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Alcoholic? Or just a normal drinker? Advice please??

(99 Posts)
Bankie Thu 17-Jul-08 21:52:00

I have name changed for this, sorry..

In every aspect of my life i am happy. Fabulous DH, 2 great kids, big house, flash car etc etc (meaningless i know). Dont have to work and stay at home with toddler son whilst older boy at school.

The problem is i have a terribly alcoholic older sister. She has lost everything due to her drinking, her children, her marriage, home, possesions, everything. She's been a chronic alcoholic for about 15 years and is, at the moment, in "recovery" yet again in a hideously expensive celebrity style rehab, funded by my mother. I try, but we don't have the greatest relationship in the world.

I myself like a drink. In fact i drink at least 3 glasses of wine every night. Apart from maybe one dry night a week. I drink as soon as the kids are in bed, never before (about 7pm) to relax and have a nice evening. About 2 nights of the 7 (at the weekend) i will get proper pissed, the rest of the time i get pissed enough to feel a bit woozy but don't do anything serious or out of control. I do suffer from hideous memory loss though after the 3rd glass and often lie awake at 4am trying to remember going to bed...

My reason for writing is this: Having had this alcoholic sister issue for so many years and having talked about her endlessly with my mum and Al-Anon for all these years, i wonder if my view on my own drinking has been somehow clouded by my experiences with her. It has consumed our family for so long. I know so much about problem drinking that i feel such HUGE guilt at drinking myself and wonder all the time whether i am headed the same way. Friends i have who drink the same amount as me feel that their drinking is "social" and "normal" and don't suffer the same guilt as me. I feel i can't enjoy my drinking as i should be able to as i am constantly questioning whether i am an alcoholic as well. I know i drink way over the set limits - probably 5 bottles a week. So my health MUST be in jeopardy. I keep saying i must not drink again ever, because of the mess my sister got into, but i just cant get out of this habit.

Any thoughts you might have would be realy appreciated...

Booboobedoo Thu 17-Jul-08 21:57:28

You don't sound like an alcoholic (my Dad is), but you do sound like you could do with talking to al-anon. I'm sure you've already heard of them, but they're a support group for relatives/friends of alcoholics.

They could try to help you sort out your feelings with regards to your sister and your own drinking,

My sympathies: I know how hard it can be. I personally have a big problem with my DH being drunk. He drinks quite moderately, but I find it very hard to deal with (poor sod).

berolina Thu 17-Jul-08 22:02:53

Tbh you do drink too much IMO, and your drinking every or almost every night 'to relax and have a nice evening' struck me. You might not be an 'alcoholic', as many imagine the term, but you could possibly be a dependent drinker.

Why not try to do without for a week and see how you do? That might help you assess your drinking.

Carmenere Thu 17-Jul-08 22:04:33

Well five bottles a week is really quite a lot and not remembering going to bed is problematic. I suspect that your three glasses are pretty large. If I were you (and I am fond of a glass of wine too) I would cut down drastically for a good while to give your body a break and to see how you cope mentally without it.

expatinscotland Thu 17-Jul-08 22:07:05

someone will be along soon to spraff about units and other figures the government has made up.

my philosophy has always been this: if you're to the point where you're asking this question, you already know the answer.

zippitippitoes Thu 17-Jul-08 22:08:48

yes you drink a lot

try stopping and see whether you can or whether it is too hard and you find reasons/excuses to drink

undoubtedly you are drinking enough to bad for you

Saggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 17-Jul-08 22:13:58

I agree that you don't sound like a alcoholic - although how does an alcoholic sound?

You obviously are concerned about how much you drink and probably should make a concerted effort to drink less. You recognise that. Saying you must not drink again ever is probably unrealistic though; having another dry night and not getting proper pissed would be a start. And I think it's unhelpful to compare yourself to likeminded drinkers - it's smacks of looking for confirmation that what you are drinking is OK. There are plenty of people who drink as much or more than you but that doesn't mean that it's OK.

I have had issues with booze myself though and recognise that as a 'reformed' drinker I can be a bit evangelical about it. smile

IHadABetterNameButYouStoleIt Thu 17-Jul-08 22:15:51

there is such a thing as timed alocholism (im almost sure there is anyway) its where you need a drink at a certain time of day but not other times and you would display signs of withdrawel as an alcoholic would if that drink was unavailable. i really do think that you need to osrt this before its starts spiralling!

limit your drinking to one night a week

slim22 Thu 17-Jul-08 22:19:01

I think you already know the answer.
Get help now.
Take care

tiredlady Thu 17-Jul-08 22:19:07

You are drinking more than is safe.

Try stopping for 2 weeks - total abstnence, and see what happens.

Elibean Thu 17-Jul-08 22:20:19

ditto what expat says...and as for 'sounding like an alcoholic', I'm not too sure what that means: no one thought I was one, but I am hmm

IME, its v v hard for family members (especially children) of alcoholics to have a clear sense of their own drinking - drink is a blurred issue, with blurry boundaries, if you have an alcoholic in the family.

So good for you for questioning. My dh used to work in addiction counselling, and he gave clients who weren't sure about their drinking questionnaires to fill out...if you want support in your questioning, I would imagine the celeb rehab your sister is in would happily provide you with a similar questionnaire, and maybe a 'family meeting' (at no extra cost, I would hope!!) for you to talk about your concerns.

