Not every drinker who gets into trouble is an alcoholic. Not every alcoholic gets into trouble as a result of their drinking. The book Alcoholics Anonymous describes different types of drinkers. Below are some excerpts that have been taken directly from the book.
• For most normal drinkers, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination. It means release from care, boredom and worry. It is a joyous intimacy with friends and a feeling that life is good.
• Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.
• A certain type of hard drinker may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. If a sufficiently strong reason becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate.
• But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage he begins to lose control of his liquor consumption once he starts to drink.
• In alcoholics, the will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, though it often remains strong in other respects. At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically nonexistent. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably an alcoholic. More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world, he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation but knows in his heart he doesn’t deserve it. Many alcoholics are enthusiasts. They run to extremes. Alcoholics are energetic people. They work hard and play hard. Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics.
I never got into trouble at work as a result of my drinking. Home was another story. My home life was circling the drain. Every day brought some type of argument, mostly brought about by me. On occasions when my spouse started the argument, it was usually as a result of my drinking or my behavior while drinking.
An up-and-down roller coaster cycle had developed: I was bored with my life and needed excitement, so I would start drinking. It’s better than being home, and there will probably be another argument, but screw it, home sucks anyway, so I might as well just drink more. An argument about the night before would start up, but who cares, my life’s a drag anyhow. The spouse is fed up, again, and threatens to leave. Uh oh, I guess I pushed too far this time. I turn on my best behavior and promise not to act like that anymore. I swear that I will work on myself and that this time it will be different. I make deals to control my drinking, so I don’t lose my family. Life is good for a week. I soon forget all those promises about changing. I get bored again, and the cycle repeats.
Being the actor that I am, I hid the secret (and embarrassment) of my miserable home life. To the outer world, I presented my stage character, that of a successful Department employee and member of society. The perfect picture: marriage, children, fun vacations, expensive toys and the house with a white picket fence. I am an enthusiast, who’s energetic — I work hard and play harder. But I know in my heart that I live a double life: a successful life and an alcoholic one.
When did I learn that I was an alcoholic and what did I do? I walked into my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on July 3, 2010. I didn’t know I was an alcoholic and didn’t know what AA was, how it worked or what it could do for me. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was tired. Tired of (what I now know as) living the insanity of an alcoholic life. I ran out of energy. I ran out of ideas. I ran out of promises. I ran out of chances. Quite simply, I ran out of options.
I went to meetings almost every day for two months. At the meetings, I related to what other alcoholics shared. After a few weeks, I admitted to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic. Then what? I stuck with the meetings. I found a sponsor to help me work the 12 steps of AA, found the Peace Officer’s Fellowship and, most importantly, found hope in AA. I not only found the hope needed to stop drinking and stay sober but also the hope to actually have a little peace of mind and feel happy with my life. AA has given me that and so much more.
What if you are willing to admit that you are an alcoholic? What do you do next? If you think you might be an alcoholic, contact Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500. They can put you in contact with other alcoholic Department members who are waiting to help you. There are people to help you get and stay sober. The most powerful piece of sobriety is one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic — I get that in the rooms of AA and the Peace Officer’s Fellowship, and I get to stay sober and be happy. It’s a pretty good deal.