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Old 02-13-2019, 06:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Alcoholics come in all shapes and sizes


Was I ever an alcoholic to begin with? Sometimes I wonder. I have been sober for over 21 years with no temptation to return to that lifestyle over that period of time, but that isn't why I wonder if I was ever an alcoholic to begin with. There have been times when the thought of the quick and easy calming and relaxing effects of ethanol would be a welcome relief after a trying day of the irritations of dealing with cranky, irrational people/incidents when no other recourse worked. However, one of the things I learned as I got older is that some problems have no answers. Looking for a quick and easy fix in a bottle is a temporary thing for problems that have no answers. When ibuprofen and Benadryl became over the counter inexpensive medications, it is my personal belief that those two pharmaceuticals single-handedly helped prevent many cases of incipient alcoholism by providing safe alternatives to taking a drink after a bad day by relieving body aches and bringing on quick helpful sleep.

I have read about "co-dependency", "family problems", how alcoholism affects all those around you, it ruins your life, etc., ad nauseam. All this is very true and I certainly can't deny it because I see it, and suffered the actions of alcoholics around me. This is where my own personal bout with ethanol greatly departs from what I listed above. I never had much of any kind of a family as a child or adult (the three I did have were good people), interacted much with others, I have never had many friends, drinking didn't ruin my life, and there were never any enablers keeping me going. I am well-educated and I earned every cent for my college education by hard work as a young person, I was self employed, I was pretty happy then and now, I was stable and productive as an alcoholic, I never had a car accident of any sort, never lost my bank account, never got arrested, been in jail, I have only been stopped by police for "fix-it" problems like a burned-out tail light and in fraudulent speed traps in small towns, I owned a ranch and farmed, had employees, worked as a chemist part time, no one was ever mad at me, I took care of my mother after she retired until she passed away. A success story? Compared to other alcoholics who leave trails of destruction in their wake, yes. Compared to those who never drink and have millions and leave wrecks of un-loved children and pay alimony to divorced wives and unpaid child support, yes. There were times when I was drinking 750 ml of 40% ethanol vodka a day for short periods when I was in my 30s, but mostly enough beer or wine to be unsafe to drive every day for long periods. Being self employed and not needing to commute on a ranch, I rarely drove and never drove drunk, and I made my own wine for years. I did that for 25 years. So to answer my own question, yes I was an alcoholic, but I didn't fit the pattern of the majority.

I suppose there are others like me out there, but I have yet to meet or talk to one. I guess there are all sorts of drunks out there. Like all the others, though, I was just as good at it! I was a professional drunk. Now I'm not, I suppose I'm a professional sober drunk Ė for a little over 21 years, October 23, 1997, was when I had my last drink, so October 24, 1997, was my first clean day. I'm at 7783 days including today, February 13, 2019. Like for everyone else, staying sober is very simple, although simple is not easy Ė never get those two words confused. I stay sober ONE DAY AT A TIME, same as everyone else.

Get sober and stay that way, minute by minute if you have to. They add up, and the longer you are sober it makes it easier to stay that way. I'm glad I got that way!

Was I ever an alcoholic? Yeah, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Lautca
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The longer I'm on SR the more I see that addiction manifests itself in a variety of ways.

I had ten years like yours and other ten years of crash and burn beyond that so I have no doubts what I am and never have since I found SR - I think, for me in a way thats one of those strange blessings.

Whatever kind of alcoholic you are, I'm just glad that you've embraced sobriety and you'll never drink again Lautca

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Old 02-13-2019, 10:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Great post.

Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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OP - Interesting post. I read somewhere else here about folks like you. Drank a lot with few obvious consequences and financially successful. I know someone in the AA program who is very successful. We attend the same weekly men's meeting. He's a semi-retired lawyer with over 20 years of sobriety. He's a multi millionaire. There are folks who suffer fewer consequences. They stopped in time.

On a semi related note I recall someone commenting that one of the problems he had with AA meetings is that folks who were asked to lead the meetings had crazy drinking stories. He figured that the "crazy" stories with lots of bad consequences were the most popular to listen to so that's what dominated. For me hearing stories of folks who had fewer consequences but still realized it was time to stop drinking is very helpful. Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There are folks who suffer fewer consequences. They stopped in time.

On a semi related note I recall someone commenting that one of the problems he had with AA meetings is that folks who were asked to lead the meetings had crazy drinking stories. He figured that the "crazy" stories with lots of bad consequences were the most popular to listen to so that's what dominated. For me hearing stories of folks who had fewer consequences but still realized it was time to stop drinking is very helpful. Thanks.
I've heard someone describe themselves as a "high bottom drunk," meaning that they hadn't wrecked their lives as much as they could have before they began recovery. We often talk about hitting our bottom, as if it's a goal: "You haven't hit your bottom yet." But why wait for that?

What we identify as the bottom is really just where we changed the direction of our fall. Does anyone ever really hit their bottom? Do you hit bottom when you die from alcohol abuse, or does death just interrupt your downward spiral? I think it's the latter.


And no matter how far down you might fall, someone else can always outdo you with an even lower bottom story. Sometimes it seems like a competition. Who has the most horrific hitting bottom story? But maybe the lucky ones... the real winners, are the first to quit. Duh?!
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Old 02-14-2019, 09:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I did not fit into any of the "typical" characteristics of an addict either. I came from a good home with 2 parents who gave me basically everything I needed. Neither of them were addicts nor anyone else in my immediate family. I went to college, got a good job, and did everything set out to accomplish.

