20 year old alcoholic...?

Old 05-13-2013, 09:21 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
el9292's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 16
20 year old alcoholic...?

Where to even begin...I am 20 years old, almost 21. I recently have come to the realization that yes, I may have a problem with alcohol. This will probably be lengthy because I am going to start at the beginning - I need to vent to people who have been in my place.

So. High school. I can honestly say I was the typical girl next door - straight A student, popular, many friends, varsity soccer player, yearbook editor, newspaper editor, etc. I was literally a perfect child and I enjoyed it. I wasn't against drinking - I had friends who did, I just chose not to. I always knew I would in college, I just made the choice not to in high school.

Fast forward to my first year of college. I decided to attend a small, private, catholic college and opted to not play soccer, but rather rugby. I was unaware of the drinking culture surrounding such a sport, but I quickly came to understand it. No one forced you to drink, but since everyone else was, why not? The first time I ever drank, I had two beers and was drunk - now I can have about 10 drinks and be functioning well.

Over the course of freshman year, I became more and more immersed in this subculture on the weekends. During the week I still went to all my classes, wrote for the newspaper, went to practices, etc. But I would find myself excited for the weekend to come and the shenanigans that would ensue at our next social. I had little to no incidents that year, only a few pretty drunken nights with little repercussions.

That summer, after returning home, I probably only drank about three times. I didn't really miss it one way or another, more just missed the people I had been around.

Then came sophomore year, when the trouble really began. One night I fell down cement steps, injuring my knee. Later in the year I split my knee open and needed stitches. Incidents like these continued to occur and I floated away from some of my non-rugby friends. I was spending all my time surrounded by people with the same drinking habits as me, going to the bar under age, assuming this was all normal college behavior even though I knew I was fooling myself.

My wakeup call came the last day of classes my sophomore year. I had been fairly controlled all semester because I knew there was too much at stake. I couldn't afford to mess up again. Even at our last rugby party, I was one of the most sober people and simply returned back to my dorm and went to bed that night. I was proud of myself for ending the year on that note.

Then Monday rolled around. I was not planning on going out, but we had 10 seniors graduating from the team and everyone was going to the bar, so I tagged along. I drank a good amount before going, and that's where the night becomes fuzzy. I remember bits and pieces, but what I remember clearly is waking up in a hospital bed, dressed in a hospital gown, with my clearly distressed parents in the room. I had almost no recollection of what happened and was still drunk. I was told that I blew a .34 the night before - which I later realized could almost be deadly.

I was released after blowing a .16 and seeming to be fully functional - that alone showed how high my tolerance had become. Eventually I was told that I had been picked up by the cops and brought to detox, but I wasn't responding enough for them to take me, so I was brought to the local hospital, where they simply allowed me to sleep it off.

In the week since these events, many thoughts and emotions have been a part of my daily routine. My parents have dubbed me a full blown alcoholic, which I can't do because in my mind that is someone who NEEDS to drink to function - I don't. I still am a part of many extracurriculars, I have all As. My issue is that I have one drink, then one more, then one more...and so on. I lack the control button that so many people have.

My parents have opted for jumping to the future, telling me I can no longer play rugby or study abroad in Chile - basically what has kept me going, the people who are my best friends, are being taken away from me. That does not make me want to bounce back, it just depresses me more. I cannot fathom not having the relationships I have with my fellow rugby sisters. They have been everything for the past two years at school. I don't blame them or the culture for this situation - I blame myself.

I've found myself pushing my parents away and instead opting for talking to family friends who have been through the same thing. I don't want to be pushing my family away, but it's almost like I want to protect them from who I have become. I am ashamed of myself, of the way my appearance has shifted in their eyes. I can hardly face myself in a mirror, and I have never in my life felt such repressed anger, such desire to just hit something, someone - something to make me cease to feel so numb. I am seeing a counselor tomorrow for the first time since this ordeal occurred, and I know I will shut down. I don't want to but it is how I am wired. I have too much pride. I don't know how to feel or what to say. I don't want to go to an AA meeting as a 20 year old. I don't want to become an inpatient, as I know that will only make me retreat farther away.

If anyone has been in a similar situation or has advice, please help me. I need it.
el9292 is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to el9292 For This Useful Post:
nogames (05-13-2013), Pete55 (05-14-2013), Soberween (05-13-2013)
Old 05-13-2013, 09:56 PM
  # 2 (permalink)  
SR Fan
artsoul's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 7,910
Welcome el!

