Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alcoholism: A love story - Part I: Overview

This brand new series for my blog deals with the very near and dear subject of my love-hate relationship with alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse. Over the years, I am 31 years old as I am writing this, the sauce and I have been through good times, bad times, easy times and tough times, times when our lives were closely entangled and times when our lives were only loosely affiliated.

The thing it is with alcohol is that it is so perfect for people like me. I'm a shy guy, alcohol helps me be more open. I'm an anxious guy and I am easily stressed out, alcohol helps relax me. I'm a tense guy, alcohol helps me loosen up. I'm not a guy who has an easy time having fun, alcohol gets me in a mood more susceptible to enjoying myself. All sorts of mental issues, disorders, blocks, bad memories, tics, nervous habits, inhibitions and quirks I have are readily alleviated with this marvelous substance.

Of course there are downsides. First of all, once you start using it to help with your mental issues, whatever they may be, as with any other drug you take for that purpose, you will need more of it and will need it more often.

A psychological dependency develops quite easily, you start needing alcohol in certain situations, or in preparation for certain situations, or to settle down after certain situations. I think most people who have tried the booze more than once in their lives know a thing or two about always needing a beer when you are at a party where everyone drinks, or always needing a beer when you go to a bar (or a bar mitzvah), or always needing a beer when you meet that one friend from years ago who you used to drink beer with as a teenager. With a psychological dependency as such, treatment may be recommended, but it is not mandatory, most of your time you don't drink, and function in your daily life, at work, socially, and so forth, it's only in certain situations.

But once you start requiring it to clamp down on your brains unwanted shenanigans and start needing more of it more regularly,  eventually a physical dependency will kick in. Well, then you're screwed. It doesn't take long into physical dependency that you reach a point when the physical symptoms of withdrawal are so unbearable right after you wake up, you have to start the day with a drink. And have to continue drinking until you are ready to fall asleep. Rinse and repeat, every day. There is no question of "functioning" there, you can't work a job, you can't parent children, you can't maintain a (healthy) relationship, you can't meet your mom for a coffee unless she's as tolerant as mine, you can barely go to the grocery store for more booze. Fuck, I couldn't even manage personal hygiene when I was into that level of boozing, which, thinking back of it, was really,  really disgusting.

And of course it no longer helps with your mental issues. In fact, they usually are worse than before. Depressed people, once using alcohol daily to alleviate depression, will eventually become more depressed than before, because quite frankly, read the previous paragraph, wouldn't that depress the hell out of you? Same with people such as myself who suffer from an anxiety disorder. You start boozing and it does wonders for your panic attacks, but it would be an understatement to say alcohol withdrawal directly caused the worst panic attacks you have ever felt in your life.

And if that wasn't enough, your body begins to deteriorate as well. Not just your liver, though that organ obviously takes a lion's share of the damage. No exercise means your muscles begin to shrink to the size of a vanilla bean, the alcohol eats gaping holes into your stomach lining, the nerve endings in your extremities begin to damage causing very unnerving numbness (that doesn't ever go away even after quitting and staying sober), teeth will obviously rot if you can't do the personal hygiene thing, your sense of balance takes its toll and so forth.

So eventually there is detox or death. Trust me, once you reach that point that's not actually an easy decision, 'cause the Grim Reaper looks like a really nice guy when you're in that situation. For most people the situation has become so hopeless that detox isn't even an option, and the choice is merely between quick suicide or slow, agonising organ failure. I went for detox, I've never been much into death. I still want to write articles no one will read and music no one will listen to when I'm 90 years old.

Detox sucked, but I will get into that at some other point. What I want to mention before finishing up this overview though is how the story continued. After detox, I did not drink any alcohol for almost three years. I never considered detox the end of my drinking though, just the end of my regular drinking, and the end of my drinking to alleviate mental issues. You see, any informed doctor will tell you that all scientific evidence points at the fact that what Christian groups such as AA, who want to use your miserable situation to convert you to their wicked church of shit, say about drinking post-detox is false: You do not become a heavy boozer again just by having a drink. In fact, the majority of heavy drinkers who went through detox enjoy a casual drink occasionally afterwards and do not slip back into addiction, that is scientifically documented. You know what causes you to slip back into addiction? Being a fucking moron. You should have learned your lesson, and if you didn't, it's your own fault. It was partly already your own fault the first time, but you were naive and didn't know any better then, and the alcohol helped for a while. But to get into that a second time after all you've been through? You're a fucking moron.

So yeah, I've been through a lot with booze. Had fun times, had miserable times, had too much, went to detox, had nothing for years, now enjoying a couple drinks with friends every couple of months, and finally, yes finally, I believe the relationship between me and alcohol is at a level I can be happy with. So let me close the first installment of this series with the immortal words of Amebix:

"So drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die."

1 comment:

  1. Hey! This is someone from MA forums. Good to hear you got over this, I had a friend who took his own life due to benzodiazepine withdrawal (which is comparable to alcohol to my recollection). He was a heroin addict too, and he got over that, but the benzos did him in. Really rough shit, props!