Wishing you the best in answering your own questions.

zippitippitoes Thu 17-Jul-08 22:21:09

drinking at this kind of level is more likely to increase than decrease unless you make a determined effort

you recognise that so now is the time to make the necessary effort to chasnge

find things to do instead to break the pattern/habit

osborne Thu 17-Jul-08 22:25:13

I am the same situation. My dad is an alcoholic too. My sister hasn't lost everything and appears to be doing ok now. I think I am probably as bad as they are but now know how to hide it.

LackaDAISYcal Thu 17-Jul-08 22:27:13

there is a difference between being an alcoholic and being a dependant drinker.

do you find yourself thinking about your first drink in the afternoon? do you get panicky if there isn't any alcohol in the house? and do you go out of your way to get some if there isn't any.

I class myself as a dependant drinker as I was doing all of those things, but it was getting worse and i was starting to hide the empties from my DH who is only home at weekends, which seemed like the start of a slippery slope. I was drinking almost a bottle of wine a night and was in sole charge of two DC blush.

I found out I was pregnant about a week after I decided to do something about it, and although I have the occasional glass, I know that my drink problem is still there waiting to rear its ugly head after the baby is born.

I think you might be becoming dependant on alcohol, rather than being an alcoholic, but it's good that you are aware of it and feel that you might need to do something about it. Your friends who drink this amount socially with no guilt might actually be deluding themselves.

Can you talk to AlAnon about it and see what their perspective is?

LackaDAISYcal Thu 17-Jul-08 22:28:28

<glad she didn't mention units> wink

zippitippitoes Thu 17-Jul-08 22:29:21

what is the difference between a dependant drinker and an alcoholic

i dont understand that

Bankie Thu 17-Jul-08 22:33:49

Thank you all for your thoughts. I kidded myself you would all write helpful things regarding my feelings about my sister rather than my own actual drinking. blush...

Tiredlady, i honestly don't think i could not drink for 2 weeks. Perhaps 4 days... what does that say?...

Osborne, thank you for writing, i am sitting here also hiding the fact that i have had my 3 (large) glasses from DH who has been busy with his hobbies this eve. I am trying to be completely sober, and doing a good job at it! I don't think anyone actually knows what i drink (although im not sneaky about doing it).

I do know what you are all saying and it scares me. I don't want to admit - the SHAME!

madamez Thu 17-Jul-08 22:34:40

It's going to be extra-stressful for you because of your sister's problems, so you might benefit from some sort of counselling or support just to talk through how you feel. When one person in a family has a major problem, it's easy for other people's issues to get a bit sidelined, because everything begins to revolve around the Problem and the person who has it.
With regard to your actual drinking: I have been accustomed to fairly heavy drinking myself, but cut down after having DS nd though I still like a drink now if I think it's creeping up a bit I cut down again - so it doesnt have to be all or nothing.
Good luck.

osborne Thu 17-Jul-08 22:37:47

I've recently done family therapy sessions at a similar place with my sister and think its quite easy talk yourself into having a problem that may not be that unmangeable. Having an alcoholic family history does make any drink an issue.
I've decided to have counselling before I become like my sister and dad. I know its there and I don't want to pass our lack of control to my kids. I must be possible to learn to manage it and teach them in a way we weren't.
I didn't even kike drinking until I was about 20.

zippitippitoes Thu 17-Jul-08 22:37:52

it is possible to deceive yourself a little because yiur sis has the bigger problem so by contrast you dont seem to have one

questioning what you are drinking and feeling things could be quite duifficult if you were to try and abstain is a marker for you

if you feel you need help then ask for it

would you consider discussing it with your dh

tiredlady Thu 17-Jul-08 22:42:52

The term "alcoholic" doesn't actually mean anything.

Alcohol dependence is the phrase/diagnosis that is now used.

The features of alcohol dependence are:

withdrawal symptoms

craving for alcohol

relief drinking

narrowing of drinking repetoire (instead of going out and drinking in social settings, people stay in, drink on their own etc)

Reinstatement of old drinking patterns after a period of abstinence (if people have been drinking heavily and stop, when they satrt again they are unable to drink in moderation and very quickly go back to previous patterns of heavy drinking)

Alcohol assuming importance over other things in life

Body becoming increasingly tolerant to alcohol

osborne Thu 17-Jul-08 22:45:17

Have also had three large glasses. I expect to just wakt up one day and not want a drink but it isn't going to happen. I never really drink in the day and don't drink huge amounts in the evening but its a steady drip drip.

tiredlady Thu 17-Jul-08 22:47:42


why do you not think you could give up for 2 weeks. Does that seem too long?

osborne Thu 17-Jul-08 22:48:27

or maybe thats normal for lots of people. i rarely go out and get hammered. a whole bottle of wine is my limit.
perhaps its become such an issue it can never feel normal

Bankie Thu 17-Jul-08 22:59:47

Tiredlady, honestly (and i am being very honest in all of this, especialy as its all anonymous) i am not sure i fulfil many of the alcoholic criteria apart from maybe craving for alcohol (at 7pm). If aything, as i get older i have a decrease in tolerance to alcohol - get pissed quicker and these damn memory blocks.. If i am mega hungover i dont drink again that evening to get over it, i go to bed. I don't think i am an alcoholic, but i think i do have a drinking habit that i am finding it hard to break and which could get worse with time.

Osborne, were we seperated at birth?! I am finding everybodys comments very interesting and helpful, but yours are especially interesting for me. I am not seeking absolution from guilt or for the "OK" to carry on as i am, but am wandering somewhere in a No Mans Land and your experences seem to mirror mine, which makes me feel less alone. ..

