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“He’d get home at 5:30, fix his drink”

January 3, 2008

Thoughts on alcohol, alcoholism.  That is, what makes drinking “bad” or how much is “too much”?  I’m curious because i do drink quite a bit (more “frequently” than “a lot of”, but certainly that too at times).  On an intuitive level i am genuinely unconcerned about it, but, as is my wont, i’ve become intellectually curious about it.

“You’re only an alcoholic if you drink alone” was popular in college – probably because almost no one drank alone then because we all lived right next to each other.  Of course, it’s based on the concern that drinking alone is a sign of self-medicating for depression (which basically never works, and usually makes things worse).

I have a pin that says “I can’t be an alcoholic, i only drink beer!”  Worth sharing, if not consideration.

In more seriousness, what is it – how do you determine if it’s a drinking problem? Is it a question of how often?  How much? That is so vague that it’s hard to put much credence on simply the quantity.  But it might shed some light on something, so – my drinking habits are roughly as follows: i like to have a beer when i’m doing things around the house – cooking, cleaning, making stuff – i like to have a drink or two in the evenings sometimes (drinking for taste and relaxation, not to feel it).  Between these things i’ll have a drink or maybe two not quite daily, but close.  I drink more on the weekends usually, if i go out just to chill i’ll have a couple (drinking enough to get tipsy but not so much drunk), or if i’m home alone all day i’ll do the beer and puttering thing that i mentioned.  And sometimes i’ll get shitty – generally once a week or less (but then there was this weekend…whew, sometime i make up for those weeks i skip this step).

So, with context, the measures i would put more credence on are the motivation and the results. Which i think are intertwined.  Probably my very first motivation is simply that a lot of my favorite things to drink are alcoholic – i like the way they taste. There is also relaxation – that is a common motivation for me to have a drink, after work, say. (and clearly, one of the results i like).  These are the simple ones, the reasons i drink frequently, but not why i drink lots.

There’s self-medication, which i’ve mentioned i don’t think is good. But it’s worked for me the one time i can recall having used it that way (the shot of whiskey did bring me down a little from my anxiety attack). This could, perhaps, be considered the extreme of the relaxation thing.  Justification, perhaps, but i can’t help but feel that using alcohol to combat anxiety isn’t nearly as bad as to combat depression – alcohol is, after all, a downer.

Results? Well, lowered inhibitions, yes. But they always make that sound so bad. Frankly, that’s kind of the -point- for me. If i could get away with it i’d really like to be just the slightest bit tipsy in any social situation; it keeps me from being afraid of people or nervous about sounding like a fool or anxious just of being there, and the only external effect is that maybe i talk just a little more because i’m not scared of the people i’m talking to. Well, tipsy is one thing, what about drunk? Again, i like having my inhibitions lowered. It just so happens that there are quite a lot of things i don’t mind, or would really like to do that i simply don’t have the balls to do sober.  Maybe that means i should work on my sober self (and i really have been), not that i should drink, but hey.

I guess this is the important part, to me: i’ve never been drunk enough to do something i regretted. Except get sick. But that’s pretty temporary (if stupid, gross and sucky).  I’m sure i’ve done some things that other people think are dumb, but that’s not really the yard stick i’m measuring by.  The one drunken hookup i’m closest to regretting really wasn’t that at all – we only met, made out, and exchanged numbers while drunk, anything else that happened was just me being dumb while cold sober (and young and curious, more than anything).  Basically, drinking doesn’t make me change my mind, it doesn’t lower my standards, just my inhibitions.

Just some rambling – i’m trying to straighten up my thoughts on this, so i’d love to hear what anyone else thinks.  Maybe i’m beginning to agree with the smartass sticker “I’m not an alcoholic.  They go to meetings.”  (well, not really)

Lady Brett
“I Drink” – Mary Gauthier

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2008 11:48 pm

    There is no one way to be an alcoholic… though most who come to abuse alcohol started off drinking because it made them feel better in some way… more confident, less socially awkward, less depressed. Some people will jokingly say that if you’re wondering if you’re an alcoholic, you’re not, because all alcoholics are in denial… but really… I think if you’re wondering, you might have dysfunctional drinking habits that can quickly take control over you. The definition of an alcoholic is simply someone who’s life has become unmanageable because they drink… do you fit that right now? I think not. Could you in five years? Sure, we all could.

    My thought is this… read the AA website, drop into an open meeting even (they have ones for the queers!), listen to people stories, talk to people who have had drinking problems… it’s a great way to check yourself and also see where you could land if you don’t continue to check yourself.

  2. January 7, 2008 1:11 pm

    thank you for that definition…i think i was winding my way towards something like that, but i couldn’t quite figure out the words for it. i quite strongly feel that i don’t fit that, but as you said there’s no telling what might happen in the future. but at the moment i think, for me, wondering keeps me pretty significantly in check – a little concern about it is why i conciously decided not to have a drink for about two weeks after the breakup, because i knew i was vulnerable.

    me and jake were discussing our different approaches to cutting lose last night and we had an interesting observation about me. i have very little willpower – i’ve known that for a long time – but i also have an amazingly strong innate propensity towards moderation. is it just another part of my obsession with grey-scales and middle grounds? and i wonder if i never learned willpower ’cause i don’t tend to need it? whatever it is, the result seems to be that i actually have a much easier time scaling back on things that quitting them, which i hear is pretty fuckin’ odd. and brings us back to the aa thing. which is, now that you mention it, an interesting place to find info.

    of course, i’d have to have a drink before i’d have the guts to walk into a meeting…kidding! i do know that even my little city has a queer specific one (unfortunately i know quite a few queer friends who are/were in it or such)

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