to think I'm an alcoholic

(60 Posts)
Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:38:30

I'm wondering if I really am an alcoholic.

I've always liked to drink and being drunk. A bottle of red is the only thing that relaxes me.

I think about alcohol all the time, throughout the day, and really perk up when I know I can have a drink.

I do limit myself to around two bottles per week, on average, and can resist not drinking but find it incredibly difficult.

I've always been known as a big drinker.

does this describe someone with a problem?

EglantinePrice Mon 06-May-13 21:41:14

Two bottles per week doesn't seem excessive to me. When you say on average... what exactly does that mean? How long can you go without a drink?

Llareggub Mon 06-May-13 21:43:02

Depends, really. Alcoholism isn't necessarily about quantities. It causing problems with loved ones, feeling like you need to control intake can be red flags.

HollyBerryBush Mon 06-May-13 21:43:15

If you need a drink you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

ImagineJL Mon 06-May-13 21:43:48

Do you really only drink 2 bottles of wine per week? Because that in itself is not a dangerously high quantity, if that's the real amount. However, I would say that your attitude and relationship with alcohol is definitely pathological, and it would be very easy for you to slip into a dangerous addiction if you didn't make Herculean efforts not to.

I would advise you to speak to AA, and your GP too, as there must be things in your life that make you feel that wine is the only thing that can make you happy and relaxed.

Are you being totally honest about the amount you drink?

Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:44:23

When I was pregnant and breastfeeding I didn't touch a drop, and won't drink and drive, so can resist if I have to. However, if i'm having a social drink, I'll probably get sloshed - closing time/everyone gone home is the only thing to make me stop.

sarahseashell Mon 06-May-13 21:45:49

speak to AA - I think it is the importance alcohol plays in your life which is more significant than amounts and could signify dependency. Well done for facing up to it.

HotCrossPun Mon 06-May-13 21:46:07

If you are worried about your reliance on alcohol then that in itself is a good enough reason to speak to somebody about it.

Are the 2 bottles of wine spread throughout the week?

Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:46:32

Thanks for the advice. Yes, I'll being honest about the amount I drink. However, in my twenties I've drink myself into oblivion on a very regular basis. I didn't have DC then, so I 'could'. if I didn't have to limit myself I'd honestly drink all day, every day.

Bowlersarm Mon 06-May-13 21:46:36

Hmmmm. It sounds like if you can keep it to two bottles per week then you don't have a problem. If the amount creeps up then maybe you do.

Lots of threads about alcohol tonight!

Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:47:35

Thanks again, everyone. The two bottles are spread over three or so nights.

yaimee Mon 06-May-13 21:48:18

I don't know.
To me, an alcoholic is an addict. You do sound like you could.be addicted to alcohol BUT you seem to manage your addiction.
You stick to within the government guidelines on alcohol consumption, even though this is difficult for you and you exercise a lot of self control.
Most people with addictions can't do this and most treatment for addiction teaches you how to do this, rather than 'curing' the addiction. For most people, I don't think the feelings you describe ever really go away.
So what I'm trying to get round to saying is that, if you are addicted to alcohol, but manage this addiction and drink sensibly, and if this addiction is not adversely affecting your life or health, then i'm not sure how much more can/should be done about it.

Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:49:42

I envy people who can have a couple of glasses and feel satisfied with that. I always feel as though i'm only just starting and have to force myself not to get pissed. If i'm offered a drink, the answer will always be "yes please".

Swiish Mon 06-May-13 21:52:08

Thanks yaimee. I don't think it does affect my family or work anymore. I do worry about my health though. A few years ago I woke up with yellow tinges in my eyes, which are still there, after yet another binge.

Ginformation Mon 06-May-13 21:53:23

Do you feel you should cut down your alcohol?

Do you feel annoyed if someone criticises your drinking?

DO you feel guilty about your drinking?

Do you ever need an eye-opener/hair of the dog?

2 yeses indicates a problem.

