Now that I have my commute back, I’m listening to This Naked Mind on Audible. I like her mix of science, medicine and personal anecdotes.
Although I’m only a few chapters in, her description of the problem with AA’s definition of alcoholics is one I can get behind. It took me years to come to terms with my own issues with alcohol because I was always able to say, “Well, I’m not THAT bad. I’m not like THOSE people. I’m not an alcoholic.” Because to me, alcoholic meant someone who had a genetic or other proclivity toward alcohol abuse, a unique type of person with a “disease” or an “allergy” to alcohol. Someone who was less able to resist the addictive nature of alcohol. And more often than not, someone who had bottomed out because of it.
If someone had explained to me in my 20’s or 30’s the simple notion that alcohol is an extremely addictive substance, and anyone who struggles to control their alcohol intake has a serious issue that needs to be dealt with or they will become an alcoholic, I might have seen the light sooner.
I know for me, it took a large number of signs over the years, big bold blinking “caution” signs in my personal life, and finally my therapist saying to me, “What if I were to tell you that everything you’re struggling with right now can be traced back to alcohol?” for the lightbulb to go off.
And when I realized the truth of her question, I decided to give myself a test. If I couldn’t stick with a reasonable plan to moderate (even tapering back initially to make it easier on myself), I would quit. Turns out, I couldn’t moderate. Not for any length of time. I always found some excuse why this night or that circumstance was exempt, until I was back to the same-old, same-old.
And I could trace the slow increase and dependance over the years.
The idea that only SOME people are prone to alcoholism, that it’s a disease or an allergy, is a dangerous one. Because the truth of it is, anyone can get addicted to alcohol. No one is immune. And it makes it harder for high-functioning heavy drinkers like myself and others I know to admit they have a problem – because, hey, we’re not an alcoholic by society’s standards!
Now, I’m off my soapbox and headed downstairs to read something lighter, then bed.
I’m grateful in many more ways than one for my female friends. Today, I’m specifically grateful for two good friends who like to share book recommendations: that I have such strong, intelligent women in my life, that they count me to be a friend, and that we share a love for reading.