Personal Account: getting past alcohol dependency

I was seventeen years old, when I first started drinking alcohol “in earnest”. Prior to this, my father had occasionally given me small glasses of wine with a Sunday roast and I was “introduced” to Cider when I was about sixteen, although it was only in moderation. I do remember I became “tipsy” and felt humiliated .

By the age of Seventeen, I drank only occasionally, firstly because I didn’t really feel the need to do so more frequently and secondly, because I was too young to buy alcohol for myself. In those young days, it was something I enjoyed as a “treat”, rather than doing it out of habit or “necessity”.

When I was eighteen, I began to frequent public houses on a regular basis, with various friends, although even then, I restricted myself to two pints of beer, because it was usually I who had to drive home. Drinking alcohol was still something of a novelty. My father wasn’t really a drinking man; his occasional “tipple” was a Gin and Tonic, which he never carried to excess and usually something he enjoyed after some business meetings he attended. It was something of an embarrassment to him to be asked to enter a pub to buy alcohol. For his own reasons, it didn’t really appeal to him. Even a glass of wine with a Sunday meal was a rarity and at Christmas, temperance was in abundance. However, dad did make mention to the fact that his father probably drank more than was good for him, although it was not something that was spoken about frequently.

I had friends in those days and we pretty much all ended up in a pub somewhere, most evenings and weekends. It was a social thing to do. However, there was no bad behaviour and, by the end of the evening, those not driving were only occasionally to be found slightly “tipsy”. I never witnessed anyone being sick and I never saw or heard of any violence. We went home and that was it; we all had jobs to go to in the mornings of the week and at weekends we still didn’t overdo things.

Alcohol, whilst playing a part in my life, wasn’t essential or important to me during those times. I enjoyed it, sometimes a little too much, but I was young and the effects never lasted long!

When I started working for myself, I began to feel the pressure and it was then that I started using alcohol to calm me and take me out of the emotional place I found myself in. I had also never been particularly happy living with my parents; the more time I could spend away from them, the better I felt. However, I still had to return. I also had work to do in the evenings, which meant, invariably, I would have a bottle of cider nearby. In those days, though, my alcohol tolerance was limited, so it didn’t take too much to make me sleepy and thus I didn’t usually suffer from the morning hangover.

By my late twenties, though, I had a reputation for being able to “hold” my drink and I suppose I was proud of that achievement. I rarely suffered from a serious hangover and I was never sick, so I was able to continue. I didn’t really think about the physical consequences of my habit, because it wasn’t really talked about. The only thing I ever felt was the disapproval of my mother, who was totally against alcohol and would never spare anyone her thoughts on the subject. In the main, though, I ignored her, as I tried to with most things she said!

Alcohol ‘abuse’, for me, was a very gradual experience. As I grew older, my tolerance grew and thus it took more alcohol to bring me to the state of inebriation. If I had a glass of wine (which, by then, was my preferred drink), it would always continue until the bottle had been finished and then I had to start on another bottle. I was doing quite well financially and wine was relatively inexpensive, so I saw no reason to stop. I was still able to work and I didn’t have any particularly bad “symptoms”, so I just continued.

My work changed and became more stressful and it was then that I began to rely upon alcohol to help me sleep and to relax. The pity about it was that many a weekend was spent with me asleep, after imbibing a bottle of wine with my meals. I also found that my shame and humiliation worsened, as I remembered (or not) what I said to people. Mostly, I was somewhat over-enthusiastic in my praises of them and, although I could speak quite lucidly, I was certain they knew I was drunk!

I don’t know whether I can honestly say I enjoyed drinking, at that time in my life; by then, it had become a habit. At the end of a long day at work, I returned home, where I lived alone and to the lonely world I had created for myself. I always had sufficient wine to last most of the week and still I didn’t think about what consequences it was having on my body. I did find that I would sometimes wake up feeling as though I had been drugged and that I was literally going to die, but this still didn’t lead me to stop what I was doing. I didn’t know how to, or if I wanted to.

I reached 40 and was drinking 2 bottles of strong wine per night. My favourite “tipple” was vintage port, which was even stronger and I could quite easily “sink” a whole bottle (20% Vol.), without passing out and often I would go on to a second bottle, although rarely managed to finish it before I passed out. Luckily, I wasn’t one to drink spirits very often (Whisky made me feel physically sick in the mornings and even the smell of something similar made me queasy!) I still didn’t really realise what I was doing to myself, though. Was I punishing myself for the loneliness and total emptiness in my life? What I suppose I knew was that it wasn’t doing me any good and that, progressively, I was no longer enjoying it. Living on my own, meant that nobody else really knew of my alcohol consumption and, because I rarely drank during the day (in the main, I didn’t feel the necessity to), nobody at work knew – and I was never drunk while at work.

It was a sad and lonely existence: alcohol had robbed me of so much, but it had also been my comforter during difficult times. At least, that was how it seemed to me! I always enjoyed the first few glasses, but by the time I had drunk the first bottle, the taste didn’t enter into things: it was just the habit and about “knocking myself out”. In particular, I used to turn to alcohol after I had been insulted by some man I had met, or after yet another of my attempts to form a relationship that had ended. Sometimes, I wondered why I bothered!