A longer assessment is the AUDIT C questionnaire

Joiningthegang Mon 06-May-13 22:01:00

I'd you think you have a problem it might be worth speaking with a professional - if you want to abstain forever go to AA, if you would like support or tools to help keep your drinking under control try your local alcohol treatment service

maddening Mon 06-May-13 22:01:57

sounds like an unhealthy relationship with alcohol which could get really out of control - so possibly dependant on alcohol more than alcoholic (unless you binge drink? In which case I would say alcoholic/alcohol dependant binge drinker)

dubstarr73 Mon 06-May-13 22:02:58

Im 19/40 but i was honest.Theres days id drink and drink but then other days it wouldnt bother me.So i dont think ive a problem.I wouldnt go to school drunk or collect the kids drunk.But it is a fine line.

BegoniaBampot Mon 06-May-13 22:09:45

I could be you in everything you have said. I agree it's not the amount you drink but your relationship with drinking and how you mentally think about it. I have to restrict myself and I know it would be very easy to get out of control. It is the same with other close family members so something perhaps we are predisposed to.

Helltotheno Mon 06-May-13 22:36:28

Yes you do have an issue around alcohol from all you've said. People don't seem to understand that you don't have to be craving alcohol to have a problem with drink. If you look at your statements as a totality, it's clearer:

I've always liked to drink and being drunk. A bottle of red is the only thing that relaxes me. alcohol as a social crutch

I think about alcohol all the time, throughout the day
your preoccupation with the idea of it means other things are suffering

I've always been known as a big drinker.
It shouldn't be something ideally that features in people's descriptions of you

However, if i'm having a social drink, I'll probably get sloshed - closing time/everyone gone home is the only thing to make me stop.
inability to stop after one/two... classic sign

I envy people who can have a couple of glasses and feel satisfied with that.
wishing you could stop after one/two.. you are aware you have a problem with that

A few years ago I woke up with yellow tinges in my eyes, which are still there, after yet another binge
it's starting to affect your liver... be worth getting some tests done at this stage

However, in my twenties I've drink myself into oblivion on a very regular basis.
binge drinking is the classic sign of a problem drinker.. usually starts when the drinker is young so a hard habit to break out of. Oblivion is not a good place to be, especially when potentially alone and vulnerable

I'm not trying to make you feel worse, because you've taken a step by recognising it. How about trying to fill your evenings with other stuff like exercise, a hobby etc to replace the wine? Maybe head to your GP and get a good all-round checkup and some vitamins? AA?

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 22:49:48

I do not think you have a problem with alcohol now - not in the slightest. Your consumption levels are near-normal. Any liver function test you might have would come back as normal. So let's not exaggerate here. You are not drinking 2 or 3 bottles a day, suffering from hand tremors, drinking in the morning, concealing empties, turning to spirits (neat). You are not there.

But you know that alcohol is like a big long shallow slide. The only way is down, and cravings indicate that you've already pushed off the top.

At this juncture, neither AA nor your GP would take you very seriously, I'm afraid. That is a function of the way those two organisations operate. But I am going to suggest something to you. No more alcohol over the summer. Not one drink until 21 September. Concentrate on getting your 5-a-day and mix some smoothies because they count as 2. Go and get some exercise, endorphins will give you a bigger and healthier buzz.

Helltotheno Mon 06-May-13 22:58:35

At this juncture, neither AA nor your GP would take you very seriously

You are absolutely wrong there about AA... as far as I'm aware, the criterion for attending AA meetings is not a craving for methylated spirits. Like I said, there are many different manifestations of problems with alcohol, and there are many red flags here that indicate the OP has a pretty longstanding problem with alcohol. Unless you think drinking yourself into oblivion on a regular basis is the standard way alcohol should be treated.
Also, are you a doctor?

BoreOfWhabylon Mon 06-May-13 22:59:20

Your GP will take your yellow-tinged eyes seriously - please make an appointment asap, even if the yellow disappears after a few 'dry' days. Your liver function needs checking.

BinksToEnlightenment Mon 06-May-13 23:02:21

I don't think an inability to stop after one or two is a sign of anything. I can't stop after one or two and neither can anyone I know. The old 'we'll just go for one drink' nonsense.

OP, I don't think it sounds like the drink is the problem. It's the pedestal you've put it on. You aren't drinking excessively. But it does need to be less important to you.

