How do you tell if you have a problem with alcohol?
Denial is a crazy thing when it comes to alcohol problems. I should know, I spent a decade of my adult life stuck in it.
People would put a concerned arm around me and tell me that I should cut back on the drinking. I would snap at them like a coiled python that had just been poked with a stick.
I can stop anytime I damn well like I would claim. The worried family member would apologize for upsetting me and slink off to lick their wounds.
How dare they attack the only little pleasure I had in my life, I thought.
A little pleasure that was slowly killing me
The problem with alcohol is absolutely everybody uses it. There is a huge ‘safety in numbers’ thing going on plus the social proof of many people we love and respect also drinking.
For example, one of my all-time favorite philosophers Alan Watts passed away far too early because alcohol got a hold of him.
Here is a deeply profound and present individual who preached the message that everything we need is already inside us. The point of life is to just ‘be’.
If I had discovered Alan Watts back when I was a drinker I would have almost certainly used his drinking to justify my own. Hey, if it’s good enough for the great Alan Watts, it’s good enough for me.
Attractively packaged poison
I am probably most famous for the phrase Attractively Packaged Poison, which comes from my first book Alcohol Lied To Me.
It really does sum up what we are doing.
Alcohol is none of the things it claims to be. It has never been your friend and it will always have only one mission… to kill you.
Am I being melodramatic, it’s possible, my wife tells me I am prone that sort of silliness. However, tell that to the 3.3 million people who died because of alcohol last year (source).
Do you use any of these excuses?
So how do you know if you are in denial or not?
I have put together my 5 most commonly quoted myths and misconceptions that are rolled out by drinkers to defend their habits.
If you have used any of these justifications in the past, see it as a concerned arm around the shoulder from someone who cares about you.
Misconception 1: ‘I can quit drinking whenever I want to’.
Truth: Perhaps some people can; but not if they are addicted to alcohol – the drug won’t let them. In either case, it’s merely a subterfuge to keep drinking alcohol.
The reality is, they do not really want to quit. It’s just another way to pretend that they are in control, in spite of all the obvious harm it’s doing.
Convincing us that our drinking is still something we have a conscious decision over is another powerful illusion of the Evil Clown that is alcohol.
Misconception 2: My drinking is my problem. I’m the person it harms, so nobody can tell me to quit.
Truth: It’s correct nobody can force someone else to quit drinking. However, drinkers are hoodwinking themselves if they believe that alcohol consumption damages nobody else but themselves.
Alcohol addiction affects everybody in the family, particularly the individuals they love the most.
Misconception 3: I can’t be an alcoholic because I don’t drink every day or want to drink in the mornings etc.
Truth: Alcohol addiction is NEVER characterized by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you consume. It’s the damage that your drinking is causing that identifies an issue. It does not matter if you only drink at the weekend, after work or every day.
I never missed a single day of work because of my drinking. I never felt the urge to drink in the morning and I could easily get through the entire day without sneaking off to the restroom for a swig from a hidden vodka bottle. All of this I saw as proof that my drinking was normal.
However, every evening the first thing I would do having returned home from work was open the first bottle of wine. Oh, and it was expensive French Bordeaux because that meant I wasn’t an alcoholic. I was a wine connoisseur!
Misconception 4: I have a good job, I don’t have any DUI’s, therefore, I can’t be an alcoholic
Truth: You do not need to be destitute and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. We have several millionaires and multimillionaires on the how to stop drinking program. Holding down a job or avoiding trouble with the police is not a sign that your drinking is healthy!
The stereotypical alcoholic portrayed by Hollywood represents less than 5% of the addiction picture. The vast majority of people are entirely functioning, hard working, good people who are using alcohol ‘to cope with life’. They believe that alcohol helps them with stress.
Because this drug is a master illusionist.
Alcohol actually creates stress rather than removing it. Clever trick right?
Misconception 5: At least I don’t smoke or do ‘real’ drugs.
Truth: Alcohol is a drug, a drug that has been so roundly accepted into a society that we don’t even like to call it a drug. Some people get very upset at such a label for their liquid friend! Problem drinking is equally as harmful as any street drug problem. Alcoholism damages the body and mind.
Continued heavy drinking can do serious harm to your wellbeing, your income, and your relationships.
Problem drinkers undergo uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal when they quit drinking, much like drug addicts do when they stop using. Plus, new evidence suggests that regular drinking is just as bad for you as cigarette smoking.
Do not assume that you are choosing the lesser of two evils.
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