likely is. You can google and research it as much as you like, but in the end the answer is right there inside you.

There is no definitive answer to your question really. Your lonliness could even be a result of your drinking...have you considered that possibility? In any case, talking some extended time off drinking will give you some time to get a cleared headed overview..maybe give that a try?
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Old 01-28-2017, 07:40 PM
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I was physically dependent at the end of my drinking. I would get sick, flu like symptoms and shaking, when too many hours passed between drinks. A doctor helped me get through this once I finally decided to stop all together.

The sleepy and tiredness, yet not being able to sleep, is just part of the process. It took me weeks to sleep very well at all and months to start feeling much better physically.

Too me, it sounds more like you are struggling with the restless, irritable, and discontent part of the process. Are you following a recovery program? If not I would recommend AA meetings. You will learn a lot about your issues and you will make new friends. It's a life saving program and I recommend you run, don't walk, to some meetings!
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Old 01-28-2017, 09:00 PM
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Does it really matter? If you feel physically crap- see a doctor, it could be many things. Tiredness can be from stress, poor diet, lack of hydration plus a kazillion other things. Mental fatigue is exhausting- fear, shame, anxiety, DEPRESSION, whatever- a doctor helped me with carefully prescribed and maintained antid-s. Pain (physical) also can add to the equation. Then there is the physical and emotional/mental effects of booze. If you binge, then break- your body is doing the roller coaster/see-saw thing. It does not reach a level of balance. Do you have counselling? Go to AA/SMART? Addiction is a multifaceted affliction- whether you see it as an allergy, disease, disorder does not matter to me. What does matter is you feel crap, have identified it is affecting your life in many areas and want to do something about it.
Prayers to you, PJ.
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Old 01-28-2017, 09:10 PM
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Isn't dependence, dependence?

A great book that describes what alcohol actually does to the body is Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism by James Robert Milam and Katherine Ketcham

The more a person drinks, the more their Central Nervous System's [CNS] cells change to adapt to having alcohol in it's system. These cells physically change. They get thrown into major distress when their supply of alcohol is stopped [withdrawal.] They literally cannot function or survive without it.

A "hangover" is a withdrawal symptom.
It's the body reacting to a sudden lack of alcohol. Nausea, anxiety, shakiness, racing heartbeat, shallow breathing, sweats, blurry vision, confusion, lack of coordination are all physical symptoms the CNS/brain sends out, pleading for alcohol: "Just gimme one drink and I'll feel better . . ."

Just a thought - maybe it wouldn't hurt to also see someone about your depression?
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Old 01-29-2017, 06:27 AM
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So i have been told physical dependence is when the body becomes used to have alcohol in the system and physically changes to accommodate it thus when the physically dependent person suddenly stops imbibing alcohol the body can react to this and then withdrawal symptoms kick in ranking from the mild to DTs/seizures and the like.

I am a binge drinker like you have described and am pretty anxious anyway so after my binge anxiety levels shoot through the roof. I will then struggle with sleeping properly, sitting with myself, fear about my health, worries about everything and generally feeling that i want or might die. I used to drink with people who would drink the same amount of me and have none of what i have described above, not even for a second. Therefore i suspect that very little is to do with how the alcohol is physically affecting me but much more to do with hot it is mentally affecting me.

So if it is a mental issue and i am not physically craving alcohol like a dependent person would be in the days after stopping heavy drinking after an extended period of time my only option is to get help for the head.
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:44 AM
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Hi, Vulcan,
I have the exact same pattern of drinking as you. I just broke 11 days sober and am so disappointed with myself. Somehow I have to knuckle this addiction. It has to go as I blackout every time.

I also found ElianL's post very interesting to me. Perhaps we're 3 of a kind.

Good luck both.
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:54 AM
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The crushing lonliness, I understand. I am lonely, the woman I am still in love with died less than 2 years ago. I could date, but I still love her. I think of her every day. I have friends, but the grief wants what it wants and that is what I deal with now. I understand it will get better/lessend and it has, but it is terrible right now.

While I was drinking, I kept pushing those uncomfortable thoughts aside, further away. That was a mistake. The alcohol interferred with dealing with those feelings of discomfort, lonliness, and grief.

As one Vulcan scientist to another, I can tell you that getting rid of one problem at a time is key. Like dealing with the higher interest rate credit card first is key in debt management. The greatest prblem I had besides the grief/loss was my drinking.

I got rid of that first. It has been almost a year sober for me. Drinking was my first and foremost problem that I could directly, logically direct my efforts toward ending. What is yours?
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:06 AM
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Whether your dependency is physiological or psychological is irrelevant. From your side, the treatment is the same- stop.
Maybe let your doctor worry about the rest.
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Old 01-29-2017, 12:36 PM
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It took me 5 waking days before I could attain any real sleep, after my last relapse and I had to use diphenhydramine to do it. The 4 nights preceding were rough. No rem, shallow sleep for no more than an hour. The days were terrible filled with the dry heaves, nausea, excessive tiredness, extreme restlessness along with depression. The point is your body needs sleep to help undo the damage to your central nervous system, but you need a fair amount of time abstinent to do it. 2-3 days would definitely not be enough time for me. I hope you can find what you are looking for, and better yet what you need.
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