Habit, Dependence, or Disease?
by Fish
Citation:   Fish. "Habit, Dependence, or Disease?: An Experience with Alcohol (exp84644)". Erowid.org. Oct 7, 2019. erowid.org/exp/84644

  oral Alcohol (daily)
My experience with alcohol has varied greatly over the years since my first drink at age 17. By this time I had already been smoking pot for almost two years, so it wasnít my first experience with a psychoactive substance. I enjoyed the buzz, but certainly wasnít crazy about it. It sort of became a backup plan if I ran out of pot.
It sort of became a backup plan if I ran out of pot.
Nothing excessive, just enough to make me feel warm and fuzzy.

When I was 19 I moved to a different town and my herb smoking kind of tapered off. Maybe I outgrew it or something, Iím not sure. I went from smoking every day, to once a week, to once a month, if that. That year was my first experience where I was full-on room spinning, double vision, staggering drunk. Tequila was involved and I didnít enjoy it. Of course no one told me that tequila is evil and sneaks up at you all at once.

From then on, my alcohol use was fairly light (no more than 4 drinks at any given time and not on a daily basis) and did NOT involve tequila. The next 3 years I stayed busy, held a regular job, and all that good stuff. Until one day I found out that I (along with 20 of my colleagues) were being laid off because the company was in trouble. That night 3 co-workers and I hit the bar. We drank all night until last call and headed to our respective homes. (by taxi, of course) The next 3 months I searched high and low for work unsuccessfully, and eventually had to move into my motherís house. Unable to find work, living with my mom at 22 going on 23, and pissed off with my situation, I hit the bottleÖ hardÖ and daily.

It started as drinking at night only, but every single night. Progressing form a moderate buzz, to borderline shitfaced. I started waking up with a hangover every morning, and the hangovers got worse and worse to the point where ibuprofen and a proper breakfast wouldnít cure it. I started using the ďhair of the dogĒ remedy by adding a good sized shot of whiskey to my coffee.

This would be the point where my body became dependent on alcohol. Without that eve-opener I would experience tremors and headaches. Eventually I needed a double shot in my morning coffee, a couple of drinks throughout the day and many drinks at night. The withdrawals got worse too. I even suffered what the emergency room doctor described as ďa mild seizureĒ I now couldnít go more than 4 waking hours without a drink. I continued to drink even after my episode that landed me in the emergency room. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to.

I finally hit rock bottom when I got really drunk one night and trashed my momís house, which I donít recall doing, but after nearly a pint of 151 and 6 twisted teas who would. The following is what I was told: My mom called the cops, but instead of taking me to jail, they took me to the hospital because when they got there I was sitting on the floor barely able to sit up straight. Also I blew a .425 blood alcohol level, which Iím told is dangerously high. The next thing I remember was coming back into reality, still rather drunk, and trying to escape from the hospital. I figured I could get past the guard sitting outside my room, but didnít take into account that there may be two more guards right around the cornerÖ which there were. I then accepted the fact that I was stuck. I had 2 options: a week in the detox and addiction counseling unit, or my mother was pressing charges, and I was going to jail for drunk and disorderly.

Well, I chose option A and I havenít had a drink in 24 days now. Life is less depressing without constant alcohol use, or abuse as it was.
Life is less depressing without constant alcohol use, or abuse as it was.
Iíve been to some AA meetings, and spoke with my doctor about the whole thing. There seems to be this common doctrine that alcohol addiction is a disease and I have it. Basically Iíll never be able to enjoy a cold beer or two after a hard dayís work or nice scotch on the rocks ever again. Iím not sure that I buy that. I know I had a bad habit, I know I had a chemical dependence, but Iím not sure that I buy into the fact that I have a disease, or that alcoholism even is a disease. It could be that itís a disease of choice, but then it sort of strays from the classic definition of the word disease.

I will, however be taking a very long hiatus from alcohol, at the very least. Maybe after Iím happy with my life Iíll be able to handle alcohol responsibly like I once could. The question, however, still remains; habit, dependence, or disease?

Exp Year: 2010ExpID: 84644
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 23
Published: Oct 7, 2019Views: 5,406
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Alcohol (61) : Retrospective / Summary (11), Health Problems (27), Addiction & Habituation (10), Hangover / Days After (46), Various (28)

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