I’ve received another question, about Alcoholism, so that’s what I shall cover today.
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol; generally it refers to alcohol addiction, which is the compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol, usually to the detriment of the persons health, relationships and life in general.
It is medically considered a disease, specifically an addictive illness. In psychiatry, it is also referred to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol misuse has the potential to damage almost every organ in the body, including the brain. The cumulative toxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse can cause both medical and psychiatric problems. Someone who has alcoholism is called an alcoholic.
It’s not always easy to see when your drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking. But if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, you’re in potentially dangerous territory. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and take steps to cut back if you recognise them. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are due to many interconnected factors, including genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. People who have a family history of alcoholism or who associate closely with heavy drinkers are more likely to develop drinking problems. Also, those who suffer from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are also particularly at risk, because alcohol may be used to self-medicate.
Since drinking is so common in many cultures and the effects vary so widely from person to person, it’s not always easy to figure out where the line is between social drinking and problem drinking. The bottom line is how alcohol affects you. If your drinking is causing problems in your life, you have a drinking problem.
For me it was a slow, but ultimately slippery slope that I followed. I’ve always been a social drinker, unless I was driving. So over the years I’d gotten a liking for alcohol and always enjoyed it. Who doesn’t right? But it was 2012 that things started to get serious.
It began just drinking every weekend, just a few drinks on a Saturday night with my husband, to unwind after a long week. Over time it became a regular weekend thing, and I’d look forward to the weekends just for that. It then began to turn into Friday and Saturday nights, when I’d consume at least 1 bottle of wine a night. Slowly but surely, my tolerance increased, meaning I’d drink more. Then it started to creep into weekday evenings too, say for example after a particularly stressful day. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays began to be the norm. Then Wednesdays too… and so on, until I was drinking every single day. A bottle of wine a night, often more at the weekends. Every day I would long for the evening to come when I could drink again. It had become a plain and simple addiction. Because it had been a slow increase in frequency, I didn’t really notice it. Other people would though, and say things like “are you drinking again tonight?” or “don’t you think you should have a night off the booze?”. But I didn’t listen, I was enjoying it far too much.
This went on for a good year or so; but I didn’t realise what was happening to me. I was drinking when I was happy, and when I was sad. As time went on, and depression began to take hold, I drank to block it out. I was happy when I was intoxicated. I didn’t think about all the negative things that went through my head when I was sober. I was talkative, upbeat and like my old self again. In general terms, I was self medicating my depression with alcohol.
The next bit of this post is both something I have covered in a previous post, and also rather gross, so a word of warning for you!
One morning, January 4th to be precise; I woke up feeling horrendous. I was so nauseated I could barely move, my head was spinning and I couldn’t stop shaking. I did my best to hide it from my husband, but he noticed I was shaking whilst trying to make the morning coffees. I just told him I was probably hungover and that I’d be okay after a coffee and a smoke. I was hoping that was the case deep down anyway! But no, having a cigarette made me feel even worse, and the coffee too. I started to wretch, and knew that the inevitable was going to happen, so dashed to the kitchen sink (the closest thing to me at the time!) and violently vomited. Every part of me hurt, and what I was bringing up was pure alcohol from the night before.
I spent most of the morning vomiting and feeling terrible, and it was then that it hit me. My body had had enough. It couldn’t process the alcohol any more, and this was my wake up call. I knew I had a problem and had to do something about it, and fast. I couldn’t carry on drinking, I was going to make myself seriously ill if I did. I was quite honestly, scared.
By the afternoon I was feeling a little better and had stopped vomiting. I couldn’t stomach any food though until mid evening, when I managed some toast. But I’d made a decision that day; to stop drinking. I was determined to do it, for my health. I didn’t want to spend another day feeling like I did that day, it felt like I was dying!!
So, January 4th 2013 was my first sober day. The next few days were awful though. The withdrawals were hardcore, I was shaky, nauseated, tired and the temptation to have a drink was huge. But I stuck to my guns, and avoided alcohol somehow.
It took a good few weeks for the withdrawals to pass, and they were really hard. I did struggle a lot to stay sober. As each day passed though, I considered it a victory. As the days passed, I grew stronger and more determined. We went to a friends wedding a few months later, and I did have a small glass of Pimms, and quite honestly it made me feel awful. I went on to pints of water after that!! I don’t really count it in my sober count, as it was pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Whether that is wrong or not, I don’t know, but for me it didn’t have any impact on me other than making me feel ill!
Now I am still sober, and intend to keep it that way. Today will be 1 year, 10 months and 23 days sober; and I’m feeling mega proud of that.
I’m what is known as a recovering alcoholic still, a little known fact amongst my friends and family, until now haha!
I hope this has answered the question okay, it covers both general information about alcoholism, as well as my experience with it. Sorry if it was a bit gross in places, but as I promised when this blog was born, I would always be 100% open and honest at all times.
In other news, today is also 232 days self harm free! Another victory that I’m mega proud of.
2014 has seen me accomplish so much. I’ve overcome alcoholism, self harm, and learnt to manage my anxiety, OCD and bipolar! Go me!!
I’m in a really good place right now, and long may it continue. I finally feel like I’ve got my life back on track and that things are going to be okay. Fingers crossed!! I don’t want to jinx myself!!
On that note I shall leave it there, thanks for reading, and welcome to my newest followers. Am up to 97 now, so am hoping I hit the 100 mark by the end of this year, that would be amazing!! Keep liking and sharing folks, it really means a lot to me!
Until next time….