A few days ago, I wrote this, discussing the detriments of alcohol abuse and the reasons that supported the assertion that I have a drinking problem. I did not mean to mislead anyone with the first article; I was only trying to begin a conversation concerning the nature of addiction and how a healthy community can promote healing.
Am I an alcoholic? I really don’t know. But that is not the point.
What is an alcoholic? What is an addict? Is it someone who can check several clearly defined boxes on a list of symptoms, or is there some sort of different, less concrete answer here?
Depending on who you ask, the answer will be different. Someone who drinks for fun too often. Someone who drinks to numb the pain. Someone who drinks to forget. Someone who needs to drink.
The response to the first article was amazing and overwhelmingly positive, full of personal stories of triumph and supportive advice. I am truly amazed by the ability of our community, both online and in the real world, to show compassion for a complete stranger. Our lives are full of anecdotes that can easily destroy our faith in humankind and little things like this help reverse that trend.
It is always nice to find out caring people still exist in the world. If a few anonymous internet users stumble upon the ramblings of a no name writer on the internet, imagine how many more caring, exceptional people exist out there, full of love to give.
Often it is easy to label someone an addict when obvious signs are present, such as passing out when you are supposed to be watching a child. I know this from personal experience. I was that child.
Other times, a struggling addict can be difficult to spot because they are able to function by what society deems normal standards. Some people are violent drunks and some are funny. The person’s specific reactions to alcohol in the body are often what labels them an addict, not the quantity drank or frequency consumed.
Instead of focusing on the symptom list, focus on the individual. If someone you know is struggling—or an guy you don’t know on the internet thinks he is struggling—a few kind words of advice or support go a long way.
Am I an alcoholic? On the hard days, sometimes I think so. But then I look at my life and I just don’t know.
1. I don’t need to drink. Sometimes I drink daily and sometimes I go a month without a drop. I do it because I want to, not because of dependency, chemical or otherwise.
2. I’ve never blacked out.
3. I hate most drinking games.
4. I have never operated a vehicle under the influence.
5. I have never vomited in my sleep.
6. I hate bars.
7. The same bottle of bourbon has sat on my counter for a month, unfinished.
8. I’ve never become violent while drunk (unless you count the time my brother and I argued about some bullshit semantics having to do with the Yankees bullpen).
9. I can count how many hangovers I’ve had on one hand.
10. No one who knows me personally has ever told me I’m an alcoholic.