I have a similar scenario to pose to you. If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you might be an alcoholic.
- Do you find yourself drawn to TV shows or novels where the main character has a major drinking problem?
- Do you find it necessary to have a drink every evening just to unwind?
- Do you often have a drink of something alcoholic before going out to a party to be sure you are fortified enough to have a good time?
- Do you avoid parties or social gatherings where you know alcohol will not be served?
- Do you need an alcoholic drink to feel comfortable on the dance floor?
- Do you always have alcohol in the house even if you don't drink every day?
- Are you more comfortable with people who drink alcohol socially than those who do not?
- Do you ever drink alcohol in the morning?
- Do you frequent restaurants where alcohol is served rather than restaurants where drinks are nonalcoholic?
- Have you ever made a mark on the label of a bottle of alcohol and told yourself you will drink only to that mark and no more?
Scary, eh? I remember in my drinking days, I used to be drawn to tests like this and think how stupid the questions were. So what if alcohol was a part of my life. It was a part of the lives of everyone I knew. Did I need a different group of friends? No. People who did not drink were boring stick-in-the-muds, maybe religious fanatics. Watch any old black and white movie and see how all the cool characters live life with a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other. Well, maybe the cigarette ought to go.
Alcohol in America and Europe has become almost patriotic. In Europe, it is hard to get a cup of coffee after five. Beer and wine flow like water, but beg your waitress for a cup of coffee with your evening meal and she will say, "Pardon?" and be sure her English hasn't run amuck. Been there. Done that. I finally settled for "fruit-soft." That they understand and will bring you a glass of whatever it is the kids are drinking.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. You may be concerned you might have a little obsession with alcohol now, but trust me, if you do, it will only grow into a huge obsession. Alcoholism is not a stagnant entity. It does not reverse itself. It does not exist in a vacuum. It moves forward, day by day, week by week, year by year, decade by decade until it has you totally encompassed in its victory. Then it does a lively "river dance" on your unconscious psyche.
Now we all know people who can drink like fishes, who party hardy every Saturday night and not miss a beat, have six-packs of booze in their fridges for weeks on end and only have a wine cooler every other Thursday. The rest of the time, they live on Mountain Dew and cold tea. Good for them, though drinking to excess is never a good thing. Don't let them influence you into thinking you can "drink like a fish and party hardy" today and tomorrow pop the top on a Diet Coke. Maybe you can. Maybe you can't. It's the "can't" possibility that can ruin your life. Is it worth the gamble? I say, no, it's not. Don't spin that wheel. Life's game of roulette may not be your forte.
When you're at a party, and you're drinking alcohol, can you have two drinks and stop? If so, great! You are probably not sliding down that slippery slope that leads to death or insanity, which are the two choices at the end of unconquered alcoholism. But if you need just one more drink to feel right, drinker beware!
No one ever buys a six-pack of Coke and drinks the whole thing in one sitting. So why do people buy a six-pack of beer or wine coolers (four-pack of them—see? I do know of what I speak), and drink the whole thing in an evening? The answer is simple. Beer and wine coolers contain the little hairy demons that get into your blood stream and crawl up and down your veins and scream for more of them to join the party. And the next drink calms the little critters down, until that buzz wears off, and then they holler for more booze. It's a vicious cycle.
The Bible says no drunkard or gluttonous person will enter God's Kingdom. That's what drove me to Alcoholics' Anonymous on Aug. 1, 1976. Gluttony is difficult to resolve as we all have to eat, something, sometime, so we can't quit food cold turkey. But to control drunkenness should be easy. We don't have to drink. I have a button that says, "It's okay not to drink," and I've had the nerve to wear it to cocktail parties. I carry my can of soda in my purse in the event there is NOTHING there that is nonalcoholic to drink and, believe me, I've been to several of those type of events. So you have to be serious about your attack on this problem, and always be prepared with the armor to make your attack succeed. With me, I had to succeed. There was no issue like marriage, or job, or friendship in the balance. It was more serious than that. There was my salvation, being there when the roll is called at Christ's return that was at stake. Failure was not an option.
I learned that "one day at a time" is a workable axiom. Christ said, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34 Matthew 6:34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
American King James Version×). He must have known we'd mess up and need help getting out of the addiction trap, and that plan of action would help us.
We can't beat an enemy we can't see. Many alcoholics I have known in my life just don't see it. They like feeling good. Who doesn't? They say, "How can something that makes me feel this good be bad for me?" Well, my friend, that's why they call it addiction. It's a "feel good" drug, not unlike cocaine, oxycodone and heroin, except that it's legal.
The confusing element is once you begin to ingest cocaine, oxycodone or heroin, you are hooked. Not everyone who drinks alcohol is hooked, and therein lies the rub, to quote our good buddy Will Shakespeare. So alcohol appears less threatening than the addictive controlled substances, and in some cases, it is. But in some cases it is not.
I am 100 percent Irish, and there is a rumor out there that Irish people should never drink alcohol. I think there might be a lot of truth in that belief. I was in trouble with alcohol from day one, and it took eight years for me to become a full blown alcoholic. I was baptized in the Church at the time. Things like that should not happen to converted, baptized, seriously religious church people who think they are with the program and living a good life as they march down the path to God's Kingdom. But bad things do happen to seriously converted church people because we are physical, and we are subject to physical shortcomings. Being Irish and introducing alcohol into my bloodstream appears to have been a disastrous shortcoming, big time. Once it became so obvious, it had to be addressed. It could no longer be evaluated, thought about and ultimately ignored. I was a "closet drinker" so many of my friends did not know about me. Thankfully, there were also some of my friends who did know about me, and disapproved of me. Vain as I am, I can't have that.
I thank God every day of my life that He gave me the power to hunt down this villainous culprit within me and beat it into a coma. I know it isn't dead. It's in a coma waiting for the next drink to revitalize it. Then it can rear itself into its sword-wielding monstrous power, take over my life and lead me down the path to self-destruction once again. No way. If only for today, God has helped me to keep it comatose. Comatose is good, one sleeping moment at a time.