Bankie Thu 17-Jul-08 23:02:16

Osborne, one bottle is my limit also. But youre right in that it is such an issue in our family i can't believe its normal either.

zippitippitoes Thu 17-Jul-08 23:02:36

i think not drinking on the days you have a hangover is not really an indication that you are not becoming dependant on alcohol

osborne Thu 17-Jul-08 23:11:25

It is lonely isn't it. My sisters stint at rehab (only one so far) is fairly recent and it was really frightening. I don't want that to be me, but can feel the shock wearing off a bit and slipping back down that path.

I feel too ashamed to ask for help, particularly with my sister's problem. I can just imagine the "surely you know better" comments.

My dh is great but its just not something he can understand, try as he might.

Is totally confusing.

Perhaps three consecutive days off per week as a start. We could try together.

madamez Thu 17-Jul-08 23:13:12

I think a useful guide to drinking becoming a problem is that it's becoming a problem ie you are falling out with other people over it, not being able to function properly (constant hangovers, being too pissed to do stuff that needs doing) or spending more than you can afford. The memory blackouts do sound as though you need to start cutting down: having one of those say, once a year after your birthday party would not indicate an ongoing problem, having it once a week does suggest that something needs to change.

noddyholder Thu 17-Jul-08 23:25:46

a dependant drinker is an alcoholic and vice versa.It doesn't sound so stereo typical old man in the gutter swigging at 10 in the morning etc and is a more media friendly term but it is the same thing.If you have to question or moderate yoou need to look at it.good luck to the op for being brave enough to address this.I think you are drinking a lot Stop for a month and see what issues that raises if any xx

noddyholder Thu 17-Jul-08 23:28:51

Alcoholism is nothing about quantities and everything about how it makes you feel and the compulsion to do it even though it is doing you no good and impacting on your life negatively.

MrsMacaroon Fri 18-Jul-08 00:33:48

memory blocks and becoming pissed quickly are very serious signs that you have a problem...your body is starting to have problems breaking down the alcohol which means your liver is becoming affected.

there's no point trying to define your dependency perfectly- you drink too much and are dependent. some people can manage their alcohol dependency and become what's known as a 'functioning alcoholic' and some can't, the drink takes over and the alcoholic is revealed more quickly. i sometimes think the functioning alcoholic is in a worse position as by the time anyone's noticed, their addiction may have been active for decades and their health may be severely compromised. often partners turn a blind eye to this type of drinking as it's a bit of a grey area and it maybe easier to have a quiet life or perhaps they have a large alcohol intake also and don't wish to change their lifestyle.

i hope you remain honest with yourself and value yourself highly enough to tackle this properly.

Sunflower100 Fri 18-Jul-08 08:36:45

Have you tried talking to your dh about how he can help you to overcome some of this and to cut down. I suspect he knows that there is a problem,

Booboobedoo Fri 18-Jul-08 10:37:39

MrsMacaroon: my Dad is a 'functioning alcoholic'.

In fact, when he was finally persuaded to try AA, after a lot of heartfelt family conversations, he found everyone there talking about needing a drink first thing in the morning and decided he couldn't be an alcoholic after all.

Years of empty vodka bottles hidden under the bath/in the veg patch and ruined family parties apparently don't count.

Turniphead1 Fri 18-Jul-08 10:59:23

bankie I don't have anything to add save that my drinking habits are almost identical to yours. I am pg with no.3 and almost one of the reasons I wanted to get pg again was to stop drinking too much in the evenings! I had no problem at all stopping and I don't crave alcohol now at all - have had maybe 5 glasses of wine in 17 weeks. Part of me thinks, hmmm maybe I don't have a problem as I was able to stop.

My Dad is an alcoholic - on the wagon for 20 odd years and then fallen off 3 times in the past year. Sometimes I think it is unhelpful having a "full on" alcoholic in the family - you almost always look good by comparison grin.

I try and block out how much I drink - three large glasses - up to three quarters of a bottle and say "oh, lots of people drink that much". Well they do, but it doesn't mean it's a good thing. My Dh would often join me but only have one glass. I can never have just one glass when not pg - it always has to be 2 or 3. Not enough to be hungover in the morning but enough to feel groggy and probably be more ratty with my DC than I need to be.

Has your DH ever said anything about how much your drink? My DH has never said anything - he is a very non-confrontational - but I know he thought I drank too much. He made the odd joke and know that given my family history he would be worried.

I am really going to try, after this baby is born, to limit myself to only having wine at the weekends. My biggest fear is that I am a full on alco and will need to give up completely. Would hate that as am genuine wine buff and would miss it (not just because am a lush!).

Best of luck in taking control of this.

MrsMacaroon Fri 18-Jul-08 11:56:24

booboobedoo- i take it he's still drinking then?

so many people have a narrow minded perception of what alcoholism is...very sad

TheProvincialLady Fri 18-Jul-08 12:06:51

The question is Bankie, what are you going to do about this? It doesn't matter whether you are already an alcoholic or dependent drinker, or on the way to being one. You clearly have a problem or you would not be posting this. You clearly drink in an unhealthy way and carrying on like this will wreck your health. So what are you going to do about it?smile

Booboobedoo Fri 18-Jul-08 12:13:25

MrsMacaroon: he certainly is.

He's tried to stop recently, but won't seek any help.

Sorry for the hijack, Bankie. I think my point is that alcoholism comes in many forms, and imo it is ALWAYS a good idea to seek outside opinion/help (however humiliating it may seem).

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 16:57:34

Thank you for your comments. I can say though that i don't find comments like "you are already an alcoholic" and "your liver is damaged" and "what are you going to do about it" particularly helpful. I know you must be well-meaning, but as i already know i drink too much i don't think i need to be spoken to that way, especially when you don't know me or pertty much anything about my personal circumstances.