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 23:02:33

I am not a doctor. But I am an alcoholic and have much experience both of AA and GPs attitudes and to accessing help from the services.

lookingfoxy Mon 06-May-13 23:04:44

I could be the op as well, I could happily drink everyday but managed to cut myself down to a bottle of wine spread over 2 nights. I'm pregnant just now so haven't had anything for 8 months. Its definitely an unhealthy way to think about it and crave it so much though, I don't know what the solution is either.

Helltotheno Mon 06-May-13 23:10:09

I know plenty of people who attend AA and started attending for drinking habits that were more minor than the OP's. It's also about what you feel yourself about your attitude to alcohol... they're not there at the door turning you away because you're not 'alcoholic' enough.
But you're entitled to your opinion. I think the OP has a drink problem; you don't. Either way, it doesn't preclude her doing something about it.
Can I just repeat: you don't have to be drinking excessively or continually to have a drink problem.

Also, the OP can go to her GP and get as many tests as she likes, including a liver function test. That's what the GP is there for.

BoreOfWhabylon Mon 06-May-13 23:17:16
Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 23:23:00

You really do not know what you are talking about. Have you ever tried to access help for alcohol problems from a GP? They would first ask you about consumption levels. The consumption levels here are ridiculously low. They will give you a liver function test. At these levels, the liver function test is guaranteed to come back normal. If you push very very hard, you might get referred to a dependency unit. Most GPs will tell you that they are not equipped to deal with alcohol issues. In fact I doubt the referral would be forthcoming at these consumption levels.

I can tell you what happens at dependency units if you like. It isn't very helpful, since these units also deal with people mainlining heroin. A minor interest in alcohol (and trust me, given their frames of reference, this is a very minor interest in alcohol) is not going to be their major priority. You will be entitled to 2 sessions or so with a nurse who will counsel you on avoiding alcohol, and a prescription will be available for a drug that makes you allergic to alcohol. They will also suggest some vitamin b. Jolly good. You will get as much benefit from that as you would a trip to your local pharmacist to buy vitamin b tablets.

BoreOfWhabylon Mon 06-May-13 23:26:39

The consumption levels are not ridiculously low and the OP has symptoms of liver damage (yellow eyeballs after binge).

OP, please see your GP.

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 23:36:55

I'm a recovering alcoholic, sober thanks to AA.
Try stopping and see how you feel. If you can't stop, or find yourself acting out in other ways, that would indicate you have a problem.
I wouldn't go to AA with the express intention of finding out that you're not an Alcoholic. I've been to hundreds of meetings and by definition noone is going to tell you you don't need to be there.

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 23:38:56

Oh FFS!!! You are not listening.

Okay, OP. Go to your GP. Listen to the advice of all the people on the thread who have never experienced an alcohol problem. With luck, you'll get a liver function test. Yours will come back normal. Your GP will then explain to you that you don't have a problem with alcohol and that it's all an issue of will-power. You will push hard again and get a referral to an alcohol dependency unit. I've told you what happens there.

The trouble with being well meaning and ignorant, is that you lose a lot of time. AA are better btw, but your problems are so minor (now) that you will not get a lot of attention.

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 23:39:29

Here is a fantastic source of support- Mumsnet thread.

Helltotheno Mon 06-May-13 23:40:09

I suggested that she see her GP to get tests. Not that difficult.
Also, if the OP likes, she can walk into an AA meeting whenever she wants.
Who mentioned high dependency units? The discussion is not about the need for a high-dependency unit, it's about her recognising that she has a problem with alcohol and taking the first steps to do something about it.

Isiolo Mon 06-May-13 23:43:26

Hmm...I'm with wuldric re accessing help through GP. My XH was on 2 bottles of spirits a day, and was just told to go to AA

Once he was hospitalized, they sedated him for 48 hours to get through DTs, and then they told him to go to AA!

He had a liver function test, which came back normal, after years and tears of hard drinking. The doctors said, you are pretty end stage once your liver damage shows on a blood test.

Also, I don't know any alcoholic that could stretch a bottle of wine over more than 1 day. That is really unlikely

however if you feel your drinking is inappropriate, then you should go to AA. Does your drinking interfere with any aspect of your life?

