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Old 03-13-2019, 08:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My name is Jimbo and I'm sort of an alcoholic


How does one know the difference between being someone who drinks too much (a "problem-drinker") and being a full-blown alcoholic? Is it simply a subjective choice or is there an objective demarcation? I had it suggested to me more than once in an AA meeting that I was on such a low-end of the spectrum that I barely qualified as an alcoholic, whatever that means. I don't think this primarily had to do with the amount that I was drinking but rather with the fact that I was still extremely high-functioning. I was going to meetings that were a bit hard-core, with some decidedly Bukowski-like characters in attendance, but nonetheless I felt like (and still feel like) that my drinking is definitely beyond the "normal" amount. Not sure if these were just cases of assholes venting about their own lives or if these were a real indication that maybe I don't fit into the "alcoholic" category. Has anyone else struggled with this?

By the way, this site is always such a great help. Thank you all for your contributions. I haven't posted anything on here for years, but I've regularly returned to this site in that time and it has been a real inspiration for healthier choices in my life.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't worry or think about what 'category' I fall into. Rather, I think of the problems drinking caused me and that I no longer have those problems now that I'm living sober. It doesn't matter what I call it - I fixed it.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome back Jimboagust

I think we can get hung up on the labels sometimes. If you want to quit drinking but can't...if your drinking is causing you problems but you still can't stop, then places like SR are the best places for you to be

D
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I wondered for a long time.

“I have a professional job—I have a great house—I don’t have drinks in the morning, I don’t get shakes in the morning unless I drink heavily the night before, I like drinking everyday, I don’t need to......” blah blah blah.

I could not keep promises to myself about cutting down or stopping. The guilt that I felt was terrible. My nose was red/ purple. All day. I was sluggish.

It got to the point where I rotated stores to buy my wine. I drove to the next town late at night after my town had an evening cut off for selling.

I denied ‘it’ because I had difficulty labeling ‘it’

“It”. “Problem drinker”. “Alcoholic” “moderate drinker” “social drinker” ( really, by myself?)weekend warrior ( weekends went from Friday and Saturday nights to Thursday to monday nights to Wednesday to Tuesday nights.


Hmmmmm

Not a slave any more.

I’m free. From ‘it’

Thank you SR!
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Not sure if these were just cases of assholes venting about their own lives
If they were, well, my grandpa used to say that there was no point arguing with an idiot because they would just drag you down their level and beat with experience. Recovery isn't a competition. Nobody wins in a "I was a worse drunk than you" contest.

When I was 20 years old, I woke up in the middle of the night one time with a lightening bolt thought "My God! I am an alcoholic!". I then settled down because I rationalized that I had no DUIs, no jail time, no lost jobs, had a roof over my head, paid my bills, etc etc etc. I drank too much, but so what.

Was I an alcoholic? Yes. Could I have used help? Yes. Did I want help? No.

Fast forward 20 years, the same rational about no DUIs etc, still held up. Plus on top of that I was a successful business owner, was married with no failed ones in my history, etc etc etc. I drank too much, but so what.

Was I an alcoholic? Yes. Could I have used help? Yes. Did I want help? Yes.

Bottom line, I had a problem and wanted help. That is all that mattered
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I never worried about the label "alcoholic" myself. I knew drinking wasn't doing me any favors, that's for damn sure. This poison insinuating itself into my life and then demanding more and more time and attention. I knew I'd be better off without it forever, that if I never drank again, it wouldn't matter one little bit what me or anyone else decided to call my past mistakes. What I've got now I call life, I call freedom. I call sobriety. That's all I care about.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Alcoholism is a progressive disease. If you cannot stop and stay stopped on your own, chances are you are an alcoholic. The fact that you can point to some features of your life that make you seem "not alcoholic" is immaterial - alcoholism isn't the inability to hold a job, stay out of jail / hospital, etc - it's the inability to drink normally.

The fact that you were willing to go to an AA meeting is significant in my opinion. Nobody goes there for the great coffee or prestige... they go because they haven't found a way to control their drinking. If you are an alcoholic and continue to drink, the consequences of your drinking will get worse. That is the nature of the beast.


So - the real question is: can you control your drinking?
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yep - can you stop?

