Addiction to Alcohol/alcoholic or not?

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Question
My current boyfriend consumes a daily average of 6 Canadian pints (20 oz). He has lately taken to drinking on the way to work, and takes steps to conceal this fact. I believe that he can't make it through his evening shift without consuming alcohol first. He shakes in the morning, sometimes terribly, but calls it other things. It seems like functional alcoholism to me, since he does quite well on the job, yet he is defensive and claims that he is not an alcoholic. I grew up in a dry household and have little experience with heavy drinking. Is this alcoholism?

Answer
Hi, Ruby, and I thank you for this opportunity to try to be helpful.

You have written:

>> ...daily average of 6 Canadian pints...drinking on the way to work...takes steps to conceal this fact.

Here is a certain excerpt from “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book:

“Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks...” --(Dr. William D. Silkworth in “The Doctor’s Opinion”, 1935)

While my own drinking had been progressing, I knew (or I at least believed) it was “normal” for me to drink as I did...and yet I knew other people either “just did not understand”, or at least did not appear to actually *need* the alcohol like I did.

Here is something from my own past along that kind of line:

“Kenny” had long been a close friend of mine.  He and I had occasionally enjoyed a few beers together...and yet I knew Kenny did not drink like I did.  I knew I had some kind of problem, but I had no idea what that problem might be...and I was fairly certain Kenny did not have it.  One day after work, I stopped to see my friend near the end of his own workday.  I walked into his shop carrying a few beers, and I intentionally made it obvious I had already opened that six-pack.  I was not interested in being scolded for drinking at least something -- possibly a touch of defiance there -- and yet I did not want to ever appear to be trying to deceive Kenny or anyone else about the fact I did typically drink a bit more than most other folks I knew.  But when I offered my friend a beer, he surprised me quite a bit by asking, “How much are you drinking now, Joe?”

I did not know how to answer him.  I knew I could not live without at least a little effect from the alcohol, and yet I had no way to put, see or view my own drinking in perspective with that of anyone else.  My point?

Concealing our drinking is something some of us do simply because even we do not understand it, and we cannot just set it aside to be rid of that matter since we cannot function well without it.

>> I believe that he can’t make it through his evening shift without consuming alcohol first.

I was like that.  It took a couple of beers to get me going in the morning, and I got pretty good at sipping my way through the day without getting caught.

>> He shakes in the morning, sometimes terribly, but calls it other things.

“Liquor ceased to be a luxury; it became a necessity. ‘Bathtub’ gin, two bottles a day, and often three, got to be routine. Sometimes a small deal would net a few hundred dollars, and I would pay my bills at the bars and delicatessens. This went on endlessly, and I began to waken very early in the morning shaking violently. A tumbler full of gin followed by half a dozen bottles of beer would be required if I were to eat any breakfast. Nevertheless, I still thought I could control the situation, and there were periods of sobriety which renewed my wife’s hope.” --(“Bill’s Story”, page 5 in our book)

>> It seems like functional alcoholism to me, since he does quite well on the job, yet he is defensive and claims that he is not an alcoholic.

It is best to not try to tell him otherwise.  He might never say a word out loud about this, but he is asking his own questions at his own pace on the inside…and that is absolutely necessary for people like us.

>> I grew up in a dry household and have little experience with heavy drinking. Is this alcoholism?

I ask you to allow me to avoid a direct answer there…

“…be careful not to brand him as an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion.” (page 92)

Some friends and I have a site (with an outer room for “open chat”) where we try to be helpful to others like ourselves, and you would also be welcomed if you might ever want to come by for a visit.

Joseph Lee
http://www.nonameyet.org/

Addiction to Alcohol

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Joseph Lee O.

Expertise

Greetings to you! I have experienced “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book, and that is what I share with others. I understand the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the real alcoholic's plight, and here is what can be done to overcome chronic alcoholism: "If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking - 'What do I have to do?' It is the purpose of this book ('Alcoholics Anonymous') to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done." (page 20)

Experience

I took my first drink of alcohol at age 24...and within minutes I had become obsessed with its seemingly-magical effect. That glass of wine had just done something *for* me, and I was amazed. Just seven years later, I wanted to never again touch another drop of alcohol -- I had a desire to stop drinking forever -- but I just could *not* leave the stuff alone. I knew what alcohol was doing *to* me, but I still needed something done *for* me. The effect of the Twelve Steps is now my “sufficient substitute” ("A.A.", page 151) for the effect of alcohol, and I do not have to puke anything back up in the morning!

Publications
http://e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=9572

Education/Credentials
30-year student of “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book

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