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Old 09-28-2012, 09:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
Sel
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Alcohol abuse vs alcoholism


I talked to a friend back home about whats been going on with me, that I stopped , that I lost my job, etc. he told me that he is the same way, that we dont drink a lot, just like me he blacks out sometimes, drinks daily ( he is a short-film maker and boy do they drink a lot in his creative crowd) that I should not be worried, because we dont shake or shiver when we dont drink, dont crave, etc, etc. He said that I abuse alcohol but I am not an alcoholic and flipped when i said I am going to AA meetings. He says if this, what I do is alcoholism then everyone in his industry are alcoholics. I am confused. Is there really a difference between these two, or does it matter one or the other. Am I just an alcohol abuser when my liver enzymes are fine, o health probs, shakes or shivers or still considered an alcoholic?
I believe you are in trouble with alcohol when it causes problems in your life. Maybe it doesnt matter when you are a rock star or a copywriter or a movie maker but in the real world, the rest of us has to stay sober. Am I wrong?

Hi, my name is Sel and I have a drinking problem.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sel, I've been having that thought for months prior to today. Those thoughts helped me find SR. Whether you consider yourself a full fledged alcoholic or "just" a problem drinker doesn't really change the negative effect your drinking is having on your life. Either definition you put to your use, the answer to both is stop. If your drinking is effecting your life, you've got a problem, plain and simple. Leave the question of the difference between a problem drinker and an alcoholic to the medical field, psychology field, and professional philosopher.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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when I had to post it was a problem. Had a book published and couldn't tie it up. Its all individual. My dad was an artist who destroyed all his stuff while drunk. Maybe no problem but I know I have one. Blessing and a curse.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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what you call yourself really doesn't matter. if alcohol is detrimental to your life, if you can't control the way you use it, if you feel your life is better of with you not drinking it then commit your life to abstaining it and adopt a sober lifestyle. most of us need the outside support of a sober community to maintain that sobriety because we are social creatures and who we hang around will reflect in our lifestyle. now, if that means you're and alcoholic, then sure, you're an alcoholic. i don't let the label define me. i'm defined by how i live my life. perhaps your friend is a little touchy because your change of lifestyle has caused him to reflect on his and perhaps question it. it's something that many of us have had happen to us. old drinking buddies suddenly take offense to our change of lifestyle. it makes them uncomfortable. perhaps they think we are now judging them and looking down on them. perhaps they are now forced to ask themselves questions they don't want to ask. perhaps they are afraid of you changing and that changing the friendship. we cannot know and it is not for us to delve into. all you can do is stick to your decision and walk forward with the knowledge and faith that what you are doing is right for you. if it causes other people discomfort, that is for them to deal with and sort out for themselves. hi Sel! i'm Lisa. i'm an alcoholic. but more importantly, i'm living a sober lifestyle and it's working out. glad to see you on SR!
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Does it matter what you call it? If alcohol causes you to lose your job, or even if it doesn't...if it messes with your life, then it's a problem. If eating peanut butter caused you to lose your job, would you have a problem just giving up peanut butter?

I recommend you get the book "Drinking, a Love Story," by Caroline Knapp. I am reading it now, although I have been sober for a little over four years. It's amazing how much I can identify with what she describes in the book. Just the thinking about having a drink after work, just enjoying that warm feeling in the back of your mind when you take that drink...it's all part of the alcoholic love story.

Again, if you are sharing on an alcohol recovery forum, something made you search it out. Something told you that you might want to just see if you could possibly have a problem. That, in itself, means something.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm not trying to be cruel - but isn't losing your job and having CPS called on you enough of a problem, Sel?

Be wary of trying to judge your problem by what you see of other people or what your friends think.

I'm sure a lot of my friends think I overreacted when I quit - they were all heavy drinkers and alcoholics too....and for many years I could take comfort in the fact I wasn't as 'bad' as some of them...

but the fact still remained my life was still a mess, and I was killing myself.

Alcoholism, alcohol abuse...we can bandy labels about all day...

but you know you have a problem - don't lose heart and don't be dissuaded - deal with it, Sel

D
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sel View Post
He said that I abuse alcohol but I am not an alcoholic
Doesn't matter. You went to work drunk and got fired. You need help.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Like the joke with the punchline "can I do it until I need glasses?" You decide if you want to wait until your liver is problematic and your relationships gone, along with everything else. Many do wait until their medical issues are irreversible.