Having said that I still drank daily for decades, and towards the end to the point that it was destroying all those good things I had built/worked hard for. Quitting was one of the most important decisions I've made in my life.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My drinking ran in cycles. I'd have long periods of "normal" drinking and a few stretches of sobriety that lasted up to a year after a particularly bad self-detox.

If I go back 21 years I had just gone through grad school, which was my first patch of serious binge drinking (from 30 to 32). I was in a period of relatively "normal" drinking. If I'd quit then I never would have had the horrible periods which really didn't start until a few years later.

So...you may have dodged a bullet, and been more of an alcoholic than you realize.

REmember the key word to "I've never had a DUI, or been homeless, or lost a job..." Yet.

Alcoholics come in all shapes and sizes...and the disease changes over time, usually worsening.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There is a story in the Big Book of AA, I think it is in the chapter More About Alcoholism, about a man who ran into some problems drinking when he was younger. He quit and had a successful business career. Then he retired and out came the carpet slippers and the bottle. It didn't end well.

You are right about there being many differences among alcoholics, nowhere more so than the stories. But it is not the story that defines the alcoholic. It really comes down to control and choice.

If you were to put a bunch of alchies in a room and get them drinking you would observe many diffeent behaviors. Some would become quiet and withdawn, some might fight, others become loud, some sing, you name it. The one thing they all have in common is that they will all reach for another drink.
Did you find at times that you drank more than you intended?
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I think Laucta raises a very important point to make.

Maybe the last stage of alcoholism is much of the same for almost most alcoholics in terms of hard wired addictive behavior and dysfunctionalityto lead your life. But before that, ways getting there maybe different, the profile of addictive beahior as well.

To me, based on my story, which does not fit into most stories told here as well, it seems key to understand your own needs, reasons and profiles to drink in order to stop drinking - before you get to that last stage, where it seems common to reach rock bottom and it is mandatory to stop drinking immidiately.
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Old 02-16-2019, 05:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I did not quite fit the mold either but ,as another has eluded to, I Think I was headed down a common path. The circumstances and situations around alcoholism can be as unique as the people who drink and the ways in which their lives differ. However, I believe that uninterrupted , their ends would be more similar.

This topic is interesting to think about and maybe itís the reason why there is no one size fits all Method to managing withdrawal and cravings.
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Old 02-19-2019, 03:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I did not quite fit the mold either but ,as another has eluded to, I Think I was headed down a common path. The circumstances and situations around alcoholism can be as unique as the people who drink and the ways in which their lives differ. However, I believe that uninterrupted , their ends would be more similar.

This topic is interesting to think about and maybe itís the reason why there is no one size fits all Method to managing withdrawal and cravings.
Hey, matrac, thanks for your last paragraph!

"This topic is interesting to think about and maybe itís the reason why there is no one size fits all Method to managing withdrawal and cravings."

One of the things I did after I quit drinking was to actively search within myself to find out why I had been using alcohol. I already knew part of the story going all the way back to when I was a teenager and had my first drink, but successfully resisted drinking until "the coast was clear" when drinking wouldn't greatly interfere with what I would be doing for awhile as I slowly turned into a daily drinker.

After I became sober, I started to examine my thoughts on what alcohol alleviated and took the next step that apparently many alcoholics do not, and started looking at ways to remedy deficiencies within myself.

One thing I can't stress enough is it takes TIME to rebuild who one is. Metaphorically speaking, if you have a water line that is full of leaks, you can patch up the leaks and keep putting patches on the leaks. But the best solution is to rebuild the water line so it doesn't leak any more. Alcohol puts patches on a bad "water line", and what I had to do was rebuild a bad water line and re-install it with a good one.

After I quit drinking, I just didn't sit there twiddling my thumbs and watching TV, my next project was ME. I had quit drinking and I WANTED to stay quit, so I did some work to stay quit. The only problem with that is I can't get rid of my memory, there were times when using ethanol truly worked in a few truly bad unavoidable situations that I didn't cause for myself. THOSE are the times that come back to bite former alcoholics in the butt, and any of us have to figure out how to deal with them.

Fortunately for me, my being a drunk did not halt my growth and gaining wisdom as I got older, and I did learn how to deal with a lot of the contretemps that teenagers and young adults don't handle very well yet, plus older people have the natural advantage, which is others have much less of a tendency to "mess" with them purely because of their age. As the saying goes, "Rank Hath Privilege"!

What I am getting at is that after winning my "war" with booze, I took steps to make sure that the causes for me to start drinking to begin with got eliminated as best as I could. That was a lot of hard work, and apparently a lot of alcoholics don't take that step. That is where others come in to support them and help them dig into the "cracks" and get all the scorpions and snakes out and gone. Fortunately, I grew up pretty much by myself because of where I lived as a child, and was not dependent on being surrounded by others for my sense of well-being, apparently a rather profound difference between me and most other people.

Yep, matrac, you got it right, there is no one size fits all Method to managing withdrawal and cravings! Mine fits me, maybe it might fit someone else or give some others an idea where to start.

What all alcoholics MUST DO is actively work on finding out what drives their alcoholism and then figure ways of getting out from under it. No one else can do that job for you, you have to do that for yourself. Others can help you do that, but they can't do it for you. It isn't easy, sometimes it hurts, and you have to sort through your past so you quit dwelling on it. After awhile it gets easier IF, and a big IF, you do your part and actively work on digging into what is going on with you.

I didn't make it on the first try, either. Or the second, or third. It took something like sixteen years before my first clean day through to my 7789th.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


Lautca
day 7789
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Old 02-19-2019, 04:02 PM   #12 (permalink)
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You need to come to the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, there are so many alkies like you it's uncanny! In fact, you are the majority. Glad you have many years sober!!
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