I reached 44 years and was diagnosed with work-related stress, anxiety and chronic high blood pressure. I was overweight, lonely and depressed. I had no real quality of life and found myself turning to being alone and drinking in order to forget what had happened to me. In effect, I just shut myself away from everything.

It was then that I, alone, decided it was time to change. My doctor had been extremely understanding, suggesting I cut down, rather than give up alcohol. However, I knew that I was an “all or nothing” person and that cutting down was impossible for me.

I had had a couple of attempts at giving up, with some degree of success, although always returned to my lonely ways, until eventually I awoke to the reality of what I was doing to myself. It was then that I knew that if I continued as I was, I would, in all probability, bring my life to a premature conclusion. That was something a lot of people had already prevented from happening to me, after a serious illness whilst I was in my mid thirties. I felt an obligation to them and that it was selfish to cast aside the time, effort and money that had been spent on keeping me alive.

“I invite you to come over to my side of the river and bask in the freedom to choose… not to let alcohol ruin your life! If I can do it, so can you!”

In April 2007, I just stopped drinking alcohol. I had left the job that had caused me so much damage and stress and decided that I had to begin a new chapter in my life.

It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. It was all a matter of strengthening my resolve and keeping to it. By positively thinking to myself and substituting alcohol for soft drinks, I found something to imbibe in the evenings. At least I had the sensations of drinking something and, since I always had something else to occupy my mind, I “guzzled” gallons (or is it litres?) of fizzy drinks.

On the second day “on the wagon”, I remembered the first achievement and said to myself that, were I to have another drink, I would have wasted that precious day. I continued to do this until, after a week, I realised how important and precious the time spent without alcohol was. Again I said to myself that, if I had another drink, I would have lost all the effort I had put in and also that I would have to suffer the health issues I had.

I soon began to sleep without needing to be drunk and I slept soundly. I awoke in the mornings without feeling ill and I was able to cope with pretty much everything life threw at me. I began to feel better, both physically and emotionally.

As the months passed, it became easier to abstain; I no longer needed a drink to send me to sleep or to forget about the trials and tribulations of my life. I don’t say my life, in itself, was necessarily any better, but it was no worse and, at least, I wasn’t drunk every evening and weekend. No longer did alcohol play any part in my life; no longer was I a “slave” to the bottle! I didn’t feel ashamed of the clink of bottles, as I took them to the recycling point and I also had money for other, more important things. I also didn’t feel ashamed of my behaviour towards others (although I never behaved inappropriately, just stupidly); my dignity had returned.

Five years on and I have alcohol around my home, but I have never felt the need to drink it! I can go out with friends and am quite happy for them to enjoy a drink, but I still don’t feel that I need one! I can be extremely smug when talking to people, when I can honestly say “I don’t drink”. It is also interesting, the number of other people I meet who don’t, either. I do not regret having stopped!

Alcohol does have a part to play in life. It is something that many enjoy without it causing them any problems and they are able to find pleasure and refreshment in it. However, these are the people who are in control of it. For me, that was never the case. I do not want those people to stop or to be prevented from enjoying a little pleasure in their lives because of my own weaknesses. They should be able to do so because of my strength; the strength to give up alcohol – on my own!

I do not say that I will never have an alcoholic drink again. I do not say that I will never become inebriated again. However, if I do decide to, it will be on my terms, and I shall be in control… either that or it will be when I am too old to care. Until then, I made myself a promise not to return to that dark and lonely place.

It is possible to give up alcohol; it takes willpower and the knowledge that you can do it even if you are alone, because it is worth doing! You will be a better person, both physically and emotionally and you, too, will be able to proudly say: “I don’t drink”! I invite you to come over to my side of the river and bask in the freedom to choose… not to let alcohol ruin your life! If I can do it, so can you!

I have made an important discovery…that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, produces all the effects of intoxication.
Oscar Wilde

Related issues:

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

11 Responses to

Personal Account: getting past alcohol dependency

  1. Glad..to read you are changing your ways before its too late for you. My dad on the other hand is a heavy drinker..and he can say the meanest things to hurt.

    M 22nd May 2012 at 8:24 pm
  2. Dear M. I am pleased to say I never abused anyone as a result of my excessive drinking. That just isn’t the type of man I am. Sometimes, those closest to us are the ones we most need praise and encouragement from and far too often they are the last to give it. I’m not going to ask you to understand your dad, for it is he who should understand and support you. We all have our battles in life, but we must not let them get in the way of those who depend upon us. I feel for you. My dad wasn’t a drinker, neither was he violent, but I have no recollection of him ever praising me. It hurts. ((hugs)) I’m here for you.