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 23:43:32

What would you suggest the op does wul?
Genuine question grin I could have written her thread about 18 months before I stopped drinking. I think I needed that last year and a bit of drinking to get desperate enough to stop, but I don't know. What would you advise?

Isiolo Mon 06-May-13 23:49:32

helpyourself you did it...suggestion is to stop drinking huh, if she feels she doesn't have a healthy relationship with alcohol?

Isiolo Mon 06-May-13 23:51:00

My apologies help...you went to AA. blush I'll butt out...

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 23:56:11

Not at all. It's a conundrum- I certainly wouldn't have been told to go away if I'd rocked up at AA before I was ready, but sadly I think things to need to get pretty bad before alcoholics can stop.

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 23:58:53

The brave babes is a great thread. Go there.

I've already made my suggestions to the OP. Stop drinking until 21 Sep (minimum), concentrate on eating and drinking healthily. and take some exercise.

Above all, do not believe there is some magic fix-it out there, provided by some external agency. There isn't. It's down to you, matey. But we're here to help.

Isiolo Tue 07-May-13 00:00:06

How useful would AA be at this stage?? I'm thinking, not really. If its Luke AlAnon, its not very direct is it. When you are ready for it, it is the best place to be in the world. But if you aren't really there yet....I imagine OP is looking for something else?

Wuldric Tue 07-May-13 00:05:11

The OP is flirting with alcohol addiction. In a very minor way. I'm just sayin, don't go there.

waterlego Tue 07-May-13 00:14:45

I do think 2 bottles of wine a week is quite a lot, actually. That's 20 units, which, contrary to what some have said, is well over the recommended guidelines for a woman (are you a woman OP?)

But actually, that's not the main issue here. It's the 'thinking about alcohol all the time' that certainly indicated a problem to me. The OP may not be excessive in her consumption but this preoccupation with alcohol isn't healthy, I don't think.

OP, I would second the posters who've suggested you set yourself a target for abstinence and see how you get on, but I also agree that a liver function test sounds like a good idea.

Good for you for confronting this if it makes you feel uncomfortable. All the best.

ImagineJL Tue 07-May-13 07:13:22

I think it is worth seeing your GP.

In my experience as a GP, one of the difficulties with treating alcoholics is that by the time their aberrant drinking behaviour is fully established, they're drunk a lot of the time and therefore counselling is very difficult. It is impossible to discuss why someone drinks, what the underlying anxieties etc are, when someone is either drunk or hungover and craving the next drink.

OP you clearly have some psychological issues, and your method of solving these is by drinking. However, at the moment you make a conscious decision not to drink a huge amount. The underlying problems are still there, and fortunately you haven't yet fully embarked on the "treatment" you feel you want. But I imagine it's only a matter of time, unless you tackle what it is that's making sober life so much less pleasant than being drunk.

So I would ask for anxiety counselling. There's a huge wait of course, but this has been going on for years so a few more weeks won't make any difference.

noddyholder Tue 07-May-13 07:15:21

If you feel powerless over alcohol it's an issue.

Isiolo Tue 07-May-13 07:15:27

It's a 2 year wait in our area for NHS counselling

Coffeeformeplease Tue 07-May-13 07:40:35

JL, that's probably spot on.
finding out about the underlying issues of any addictive behaviour is a long and difficult process.
Then recognising the triggers and finding alternative ways to deal with them another story.

OP if you think you have a problem, you have one.
The amount is irrelevant imo, because it can suddenly go up. Ask your gp for a referal for counselling, even if it takes forever. or go private if you can afford it. The underlying issues won't disappear over night.
Good luck!!

Groovee Tue 07-May-13 07:44:09

My dad had a liver transplant which we thought his liver had been damaged due to excessive drinking over the years. Then we discovered he had Haemacromatosis.

But we asked a question about drinking and the liver specialist gave us this answer "Put 10 people in the room, give them all the same amount of alcohol over a period of time, some will show signs of liver problems while it won't affect others at all. Everyone is different and how it affects each person is down to the individual and not something we can medically calculate."

