I often wonder how I was so blind to the fact that I was an alcoholic. Looking back, all of the signs were there.
My life was out of control; once I had my first drink of the day, I had little-to-no control over the amount I drank. All bets were off. And when I truly wanted to stop drinking, I couldn’t.
The tricky part there is that I thought I had a choice in it all. I thought I was drinking because I wanted to. And then the day came where I wanted to stop and I couldn’t, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble. It was like that for a couple of years. Day after day I would tell myself I wasn’t going to drink…that today would be different. But today was never different.
Society has made alcohol part of everything we do and not only have we accepted that, we’ve embraced it as the norm. Worse, we’ve made it socially acceptable to drink pretty much anywhere anytime. There’s alcohol at baby showers, children’s birthday parties, children’s music and theatre shows, pop-up churches, play dates, and pre-PTA gatherings. Does it not strike anyone else as odd that Target just announced they will be selling and serving liquor in some of their new locations?!
Look, I get it.
I used to drink at my friends baby showers. I would sneak alcohol into my nephew’s birthday parties. I chugged beers at the bar between Ringling Brother’s acts. I thought selling alcohol at Chuck-e-Cheese was genius, and quite honestly it was the only reason I ever agreed to take my nephews. I would have been the mom on the playground with a thermos full of wine. And I would have most definitely thought the idea of strolling the aisles of Target with a mojito in hand would have basically meant all of my dreams had come true.
See? I do get it. I’m also an alcoholic.
Our society makes it easy to fool ourselves into thinking this kind of alcoholic behavior is okay; that it’s not a problem. That drinking wine with Kathie Lee & Hoda every morning at 10am is totally normal. That putting your alcohol in a cup that says “Mommy’s Little Helper” is cute, so it must be okay. That telling yourself “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” makes it totally find to start drinking at any hour of the day.
Well, my friends, I am here to tell you that it is a problem. It’s a huge problem.
If you’re an alcoholic, you can blame your drinking on whatever you want. I certainly did. I’d drink over not having a job, and then I’d get a job and drink because I hated my job. There was always a reason to drink and it was always so easy to find something to blame it on. I had the mindset of “you’d drink too, if you had my life,” but the fact was, my life was crappy because of my drinking.
I have no one to blame but myself for my drinking, but our society was one heck of an enabler. It told me for years that drinking like I did was normal and I chose to believe that. But, and I’m speaking from experience here, if you’re ever at the point where you want to stop drinking but you can’t, you are probably an alcoholic. But I want you to know, and I’m speaking from experience here also, that you can live without alcohol, and that your life will be even better.
My perspective has changed drastically since losing my brother to an overdose and then getting sober shortly after. I don’t laugh when our society makes light of alcoholism– binge drinking is embraced and celebrated, it’s seen as a right of passage. But there’s a stigma once you’re labeled an alcoholic. And the reason I don’t laugh is that it’s not funny: “Blame all your horrible decisions on alcohol, but don’t become an alcoholic…don’t take it that far”. But what no one seems to acknowledge is that alcoholism isn’t exactly a choice.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that I will change the way we incorporate alcohol into most everything we do, but I can try and get us talking about the dangers of normalizing constant drinking. I can hopefully provide you with a different perspective, and show you that alcohol doesn’t have to be a part of everything you do. I can also tell you that my life without alcohol is way more fun than any hangover or bad decision I ever made in active addiction, even if our society tells us otherwise.
Allison Hudson shares about her struggles with alcoholism and life in recovery on her blog, It’s a Lush Life, and is a feature blogger on The Huffington Post and regular contributor on AfterParty Magazine. When not writing, she is working on the opening of Will’s Place, a sober living facility in memory of her brother who died from a drug overdose in 2012, that is set to open spring 2016.