Glad you're here! You said something that I think we can all relate to: not having an "off button." It's a bit of a red flag, I guess. You said your parents have dubbed you an alcoholic, but I guess my question would be: what do you think? Do you think you have (or could have in the future) a problem with alcohol?

I can understand how you might be feeling pretty low right now (with your parents dictating your future). Counseling could be a good thing, though, maybe a chance to talk through some of these things(?).
artsoul is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:04 PM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
el9292's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 16
Thanks for the response! In answer to your question, yes I think I drink too often. But I do not physically crave alcohol, turn to it when I have problems, etc. I simply drink too much when I'm out socially. I'm struggling in knowing that this isn't in my hands - I like control. I'm just scared they're going to send me somewhere, and I know I won't handle that well.
el9292 is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:17 PM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Fallow's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Meditation
Posts: 1,300
Blog Entries: 2
I can relate to your story. Thanks for sharing. I am left thinking to myself that the simple solution to all of this is stop drinking...
Fallow is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:22 PM
  # 5 (permalink)  
melivinsober's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Southern Arizona
Posts: 275
Blog Entries: 9
Hi El. Glad you're talking it out here. I thought for a long time, "I'm young I CAN'T be an alcoholic... that's just what young people do." You may not be an alcoholic, but past habits have made issues for you. I'm 25 and I do go to AA and I also see a therapist.

First: going to AA as a 20year old is more common than you'd think. They have young adult classes too, so you'd definitely meet people in similar situations as yourself. And even if you don't agree that you are an alcoholic, those people can help you work out some issues you do have with it.

Second: I like talking to "professionals" for many reasons. They have policies to where they can speak to others about your issues, and I guarantee they've seen people in worse situations than you so they won't judge you. And anyway it's their job to help. They got in the business because they really care. So when I go to a professional I just spill my guts. I talk and talk and talk and... you get the point. lol.

But trust me, I know about the pride thing. And that's a rough situation with your parents trying to force you to change your surrounds and everything else. I think they are just acting rash because they want the best for you. But you are an adult now and can make your own choices... It's going to take them a while to realize that... I think my mom STILL has issues with that for me. lol. But they mean well... sometimes we have to make our parents realize we know what's best. and sometimes... we have to be open-minded to their suggestions. But they don't always know all the facts.

I would just take a deep breath and think about some things.

Like artsoul said: What do you think? If you think alcohol might become a problem in the future now is the PERFECT time to get that under control. I like to say I don't regret anything... but oh how my life would be different if I stopped drinking when I suspected it was becoming a problem. I'm glad you are talking about this somewhere though. I didn't tell anyone anything. It's that pride. ugh. :P haha.

Anyway, I wouldn't panic about not seeing your friends just yet. Your parents are just shocked. And I've known some people that can maintain friendships with friends that drink with relatively no problem. It's certainly not for me... but there are so many paths you can take.
melivinsober is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:27 PM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Master of Me
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 9
Hey El. Unfortunately when we are trying to quit or cut back on drinking we must stay away from those friends who we know will be drinking when we hang out, at least until you gain enough strength to not participate in the drinking.

Waking up in the hospital after a night of drinking is a big deal. I hope you are not taking it lightly. You are only 20 and although you say that you do not crave alcohol or need it to function I can tell you from experience that before you know it you can easily be in a position where that changes.

best of luck!
MasterOfMe is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:29 PM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Grungehead's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Location: NC
Posts: 1,760
Blog Entries: 1
I first stopped drinking when I was 29. I was kind of in your shoes...I didn't HAVE to have a drink to function, but when I did drink I couldn't control how much I drank. So I bet my ex that I could go 1 month drinking only 1-2 beers a day. Usually I drank 6-8 beers on the weekdays and a 12 pack or more on the weekends (lost count most of the time lol). Well I made it exactly 1 month and I celebrated my feat by getting hammered until I passed out. Needless to say I proved to myself that I could white knuckle it to win the bet, but I was back to my usual amount on day 31 and quit a few months later.
Grungehead is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:33 PM
  # 8 (permalink)  
SereneEdition's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,275
Hi el9292 -

Welcome to SR. It's a great, supportive community.

I wouldn't worry too much about labels. One question that people use as a guideline is 'do I continue to use alcohol despite the fact that it has a negative impact on my life.' You're the best person to make the determination if alcohol is having a negative impact and that you'd like to make a change.

Alcoholics come in many shapes, sizes, ages, and forms, one common form being not having the 'off' button as you've experienced. It's also a progressive disease, meaning that binging today can turn into daily drinking down the line.

