Alcohol and me

As part of the Sobriety Diaries series, ‘The Irish Times’ invited readers to tell us about their relationships with alcohol. Here are some of the 100-plus responses

Illustartion: Valentina Rusinova/Getty

Illustartion: Valentina Rusinova/Getty

Sat, May 17, 2014, 00:00

‘I feel trapped by alcohol’
I’ve been avoiding the question “Am I an alcoholic?” for many years. One thing’s for sure: I drink a lot. I appear normal, but I drink heavily behind the scenes. I’m almost never drunk in public or late for work. I drink about six nights a week, however, and easily consume a bottle of wine on my own, maybe preceded by a few strong ales. I fear giving up alcohol. I fear for the future. I want my daughter to grow up proud of her father.

Every morning I wake early, lie beside my partner and feel profound guilt. I know that I drank too much the night before. It doesn’t take long for the guilt to wear off. The alcohol makes you lie. I know it, and I’m unable to do anything about it. I feel trapped, yet it’s my only escape.

‘I hid my drinking well’
I loved alcohol, and for much of my life I had a good relationship with it. About 10 years ago that relationship broke down, as I became more and more dependent on drink. There was never enough for me; even when I was drinking socially I had to have a secret stash available.

Alcohol is lovely for most people. And I miss it. But I don’t miss what it did to me. I am a middle-aged, middle-class alcoholic, addicted mainly but not exclusively to wine. And, like a lot of other women, I hid it very well.

I’ve been very lucky in my recovery, but I worked hard at it, too. That doesn’t always guarantee success. Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life. The best way I can live in my recovery is to live in the moment. Even if I wasn’t an alcoholic, I’d consider this to be a gift. I love this sober life.

‘I fear for my student son’s safety’
My wife and I don’t drink much now. Teacher and dental nurse. We average one drink every fortnight at home. Never go to the pub. Too expensive when you factor in a taxi. Most of our income goes on college fees, grinds, music lessons. No foreign holiday since 2008. Our incomes have been so squeezed.

I hate how the Irish drink to excess and every social event revolves around drink and pubs. I am amazed when you travel abroad and can feel so safe at night in cities like New York or Paris. Our towns and cities are no-go areas at night. I fear for my student son’s safety at night in Dublin.
Art Griffin

‘I drank to quiet the tempest in my head’
The reasons I gave up drinking about 18 years ago were (1) a close relative was hospitalised for alcohol addiction, (2) I felt that I was a bad role model for my son, (3) I used to regularly drive after drinking, and I expected I would get caught eventually, and (4) my wife was not happy with my drinking.

I used euphemisms like “I had a fair few pints last night” to disguise the truth from myself. I was drunk. I wasn’t falling around or slurring my words, but I was drunk.

I think I drank to quiet the tempest in my head. The sense of failure, lack of purpose in life, the ennui, the annoyances of day-to-day life all started to diminish after the second or third pint and were completely obliterated as the night went on . . . until the next day. I wish I could drink in moderation, but I can’t.

As for advice to others who drink too much, I have none. You will come to your own realisation or you will shy away from a harsh assessment of yourself.

The best definition of an alcoholic? Who knows? Except we all know we are not one. But as for Mick . . . well, he’d want to watch it.
Fergus Gannon

‘There is no alcohol and me any more, just me’
I’m a 25-year-old single woman working in the business world. I grew up with alcohol from a young age. Going through college, I drank most days while still doing well with my exams. (How I do not know.)

When I finished college and started to build my career I realised I wasn’t a “normal” drinker.

I went to a couple of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and although I could relate to the stories people were telling I didn’t feel I belonged there. There were a lot of elderly men who seemed to have severe drink problems. I don’t regret attending the meetings; the men helped me, because they made me visualise myself in their shoes down the line, and that wasn’t something I wanted.

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