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Alcohol - Habit or Addiction?

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I just now saw your post.

    emoticon and thanks for caring about your fellow sparkers!

    Alanon was my savior. it gave me coping skills for any tough situation. I could not be handling now what I have to if I did not have that 8 years of training when I was much younger. No one should feel bad about attending . It is a fantastic place. Also AA--it is very sound and helpful support.

    1144 days ago
  • CLEE2830
    I just saw this post, but I'm so glad I did! You voiced my thoughts! Thank you for sharing this!
    1716 days ago
  • HAYUN1976
    I enjoyed reading this blog. I feel like the past year I have been struggling with it all myself. I dont feel like I "need" it but I still "want" it a couple nights a week. Today is a new day though and one day at a time...I am setting some goals today, restarting spark people today, making my negatives into positives today.....and pray for strength to be able to do it all again tomorrow!! This post made me feel even stronger about making a change emoticon
    1794 days ago
    Excellent blog Val thank you!
    1849 days ago
  • _CYNDY55_
    emoticon Blog emoticon "** Val **" !!!!!
    Well Done!!! Many Facts!! Great to read your thoughts about alcohol, and what you've learned. That's Right!!!!! You don't need alcohol to have Happiness, and feel Fantastic!!

    Alcohol habit or addiction?
    Habit-you're in control. Addiction-you're not in control.
    Once a habit of use has shifted into addiction, problem drinking can spiral out of control.
    Addiction is a physiological "craving" for something.
    Drinking alcohol was a habit for me. It did develop into my addiction for many years.
    Living sober, healthy and fit!

    Addiction also known as dependency, leads to tolerance. An addicted person needs larger and more regular amounts of whatever they're addicted to. So they can have the same effect. Often the "reward" or "high" is no longer felt. Withdrawal after many years is unpleasant.

    emoticon I'm very Grateful for my Sober alcoholic in recovery. Love My Life❤Alcohol Free *** 6 *** years!!!!!

    Much Support for You ""** Val❤ **"" ! You Can Do It!
    Well said, You Don't Drink At All!
    1849 days ago
    VERY good blog post! I know when I start "teetering the line" between psychological addiction and physical addiction, that's when I start to abstain - to make sure it hasn't become a physical addiction. So far - I'm not physically addicted (no withdrawal symptoms after abstaining) - but I'm sure me and many others in this group have the same thoughts you've posted in your blog frequently - and struggle with the decision to "just limit myself and drink in moderation" vs not drinking at all.

    Coongrats on the AF days!

    Once again thanks for sharing such a thought provoking blog post.

    1849 days ago
    This blog post came on a day where I was experiencing some really 'tough' soul searching about the issue myself. I know for a fact that I can not stop at one or two drinks and so the question about abstaining comes back to play. I then also know that when I say I 'can't' have something - I want it more so definitely a psychological battle for me and with the family challenges of late I have going on certainly not something I need.

    I'm back at 'one day at a time' without promises too far ahead... completing TODAY AF.

    Great post Val - you are doing so well!! Very impressed!!
    1849 days ago
    Alcohol and alcoholism is a very touchy subject for a lot of people. I've seen the damage it's done to people in my family and I've heard people debate about whether they're "real alcoholics." Even medical professionals and therapists can have amazing misconceptions about alcoholism.

    I don't have to get defensive about the word alcoholic. I know my life is better now that I'm sober.

    Great blog, Valerie! I wish you all the best!
    1849 days ago
    My belief is if you crave anything to take the edge off your feelings or to cope with life it's a problem. Kudos to you that you see a potential problem and decided to fix it:) emoticon
    1849 days ago
    Thank you for your thoughtful blog. My biological family tree is loaded with alcoholics (I always say bottles hanging from every branch). I have chosen to break the chain in my life. Each and every one of us must decide for ourselves if we are alcoholic or not. I am an alcoholic in recovery for 11 years who detoxed at home and then entered a rehab to begin the greatest change of my life. I have not only put down the bottle, but worked very, very hard on all the underlying causes for my need to numb my feelings instead of meeting them head on. It is a powerful journey, one that requires me to take responsibility for EVERYTHING I do in my life. A faith in God has become my cornerstone to a powerful arch to freedom. You know we are all here to support you in your journey, Valerie.
    God Bless.
    1850 days ago
    Being from an alcoholic family, I struggle with these very issues myself.
    I know I'm not an alcoholic but I do love it and still have such conflicted feelings about it all.
    1850 days ago
    This is a very good blog concerning alcohol addiction. If alcohol is a problem, get rid of the problem. I went through a very difficult withdrawal all by myself without medical supervision but with the help of God. It was a diffcult yet very intimate spritual experience....once that I cherish now and forever! Alcohol does not guarantee a fun time. The "fun" in life is what we choose to make of our lives, our decisions and the way we choose to live each moment.

    There is s bracelet I have that says....Live. Laugh, Love.....yes, life is to be cherished. I think it important to see the glass half full, not half empty. I have had to change my cirlce of friends several times based on my nonalcohlic lifestyle. I just recently dropped a friend who lives in the negative. I choose to cherish the remaining moments of my life grasping every opportunity to help others.

    Excellent blog, You are on your way to a fantastic life. I am proud of you! Way to go!!! emoticon
    1851 days ago
    You go, girlfriend! Proud of you.
    1852 days ago
    I love to drink. I don't actually like to be drunk, but I love having a nice buzz. Like you Valerie, when I start I do NOT want to stop. I do not keep any alcohol in the house. If I know it's there, I want to drink it. When I decide I want to have a drink, I buy a certain amount, drink it and when it's gone I'm done. That's really the only way I can do it. I have cut back drastically over the past 5 months or so since I have been dieting. Even after I reach my goal weight, I will keep my alcohol consumption limited. Like many people, alcoholism runs in my family. I will not allow it to become a problem for me, I am very conscience of that. I also DESPISE having a hang over and having "day after" regrets about things said or done. Ugh...that's the worst!! Like usual Valerie...another great blog. You rock!!
    1852 days ago
    great blog post!
    you are doing great valerie!
    1852 days ago
    I have not decided if my BF is physically addicted, but he's definitely mentally addicted. He likes beer, if he's doing low-carb, then he drinks hard liquor. Atleast 1 drink a night, sometimes more. He can leave it alone if he has to, but chooses not to.

    Kudos to you for recognizing the hold it had on you and shaking free from it. That's no easy feat.
    1852 days ago
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