Turnip and Osborne on the other hand are people who have identified with me and shared their personal experiences without laying a guilt trip on me, labeling me a Alcoholic in Denial (i have all those leaflets from Al-Anon btw).

Thank you Turnip for your thoughts. I also have completely given up the wine through both of my pgs apart from the odd spritzer here and there. Not hard to do and made me also think that perhaps i am in control of it after all. I am also in fear of having to abstain completely. I don't drink crap cheap stuff, but bottles up to a tenner and like you am a bit of a buff.

I do think, like you and Osborne, that there are definite family tendancies, and that it makes you analyse your drinking too much and tht makes you worry more. My friend who drinks as much as me knows my alcoholc fears and says its all cos of my sister tat i feel so bad about it. She has no fears about herself, not one.

I have never been in trouble due to drinking, never had rows about it, never done it in secret, never taken days off work, never drunk in the day, can go 1 or 2 nights a week without it. I think all it is is i work hard looking after kids, the house, life in general, and i am vaguely BORED. Bored of watching TV in the evenings and a great way to relax is with the wine. Rather than thinking i am an alcoholic with an enormous problem, i think that essentially i DRINK A BIT TOO MUCH THAN I SHOULD. But i am wracked with guilt becasue of my sister (my mum wouldn't be able to cope f i told her i drank too much too, although my sister and I are in no way comparable.

I have thought long and hard today. Most of your comments have been great, a few hurtful, pious and presumptuous. I have spent a lot of time crying, told my DH who was so lovely, but reckons i am not an alcoholic, but i just need to cut down.

I feel so much better. Going on holiday tomorrow for 2 weeks. Going to have a few glasses whilst away with dinner but not every night and jut retrain myself with my DHs support.

I know i will now probably get lots of vitriolic stuff about denial, but i hope not.

Good luck Osborne and Turnip. I will always reply if ever you want to contact me. xx

TheProvincialLady Fri 18-Jul-08 17:08:44

Well if you start a thread like this then you have to expect a variety of replies. You posted as someone who drinks far too much. I'm glad you are going to do something about it, ie try and cut down, and I wish you well. It's a shame you saw my post as "hurtful, pious and presumptious" but there you go. Trying to help someone who is not 100% sure they have a problem is always going to put them on the defensive - I know as I have been that person myself. Best of luck to you.

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 17:26:03

Thank you TPL. And you're right. Sorry.. x

TheProvincialLady Fri 18-Jul-08 17:29:39

No problemsmile

Elibean Fri 18-Jul-08 18:17:02

Good for you for making a plan and talking to your dh, Bankie - the important thing is, you know where to get support if ever you find yourself in a position where cutting down with family/friends support doens't work. Hopefully you'll never be in that place, but its not the end of the world if it happens smile

Have a wonderful holiday!

ps I'd tend to worry more about your friend's drinking than yours, given that you've been worried about the levels you drink and she has no fears at all. If that makes any sense.

zippitippitoes Fri 18-Jul-08 18:20:56

im sorry if you didnt find replies helpful it is always difficult to answer posts like this

MrsMacaroon Fri 18-Jul-08 18:37:11

think the whole tone of your reply was a tad defensive but i don't take it husband is actually a problem drinker and stopped without assistance/support groups/AA etc. He drank too much- didn't wake up craving drink, could go without, could hold down a job. When he drank however he pretty much always drank too much and felt out of control of it. He started having memory blocks when drinking and that was his wake up call. I am from an alcoholic background (father) so understand the ins and outs of co-dependency etc

No-one wants you to have a problem and you should never rely on the word of another person who drinks to excess. I also think you may be (perhaps) subconsciously using your sister's alcoholism as a kind of double bluff...after all if her drinking had really made you analyse your drinking pattern, you would have cut down by now. Perhaps by having someone who will probably always be in a worse way gives you less reason to address YOUR drinking.

Whether you like it or not, memory blocks and feeling drunk quickly after years of too much alcohol is a bad sign that your liver may be having difficulty. Ask any GP or addiction professional. Not a criticism- as you say I don't know you and have no axe to grind...just a fact and I hope you can take my post in the spirit it is intended. Good luck with cutting down.

BlaDeBla Fri 18-Jul-08 19:06:07

I think you hit a nail on the head, Bankie - BORED - All that time to fill, all that meaningless tv, all that stuff.... I drink far less when I am occupied. At the mo, I am trying to find an occupation!

I'm finding it quite hard too - I haven't fallen into the pit, but it can be a bit of a knife-edge. My dad's family are not all raging alcoholics but they are all completely mad, and a lot of alcohol is used (medicinally of course).hmm

I hope you stop feeling guilty about drinking. It is hard at the moment when we have a government bent on telling us what to do and how to behave.

Have a fantastic holiday

pamelat Fri 18-Jul-08 19:08:26

I havent read through everyone's responses but I was once told that if you need a drink to relax then you have a drink "problem" - this makes almost everyone I know an alcoholic

My DH drinks every day, sometimes only one glass of wine (normally three!) and he thinks I am ridiculous to get 'upset' by it. I just worry for his health.

I drink perhaps one evening a week, but am terrible for binge drinking on the occassional night out - where i effectively drink to be tipsy. You have to ask which is worse really?

I also once read (cant remember where or if I made this uo (!) to tell DH) that you should have 3 24 hour periods a week of not drinking anything to clear your liver .. ?

I don't think that alcoholics "sound" like any particular kind of person.

osborne Fri 18-Jul-08 20:07:53

Agree with the boredom. As a sahm with a husband who works really long hours, it splits night from day.

