This blog is to help me explore my own relationship with alcohol, and perhaps resolve whether I was, or still am, ‘an alcoholic’. This is partly why I previously explored alcohol dependency as the preferable term for ‘alcoholism’. Here’s an early reflection.
Whilst grateful for the opportunity to go to university, I must admit it was mainly for the chance to leave home and have a good time. Fortunately I also recognised the importance of the academic opportunities, but for the most part study was an inconvenient aside. My focus was on the there and then, so as a sociable but somewhat emotionally volatile 19 year-old, drinking surrounded all that I enjoyed.
During my adolescence I had become an increasingly enthusiastic beer drinker, but it no longer delivered the drunkenness I craved for a good night. A large bottle of Jack Daniels, some brandy and rum were the most important items I unpacked on my first day in university digs.
I’m now quite ashamed of much of much of what I so drunkenly did in that first year of ‘study’. Ironically, many of those reckless actions were at the time things I was proud of, and brought me some degree of reverence amongst like-minded peers. I grasped onto a laddish ‘binge-drinking’ culture and made it my own. It gave me an identity through which to achieve both release and hedonism. A life without drinking seemed dull and pointless. Partying, casual sex, unplanned drug taking and crippling hangovers are arguably par for the course for many outgoing youngsters. But that my dis-inhibited behaviour included numerous fights and one incident of drink-driving remain deep regrets.
It is perhaps an indication of the cultural embededness of ‘binge drinking’ that the risks to others I at times posed had no effect on my drinking behaviour. But during that year of particularly vociferous drinking, one occasion stands out as the trigger for contemplating that perhaps… I had a problem.
I can remember many things about the night of a good friend’s birthday (as good a reason as they come). Caution – the final reason won’t please the squeamish too much. Despite it being some 10 years ago, I clearly recall the frustration of trying to get drunk that night. The event started with a typical ‘pre-loading’ session before hitting the bars. But despite no lack of supply and my increasingly determined efforts, I felt frustratingly sober for most of the night. Returning to the house, I refused to be beaten. With more shots, shared with anyone that was able to join me, eventually I began to achieve the effect I had craved.
The hangover after such a session had reliably become a splitting headache and some unhappy insides. Painkillers were handy for alleviating the head pain, but I was about to receive a worrying shock. Reluctantly emerging late in the afternoon to use the toilet, I sat slumped on the seat and anguished the pain in my stomach. When I stood up and looked down there was blood. I stared motionless, anxiety creeping in, and began to repeat to myself “What am I doing?”.
This was certainly not the last time I would drink, but here started an important process of reflection and recovery. But I am still left with one key question unresolved. Will I drink again?
I hope to use this blog to help me explore my relationship with alcohol as problematic or not, past and present. I will share more about where I have been with alcohol, where I am now, and where I may go, and welcome any comments. Ciao for now!