Here's another angle when considering the symptoms of alcoholism.
On the A.A. website, there are twelve questions to help you make a self-diagnosis and to know if A.A. is for you. On some level, I always knew I was an alcoholic, although I tried hard not to face it. All the symptoms of alcoholism were there, but by convincing myself that I could control my problem I could stay in denial. I was, after all, a pretty good functional drunk. This insanity went on for 20 years of my life.
Symptoms of Alcoholism. Here are the questions . . . and my answers.
1 - Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
Countless times. Usually I did this after a hellacious hangover. Almost like clockwork, after three days, I'd pop the top and start the cycle all over again.
2 - Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking-- stop telling you what to do?
The "people" in my case were my husband and later my daughter as she approached her teens. And at times, neither of them had to say a word. It was that look of disapproval that said it all. I haven't seen that look for quite some time, thank God.
3 - Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
I have always worked outside the home. As much as I wanted to be a housewife and stay-at-home mom, God had better plans of protection for me. My alcoholism would have spun completely out of control had I been at home. So I was constantly trying to limit the amount I drank in order not to have a hangover in the morning. I tried drinking beer only, or just limiting my Vodka Grapefruit to three drinks on work nights. That usually meant four. I tried only drinking on weekends, but that never seemed to work out. You name it, I tried it.
4 - Have you had to have an eye-opener in the morning to get started?
Done that a time or two. I guess this was a pretty sure sign that I was not drinking "socially."
5 - Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
And, truthfully, after fourteen years of sobriety, I still envy these people. I recently went on a Caribbean cruise, and I wish I could have one of those yummy looking rum drinks that they hand out for free on that first day. Or I wish I could have "a drink" with dinner. But the fact is I can't. I long ago accepted this with that First Step. I am indeed powerless over alcohol, and one drink always leads to more and more and more.
The beauty of recovery is that I can have just as much fun drinking non-alcoholic drinks. That seemed absolutely impossible to me before I got sober, but the truth is I'm having the time of my life. If you don't believe me, stay tuned as I continue to develop my website outlining all my adventures in sobriety!
6 - Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
NO! Finally, a No! Not me, not anymore. There have been a few problems in the last year, but they certainly were not connected with drinking. I have this wonderful new-life-in-recovery that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Did I have problems connected with drinking during the year before I got sober? You bet. Relational problems, financial problems, health problems, emotional problems, you name it...With alcoholism, it generally gets worse with time -- never better. My only hope was to stop drinking.
7 - Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
Before working the Twelve Steps and taking a good look at my own behavior and attitudes, I blamed everyone else (mostly my husband) for the problems in my life. It was so hard to see that my drinking was the root cause of my troubles in my marriage and in my family. Now it is crystal clear, and I have made amends to the best of my ability. I have also done a lot of forgiving, which was a gift I gave myself.
8 - Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
Parties have never been my thing, especially when I don't know everyone well. I always thought it impossible to relax and talk to people without drinking. So there had better be plenty of booze on hand. I always, always had a "few" beforehand at home, especially if I thought it was going to be the kind of party where the drinks were not served fast enough.
9 - Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to?
You know . . . the first part of this question might be a "NO". I guess I'd tried and failed enough times that I knew in my heart that I just couldn't stop without help. Maybe it was my previous trips into Alcoholics Anonymous that made me realize I couldn't just ignore the symptoms of alcoholism that were obviously there.
As to the last part of the question . . .
Without a doubt, I kept getting drunk when I didn't mean to. Once I started drinking, I just couldn't seem to stop.
10 - Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
Yeah, I had that brown-bottle flu a time or two.
11 - Do you have "blackouts"?
Blackouts are a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking. As I progressed in my disease, they happened more and more frequently.
12 - Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
Those feelings have held true! My life is infinitely better now that I no longer drink. Neither my recovery program nor my church promised to totally solve my life's problems. But other recovering alcoholics and many Christian friends gave me tools and showed me how to live without drinking "one day at a time." My prayer for every alcoholic is that he or she would experience the same new life that I have found.
There sure are a lot of yeses up there. I am an alcoholic for sure, and now a grateful recovering alcoholic. Thank God for the spiritual principles behind the Twelve Steps. You can read more about my experience in the Christian recovery program called Celebrate Recovery by clicking here.
Always Under Construction. Please check back often to monitor the progress!
Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy (Enlarged Heart)
I have learned that I can't presume to diagnose alcoholism in anyone. That is up to the alcoholic himself (or herself). The symptoms of alcoholism outlined above are a good way to take a look at yourself and ask some searching questions.
Take another look at the 10 symptoms of alcoholism on the previous page and do some more self-searching.
The symptoms of alcoholism don't lie.