Counseling is a great tool. Perhaps you could use the time with your counselor to unlock the question of whether or not you're an alcoholic?

It sounds like your parents are reacting to one of the scariest things a parent can experience: the loss of a child. Pushing them away probably isn't helping to reduce their concern. Working with the counsellor to understand what's best for you & your wellbeing will help everyone heal. There are many tools available besides AA & inpatient if you decide that you want to change how alcohol is affecting your life.

Lastly, many 'type A' high performing folks have a higher tendency to develop addictions. The same drive that makes us so successful in other ways works against us here.

Good luck! let us know how it goes tomorrow
SereneEdition is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 10:51 PM
  # 9 (permalink)  
Deckard's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 440
El -- Welcome to SR! You've done a great thing by posting here. This is a tremendous community, full of support and advice and understanding.

I see so much of myself in your post. I could have written large passages of it myself. So please don't feel you are alone in this. It's not your fault; and you definitely don't have to fix it by yourself.

It sounds like you have some great support to build on with your parents and the upcoming counselor session. I would strongly encourage you to be honest with yourself and with them. Drinking is causing a problem in your life. Don't worry about the label yet. Just start with that truth.

Keep posting here. I'll be looking for your updates.
Deckard is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 11:40 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
oak's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 861
Welcome El! I hope counseling helps you decide what you want to do regarding alcohol, friends, etc.

I personally like therapy, even though I tend to be very private. It takes a while to trust a counselor. Any good counselor will not expect you to be fully trusting and open immediately.

I can relate to a lot of what you wrote, since I initially quit drinking very young. Initially, I quit when I was 18 because I saw too many red flags and did not want to take the chance of alcoholism. I did not drink very often but I drank a lot whenever I started to drink. I blacked out, but I was never hung over and it did not get in the way of school. I drank again at 23 and quit again at 23. Then I was sober for 16 years, but I have drank a few times in the past few years. It's definitely a problem now- which is why I am sober again!

There are lots of ways to stop drinking other than AA. If you ever choose to try AA, there are meetings for younger people (and often regular meetings have lots of young people in them too). There are other programs too, such as SMART recovery, Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, & SOS. And lots of people stop without going to meetings.

Only time will tell if you can stop drinking or cut way back and still hang out with drinking friends. That sounds very hard to me.

But it would be very hard to be told that you cannot see them again (& that you cannot study abroad). Of course, you are an adult so you get to make those decisions (even if there is a financial aspect that your parents control). You mentioned being afraid of being sent somewhere (inpatient). I seriously doubt they could do that against your will. You have lots of control. (I say this because I would want to resist and rebel if I felt forced by others. You are an adult. You have choices.)

What do you want to do about alcohol?
oak is offline  
Old 05-14-2013, 03:10 AM
  # 11 (permalink)  
Db1105's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: De
Posts: 1,311
I got sober when I was 17. I was far from a functioning alcoholic by that time having been kicked out of 3 schools, numerous arrest, institutionalized, and a bunch of other horrors brought on by my drinking. I could not control it on my own and finally accepted AA's 12 Step solution.
Db1105 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Db1105 For This Useful Post:
Pete55 (05-14-2013)
Old 05-14-2013, 03:25 AM
  # 12 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 321
Blog Entries: 1
I am reading this rather late, but you and I have alot in common.... I really would like it if you read my story, it's in my blog. You might find that I, at 21, took a very different path, and experienced the darker side of life, but at the same time I can not drink just one. I am not an alcoholic because it is more vital to me then oxygen, I am an alcoholic because I get thirsty when I drink.

And I can really relate with this:
I have too much pride. I don't know how to feel or what to say. I don't want to go to an AA meeting as a 20 year old.
I want to believe I am a intellectually self-sufficient human with more answers and ability then many of the people out there. And I may be right, on part of that. But being in AA doesn't mean I'm weak. It means I have an inability to stop once I start, and so need help not starting again. That's all AA does, in a nutshell. Help me to not start drinking by providing a toolkit, if you will.

Please, read my story. Under my name it says blog entries: 1. Click on the 1, then a page will come up with my story on it. A summary of my life. You don't have to go down the road I went down, because if you truly are alcoholic, you will. At least to some degree. There's people in meetings where I live that used to be professional sports players, some have been cops, lawyers, doctors. AA has given some back their profession, others have not been so fortunate. But some got there in time to keep their lives intact. You can be one of those.

