Recently I was asked a seriously thought-provoking question by a very close friend of mine. I’ve debated on the answer internally and tossed it around as a blog idea for weeks now. While I am sure there are valid points to each argument; I offer a slightly different middle ground of a solution. So the question is this:
Do you think everyone who drinks has a problem?
(Keep in mind this is solely my opinion based entirely on my personal experience)
The simple answer is of course not! I am sure there are people all over the world who can have a drink once, not think about it for days, weeks, or months even before deciding to have another. Where it doesn’t drive their actions and desires. People throughout history who have drunk and not let it dictate their life -or death.
However, I was not one of those people. I had a big issue.
But the issue wasn’t alcohol, it was a laundry list of things I hadn’t managed to sort through. Like taking off my dirty laundry and letting it pile up, undealt with rather than actually sifting through it, cleaning up the messes as best I could, and cutting my losses at what could no longer be salvaged. I would detach from my problems using alcohol and leave them unresolved and unmanaged. It was unhealthy and undealt with and soon the alcohol and the issues had interwoven; completely unable to separate one without tackling both.
I knew I had an issue and while it might be hard to look at yourself internally and admit the problem, it’s not doing you any good to deny it. Because it was so apparent to me that my problems were a revolving door centered around alcohol with me caught in the middle, I find it hard to imagine anyone else not realizing they have a drinking problem. Many people drink daily, I’m not sure if that is a problem for them or anyone else
No not EVERYONE who drinks has a problem, but I venture to say, if you feel like you might need some help, you probably do. If you start to gain a wrap sheet at the county jailhouse, hospital visits from multiple drunk stumbles resulting in broken bones, car accidents, job loss really any one of those can be obvious clues that you have a problem, especially when compounded together.
Don’t be offended by that. There is nothing wrong with admitting you have a problem; in fact quite the opposite.
I knew I had a drinking problem, and I’d watched as loved ones fell victim to the battle and ultimately lost. I knew deep down that I was heading that direction and I did nothing. I knew I should probably slow down my drinking; I drank more. It was like I was drinking to forget the problems, and when the problem became drinking, I just drank more. I watched as their symptoms became apparent in my own behavior. Slowly I watched my life I slipping away and I felt like it was exactly what I had deserved.
I drank to drown my problems, and my problems learned to swim. Instead of heading for the dry ground I kept swimming out into open ocean until one day it all came crashing down.
So much so it almost killed me.
I felt like I deserved what I was doing to myself. I had done so much wrong in my past because of the alcohol, it only made sense that I punish myself for it. Somewhere in my drunk rattled brain that made some sort of sense.
THAT was the problem. I felt I deserved this pain and torture and that asking for help was wrong. In reality, I realized my loved ones would have rather me ask for help them, then have to plan my funeral because I was too afraid they wouldn’t understand. It was because I DIDN’T ask for help that I almost died. It’s because even though I saw the warning signs, and there were many, I didn’t ask them to help me do something I knew I couldn’t do alone.
If your best friend called you right now and said they need help to move a few boxes into the attic, you would jump in your car and hurry down the street to help. Why would you assume that you put that burden on anyone when asking for something so fundamental as your life back!
Because that’s what asking for help with addiction really is; asking for help getting your life back.
If you ask for help to quit drinking, I guarantee people will drop what they are doing to help you. They may not immediately drop their groceries and run with you to join you at a sober living facility, but they will gladly help you any way they can.
In fact, I think you will find most people that love you can see you are already struggling and they want to help, but they don’t know how to even breach the situation. (again, part of the stigma of addiction).
NOTHING ABOUT ASKING FOR HELP IS WRONG!
NOTHING ABOUT ADMITTING YOU NEED HELP IS WRONG!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HIT ROCK BOTTOM TO DESERVE HELP, LOVE, OR FORGIVENESS!!!
That statement hits me hard right now still, and I am hoping it resonates with some of you as well.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT TO HIT ROCK BOTTOM!
And please don’t.
While not everyone has a problem with alcohol, and not everyone who drinks becomes an addict, there shouldn’t be SUCH a stigma around it that we are so afraid to ask for help until we have no other options; if we get the chance to ask.
I have lost countless friends IN the hospital because by the time they sought help it was too late; damage was irreversible.
I BEG YOU PLEASE DON’T WAIT FOR ROCK BOTTOM! THAT ISN’T YOUR SIGN!
I mean, it’s a sign, but it’s more of the exit sign off the freeway rather than a road flag to turn around.