The first step (as I have been told numerous times) is to acknowledge a (potential) problem, which you have done. That's the hard bit and shows real courage.

Good luck and enjoy your holiday. Let us know how you get on. x

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 20:32:57

Hi !

I find it interesting that people prefer to be 'drink dependant' or have a 'drink problem', 'binge drink' rather than class themselves as being 'alcoholic'.

Seems to me that these are just more socially acceptable ways of describing the same issue. I have a problem with alcohol and will always be an alcoholic as that what it comes down to. You don't have to be drunk out your brain 24/7 to be one. If you find in anyway you have to use alcohol as a way of relaxing each day or needing to use it as a way to get smashed out your face one day a week - you might as well be honest... making excuses for ehy you do it is the first stage : denial ! Hope i dont seem harsh - i dont mean to be ;)

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 20:32:59

Hi !

I find it interesting that people prefer to be 'drink dependant' or have a 'drink problem', 'binge drink' rather than class themselves as being 'alcoholic'.

Seems to me that these are just more socially acceptable ways of describing the same issue. I have a problem with alcohol and will always be an alcoholic as that what it comes down to. You don't have to be drunk out your brain 24/7 to be one. If you find in anyway you have to use alcohol as a way of relaxing each day or needing to use it as a way to get smashed out your face one day a week - you might as well be honest... making excuses for ehy you do it is the first stage : denial ! Hope i dont seem harsh - i dont mean to be ;)

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 20:54:30

Its interesting what you say StarSparkle.

But i do increasingly think it seems to be people (on here) who have aknowledged their own alcoholism who seem to be quick to point the finger at others who aren't perhaps acoholics, but who question their motives for wanting a glass of wine of an evening.

I think you are wrong FWIW, to not make a distinction between someone who drinks 3 glasses of wine to relax, a weekend binge drinker, and someone who drinks vodka for breakfast. You may think its all the same thing and happily lump everyone together as alcoholics. But i think they are entirely separate.

Am in in denial? I don't think so, but i do question your motives for trying to suggest that i am. Does it make you feel better for who you are? This is not a bitchy thing i am asking, i am genuinely interested as to whether aknowlegded alcoholics might be pissed off (envious?)at other people who aren't alcoholics, but who drink a bit too much, but can handle it ok.

Oh God, please don't tear strips off me as its not directed at anyone in particular, its only a valid point of debate and genuinely interesting.

expatinscotland Fri 18-Jul-08 21:06:55

People have been drinking daily (and moderately) for centuries to unwind or relax.

So are they all alcoholics?

Generalisations are like government-by-target: lazy thinking.

NorkyButNice Fri 18-Jul-08 21:08:29

I have wondered recently whether I have too much of a "dependency" on alcohol. Once DS is in bed and I've started cooking dinner, I will pour myself a glass of wine or get DH to make me a G&T at least 5 nights out of the week. When DH suggested we did a couple of weeks off I must admit I got a bit fidgetty and only lasted 6 days.

My worst moment was when I was on maternity leave and DS had been screaming his head off all day and just refused to settle - I drank a third of bottle of wine at 2pm out of a mug (so DH wouldn't find a wine glass in the dishwasher blush).

That was 6 months or so ago and was the only time I've ever done such a thing - it did make me sit up and really think about things though.

Good luck working out your situation Bankie.

ilovemydog Fri 18-Jul-08 21:12:30

There are all sorts of definitions as to what constitutes an alcoholic, but it's a subjective thing for you to decide.

Personally, I would never quote amounts as a criteria.

expatinscotland Fri 18-Jul-08 21:15:22

I think paranoia around 'OMG, am I an alcoholic?' actually fuels binge drinking in this culture.

It's like the American relationship with food as their obesity levels soar towards the stratosphere.

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 21:18:00

No ! Your getting me wrong ! I drink around 4 small glasses of wine a night ! Remember that a bottle of wine only holds 3 large glasses of wine - which is not far off a half bottle of vodka. Im not trying to make myself feel better at all.... but by your replys i feel a bit intimidated ! I grew up in pubs... my dad goes down the pub twice a day and i have worked in pubs as well as care homes and have seen alot of people die from drinking. But i have never drunk during the day at all. I find it funny that people think that alckies drink vodka !

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 21:18:01

No ! Your getting me wrong ! I drink around 4 small glasses of wine a night ! Remember that a bottle of wine only holds 3 large glasses of wine - which is not far off a half bottle of vodka. Im not trying to make myself feel better at all.... but by your replys i feel a bit intimidated ! I grew up in pubs... my dad goes down the pub twice a day and i have worked in pubs as well as care homes and have seen alot of people die from drinking. But i have never drunk during the day at all. I find it funny that people think that alckies drink vodka !

MmeBovary Fri 18-Jul-08 21:19:02

I think it is easy to be in denial. My DH has long commented on the amount I drink. I tell myself that he drinks beer and smokes pot everynight to relax so why should I not have a glass of wine or 2. But with me the 2 glasses is usually a bottle and some nights a bit more. I get up for work in the morning and tell myself it's OK - it;s just cos life is stressful.

So Bankie, I think I have a problem. I'm jealous all right - but of people who can have a glass of wine with dinner, or enjoy a night out occasionally and overdo it and think nothing of it. You say the examples you give are entirely different but I don't believe that is the case. So only you only have a problem if you start needing vodka for breakfast? That is the Eastenders view of a problem drinker!

I reckon there are plenty of us out there who drink far too much to be healthy. But we have jobs and bring up our kids without beating them and spending their food money on cooking sherry.