What made you come on SR? Others comments that maybe got into your own head a little?

How is alcohol affecting your life- now? so far?

One thing many of us finally learned is that....we hadn't gotten to/done/etc x [yet].

That YET is the key. The progression of alcoholism doesn't stop - if you keep drinking, you can easily progress to whatever you want to call a full blown disease and what was a disaster of a life like mine.

You don't have to though - it's up to you to decide the role you choose to let alcohol play in your life.
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Old 03-14-2019, 04:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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one thing i had to do is stop comparing myself to others. if it was a problem for me that is all that mattered.
my drinking didnt get as bad as some but was worse than others.
however, our THINKING was all pretty much the same. THAT is what mattered to me- learning what made me tick, fixin my thinking, and changing who i was.
the high functioning thing can be looked at from a different view- instead of looking at the actions take a look at the thinking. how functioning was/is the thinking?

on this:
Not sure if these were just cases of assholes venting about their own lives or if these were a real indication that maybe I don't fit into the "alcoholic" category.

just as there are different depths people have taken drinking, people in AA are at different phases of development. some can have years sober and still have a bit of pride and ego about their drinking- they get into pissin competitions.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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How does one know the difference between being someone who drinks too much (a "problem-drinker") and being a full-blown alcoholic? Is it simply a subjective choice or is there an objective demarcation?
It's entirely subjective. I took a test as part of "Drunk Driver's School." It was a test that was supposed to tell you if you were an alcoholic, and it was totally subjective. It was one of those tests that tells you to answer truthfully, which is about as helpful as a test for lying that tells the suspected liar to answer without lying. An alert 5th grader could have figured out how to get any test result he wanted.

When you see the same guy staggering down the street everyday with a bottle of whisky in hand, it's reasonable to assume he's an alcoholic, but it's still just an assumption. The best one can do is know himself, and much of recovery has to do with coming to grips with this knowledge, and most of all, how you will use it.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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What August said.

Never got a DUI. Never lost a job. Homeowner. Socially active, well travelled.

Yet over a period of years it ended up with waking up in rehab in medical detox barely remembering how I got there.

Yet.

If you want to stop drinking and can't you are probably an alcoholic, regardless of which "level." Normal drinkers don't ask that question. They don't need to

Maybe that group is not right for you, perhaps AA isn't right for you. Just pick a method and a sober plan and go with it. Save yourself a lot of grief down the road.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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To me, there isn’t much to struggle with on the issue.

If you want to drink less, drink less. Maybe you stop for awhile because of the calories, or because of a fitness or career challenge to focus on, maybe you do “dry January” or have long periods where you don’t drink. Maybe you only have a couple on Friday because you’re going to get up to hike Saturday and the plan wasn’t a big party night, then you go hike and you’re more hungry than anything so even though you all go to a brewpub you decide to have the artisan burger and some fries instead of the 4-5 ipa’s everyone else tosses back. Then it’s just a crazy week, so after work you’re at the gym or sleeping and end up not buying alcohol at the store. You go a few weeks and realize you haven’t bought alcohol in a long time and you sort of go huh, I’m not drinking that much anymore, go figure.

That’s what my non alcoholic friends sometimes experience, periods like this. Then sometimes they drink a little more because they’re spending more time with friends on the lake for a bit or they are on vacation, then they go back to normal when they get back to their routine, which doesn’t include daily drinking, binge drinking, or obsession.

Is your experience like this? To me, this is nornal drinking.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Hi Jimboagust!

I note that you have been a member for several years, so this must have been on your mind for a while. I really think the best thing for you to do would be to stop drinking.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:59 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I personally feel that alcoholism is self diagnosed. Mainly because if the 'alcoholic' doesn't accept their own problem, the problem can not be solved.

You've been coming here since 2011. I guess the real question is, what do you think? That's the only diagnosis that matters. That inner voice. The higher thinking voice. The one that google 'is my drinking a problem?'.

I would suggest not listening to people telling you you don't have a problem. In all my years in AA I've never heard of members telling people they don't need to be there. Listen to yourself.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I personally feel that alcoholism is self diagnosed. Mainly because if the 'alcoholic' doesn't accept their own problem, the problem can not be solved.