Please, recognize what I did, and do what I'm doing. Before it's too late.
StevenT is offline  
Old 05-14-2013, 06:24 AM
  # 13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 2,844
When I was 33 years old, my parents found me collapsed at the bottom of my stairs drunk. They were going to call the police to break into my house if they had not been able to rouse me so I answered the door.

I came to at their house.
The next morning I was dragged to the doctors who straight away asked them to leave the room, as I was an adult and I was entitled to confidentiality.

Today I have about 452 days sober.

I started like you.
I barely drank through school or university.
I never went to pubs or parties and drank.
But there were a few -count in one hand -experiences when I got blackout, collapsing drunk.

I don't think anyone really taught me how to drink responsibly if there is such a thing.

My drinking career was short, secretive and progressed quick.

It got to the point where I was sick of living like that.

But I never stopped when my parents came to my rescue. I just made sure they never saw/heard that I had been drinking.

You have to do it for yourself.
What I would also say is 'we all have to get at some age that alcohol is not a good choice for us'.
I wish I had got it when I was 20 years old. It would have saved a lot. Of trouble.

You don't have to admit to anything or give yourself a label.
But I would say if your drinking patterns are worrying, then do all you can to help yourself.
This is your own battle and you fight it how you see fit.
Come here, read, post and learn everything you can about alcohol and addiction.

Words are not going to change your parents minds, but actions will.
However, you do it (AA, AVRT, SMART), do it and keep your head down and do it well.

I wish you the best
Sasha4 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Sasha4 For This Useful Post:
bigsombrero (05-14-2013)
Old 05-14-2013, 06:48 AM
  # 14 (permalink)  
Thriving sober since 12/18/08
flutter's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 3,115
I could have defined my drinking exactly like that when I was 20. Even when I knew full well that I was most DEFINITELY an alcoholic, I succeeded in life (no legal issues, straight A's through undergrad and grad school, successful career, marriage, nice home etc), but it was sure a juggling act. Fast forward a little bit and my drinking became more often, in larger quantities, for many reasons. I SWORE I didn't "need" it, I wasn't physically addicted until the very end (you do NOT want to go there, trust me!), and I had put all of those 'successes', not to mention my self worth, on the line.

I guess if you can take it or leave it, and don't feel you need it, you'll have absolutely no problem never drinking again! If you do find that's difficult, there might be some stuff there to take a look at.
flutter is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to flutter For This Useful Post:
Deckard (05-14-2013), el9292 (05-14-2013), Sasha4 (05-14-2013)
Old 05-14-2013, 07:49 PM
  # 15 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
el9292's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 16
Wow, this outpouring of support is more than I anticipated. It means a lot! As for my appointment today - the counselor determined that I qualify for an outpatient program at Hazeldon - a care center. Is it four days a week during evenings, and she said if I stick to that, she sees no reason why I couldn't leave for Chile in 2 months. In comparison to my parents, it seems like no one else thinks it's quite as severe as they do. Either way, I'm grateful to have the chance for help early on. I'm almost even excited to meet people my age who also struggle.
el9292 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to el9292 For This Useful Post:
Deckard (05-14-2013)
Old 05-14-2013, 08:03 PM
  # 16 (permalink)  
Recovering ostrich
Tamerua's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Tampa Bay, Florida
Posts: 2,551
Blog Entries: 6
Don't worry about the A word. I was a binge drinker like that... Never measured it though. Work on not drinking and your parents will come around. As a mom too, that would scare the crap out of me.

Good luck.
Tamerua is offline  
Old 05-14-2013, 08:30 PM
  # 17 (permalink)  
bigsombrero's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central America
Posts: 4,063
Blog Entries: 5
One of my fellow "inmates" in treatment was just 19 years old. He had already been to treatment 10 times since his 16th birthday. Before he came to treatment he had been sleeping in a grocery store bathroom stall at nights, because his parents had kicked him out. This disease doesn't care how old you are - the important thing is that you can stand up and learn some coping tools, at the very least. Good for you!
bigsombrero is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to bigsombrero For This Useful Post:
el9292 (05-14-2013), Sasha4 (05-14-2013)
Old 05-14-2013, 11:08 PM
  # 18 (permalink)  
Deckard's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 440
Originally Posted by el9292 View Post
Either way, I'm grateful to have the chance for help early on. I'm almost even excited to meet people my age who also struggle.
That's an awesome positive attitude, el! Great job on making this plan.
Deckard is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:34 AM.