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 21:19:09


StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 21:21:48

Bankie.... i think you protest too much ! I wasn't refering to you at all .... so why the long post ?

ilovemydog Fri 18-Jul-08 21:22:18

it's the opposite in California smile re: obesity levels.

But agree about the paranoia.

When I was in California last year and pregnant, a waitress refused to serve me a glass of champagne. It was my birthday for goodness sake!

expatinscotland Fri 18-Jul-08 21:23:07

Oh, yes, I lived with a Californian for a couple of years.

Biggest lot of closet drinkers/drug users on the planet, IMO. Pervs, too.

ilovemydog Fri 18-Jul-08 21:26:57

expat, you're east coast, right? smile

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 21:40:25

Average joes who have a drink if they fancy one and can take it or leave it rarely dissect their drinking in this way.My dp is a recovering alcoholic and says he finds it odd that i never know when I am going out if i will have 1 drink or 10 or none because I don't think about it.Most people who have a problem scrutinise their habit and have drinking rules which is a sign something is wrong

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 21:51:08

Please don't get me wrong Star, I meant it in general, not at you in particular. (although re-reading my post i seem to be - sorry.. x) Also re long posts, that just me. I seem not not be able to do 1 or 2 lines!

My sister, a terrible alcoholic who has lost her DH, kids, home, everything, is the classic vodka drinker, goes on 4 day binges in a motel somewhere without sleeping, and people then have to come and rescue her, so she is my comparison to my own situation. I view her as a classic alkie, not me. I think maybe she has clouded my view over the last 10/15 years. Strange that she lived in CA for the last 15 years before being deported last year back to the UK....!

MmeBovery i am also jealous of those that have no problem with the amount they drink, whatever the amount is. My friend Lou, a great housewife and mother, spotless home, great kids, marriage etc drinks the same as me. She feels elated after a great night of fun and wine, as she thinks its a release and therefore nssesary and can't understand my guilt and negatvity, apart from saying i'ts all about my sister....

Norky i don't think you have a dependancy AT ALL for wanting a G&T / glass of wine in the evening, nor for once having it out of a mug in the afternoon. My friend Jo has some wine in a mug at 5pm (before bathtime shock wink, so that the neighbours in her victorian terrace don't see her in the garden with her kids and think she is an alkie. She just likes her wine earlier than me, thats all, and feels she has to hide it. Poor thing. (shes def not an alkie).

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 21:57:40

Noddy, could it not be the case that there are people who scrutinise their drinking habits because of family members who ARE alcoholics that have made them feel guilt/shame for regular normal drinking?

I feel those things due to my sisters problem, but also can quite merrily go out and drink 1 G&T or a whole bottle of wine, which entirely depends on who i'm with and where, rather than KNOWING i will get pissed regardless...

I think i would be an Average Joe and not really give a shit if it were not for my sister and the way her drinking has impacted on our family for 15 years.

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 22:00:59

Can i also just say that this thread has given me so much more than the last 5 years of weekly Al-anon meeting where everyone just seems to slag off "their Alcoholic" endlessly (whom they are supposed to love) and then leave.

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 22:02:35

Yes I am not an expert its just my experience with dp and people i met when he was in AA.They said they were forever planning their drinking and scrutinising it and didn't really enjoy it unless they were going to get drunk.

ilovemydog Fri 18-Jul-08 22:08:02

Hmph - am going to bed. California(ns) are getting slagged off too much here....

expatinscotland Fri 18-Jul-08 22:09:17

i'm from Texas, ilove .

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 22:12:30

No ILMD, not slagging of Californians! Great, laid back people. We lived just outside Oxnard, north of LA during the 70's, which is why my sis went back there more recently. LA is one of my favourite places on the planet. smile

MrsMacaroon Fri 18-Jul-08 22:21:39

bankie- interesting you haven't commented on my post.

i don't really care about definitions but your initial post was very specific...

"Alcoholic or normal drinker?"

Based on the information YOU offered-

-At least 3 large glasses of wine per day
-Memory blocks after third glass, finding yourself at 4am not knowing how you got into bed
-Binge drinking at weekend also
-Not sure if able to go without drink for more than two weeks

I would conclude that you have many signs of having alcohol dependency. Your sister is irrelevant and I can't see what she has to do with your behaviour except that you seem to almost want it to be her fault that you feel guilt or shame.

This is bringing out the co-dependent in me so I'm not going to post any more on this thread.

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 22:28:07

MrsM, my original very specific post was based on how i felt at that moment. Over the last 24 hours i have thought and thought and talked a lot and my feelings have evolved and are some way to being resolved. I don't think that my sister is irrelavent at all but i agree that i have some kind of dependancy, just not sure what. I'm really sorry if i've pissed you off.

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 22:28:38

No worries Bankie - sorry i seem to have misjudged you . It's just hard to hear from someone from the recieving end of living with a user. We all get pissed off. I wish i wasn't the way i am. I have lived with dependance of drugs and drink for years and my DP has stuck by me - also it has never stoped me looking after my DD- in the last 10 yrs the only time i kept sober was when i was pregnant. Now i have been dry due to my lovely DD grin

StarSparkle Fri 18-Jul-08 22:28:40

No worries Bankie - sorry i seem to have misjudged you . It's just hard to hear from someone from the recieving end of living with a user. We all get pissed off. I wish i wasn't the way i am. I have lived with dependance of drugs and drink for years and my DP has stuck by me - also it has never stoped me looking after my DD- in the last 10 yrs the only time i kept sober was when i was pregnant. Now i have been dry due to my lovely DD grin

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 22:32:00

If it's any help to you Bankie, I would say my drinking habits were almost identical to you. I got myself into the habit of drinking more or less every night... either g&t or wine and they were rather large measures! When I woke in the morning, I was perfectly functioning but mouth felt like the bottom of a bird cage.... smile

I questioned myself and thought I was bordering on being alcoholic but didnt really know. All I knew was that I have an addicitive personality.. I could eat too much, drink too much, do just about anything too much - it's my nature.

