The first column entry from an anonymous contributor battling with alcohol dependency.
I am alcohol dependent.
I’ve spent a long time denying that I had a problem; there was always an excuse for that drink in my hand, that trip to the pub, that extra bottle of wine in the grocery basket. But I’ve had that epiphany; the one where you stop blaming your circumstances and realise that the problem is you. Now, I have to find the solution.
It’s been a long slippery, downhill slope, so much so that I can’t tell you exactly when I stopped drinking within reasonable limits and started drinking alcohol most evenings and weekends. The people who know me in my day to day life would be shocked – I think there’s still the (wrong) assumption that if you’re not having wine for breakfast then you don’t have a problem with alcohol. I never drink during the daytime on weekdays, but I have been drinking almost every night and every weekend for almost 3 years. And prior to those 3 years, I’ve been drinking more days out of the week than I was sober.
I now know that my drinking is out of control; to assume that I can restrict or control it would be naive – I have to go sober. The fact that terrifies me tells me that it’s the right thing to do, Alcohol is not a necessity for life and the fact I emotionally feel like it is shows I depend on it. I have a variety of negative health effects that alcohol has already caused me including weight gain, acid reflux and mental health problems. I turned to alcohol to help me deal with emotional pain and stressful situations but unfortunately, alcohol just numbed me temporarily and hasn’t allowed me to go through the processes I need to in order to remain emotionally healthy.
I’m tired of waking up in the morning, guilty because I drank the night before; I’m tired of feeling ill from it. I’m tired of feeling tired. I’m tired of not spending time on my hobbies because I’ve prioritised drinking above them. I’m tired of planning my social calendar around where I can get an alcoholic drink. I’m tired of worrying how much I’m damaging my physical and psychological health with this cycle of drinking. I’m tired of wasting vast amounts of money on drinking. I’m tired of feeling deeply sad or angry under the influence of alcohol.
Every day, I’ve been saying I won’t drink – and then I do, saying to myself that ‘tomorrow, I’ll be good’. That tomorrow that I talk of never comes – until now. I’ve made an appointment with my GP and I’ve chosen to undertake private therapy to enable me to deal with the emotional issues that initially caused my drinking. I’ve reinstated my hobbies, I’ve signed up to an exercise class and I’ve got myself an app that tracks my sobriety and offers help when I’m tempted.
I know it won’t be easy. There will be sleepless nights, the temptation to relapse and it’ll be a constant battle. But just passing the time between one drink and the next isn’t living. I want to live, I want to be healthy, I want to be happy and I want to be free. So, here I am.
This is day zero.