This is my experience, if you are an alcoholic or if you are a problem drinker or if you don’t have a problem with alcohol can only be answered by you. Not by friends, counselors or people in AA. Yes, I did have a similar experience; that doesn’t mean we’ll have the same outcome, only that we and thousands of others have had the same questions.
Old timers in AA would say that if you think you might have a problem, then you probably do. No one can judge that, we can only stand by and help you with whatever you need.
In my experience, it wasn’t about how long I could go without alcohol, it is all about what happens to me when I do drink. In the past 17 years, I had one stretch of not drinking that lasted one week and one stint that lasted one month. I could do ‘no drinking’ for any length of time; I’m currently at the end of two years without drinking. For me, it’s not the ‘not drinking’ periods that’s the issue, it’s the drinking periods that are my problem.
A good friend of mine had 24 years without drinking. He thought it was safe to start some light drinking…wine only. Within 6 months he was downing bottles of the hard stuff every day and ended up in the treatment center with me.
When I drink, I can’t stop. When I drink, my life becomes unmanageable. I can’t control my drinking. My drinking controls me. I, too, never had legal consequences, even though I drank daily for years on end. It was an absolute miracle. I was never a black out drinker, that is probably the difference. I was always buzzed and often bombed, but would mostly be that way at home or when a lot of driving wasn’t necessary. But, believe me, I spent way more than my fair share of times figuring which of the three lanes I should be driving in on a two-lane road.
For me, admitting that I was an alcoholic and that I had a problem with alcohol, was terrifying and I thought I would be a bad person because of that admission. We all know that only bad people are alcoholics…there must be something wrong with their moral make-up!! Nothing could be further from the truth. People who can’t handle alcohol are people who are wired differently. Some people are allergic to peanuts, some people are allergic to bee stings. I’m allergic to alcohol. That doesn’t make me a bad person or a person with screwed up morals. It’s just the way I am.
As for advice…I would suggest going to a couple of AA meetings in your area (just remember, as you walk into that room that everyone in there also walked into a room for the first time. You will be among friends, not judgmental people). Hop on to one of the on-line meetings offered on this site. Listen to others tell their stories; maybe you will relate to what you hear.
As has been shown since AA’s founding in the 1930’s, the best chance that a person has to learn about alcoholism and recovering from that disease is through the fellowship of AA. I listened to a lot of social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists (all good people), but it wasn’t until I talked to and listened to other alcoholics that I felt at ease and that I belonged and began to understand that alcohol controlled me. All of those questions and doubts went away.
I and thousands of other people are pulling for you, Marie. I celebrate your nine days more than my two years. I have no control over that first drink. I have no control over anything other than not drinking each and every day. It’s a struggle, but I don’t have to take on that struggle alone. Everyday without drinking is a gift. Please keep posting and let us know how you are doing and what your experience, strengths and hopes are.
I wish you well. Tom G.