Anyway, the point of my post is...I went on a health and fitness kick and was desperate to lose weight cos alcohol is actually 'empty' calories and I was getting v fat. I decided to pour a glass of Ame or Schloer (non alcoholic) into a wine glass and 'pretend' it was wine. I did this for 5 nights of the week. On the other two nights I got pretty pissed. But it worked for me. I lost 4.5 stones and I feel tons better. For the first time in my life I feel I am in control of my drinking for 5 nights of the week. Okay, I'm not perfect because I am desperate for a drink by 6pm on a Friday but it is better than it was before.

posieflump Fri 18-Jul-08 22:35:29

wow helliebean - 4.5 stone! that's fab smile

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 22:37:32

thank youuuuuuu smile
Alcohol is pretty damn fattening (and pretty damn good fun too!)

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 22:39:40

That helps a lot Helliebean, cos thats exactly what i am thinking of doing full time, only with diet coke or lilt wink.
I am doing Weight Watchers at the mo and have lost a stone already (from a 14 to a 12 - yay!) but know that the weeks i do well and lose are the weeks i haven't drunk as much so its worth it.

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 22:43:50

Oh yes Bankie it will be worth it.

If someone had said to me.. see if you can not have a drink for 2 weeks... I would have got drunk just thinking about it! Completely impossible. You have to find something that works for you. I think I could easily be bordering on alcoholic and, believe me, if I can do it, you can.

I always had a drink every night when the DCs were in bed or had quietened down. It was my 'treat' for coping with the day and it spiralled out of control. I was easily drinking 3 large glasses of wine a night, or 2 huge g&t's. But it is only habit. You have to break the habit of every night and only drink at weekends or something. I am sure that it would be said that I should abstain totally, but that was impossible for me.

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 22:51:29

I think that managing drinking only has a certain lifespan if you are truly an alcoholic.

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 22:54:39

Well.. this has been working for me for about 4 years now. It's pretty damn impressive for me! (don't even know if I am an alcoholic anyway)

I think that, some people in life have addictive personalities and some people don't. I do everything to extremes given half the chance. Whether that makes someone alcoholic, I have no idea.

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 23:00:59

I think you have done brilliantly but the concern is that you are desperate for a drink by the weekend.Do you think you can do this indefintely It is an interesting thery actually.What if you went to a do or something on a tuesday would you have a drink?And do you get drunk now or just have a couple Sorry if too nosey just tell me to sod off but am truly interested

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 23:02:05

I agree Hellie, My DH smoked 30 fags a day until he gave up using Champix (a drug that has 100% success rate) but continued to smoke about 3 spliffs every evening. (Company director, educated, clever. Not interested in drink AT ALL, but likes his weed to relax). He's now started smoking fags again sad but he has that kind of addictive personality too. Its just that his addictions are more acceptable somehow. He can smoke a fag at 9am, but if i had a glass of wine then it would mean a whole different thing! I am slightly addictive, not to drugs though, although have doine a few in my earlier years, but food, sex, wine, nail biting, QVC, Mumsnet.. ha!

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 23:04:37

Noddy... no problem. If I met friends on, say a Tuesday, even if I wasn't driving, I would probably have just one, or even none. But I tend to go out just at weekends. It was my 'home' drinking that was a problem IMHO.

Now, I tend to drink under a bottle of wine on a friday and saturday if staying in, usually with a nice meal with DH. Probably more if going out. But I do have a huge capacity so that is pretty good for me!

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 23:06:12

My dp has none he has to because he knows eventually where it will lead and he only wants to get drunk no other reason to drink.

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 23:08:21

I know what you mean Bankie. There was a period when I could see me becoming addicted to losing weight smile. It made me feel good to be hungry and I could understand how an anorexics mind might work because of it.

It didnt last long but I could see it was something that could go out of control with me if I let it.

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 23:09:19

Noddy, i agree its v interesting, but should it be so awful to be so pleased to have something pleasurable at the weeknd if you've abstained from it all week? Just the same as having a Chinese on a Friday night if you're trying to lose a bit of weight, no? (like i do after my WW weigh in!)

I think if you went to a do on a Tuesday then it would be OK to drink a few as its an "event". Its sitting on your sofa in front of Big Brother on a Tuesday downing a bottle that is more bothersome i think.

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 23:09:33

Is your DH alcoholic do you think Noddy?

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 23:12:11

yes my dp is an alcoholic He hasn't had a drink for 16 yrs though so is way down the line in his recovery.

Bankie Fri 18-Jul-08 23:15:03

Wow Noddy thats brilliant. My sister has been sober only since March, but is on the 12th step now for the 1st time, and i have HUGE hopes and admiration for her now after 15 years of despair.

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 23:15:42

Well done to him, Noddy. He could never have been just a weekend drinker then, could he? Forgive me if I am putting my foot in it.