What makes more sense if you are confused is to just see if you have any problem stopping for a month at least, preferably two or three. If you aren't in trouble already not only will that be easy, but you won't have any cravings. If you can't make a month or three, then you may find you are in deeper than you admit. That is the simple way to tell.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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it's like people who drink and say they have to reach "rock bottom" until they can quit. WTF????? you bring your rock bottom up to hit you! i watch Intervention. i read threads where people have lost is all. i don't need to walk the paths other people have walked because i've seen where it leads. i honestly want to cry every time i hear someone say they're waiting to reach their "rock bottom." those two words may be two of the most unintentionally detrimental words in all of recovery. bring it up, baby!
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Dee, Of course it is enough. Thats why I stopped cold turkey. I could have finished that bottle of vodka but I didnt. I knew i had to stop because drinking is causing me problems. Thats why i am reading the big book and keeping up with AA meetings. And if you read my post carefully, i say that if alcohol is causing a problem in y life then you are in trouble. I just did not understand if one is different than the other , not necessarily better.


Edit: suki, i will check barnes & noble for that book. Thanks!
Edit 2: grits, y may be right. Maybe my friend is looking at his life right now. But i felt like a total weak loser after i talked to him.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Sorry if I misunderstood your question Sel - like I said I was not trying to be cruel at all.

I don't actually believe there is a difference, no - to me a problem is a problem, and needs attention

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Old 09-28-2012, 10:26 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Just cause he doesnt want to face reality and use the words that he is an alcoholic and still wants to compare himself to others is his choice not yours.

I have been in the food and beverage business for over 20 years. And it is chalk full of alkies and addicts.. I am one of them..

I am an alcoholic , I can not drink like a normal person.

I drink to much, to often , for to long.. I dont care what you want to call it. It is what it is..

Keep going to those meetings, get a sponsor and work the steps, get a home group...

Bring the body and the mind will follow. And you can just be an example to all.(including your friend)..

It sounds to me that your doing great..
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Sel, I myself asked the same question for several months. I told myself I wasn't a true alcoholic because I didn't need a drink when I woke up in the mornings. I didn't get the shakes or physically crave it. I told myself it was a bad habit, one I could stop when I wanted to. But you know what, when I did quit, it was only for a few days and then I would be right back at it. I finally acknowledged that it was a problem when it led to me losing my job. Whether one is an alcoholic or abuses alcohol or a problem drinker (heck maybe they are all the same), if it is interfering in your life, affecting your job and your relationships and your health, it's time to do something about it.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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The term alcoholic does not have an exact definition. I do not know of any official medical or psychological definition of alcoholic or alcoholism. Alcohol Abuse is an actual diagnosis with specific symptoms.
Not all alcoholics are physically dependent yet or would have shakes when quitting.
Having a friend say that would mess with one's head.
It sounds like you are finding what works for you.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I have been in the music business for a while and I know many, many artists ... Brilliant people who make brilliant art. Most have addiction problems. Guess what? The ones who actually make a living for the long-term and are "famous" are the ones who got sober and do not tolerate active users on their teams (yes, it takes a small village to do anything in the entertainment industry)

Your friend can make all the excuses and rationalizations he wants - when it is a problem it will be a problem. Simple as that. Only we know when that moment comes, and clearly his moment has not arrived. Perhaps it never will. But yours did and I'm proud of you for doing something about it! Stay strong and remember you are not alone. I guarantee you there is at least one person on SR at any given time who can relate to each of us no matter what we do for a living or how bad our alcoholism might be. Draw on the knowledge of others and keep fighting because it is so worth it!!!
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:03 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Sel, welcome and congrats on stopping.

I thought I was just a problem drinker, until after I stopped drinking. Because when I was drinking I didn't have enough perspective to see just how much a hold it had on me. In fact it took quite a bit of time post drinking for the reality to sink in.

People who drink a lot, often defend it by saying it's not a problem...then provide a whole string of justifications that make total sense to one who is living a booze based lifestyle. but several months sober that same reasoning sounds beyond stupid.

I mean, if is was just "recreational" drinking, just a little bit of fun, then why does it escalate? Why does it require greater and greater amounts all the time? Why does it go from a buzz being enough, to blacking out NOT being enough? Why does it get to a point where risking jobs, relationships and getting DUI's are considered appropriate all in the name of a little harmless fun? Or I like the argument that only wimps don't drink...oh yeah, it takes SO much courage to not be able to get through a normal evening unless one is wasted...hmmm

Movies, bowling, going out to dinner...are things people do for a little fun. Most of us don't carry that to a point where we are risking everything we worked for in order to do it.

I used to think of myself as nothing but an alcohols abuser...and WHY I thought that was OK, I truly cannot understand. I thought I could just stop whenever I wanted.....but WHY did I never want to stop?

