What if your alcoholism wasn't a slow descent?


I’ve been trying to read as many alcoholism memoirs as I can. I recognize a lot in them, but one thing that bothers me is there always seems to be a gradual descent into full-on alcoholism. My drinking wasn’t like that at all. I discovered alcohol at 19, when I was already suffering from an eating disorder, and within a matter of months I was consuming nothing but spirits. I dropped out of college, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital (to treat my anorexia) but walked out when the staff discovered I’d been smuggling in booze. In six months I went from college student to someone who was permanently drunk, constantly blacking out, sleeping on friends’ floors and sofas. Then one day I sneaked into my old college to drink vodka in one of the student bathrooms (I was permanently freezing), stared down at my bruise-covered body and thought “why am I doing this?” I poured the drink away, went through a horrendous withdrawal but came out the other side, got a place at a hostel and started attending an outpatient eating disorder clinic. I always feel that should have been the end of the story, yet within a month I was drinking again.
The trouble is, it’s never been as bad as that since. There have been some terrible times, some real near-misses, some nasty injuries and broken relationships, but I’ve never been homeless and permanently drunk like I was at 19. I have degrees now, a job, a partner, children. I can pretend to myself I recovered already even though I carried on drinking (but only in the evenings. Mostly). I’ve always had a really low standard to hold myself against. “An alcoholic” is me at 19 and I tell myself I’m not that now. But deep down, I know I’ve been using that particular crisis as an excuse. It has got worse, and I know if I carry on I could throw it all away again.


You don’t have to lose everything to be an alcoholic. You don’t have to hit rock bottom to choose recovery. You don’t have to be in jail, homeless, or alone for alcohol/drugs to be effecting your life negatively. To me and alcoholic/addict is someone who keeps engaging in behaviors they know are bad for them. If you know this road will lead to trouble for you, there’s no shame in turning off of it before you hurt yourself or others.

I’ve read on this forum before “Im not like those people who hit rock bottom and destroyed their life; why am I putting myself through the struggle of sobriety?” Because you don’t want addictive substances to ruin your life. Its good to seek recovery before it gets that far.

And when I say you, I dont nessisarily mean you specifically and I mean no offense.


I also had lots of near misses but if they weren’t misses, I would be at rock bottom. It doesn’t matter. Putting poison in your body is goofy and putting a lot in is crazy. Alcohol tells me all this after a couple weeks. Go ahead, it’s okay. But it’s selective memory of the “good” not really, and not the bad


Love your post, @Nullcorp! You are spot on. I would also have hit the stereotypical rock bottom if my near misses would have been direct hits. Thank god my DUI and any of my other drunk drivings didn’t result in the injury or death of myself or others. Thank god although my job performance fell due to drinking I wasn’t fired. Thank god my fiance has stuck with me and is patient as I work through sobriety.
Selective memory indeed. It’s like a bad ex! You remember the good times and overlook the exorbitant amount of bad times.


I think this is so true! The bad times are coming back to me more and more now. And to be honest, the things I class as “near misses” - well, are they really misses? Waking up in the emergency room on a drip with stitches in my head? Blacking out at a works weekend away and having no idea what I did? Is it really “fine” just because I’m not dead and still have a job? If I was reading this about anyone else, I’d think they had a problem. I know I do - I’ve just wasted years denying it.


Imagine getting that degree, job, partner and children without the mental battle in your head. Imagine all those good times with alcohol even better without it. Just because we haven’t hit rock bottom doesn’t mean we aren’t sucking the life out of life. I used to be the person when asked my likes had a very short list . My list is now constantly growing with things I used to love doing and new activities and interests as well. One of my favourite quotes: sobriety delivers what alcohol promised.