Am I an Alcoholic??

Whoa, I’m using the “A” word.

In fact I’m using the “A” word with reference to me.

I have never done that before, never referred to myself as an alcoholic, never considered the possibility.

And frankly I’m getting the shakes even writing it down let alone contemplating it. But I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now and think I’m tough enough to at least consider the possibility.

So, the big question is – am I an alcoholic??? Or a recovering alcoholic??? I am almost 7 months alcohol free now. I was doing a bit of a problem with wine, although that comment really simplifies what was my situation and there was nothing simple about it. I loved drinking wine, every day I loved doing it. I loved more than one glass definitely, loved to start a little earlier than wine o’clock, loved that happy buzz wine gave me, loved being confident, loved how wine fit every occasion be it happy or sad, how wine made a tough day easier and a great day even greater. Yep, all of that, I loved it.

And I was so miserable, insecure and my relationship with myself sucked.

But still, does that make me an alcoholic? I did only have 3-4 bottles of wine a week, maybe more if the occasions warranted it. I was never sexually promiscuous, never fell over [well things got a little rocky on the dance floor but I am a free spirit with my dance….], never lost consciousness. I hardly ever threw up [um, do I count the times I woke up feeling a little nauseous?] I never stuffed up relationships [although if I am being honest some would have fared much better minus the booze]. I never got a written warning or lost a job, never drank during the day, never hid bottles, never had to face the Police or the courts, never ended up in a gutter. All those things I associate with alcoholism [media/TV driven I imagine] and I was never them.

And yet here I am, questioning whether I am an alcoholic. I am so proud of myself for having achieved my current sober status and am already thinking ahead to celebrating 1 year sober, I blog about not drinking and I read other peoples blogs on the same topic. I am part of an online sober support community which I find so valuable. I haven’t and won’t and can’t even have a sip of anything alcoholic and I am tempted to sometimes. And I have openly admitted to doing a problem with wine.

Clearly I need to do a little more research and so in an entirely unscientific manner with no indepth study having occurred I did some skimming across a few internet sites looking for potential clues which would clearly define my status and this is what I found:

10 Signs of Alcoholism:

  1. Memory loss and blackouts – no to that one.
  2. Drinking to cheer up – well yes but I did have good reason
  3. Tried to quit but can’t or at least cut back – yes to that, many times but in the end I did
  4. Drinking to be normal or to fit in – yes but it made me more confident and gave me something to do
  5. Flushed skin or broken capillaries – no, not ever
  6. Trembling hands – no, not ever
  7. Problems with family members as a result of drinking – no, but I guess if I didn’t drink I would have been more present
  8. Drinking in secret or lying about intake – not really although I did shame over just how much I did drink
  9. Anxiety, nausea, insomnia when you stop – not, never an issue, however when I did make the decision to quit for good I did a lot of fear and anxiety
  10. Drinking in the morning – no
  11. So mixed results on that little test. More no’s than yes’s I think.  Perhaps at best the results are inconclusive.

    Okay next stop  – dictionary.

    The Oxford Dictionary defines an alcoholic as someone who is addicted to alcohol with addiction being defined as a condition of being addicted to a particular substance/thing/activity and an addict being defined as a person unable to stop taking or doing that substance/thing/activity.

    Okay, I can admit my relationship with alcohol could be defined as an addiction. Certainly despite my very best intentions I simply couldn’t go a day without a glass or two of wine. I became super clever at justifying why I had one and visitors were always welcome as it legitimised my drinking on my day off from drinking.

    Oh shit, maybe I am an alcoholic.

    I don’t want to be.

    I don’t want to be an alcoholic.

    I think my truth here is that yes I was doing a problem with alcohol that affected all levels of my being [spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically] but I am simply not ready to label myself an alcoholic. Maybe I never will be.

    Will that hinder my progress and ability to stay sober, lord I hope not.

    And do I even need that label, that status to continue on as I am. Getting better and stronger and more committed every day.

    I think we can label others and ourselves all we like but ultimately it’s what we think and feel about ourselves and our situation that matters. It’s what we believe and do that impacts on ourselves every day.

    I’ve admitted an issue, I did something really constructive about it and I am so much better for it.

    Maybe for now, that is enough.




5 thoughts on “Am I an Alcoholic??

  1. I struggled with the term “alcoholic” as well. I’m like you…I never drank so much that I had any legal or financial consequences. I managed a career and a relationship, which is still wonderful. I probably drank about 3-5 bottles of wine a week, just like you. But I was having trouble moderating and I was needing more and more to feel that buzz. More importantly, I was drinking with the intention of getting that buzz. Not good. In the end, I decided that I am an alcoholic. I’m an alcoholic who hadn’t ruined her life…yet! I think admitting this to myself makes my sobriety that much more of a priority for me. It’s no joke, and there’s no going back for me. Everyone is different. Admitting that to myself makes it easier for me to remain committed to my sobriety. You have to decide what makes sense for you.


    • thanks for sharing. I quite like the phrasing “I am an alcoholic who hadn’t ruined her life…yet”. While I don’t/can’t apply the word alcoholic to myself I think what you said actually takes away some of that nasty stigma of what an alcoholic looks like.
      Moderating wasn’t in my box of capabilities either so it was all or nothing and by choosing nothing I in fact gained it all!!! Funny the way things turn out.


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