“Most of us have been unwilling to admit that we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.” (Pg. 30 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous) Those millions of us alcoholics who have already found AA have learned that alcoholism is a disease that can manifest a little differently in each individual. However, the common thread is that once we start to drink, we cannot stop. “At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. The tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.” (Pg. 24 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous) The Early Days Most of us readily admit that from the first sip of alcohol, we were hooked; but not all started drinking heavily all at once. Every story is different, but many alcoholics will tell you that once they got that first drunk, they felt like a new person – the one who they were supposed to be all along. Most of us were young when we started drinking, so it was limited, but you can bet that when we did get to drink, we did so heavily and probably blacked out, but didn’t let that discourage future drinking. For non-alcoholics, when they first blacked out, they probably stayed away from booze for a while. We budding alcoholics also swore we would never drink again, but got good and hammered the very next chance we got. The Saga Continues As we got older and had more access to alcohol, drinking started having more of an effect on our lives, was more frequent, and as our tolerance grew, so did our rationalization. Some of us had jobs, school, family life, etc, that kept us from drinking as often as we wanted, so we became binge drinkers instead, taking advantage of the time we had for it, My budding alcoholism started in middle school, so I was originally binge drinking on the weekends only. However, as I continued through high school, my drinking started to occur more often, and I was kicked out of school on numerous occasions for being drunk in class and driving the janitor’s floor cleaner through the cafeteria during lunch. When I was suspended for two weeks, I didn’t see it as punishment, but as an opportunity to be able to drink and get high as often as I wanted. A non-alcoholic person would have felt the full severity of that punishment, where I saw it as a blessing. As our drinking continues, we tend to slowly stop seeing the reality of the impact of our drinking; instead, we rationalize every situation and consequence. We learn to play the victim role, and our addiction starts telling us that it isn’t us who have the problem, it’s everybody else. This is Where Things Start to Get Sticky So we have probably spent a few years pushing the limits of our drinking career, we have begun to see consequences of our actions, but we still know that nothing makes us feel okay quite like getting good and drunk or high. It is the only thing we know that lets us truly escape our problems for a while. So we continue, despite the loving warnings of our family and friends, and despite any of the consequences we have come across so far. At this point, I was drinking and getting high every day. I was consumed with the obsession of it even though I had already seen a huge hit on my financial situation because of my addiction. I had lost friends, jobs, and the trust of my family, but none of that mattered; I had become a full-blown alcoholic. Granted, I am in the group that believes that I was born that way, but my repeated behavior over time had allowed me to bloom and grow into the degenerate alcoholic teenager that I had wholeheartedly welcomed. When I woke up in the morning, my first thought was getting drunk or high. I would plan my day around it. Once I had lost all connection to my family and was unable to keep a job, my days became focused on finding money to get drunk or high. Having to beg for money or borrow from people really sucked because I was usually withdrawing, and moving hurt. Once I got my first drink or fix, I could do some human things like shower or eat, and then within a few hours, I would do the routine all over again. As the day grew on, I would probably complete this routine 2-3 times, depending on what I picked up to get messed up on throughout the day. The Inevitable Downward Spiral As if all of that doesn’t sound bad enough, it gets worse. Eventually, I wasn’t drinking for the fun of it anymore; I was drinking because I absolutely had to feel well. And then I was drinking to merely escape from it all, even if just for an hour. I had become completely taken over by my addiction, it controlled my whole life. I was a full-blown addict alcoholic, and I truly thought that this was how I would die and I didn’t even care. I could not stop using no matter how badly I wanted to. Until the day finally comes when we see that we cannot take the pain anymore, that we admit that we are powerless over addiction, we are never going to get better, If you are a weekend warrior who blacks out and ends up in strange places with strange people and continue to do it again, you might be an alcoholic. If you are the blue collar worker who drinks every night until you either fall asleep or run out of booze, you might be an alcoholic. If you are the person that never feels normal until you start drinking or using, you might be an alcoholic. “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition” (Pg. 32 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous) Getting Help At Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 561-278-0055 to learn more.