Friday, April 26, 2013
Recently I have been reading what people are thinking about their own alcohol consumption. They are discussing whether it is just a habit that they drink, or has it become an addiction? To me that means are they simply psychologically addicted (a habit that they feel compelled to do)? Or have they crossed the line and become physically addicted (in which case they would experience physical withdrawal symptoms or D T 's (delerium tremons) which include nausea and vomiting, anxiety and shaking, hallucinations, and possible seizures.
I quit drinking alcohol almost one month ago and I didn't have any physical symptoms other than being rather tired so I don't think I was physically addicted to alcohol. Was it a bad habit? Or a psychological addiction? Definitely. When my husband and I were sitting on the patio in the evening watching the sunset - I wanted a drink. When we were cuddling in bed watching a movie - I wanted a drink. When my husband would go to bed early and I'd sit up playing on the computer - I wanted a drink. And, most especially, if there was a problem and I got "stressed" - I REALLY wanted a drink to calm my nerves.
I decided to quit drinking BEFORE I crossed the line from a psychological addiction to a physical addiction, from merely a habit to a full-blown addiction, which requires medical treatment to go through de-tox. My previous husband was definitely physically addicted (a true alcoholic). If we ran out of money and therefore, out of alcohol, he would go for 24 hours being sick and invariably have a grand mal seizure and I'd call 911 and he'd go to the ER by ambulance. They'd give him librium or valium (benzodiazepines) and tell him never to drink again. Of course, he always did. He died from throat cancer from smoking at the age of only 48 but he would have died from cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol if the cancer hadn't gotten him first.
I think the better question, instead of habit or addiction, is whether alcohol is causing problems in your life. Do you have an alcohol problem?
Is alcohol sabotaging your weight-loss efforts ? Alcohol has a LOT of totally non-nutritious calories. Seven calories per gram in alcohol whereas carbohydrates and proteins only have four calories per gram (and they're good for you).
Is alcohol ruining your budget? Certainly alcohol is expensive. Wouldn't you like to buy yourself something special instead of wasting your money on drinking?
Is alcohol making you feel "hung-over" the next day? Headache and no energy? Nauseated? Who wants that? I vomited in the morning one time after a night of drinking and that was IT for me - I decided I HAD to stop drinking.
Do you drive after drinking? I really don't have to comment on THAT ! Everyone knows now -a- days how dangerous that is. You could kill yourself or someone else. At the very least you could get a DUI which is opening a huge can of worms in terms of going to jail, expense for lawyers, losing your license, etc.
Is alcohol causing problems in other ways? Maybe it makes you very emotional and you get into arguments with the ones you love. Do you want to ruin your relationships with your friends and family? Do you want to say things that tomorrow you're going to forget or regret? I'd rather be clear-headed and calm, and in control of what I'm saying and doing: Not the alcohol controlling me, making me say stupid things or acting the "fool".
If you decide that YES, alcohol has become a problem for me, then you need to decide if you can simply cut back and control it and limit your alcohol consumption, or if you need to completely abstain. The medical community recommends only one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. Personally, I don't know anybody who drinks on a regular basis who can limit it to only one or two drinks. I know I sure can't. One drink leads to two and then you lose your inhibitions and most don't stop drinking until the bottle is gone. Once you get started, most can't stop at one or two.
I decided it was easier for me to simply quit completely. I'm not trying to decide every day whether I should have that drink or not - I simply DON'T DRINK. AT ALL.
I was having "urges" or "cravings" for a drink at least once a day but I think I'm getting stronger and starting forget how much I love the taste of alcohol. Tonight is Friday Night Date Night which is always a challenge but I bought myself a 2-liter of Club Soda (no calories) and a fresh lime to make myself some "mocktails". I'll have a great time even without alcohol.
So, bottom line, can you comply with the medical community's recommendations on the amount of alcohol that is safe to drink? Or once you get started, can you NOT stop? Be honest with yourself. Has alcohol become a problem in your life?
I'm learning that I can be happy and feel good and have a good time even without alcohol. It's not the neccessity that I always thought it was. Here's a toast with a club soda and lime to being alcohol free. It's starting to feel pretty good.