Dealing with My “Drinking Problem”

I try my best never to tell someone that they’re an alcoholic. My belief is that only the individual has the right to apply that label to themselves. I have treated people who have “alcohol issues”, folks who have a “slight problem with alcohol” and many who “might kinda be a little bit concerned about my drinking.”

I often say back to them the things they say to me. It sounds very different coming from someone else. We who have addictive brains/personalities minimize, rationalize, justify and intellectualize the truth. We’ll water down everything but our drinks.

Only when we bring things out into the open do we recognize that it’s all a series of illusions.

Anais Nin said, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.” For the alcoholic, we progressively see only what the disease wants us to see. Alcoholism is unique in many respects, not the least of which is that it’s the only sickness that seeks to convince it’s host that they don’t have it.

Our perception, thoughts, and beliefs become so distorted that our denial becomes an acronym: Don’t Even kNow I’m Always Lying (to myself).

Black and white thinking is almost always our downfall. Too many of us get stuck in the dichotomy of whether or not we’re an alcoholic. We conduct questionable experiments like going a week without drinking. We hope to prove things to ourselves, that we don’t have a problem or that if we do it’s only a small one and easily addressed. We make false promises that we’ll recognize it and stop before it becomes a problem.

Of course, by the time we’re having these thoughts we’re already in trouble, especially because we’re hard people to prove anything to. We’ll point toward the exception and ignore the rule. Nobody expects to develop a problem with alcohol. It’s a place you wake up and find yourself at.

I don’t seek to prove anything. I pass along the adage that whether we’re an alcoholic or not, we still don’t have to drink. I have at times pointed out that if it weren’t a problem we’d feel no need to explain why it’s not a problem.

I’ve heard every reason in the world why people drink. My favorite one is, “I just like the taste.” I’m sure that this is true but I also believe it’s the reason why I enjoy iced tea… No one has ever expressed concern over my love of tea, nor have I ever felt the need to defend it. I’ve never joked about it to hide my discomfort. I just keep adding lemon and it keeps not being a problem.

I’m fond of the expression, “AA will fuck up your drinking.” If we don’t recognize the problem, and/or we don’t see the solution, it’s easiest to continue doing what we we’ve always done. Knowledge creates responsibility and awareness is the key. Once we become aware that alcohol is causing problems in our life (no matter how small they may seem) we can’t unknow it. At some point we either meaningfully address it or we become eligible for greater suffering.

All it takes to incur suffering is the battle cry of the self destructive: “Fuck it.”
I encourage folks never to say “it.” In retrospect, we see that whenever we referred to “It”, we were referring to ourselves:

– I don’t get it
– I can’t figure it out
– It’s not worth it
– Just don’t think about it
– To hell with it

The disease of addiction prevents us from seeing that what’s most flawed is our self perception. I’ve yet to meet a person who wasn’t deserving and capable of recovery. If you think drinking was ever fun, it’s because it temporarily took away your inhibition and tabled your insecurities. Folks in recovery get to have a life second to none because they don’t just table that shit – they overcome it.

I get that it’s rough to admit that drinking has become a problem. I also know how fulfilling it is to transform and become ever more:
“Happy, joyous, and free.”
Google: “AA meetings (your town)”

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.