A liver function test is easy to do. I have mine checked yearly due to the family history.

Good luck OP, admitting you may have a problem is a huge step and the first step in approaching the problem.

Oblomov Tue 07-May-13 08:00:05

I find this thread OTT about Op.
Although I certainly don't think about alcohol during the day. Plus it is not the only thing that relaxes me.
Or if it isn't, then I too have a problem. I can not drink for ages and then drink lots. I can have a whole bottle of low alcohol rose that can last days. Yet I can get a tiny bit tipsy and giggly. Neither of these things do I think is a problem.
All these people saying op may be an addict and needs to go and see her Gp? Seriously? Over 2 bottles of wine a week? I think those posters need a reality check. Do you have experience of what a GP might say? I agree with Wuldric.

Swiish Tue 07-May-13 08:01:01

Hi all, thanks again for your posts. I really appreciate it.

Blood tests two years ago showed I had a raised alk phos level and inflamed liver, but the gp said it probably wasn't alcohol related. It didn't improve so I had an ultrasound, but I believe that was normal. I'll call the GP today to ask about liver function tests.

Thanks again everyone.

Oblomov Tue 07-May-13 08:02:18

2 bottles = 20 units? Really. I'm drinking the wrong wine!!

It's not just how much she drinks its her attitude to alcohol that's concerning. She needs to flag it up with her gp even if she can't access further help now. Plus if she's anything like my mum she will have lied about her consumption anyway. (Apologies op if this isn't true)
My mum probably drinks less than op now though can still put it away if she is socialising but she's still an alcoholic. And always will be.

Swiish Tue 07-May-13 08:07:56

Sorry, I meant to say, yes i'm a woman.

BegoniaBampot Tue 07-May-13 08:14:19

Oblomov - Your attitude to alcohol sounds nothing like the OP's. It's not the amount that is the issue here but it could be if the loosens the reigns.

Helltotheno Tue 07-May-13 08:19:37

Op were you completely honest with your gp about your alcohol consumption, ie did you tell him or her what you've told us? I ask because people tend not to be in these situations. I can't think of any other reason the gp would have told you those raised levels were not down to alcohol or at the very least, that it was a possibility.

Anyway I wish you the best of luck wherever you do. ...

Crunchymunchyhoneycakes Tue 07-May-13 08:24:17

The only requirement for membership of AA is a desire to stop drinking. You don't need to 'know' you're an alcoholic to attend AA, if you think it might help go to a few meetings and listen out for identification, you'll soon know if you're in the right place or not. It's nothing to do with how much or how often you drink.

noddyholder Tue 07-May-13 08:29:41

My dp is an alcoholic he gave up drinking over 20 years ago It isn't about volume or daytime drinking it is about what alcohol does to you and the op has admitted she can't just have one or two without a compulsion to continue.

TheRealFellatio Tue 07-May-13 08:37:18

Two bottles a week does not sound excessive to me but if you find it almost impossible to just have a glass or two and then leave the rest of the bottle alone, or find yourself opening a second one just for you, at home, in order to relax, then that is not a healthy relationship with alcohol. Even if it is not on a daily basis.

Featherbag Tue 07-May-13 08:46:11

It would be sensible to repeat your LFTs even just because of your historical abnormal result. Regarding the alcohol, you do not have to be dependent on alcohol to have an alcohol use disorder, and based on what the OP has said, it sounds like she may have one. I also wonder if the 2 bottles a week is entirely accurate, as people with AUDs very often minimise their drinking while 'confessing' other aspects of their lifestyle in order to gain reassurance that they don't have 'a problem'. There are many agencies that can help you OP, you do not have to be alcohol dependent and a lot of people don't get on with AA's spiritual element. Your GP can certainly carry out LFTs and signpost you to an appropriate service to help you progressing along the spectrum of alcohol use disorders.

ImagineJL Tue 07-May-13 13:19:07

Oblomov it's not about the amount consumed. It's about the manner in which it's drunk and the emotions surrounding it.

Someone walking along a cliff path could just be someone having a relaxing stroll, or they could be someone about to jump off the cliff. It's not the walk that is worrying, it's the mindset they're in that can be dangerous.

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