Believe it or not, I havent had a drink tonight cos I am on really strong antibiotics that react badly with alcohol so it has now been 6 days since I have had anything....

noddyholder Fri 18-Jul-08 23:20:56

No although he didn't drink every day and tried several systems like weekends only or only 3 drinks but learned in AA that for him it was all about why he needed to drink to oblivion and what that was masking.Alcoholics have very specific behaviours and without fail he always felt dpressed the next day and wracked with guilt even if he had done nothing.He wold assume that he had been horrendous when drunk even when he wasn't and had black outs.As soon as alcohol is in his system he is powerless over it and he just wants more.He always says 1 is too many and 10 isn't enough!We have anormal life though I love wine and we are very social party people

chenin Fri 18-Jul-08 23:30:06

What courage. I am so impressed.

Elibean Sat 19-Jul-08 10:04:27

Good news re your sister, Bankie, I'm glad for her, and for you!

Recovery is a gooood place to be. I've had much more fun in the second half of my life smile

Tapster Sat 19-Jul-08 11:13:29

I do think a SAHM life can be stressful and monotonous and a glass of wine at the end of the day easily becomes a reward. I tend to drink very regularly most night but only one or two small glasses of wine and never really go above that even at the weekends as my body doesn't tolerate it. As a wine buff too I only really really appreciate the first glass or two. The rest is a bit of an aneasthetic.

I do once in a while do two weeks without drinking and I find it much easier than I thought. But I did not feel better or sleep better but I do lose some weight.

I think doing an exercise class/going to the gym in the evening when you DH is home could well help stop reaching for that glass of wine. You have to drag yourself there but you will feel better for it.

I think the fact that you recognise you drink too much means that half the problem is solved. I do think that there are alot of women out there with a similar problem but most are honest with themselves by totting up the glasses/bottles.

BlaDeBla Sat 19-Jul-08 11:49:22

I have met other women with breast cancer who wonder if it could have been the alcohol that triggered it. In truth, nobody knows for sure. I was asked if I drank when I was in hospital and they were looking for bowel cancer but found colitis. It is very scary when your health is on the line like that.

Alcohol can affect EVERY major organ, but nobody knows which one or when it will be damaged, if at all.

I think it's pretty random, and those in the know don't really know who will be affected by alcohol or how much they will need. 14 units is a pretty random amount, plucked from the sky, as an amount which is unlikely to be particularly dangerous to most people.

Turniphead1 Sun 20-Jul-08 19:50:56

Bankie - didn't respond to your kind post to me few pages back. Thanks for the support. And to you. It's interesting to hear some of the reactions to your OP.

I personally DO think that there is a distinction between full alcoholism and dependent drinking. Having had 20 years of living with an alcoholic who was "functioning" just about - but drinking during the day/hiding bottles all over the house/engaging in emotionally abusive behaviour I recognise that there are varying degrees in the spectrum. But I think true alcoholism is a disease - albeit one where the "cure" lies within the sufferers own hands. I think the distinction may be that the true alcoholic displays other behaviours in life - some of which can be almost more damaging than the drinking. My Dad had/continues to have the most amazing lack of self-awareness and ability to put his head in the sand. Although dry for 20 years he was a "dry drunk" and his alcoholic behaviour continued unabated (he just substituted other things for alcohol - largely failed business ventures and computer games). That was because he never fully did his recovery and now of course he has fallen off the wagon. I am hoping though that he will truly recover this time.

I digress. I personally think my own drinking is (when not pg) to a greater degree than I want it to be for my health. I don't think it affects other areas of my life to any great degree AT THE MOMENT. But am aware that it could lead down the slippery slope to full blown alcoholism. I think that if I was a full on alcoholic I would not be able to stop easily when pg (as Bankie and some other posters with similar drinking habits have also been able to do). If you are fully addicted you cannot turn off a switch even though you know how bad it is for your baby.

Bankie - enjoy your holiday. I am so glad you had an honest chat with your DH about it. Let us know how you get on. Don't know if you have seen the Dependent Drinkers support thread on the Health topic. I have never posted - I only lurk. But it is very supportive and has a number of women whose drinking patterns are similar to ours and who would like to cut down. It might be the place to chart your progress in a less judgmental setting (not to criticise the contributors on this thread - you very much asked for their opinion I guess).

mrsboogie Tue 22-Jul-08 17:23:10

Hello all. I have had a drinking habit that sounds like yours bankie and hellibean. For a good few years I worked with big social drinkers and when I wasn't out with them I was drinking wine at home. At least a bottle a night. I was asking myself the same question but carried on regardless because it wasn't that I needded the drink but was just in the social situation. I ended up putting on four stone at least - all from empty alcohol calories. Then I started listening to the warning messages about going over the 14 units.

I also wanted to lose weight and get pregnant so I just cut down to start and didn't drink in the week. If you are not chemically dependant on alcohol it is simply a matter of breaking the habit - I realise that this can be difficult but you will very quickly get used to having a glass of something else instead. I will admit that I was dying for a drink by Friday but it was psychological.

When it comes to Friday night you can have your three glasses and boy will you enjoy them!! You don't have to start off with having no wine for the whole week - start with one or two nights off and build from there. Soon you won't miss it (much). If you cannot do this then you have a problem.

The most important thing about breaking a habit or addiction is that you have to want to. If you don't it is nigh on impossible. I smoked for years and then about five years ago I got scared that it was affecting my health and I wanted to stop. So I did. Easy, and I haven't wanted one since. But it was only easy because I wanted to stop more than I wanted to smoke.

I cut down on my drinking because I didn't want to find myself in the same position with alcohol. I enjoy it more now that is a treat rather than a chore. And now I am pregnant so can't drink anyway although I do have the occasional glass of wine. The cutting down before falling pg makes stopping a much lesser shock to the system!

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