I used to have a pretty bad drinking problem. I wasn’t a full-time alcoholic, but it was definitely a problem.
I did cut down on drinking, and tried to tell myself it wasn’t a problem anymore, but five years ago around this time, it became clear that it still was a problem, and that the only way for me to avoid my alcohol problem was to stop drinking altogether.
It hasn’t always been easy. Quitting drinking isn’t something that I did once, and now it’s overwith and I don’t have to work at it anymore. I’ve had problems with anxiety and depression, as well as having had to deal with problems associated with undiagnosed autism, for most of my life. Alcohol used to be a coping mechanism for me, and sometimes when my life is difficult, it’s still tempting to get drunk. But I’ve managed to stay away.
There are times when I didn’t think I could make it to five years being sober. But I’ve made it.
Was there anything (or thingS) in particular that made you realize you needed to quit?
A lot of people dealing with anxiety / depression etc. unconsciously self-medicate with alcohol, and I’d bet that’s what you were doing. It’s a topic that scares me, as there’s significant alcoholism on my side of the family: my maternal aunt died of liver failure, at least two of my uncles on that side were alcholic; my paternal grandfather was, and all of my brothers have gone through bouts of drinking more than was good for them.
And I’ve got two special needs adult kids… so we’ve spent a lot of time discussing it with them and trying to model appropriate drinking behavior. I worry more about my daughter than my son; he doesn’t drink at all, and my daughter is more interested than I quite like - but I’ve also seen her order a drink (or take one from the fridge if we have something around), take a few sips, and forget it. On another occasion, we were on foot, having dinner then going to a movie, and she asked if she could order a drink. She did, and really enjoyed it - but realized halfway through that a) it was hitting her, and b) she wanted to stay awake for the movie. So… she left half the drink behind. These give me hope that she’ll be OK.
On the other hand, she can obsess about it a bit. She’s in a therapeutic residential community right now, up in Vermont, and while she has no substance abuse history, the policy is you can’t drink at all, even when away. We went to a wedding in Wisconsin last month and she was annoyed by the rule and told me “I don’t care. I’m having a drink at the wedding!”. Dunno what would have happened if they’d caught her - possibly bumping her up a supervision level or something. As it turned out, she did NOT drink anything - but we were concerned. When we were up in Quebec summer of 2017 (Hi again!!!) she wanted to order drinks at various meals since she was legal there. We had a chat about that - as it really does trigger the family-history concerns.
Embarrassing to admit, but what made me realize I had to quit was getting drunker than I’d expected at a holiday party at work. It wasn’t a good thing to happen, but now I think I’m a bit grateful that I finally had reason enough to quit altogether.
I remember meeting your family .
Without going into details, not all members of my own family have really modelled appropriate drinking behaviour, though I don’t think that was an influence on my own drinking. I didn’t have much of an interest in drinking until I was 20 years old and discovered how much fun I had getting drunk. Though even during my alcohol-soaked years, I knew I could have fun without drinking.
A fondness for drinking, if not full-out alcoholism, seems to run in one, maybe both, sides of my family. But I don’t know if my family was that concerned about my drinking. I like to think I downplayed it to them, but you never know.
And yes, wanting to stay awake for events and such things was one of the reasons I’d cut down on drinking.
So many things are just easier if you aren’t drinking, no? But I gotta tell you, 14 or so years sober, there are still times I’d love a stiff drink. Maybe some day you’ll be able to resume in moderation - for me, it just isn’t worth the risk.
Sounds like you have a healthy attitude about it that will do you well for the long haul.
Please stay with it. My son also suffered from depression and self-medicated with alcohol, which only contributed to feelings of worthlessness and failure. It eventually killed him. Tough as it is to stay sober, your family and friends will thank you for doing so.