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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. ..

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