Alcoholism: The Progression
For almost everyone, their first drink tastes disgusting and takes a long time to get down. My first drink was bought for me by my brother and sister. As a 13 year old, we were all out at a young person’s do and there was a bar. I asked for a lemonade and lime and they bought me a vodka and lime. I realised it was alcohol and not what I ordered and spent all evening taking tiny sips. Couldn’t even remember now if I ever finished that first drink.
So how did I ever get a taste for something which I thought tasted so vile? The social pressure is on to drink – it is what everyone does at social functions. With time, knowing that I could never get addicted to something that tasted so foul, I kept trying various drinks and eventually got used to the taste of rather sweet white wine – Liebfraumilch was all the rage in the late 70s and early 80s. There were a few occasions on which I over indulged but not too many. I was a sensible teenager and a very unlikely one to become alcoholic (I now know that anyone can become one – I did not realise that then).
Then I started work and regularly joined my new colleagues in lunchtime drinking (I needed to get to know them and a few glasses of wine seemed to give me confidence). Alcohol became an important and enjoyable part of my life. A drink or two after work with colleagues was usually followed by the sophisticated habit of a couple of drinks at home in the evening – but life was good.
At the weekends there was more drinking – what fun I had keeping up with the hockey players that my boyfriend played with. Drinking by now was ingrained in my life.
When did it start to Control Me?
When did I stop controlling the drinking and it begin to control me? This is when we realise that we have fallen into a trap. Sadly we do not see it when we might have a chance of stopping it happening. We only see it when we are in it. And then it is hard to get out of it.
So we decide to cut down. My early attempts involved having 24 hours off twice a week. How did I achieve this? Here is a sign of how bad my drinking was. Rather than go a full day, I would drink one lunchtime as normal, white knuckle it and not drink that evening, then not drink the following lunchtime (24 hours done) – phew, then drink again in the evening. So I was manipulating it to feel as if I was in control but actually on no day of the week did I not drink. Looking back, what a big sign that was of a future BIG problem.
I even remember keeping a drinking diary – and I was only in my 20s and this was before the days when counsellors got heavy drinkers to do this. I kept one with my friends and looking at how many units we all drank was a laugh. I’d ‘win’ every week and was applauded for my capacity.
Obviously by now I had fallen into the trap. Sound familiar?
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