I don’t get it. But it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure even I did it during my teenage years.
People everywhere are claiming to be in addiction’s grasp. Only they’re not.
It seems it’s now cool to be an alcoholic. Or, at least pretend to be one.
You know what I’m talking about. When your friend posts a photo of herself enjoying a mojitio before noon (one time) and is all, “Oh Em Gee I am such an alcoholic! Hehehe!”
When your brother tells you not to fuck with him when he gets home from work because he hasn’t had his beer and he is such an alcoholic.
When college kids who party too much, by their own choosing, make excuses for their actions by saying “Ugh, I’m just such an alcoholic.”
No. No you’re not. None of you are alcoholics. People who are alcoholics usually don’t brag about it.
(And yes, I realize I just utterly and completely played into the gender stereotypes I work so hard to eliminate. But that’s because most of these people do their damnedest to keep the stereotypes alive, so why not give them what they want for a moment?)
I partly blame all those How to find out if you’re an alcoholic things online. I know they mean well, but their definition of an alcoholic is pretty much anyone who drinks, ever.
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I took this self-test from the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and scored a 10. Supposedly, if you score any higher than an 8:
“. . . you may have a serious level of alcohol-related problems requiring immediate attention and possible treatment. You should seek professional guidance.”
I only drink once every few months.
* * * * *
This one really cracked me up, from the Lanark Leeds Golden Triangle District 66 Alcoholics Anonymous page (although the questions and scoring were taken from the Johns Hopkins University Hospital):
- If you answered YES to any 1 question, there is a definite warning that you may be an alcoholic.
- If you answered YES to any 2 questions, the chances are that you are an alcoholic.
- If you answered YES to 3 or more questions, you are definitely an alcoholic.
Needless to say, I answered yes to more than 3. A lot more. And I rarely ever drink.
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Most of these quizzes or assessments or whatever you want to call them include questions that 99% of the drinking population would answer YES.
•Do you sometimes drink to relieve stress or escape your troubles?
Are you kidding me? Isn’t that the reason people drink at least 50% of the time?
•Have you ever had trouble remembering events after a night of drinking?
That’s what drinking does, you morons.
•Do you drink alone?
Not if you count watching my 3-year-old sleep on the monitor.
•Have you ever vowed to cut back on your drinking?
Every damn time I have a hangover.
•Have you ever broken that vow?
Every time I drink again.
Seriously, come on. If these questions don’t apply to you, you’re one of the very rare people who, I guess, drinks correctly. (Is there a correct way to drink? In through the mouth, right?)
* * * * *
What’s worse are the amount of questions that hold true to every person in their late teens or early 20s (and often beyond). Things like:
•Do you drink to increase your self-esteem?
•Do you drink because you’re shy?
•Have you ever missed work/class/etc. because of drinking?
•Do you ever feel remorseful the next morning?
•Do you ever want a drink the next morning?
•Do you ever stay drunk for days at a time?
•Do you have financial problems because of your drinking?
OF COURSE THEY DO. They’re young, crazy, wild animals. That doesn’t mean they have a drinking problem, it just means they’re figuring out how to not have a drinking problem.
(Does that make sense?)
Now that I got that out of the way, it’s no wonder so many 21-year-olds think they’re alcoholics. All these official and reputable sources are telling them they are.
* * * * *
But all these tests are, like I said, only partly to blame. Most of the blame lies on our society, I guess. We romanticize drinking. And hell, drinking can be fun. But the only people you’re going to impress by your level of alcoholism are other alcoholics, and only sometimes.
I know this because I was an addict. And yes, we seriously used to compete as to who screwed up their life most. I had to do $200 worth of dope a day, so I was cooler than my friend who only had to do $70. But another friend had to do $400, so he was cooler than me.
That coolness wore off once we all realized what the fuck we were doing, and how much we really didn’t want to be doing it anymore.
Because when you wake up sick every day, it’s not fun anymore. When you spend every cent you have to feel normal, it pretty much sucks. When you sell your body, mind, and soul for your next fix, you realize the glamorization of being high is a lie.
* * * * *
Being an addict is fun. Sometimes. But that sometimes wears off quick and turns into an eternity of pain. It’s not cool to be addicted to anything. It’s not something to joke about.
If you go out with your friends and party a lot, you’re a normal young adult. If you don’t drink, you’re a normal young adult. The only time you’re not a normal young adult is when drinking, or something else, takes over your life. Sadly, it’s become common, but it’s not normal.
Being an addict is when you end up on the streets because you’re not late on your rent one, you can never pay it.
Being an addict is not missing a few days at work because of a hangover, it’s not being able to keep a job at all.
Being an addict is not sometimes getting into drunken fights with your family, it’s losing them altogether.
Being an addict is many things. It has many different faces, including those that are nothing like what I mentioned above.
But being an addict is not fun. And it is not something to romanticize as a joke with your friends.
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If you suspect you, or someone you know, really does have a drinking or drug problem, please reach out and get help. You are not alone. There are many resources that can assist you, and many of us who are here for you.
Free Addiction Helpline (1.866.925.7411)
The Treatment Helpline (888.987.7324)
American Society of Addiction Medicine (301.656.3920)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (1.800.662.HELP) / (1.800.662.4357)
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (401.524.3076)
What are your thoughts on this whole “I’m an alcoholic” thing? What about the alcoholic ‘tests’? Let me know!