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Old 10-11-2009, 08:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Alkie Math - How I know


As today is my 9 month birthday (woohoo!), I thought I would write about one of my many character defects: denial.

For those of you who are getting to know me, I'm not very good (yet) at writing very succinctly, so please excuse my sometimes long-winded posts. I have a lifetime of work to do for my defects of arrogance, fear, and self-centeredness - so I love reading all your posts and learning from you.

Ok, back to my topic ... This is from a letter that I wrote to my children as an apology (e.g. 9th step amends) that they would read when they were old enough to understand.

ALKIE MATH (a.k.a. How logic began to show me that I was an alcoholic despite my denial)

Back to the nightly drink … so I began to have a drink each night. It started off pretty normal – a glass of wine or two (which if you use the alcohol measuring guidelines was probably 3-4 drinks per night since I used a big glass).

Then, I moved over to hard alcohol. You will laugh about the reason. While I was doing low carb, I couldn’t drink high carbohydrate beverages, so I gave up beer and wine and moved to vodka, straight. From vodka, I moved to whisky/tequila. From there, I moved to (my love) single malt scotch.

Something was changing in my body. It was hard to put a finger on when it happened or how fast, but I now began to “look forward to that drink” each night. I would get home and then would pour myself the first drink.

What was not obvious to me at the time was that my measurement was all screwed up. I would pull out a “small” glass (which was 8 ounces, if you measured it), and would fill it half-way with scotch. This was my “first drink”. Then, before it was empty (as it is better to have some plausible deniability to how much is left so you can’t be for sure how much you poured the second time), I would refill it up to the halfway point again. That was my “second drink”. Then, I might have a glass of wine with dinner. Occasionally, I would have a third, although this one would only be about a quarter of the glass. (Did you notice how I conveniently ignored the glass of wine in the count. If it wasn’t strong like scotch, it didn’t count as a drink.)

So, by my (dishonest) calculation, this was 2.5 drinks. But, let’s do the real math (4+4+2 ounces scotch + 6 ounces of wine =scotch 10 / 1.5 and wine 6 / 4 = 6.6 + 1.5 = 8 DRINKS!

And, I would go to my doctor and when he would ask how much I drank at my annual physical, I would tell him about 2 drinks a night – and I thought I was telling the truth.

As if the last calculation wasn’t an early warning sign enough…

The first time I began asking whether I had a problem was while I was doing the recycling. I looked at the bottle recycling one Sunday night (with a buzz, mind you) and counted the following:
- 3 bottles of scotch
- 3 bottles of wine
- 1 bottle of tequila
(We did recycling every two weeks).

So I began to rationalize … the bottle of tequila had been only a third full and one of the bottles of scotch had been half-full, so “it wasn’t as bad as it looked”.

Assuming I was telling the truth, let’s do the math with 1 bottle = 750 ml = ~25 ounces:

2.5 bottles of scotch = 50 ounces or 33 drinks
3 bottles of wine = 75 ounces or 19 drinks
.3 bottle of tequila = 8 ounces or 5 drinks

Grand Total = 57 drinks (oh, and by the way, I had also been out to a cocktail party one night that week where I had 3 drinks = 60 drinks)


Comments
Some people say "only 60 drinks in two weeks?", how could you be an alcoholic?

And this is exactly the problem. At this level of drinking (which I believe is - at a minimum - the first stage of alcoholism), you do not get support from people around you. They just don't believe that you are an alcoholic.

And so, this feeds your denial. At this stage, your drinking will only make things worse, yet you can stop the free-fall before losing your home, your job, your car, your wife, your kids, your self. All you have to do is not drink.

Simple, yet so difficult.

Some researchers have termed this group of alcoholics "Highly Functioning Alcoholics" (HFA's) or high-bottom alcoholics. We are just as alcoholic as everyone else and so we require the same treatment as other alcoholics. We just haven't progressed as far in our disease.

Our denial is fed because we can come up with all these arguments (usually supported by those around us) that we aren't alcoholic.

So, for those of you who like math, be honest and calculate the number of drinks you have on an average night of drinking.

You may find an interesting result.

Thanks for all your support and for listening to me ramble.

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Old 10-11-2009, 11:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Me, I can relate. My math was slightly different though. I knew about the 14 units per week as a woman, so when the Doc asked I always replied 1 maybe 2 a day no more. I never lied in my eyes, because I never said glasses, when in actual fact it was bottles.
Alcoholic maths is a science in itself, I just don't think getting an A is such a good thing.
Well done on the 9 month.
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh, how I can relate to measuring drinks and denial.
I used to find an imaginary line in the middle of a bottle of wine and tell myself, I'll just drink half a bottle tonight, then the rest tomorrow. Well, that line got lower and lower until I said, "Heck with the line, just drink the bottle of wine and drink some water afterward." Then I once drank a bottle of wine and then one bottle of beer.

Now to me, that's an insane amount of alcohol. One bottle of wine is insane, but a bottle of wine AND a bottle of beer? Normal drinkers don't do that!