You've been coming here since 2011. I guess the real question is, what do you think? That's the only diagnosis that matters. That inner voice. The higher thinking voice. The one that google 'is my drinking a problem?'.

I would suggest not listening to people telling you you don't have a problem. In all my years in AA I've never heard of members telling people they don't need to be there. Listen to yourself.
Sometimes I wish there were no such word or label as alcoholic. In retrospect, not having a definitive line that must be crossed to identify myself as an alcoholic was of little help. The essence of the situation is that if a person's drinking continually leads him to a place in his head where he doesn't want to be, and if his attempts at moderation continually fail, he has two choices: Continue as is, or stop drinking. Labels aside, this should be your concern and your solution. Waiting for it to become obvious that you are "this or that" kicks the can down the road.

Once you accept that there is a problem, you are at the beginning of recovery. Many people don't want to accept they are bad enough to take action. It's a personal call. Maybe you see yourself has having a mild problem with alcohol. If you are willing to take action, you need to do something. If drinking like a normal person doesn't work, you need to quit. I wish I could see another alternative. God knows, I tried to find that alternative. My solution after a long struggle, was to quit alcohol altogether because I could not find another way.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I consider my friend and former roommate a problem drinker. At parties and every Friday/Saturday night he would get completely drunk. Sometimes after work he would crack open a beer or two after he had dinner.

However he would never get drunk during the week and if there were mitigating circumstances he wouldn't drink at parties. The guy had an on/off switch for sure.

Alcoholics have a mentality that we drink because we have to. I think problem drinkers have the mentality that they don't have to but they want to if they can.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:17 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Sometimes I wish there were no such word or label as alcoholic. In retrospect, not having a definitive line that must be crossed to identify myself as an alcoholic was of little help. The essence of the situation is that if a person's drinking continually leads him to a place in his head where he doesn't want to be, and if his attempts at moderation continually fail, he has two choices: Continue as is, or stop drinking. Labels aside, this should be your concern and your solution. Waiting for it to become obvious that you are "this or that" kicks the can down the road.

Once you accept that there is a problem, you are at the beginning of recovery. Many people don't want to accept they are bad enough to take action. It's a personal call. Maybe you see yourself has having a mild problem with alcohol. If you are willing to take action, you need to do something. If drinking like a normal person doesn't work, you need to quit. I wish I could see another alternative. God knows, I tried to find that alternative. My solution after a long struggle, was to quit alcohol altogether because I could not find another way.
Me too. It was the repetition that did it. Continued failure to drink normally, continued failure to moderate my intake = quitting for good. That and some really ****** consequences that were easily fixed with one solution: never drinking again.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:18 PM   #18 (permalink)
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how are things Jimbo?
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Thank you all for the comments. It is very helpful and encouraging to read your feedback.

I had a couple of years of sobriety a little while ago and eventually started drinking again. It was controlled, for the most part, but it is definitely starting to ramp up again to a point where I can only go a few days at best without drinking. I've tried almost every method in the book for maintaining long-term sobriety and going semi-regularly to AA meetings has been the only thing that worked (I was pretty active in the recovery racket for those two years sober). The problem is that I always had to drag myself kicking and screaming to those meetings. For a variety of reasons - cultural, personal, philosophical - AA tended to drive me absolutely up the wall. I ironically do not have an issue with the religious aspect, which bothers a lot of people, but rather everything else having to do with the ethos and practice of AA. That being said, I was (and still am) fully aware of the fact that the reinforcing mechanism of going to meetings and the social support of fellow alcoholics made a huge difference in my ability to stay sober.

I'm currently struggling with the question of whether or not I should try going to meetings again. I know it would help, but it's also going to drive me absolutely nuts. I unfortunately don't have access to any other group meetings in the area.

Maybe I just need to think of AA as being akin to chemotherapy for a cancer patient. The treatment is horrible, but it is nonetheless preferable to the alternative.

Again, many thanks for the guidance. Even though I almost never post anything on this site I check in regularly. It is always very inspiring and helpful to see people helping one another and giving support.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:23 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I liked Smart Recovery, although I didn't stick with it, I much preferred it to AA. If there are meetings in your area you might want to check it out.
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