    Graham Dudley 23rd May 2012 at 12:26 pm
  3. Well said…i guess the crazy thing about him…he isnt happy til he has a drink. He just makes excuses..and his brothers my uncles dont reprove him. I dont want to see that there is no hope for him but he doesnt make things easier for those around him. I try take my children down when i can…but i guess i dont like seeing him drunk. When there are times i have caught him not having a drink he is ok..but during the course of the day is has a drink and starts waffling he dont like me or my kids…tells my mum to tell me not to bring them down. As an adult and responsibilities of my own…i dont hold my breathe but it is sad to see a grown behave in a manner like that and i just feel for my mum. I am glad you have sorted yourself out. I guess it comes down to the individual in the end what they want to do. Thanks. Great article i hope a lot of people get encouraged by it and not allow the beast of a drink ruin ones life and family.:-D

    M 25th May 2012 at 5:51 pm
  4. Plse excuse my typo errors…i hope what i wrote makes sense.

    M 25th May 2012 at 5:58 pm
  5. Its saturday night i am on my sixth day of sobriety my husband is at his brothers getting bladded and my innet voice is screaming go on have a drink went on the internet for some inspiration and read your story thankyou so much you pulled me back to thinking straight

    Micky

    micky 7th September 2013 at 7:47 pm
  6. I don’t see how, after recognizing your weakness in respect of controlling the amount of booze you used to drink, can be so sure about drinking ‘on your own terms’. The case in point here is that the moment you used to grab a glass (or the bottle) you stopped having the capacity of decision over you actions. What makes you think that this would be different in a year or 30 down the road? Also, booze sure it has a place and function in society, and that is to numb oneself into the varying degrees of oblivion and stupidity available to drinkers. The only difference with someone that used to be psychologically dependent of alcohol is that they do so while socializing, because it’s acceptable. Don’t be fooled mate, and ditch the booze without regrets, it’s simply not worth the suffering that carries with it.

    Sergi 28th October 2013 at 1:47 am
  7. Sergi

    I’m still “on the wagon” and it’s been about 6 years now. I no longer feel any need to “self medicate” by using alcohol. It is no longer a part of my life. I cannot see into the future, so I do not know how (or if) I will feel in 30 years’ time. However, I can say that, ever since I packed up drinking, I have never felt better and never wanted to go back to the “dark place”. I am not one to be “fooled”, either; I understand fully how powerful and debilitating alcohol can be. I did what I did for my own reasons and with nobody’s help. I do not regret giving up alcohol. I do not believe I ever will. As I grow stronger and as my sobriety continues, I am confident that I will not want or need to go backwards in my life. I may decide to have a drink again, at some point in the future, but I seriously doubt whether it will be anything more than a “sip”. Until that time, if it ever does arrive, I am content with being a non drinker. I am in control now and that is the way I intend it to say!

    Graham Dudley 9th December 2013 at 2:21 pm
  8. Just to clarify, I do not believe I will ever regret giving up alcohol!

    Graham Dudley 9th December 2013 at 2:23 pm
  9. I am 47 years old and on my 10th night of sobriety. I often find the nights, like most people struggling, to be the hardest time. I know if I can just make it to morning, when I am driving to work without a hangover, that I feel I can do this. I was having that urg once again tonight, but finding your site is going to help me make it to tomorrow.

    Thanks,
    Jim

    Jim 16th January 2014 at 11:49 pm
  10. FUNNY!, Two bottles of red wine every night and 47 years of age is also the point that I woke up to the fact that drinking was destroying me and my life,and that stopping may not make things any better but it sure as hell can not make them any worse.
    The only regret that I do have is not stopping before I lost my partner I loved of 15years ,my children of 6 and 9 years,a 300thousand Dollar house in Australia and the 70thousand Dollar job that paid for it, not to mention all our hopes and dreams along with them.
    Little wonder then that I have heard it called “The Great Reliever” (Oxford Dictionary~1,bring or provide aid or assistance.2,alleviate or reduce pain or suffering.3,mitigate the tedium or monotony of….6,take away from a person.)In the end it will take away everything that you have but not in the order that you would want them,God only knows how death half way through my relationship with alcohol would have been so gladly welcomed and at one point I even tried to force it,but it does not have the pity for that and only saves it till the very end.
    I consider myself so lucky to have stood in the AA Halls of Australia and listened to the likes of Heather the glamorous redhead who drank her own vommit as she struggled to keep the booze down at the end of her drinking career,to that of Adelaide Arthur, who’s eyeballs had rolled to the back of his head from the effects of wet brain and who bit a chunk from the arm of the AA member whilst he was handcuffed to the railings of a bed in a Lunatic Assylum ,at the end of his.I was determined not to get as bad as anything like that and would learn by their mistakes!.
    I decided that I had had enough and at the point that i decided to make it.But even now I can not be sure that it is the end of the misery that I have inflicted on myself and the ones I love around me.Because for me it will only take that First Drink for it to start again.
    I do know that “The Point” YOU decide “Enough” is upto “You” and “YOU” alone and how soon you come to this decision will determine how much or how little you have left.For me as it is for most, that point seems too late but for others it may not come at all
    I hope that the point comes sooner for you than it did for me.
    My Regards T M Holmes

    TIM H 7th February 2014 at 1:18 pm
  11. I would like to know if there is a particular reason your story makes no mention of the term, ‘alcoholism.’

    Thanks. –worldwiderobin

    worldwiderobin 17th April 2014 at 7:02 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*Please, nothing defamatory or obscene