Hey, it's ok, I don't KILL the dogs, I just abuse them! Funny how that doesn't make sense, how that doesn't make it OK...but people use that argument about alcohol all the time.

I'm glad that you are more clear headed than your friend. I really have never ever heard an alcohol abuser say "Man, I wish I'd kept drinking longer, until things got even worse..." but I've heard many say "I wish I'd quit much much earlier"

I'm wracking my brain, but in my 47 yrs of life, I can't think of anyone I know who died drunk and happy.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:19 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I also reccomend the books Under The Influence and Beyond The Influence. I read those (and Drinking: A Love Story) to try to answer that very question. Yes, I knew that alcohol had negative effects on my life. I knew that for years I had thought about quitting and engaged in all sorts of behaviors to try to control my drinking. But I also knew that I did not have DTs, did not drink in the morning, did not have any DUIs, there were lots of people worse than me, etc.

What I now believe us that I am an alcoholic (even though I still have a hard time saying that) who just realized that at an earlier stage than some other people do. Thank god I did so I am lucky enough not to have "bottomed out" and really hurt myself and others much worse in the process. That doesn't mean I'm not an alcoholic--it just means I'm a lucky SOB.

I don't think I'll ever tell anyone outside of this message board that I think I'm an alcoholic, though. (1) Because I did not hit rock bottom, people won't believe it and are likely to react defensively like your friend did. And (2) they don't need to know. I live in the South and when you say "I don't drink" most people don't bat an eyelash (they just assume you are Baptist or Church of Christ). For people who've known me for awhile and know I used to drink, I thought of saying, "it's this new Buddhist thing I've been reading about--being more in the moment. I'm just trying it out.". I think most people would TOTALLY believe that I've just been reading about something they would consider "crazy" and/or trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle and leave it at that without having to discuss it further.

And hey, it's not really their business. Why should other people care if I drink or not anyway?
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
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One more thought-- you don't even have to say "I don't drink.". You could just say "No, thanks" and leave it at that. Just change the subject.

My son has chosen to make the step to become a vegetarian (like us), and that's what we've taught him to do to avoid unnecessary confrontations about his eating choices. If someone offers him meat and he doesn't want it, he does not say "I'm a vegetarian" unless he's prepared to get into a discussion or argument about it. He just politely says "No, thank you".
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:50 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Sel,
If you are reading the BB and trying to follow AA's principles, then it very much does matter that you understand the difference between a hard drinker and a real alcoholic, and that you identify, for yourself, which of those you are. That will get some on here all inflamed and defensive, but it was critical to my recovery in AA. Starting over on pg 20, the BB distinguishes between the moderate drinker (can take it or leave it alone), the hard drinker (physical dependency, health problems, etc.), and the alcoholic. I'll let you read that for yourself and see what your own experience tells you, but the key distinction made is that the hard drinker (who may drink just as hard as I do and my look very similar to me) can stop drinking if given a sufficiently strong motive. Maybe losing a job, or getting arrested, or a the threats of a loved one, or something is enough to get them to wake up and smell the coffee. These folks can do an about face and stop drinking. The alcoholic, on the other hand, will be absolutely unable stay stay stopped for long based on these circumstances or motivations.

For years, I was trapped by the delusion that because I knew the consequences of my drinking, I would be able to stay away from it. Absolute futility for what the BB calls a real alcoholic.

And I know some on here get all offended with that terminology. It's a terminology from the BB, that is echoed all throughout its pages, and is designed to shatter the delusion that I can or someday may be able to control my drinking. It's designed to force me to surrender and see that I have no defense against the first drink. It's a Step 1 device designed to force me into Step 2. If that's not your cup of tea, no problem, but it is the AA experience. I don't wish to discuss or argue it with anyone.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:19 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Everybody in the industry your friend talks about is an alcoholic. It is sad, but I very quickly realized that almost anybody I know who drinks is an alcoholic = a problem with drinking (episodically or longitudinally). Even more sad to me is that I believe the way man is evolving, we are eliminating our body's natural defenses against mental illness - and sadly people drink to compensate.....that is to drown out the noise that plagues them mentally. Think about it- I had a drink to unwind. Unwind from what? How does drinking do that? It can only do that by altering a state of being....

Hopefully didn't sound negative, it is actually very positive for me. I can finally see it (the matrix), and I have choice not to participate in it. That is strength and confidence and pride. Drinking is the weakness to me. It is the illusion. It is the need to fool your brain and take the edge off.
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