People told me I'm not an alcoholic because "you don't drink that much," or "you don't drink during the week much", but I am. I know it now, and I can face it.

I'm no longer in denial.
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well done on your sober time....
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:28 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I laughed at the low carb thing....been there....done that, too!

9 months is Awesome!
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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oh the sick rationalization we go through.

I'm curious though.. is it you that this is benefitting by going into such intimate detail about your alcohol use, or is it really supposed to benefit your kiddos in some way? I don't think I'd want to know THAT much about anyone's alcohol issues if they were trying to sum up the changes in their lives etc.. I always read too much into stuff, and I've stepped out of line, I know you all will tell me lol..
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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lol the low carb thing made me laugh too.. I used to rationalize my drinks when I was using weight watchers to count my "points", a drink was 2 points (run and diet coke), and I would count "a" drink by a full glass of what the bartender poured me.. in my bar I always ordered double rum n diets, and they were ALWAYS overpoured. But it was just one drink!! Crazy stuff for sure!

Small piggyback on what smacked said tho too, my parents were alcoholics.. I remember when I was 18 or 19, she sat me down to really have a 'talk' with me about her ins and outs of alcoholism which was apparently supposed to be some sort of apology.. and (this is just MY perspective) as she went on and on about her drinking history, how it progressed, on and on.. I sat there and got angrier and angrier.. thinking some of it was excuse, too much info, rambling bullsh!t.. when all I wanted was an "I'm sorry" and for her to live her life in a way that SHOWED me how much she had changed. I still remember that talk, always will.. it grossed me out, and pissed me off, and told me way more information than I ever ever wanted to know about her drinking. I was thinking during the talk that what she was telling me was only helping HER, as I could care less about why she thought she drank, how much she drank or how it progressed. See, I'm 34 years old and it's still a bad memory for me.. course that's my own issue lol.. I just wanted the apology, and a life with her ongoing that no longer included alcohol. Luckily once she shut up about it, and I got past having all of that information stuck now in MY head.. I did get that life with her without alcohol. It was NOT necessary for her to spill her guts to me about it, I wish she hadn't. Might have made her feel a whole bunch better, but it sure didn't make me feel anything other than hurt, annoyance, and resentment. I've moved past that too
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Congratulations on your 9 months me11109

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Old 10-11-2009, 01:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smacked View Post
oh the sick rationalization we go through.

I'm curious though.. is it you that this is benefitting by going into such intimate detail about your alcohol use, or is it really supposed to benefit your kiddos in some way? I don't think I'd want to know THAT much about anyone's alcohol issues if they were trying to sum up the changes in their lives etc.. I always read too much into stuff, and I've stepped out of line, I know you all will tell me lol..
Smacked - this is a great question you bring up and one that I haven't answered yet.

I think that one of the best things about the Amends process is that you do it, but only if it will not harm other people. Probably, as others have pointed out, just an "I'm sorry" is what should be said without all the detail.

The nice thing about writing things down -- and then waiting to deliver the message -- is that you can decide never to send it.

My gut tells me that I should keep the letter for a time if one of my kids is having a problem of their own, but not give it to them otherwise.

Thanks for a great point!

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Old 10-11-2009, 01:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Fewer people celebrate the 9 month "birthday" than any other in recovery. Dunno why that is other than not many make it that far, I guess.
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Old 10-11-2009, 01:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flutter View Post
I remember when I was 18 or 19, she sat me down to really have a 'talk' with me about her ins and outs of alcoholism which was apparently supposed to be some sort of apology.. and (this is just MY perspective) as she went on and on about her drinking history, how it progressed, on and on.. I sat there and got angrier and angrier.. thinking some of it was excuse, too much info, rambling bullsh!t.. when all I wanted was an "I'm sorry" and for her to live her life in a way that SHOWED me how much she had changed.
Flutter -

Thank you so much for this. I need this perspective. I always have to remind myself that I am still a selfish alcoholic - even in recovery.

"I'm sorry" is probably best.

Thank you.

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Old 10-11-2009, 01:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joedris View Post
Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Fewer people celebrate the 9 month "birthday" than any other in recovery. Dunno why that is other than not many make it that far, I guess.
Thanks Joedris-

For me, after my 6 months birthday, the cravings came back with a vengence. I almost relapsed - not physically by taking a drink, but by the mental game of "wow, that wasn't as hard as I thought it was. Maybe I didn't drink so much before? I guess I'm probably not an alcoholic like some of my friends say...". This would have led to relapse sooner of later.

I have learned that I am most at risk for relapse right around my birthdays.

And so, I read, I post, I attend meetings, I talk to my sponsor, I run meetings at homeless shelters, etc. -- not because I am such a nice person, but because this is what keeps me from drinking.

So, as I have said, my posts help me stay sober - and if I can help others with some laughs about my craziness or by seeing a bit of themselves in my experience, then I am thrilled.

But, thanks again, although I think my higher power deserves more credit than I do. I appreciate and do still need the encouragement. I will try to pat myself on the back and celebrate with a really large piece of disgustingly good chocolate cake.
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