Monday, 28 October 2019

When you're an Alcoholic

Addiction isn’t something that disappears.

I was having a conversation the other night about being an alcoholic.

With Social Services involved the fact I am an alcoholic is something I haven’t hidden.

I know a lot of people may have kept it to themselves but it isn’t something I’m ashamed of.

The problem arises in the term “alcoholic”.

People like to use other terms like Ex-Alcoholic and Recovering alcoholic.

With the freedom of admittance my addiction has been used as part of my character assassination.
I must clearly be a rubbish parent because I’m an alcoholic. Being an alcoholic must impact the children and family life. I must be a low life because I’m an alcoholic. All things that people automatically assume with that title; something social services very quickly concluded.

It didn’t matter that the statement came with context. “I am an alcoholic but I haven’t drunk in 7 years".
That statement should be all that is needed but sadly it isn’t. The questions come.

“When did you last have a drink?” 7 years ago.
“When was the last time you drunk alcohol?” 7 years ago.

“When was the last time the children saw you drink alcohol?” 7 years ago.

“When was the last time they saw you drunk?” 7 years ago.

And the list goes on.

You are instantly under investigation. The questions bombard you with hope that you slip up and give an answer that implicates you as a liar.

It’s deplorable behaviour from people who should be more accepting and understanding. Part of me understands to some degree why it is needed. If you’re an alcoholic then there is a risk that it affects the children. Yet, there should be a degree of control when you have the same answer after question 3.
The fact that you have an addiction and one that can rule your life but have conquered it should be celebrated not condemned.

But it’s not.

The terms used are and should be specific.

Ex-Alcoholic tells you that you had a problem but it doesn’t impact you anymore.

A Recovering Alcoholic is one who has recently stopped drinking and is in recovery.

Finally, and although not listed above, being “Sober" is someone who doesn’t have alcohol in their blood system and isn’t currently drinking.

But, what about those people who had the addiction, was an alcoholic but stopped, broke the habit and is now sober? Yet, the craving and addiction still rules their thinking and actions?

Well, in those cases, they’re alcoholics.

I’m an alcoholic. I abused alcohol. For a long time it was a pain relief method. Other times it was to drown my sorrows or to help battle by mental health and psychosis. (Despite the fact that it is a depressant) For a long time I drink just because I could and because I wanted to.

Part of it can be attributed to my Dependant Personality Disorder. I become dependent on things as much as I do people. That said, it isn’t an excuse to actually allow those dependencies to take hold.
I was a High Functioning Alcoholic.

I would and could work without starting my day with alcohol. I wouldn’t drink at work or go into work drunk.

The craving and want was there throughout the day but I didn’t drink.

I would get home and start the moment I got in. Any excuse and I had drink in my hand. A nice glass of wine with dinner would turn into a bottle for pleasure. Even going to church and taking communion had it’s perks.

At the height of my addiction I was drinking 30 cans of Fosters, 3 bottles of wine, a small bottle of vodka and a small bottle of Martini a week.

But I stopped.

I had my nervous breakdown.

That time of my life was the lowest and darkest. Yet, through help, I got better and things got brighter.
Having hope and a clarity of mind changed my perspective.

I had brought myself to the door of death and suicide but survived. In the Hospital the doctor told me, whilst looking at the yellow in my eyes, that I had alcohol jaundice and my liver was going to fail me if I carried on.

That was a massive wake up call.

I had survived suicide. I had a hope to stay on this earth for my children and family and yet my addiction was going to do the “job" anyway.

So I stopped.

Christmas 2012 was when I gave myself the best present; a future without alcohol.

I still crave it. There are days when it is all that I think about. The stress and pressure of social services being involved with our family didn’t help that craving or desire but I didn’t drink. I don’t avoid places with alcohol but I do avoid actions that include it, like taking communion at church.

Being an alcoholic isn’t something that I’m ashamed of.

I don’t expect applause because I don’t drink but I don’t expecting condemnation. Ask the question, learn about the person and understand that the battle they have had is one that should be acknowledged.

So, in typical AA meeting style, I’m Martyn and I’m an alcoholic.


Claire Lou said...

Well done. This is good. People need to know the differences in the terminology. If people don't know it then they'll assume the worst. Sorry you've had to go through the rigmarole of the stigma that goes with it. You're completion of such a long time should be the real testament to your character. Keep going and don't let these prejudices be a mark against you!!

Unknown said...

A brave and fantastic blog post Martyn - it reads almost like a poem.