Do you recognise these stages of alcoholism?

Part 1, Part 2

8. Looking for answers

By now I was becoming aware that something was wrong with my drinking.

Far from admitting I was an alcoholic, I began to pay attention to anything with alcohol as its subject. It might have been an article in a men’s magazine – I’d turn straight to it. Or if Oprah had an alcohol special I’d put it on immediately.

With hindsight I can see that I was looking for answers. Not just for why I was drinking a lot but why I seemed to fell so bad all the time. Miserable and unsure of myself. Life seemed so unfair.

9. The ‘wanting to want to stop’ stage

beer sign

This stage is only a half truth.  I didn’t really want to stop drinking.  I just wanted to be able to drink as much as I liked and not have any consequences. To be able to do all the stuff that my friends seemed to do so effortlessly (and which I was beginning to resent them for) – party happily, go shopping when I liked, form a meaningful relationship.

But I was beginning to sense that when I wasn’t drinking and even managed some periods of sobriety, that I felt better. This made me think…

10. The ‘beginning of the end’

I resolved to quit drinking. Maybe get some help. Everything would be OK once I stopped drinking. Life would become worthwhile again. I’d be better at my job, get a girlfriend and somehow become even more socially adept than before. Oh dear….

After a 3 month period of sobriety life did indeed seem to be improving. Unfortunately this is what AA members often refer to as a ‘Pink Cloud.’

Real life returned with a bump. Nothing spectacular, it was just real life. The very thing that everyone else seemed to manage so well and I seemed to fail so dismally at.

I decided that nothing had really changed (I was more right than I realised) and my resultant sulk lead to me picking up the first drink. Why not? It was the only method I had for achieving happiness – except it didn’t make me happy anymore.

11. Suicidally depressed

Stages of decline into alcoholism - depression

What do you do when you know that what you’re doing is hurting you, but it’s the only thing you want to do. To look forward to at the end of the day. Every drink I took I felt I was taking myself a little bit further away from anything deserving and worthwhile in life. Yet I would still defend my actions and ‘Right to Drink’ to the hilt.

Low self-esteem? Self-Pity on steroids more like. I just couldn’t see the point in living anymore. Life was a curse and God was punishing me. (I didn’t believe in God but had a habit of blaming him anyway. Hmmm, consistent?)

12. The Realisation

alcoholism stages: stone with writing: HOPE

I was still drinking every day. Work was short and I was in debt.  My last relationship, not a happy one anyway, was over. I’d had a row with my ex-girlfriend (because she’d done something that I didn’t like, but wasn’t really my business anymore) and I had just finished my last can of lager. I was fed up with being fed up and I hated myself.

Suddenly the thought came into my head that my ex-girlfriend wasn’t to blame for the way I drank. Neither were any of my other life experiences (that I haven’t gone into here), even the nasty ones. The next thought was… ‘You did this to you. You are the only one responsible.’

Moments of clarity are great but they need to be followed by constructive action. All my thinking about sobriety and relatively few actions towards it had proved insufficient. I needed help. I went to Alcoholics Anonymous to get it. (Note: Elly does not necessarily endorse AA.)

Getting help - after all these stages of alcoholism

At AA I came to further realisations.  One of them was that simply quitting drinking is not enough, not for an alcoholic. The illness of alcoholism runs much deeper than that and must be addressed mentally and even spiritually.

Physically I wasn’t that bad (bit shaky, bit sweaty), but mentally I was beaten (psychologically damaged, even though I wouldn’t have told you that at the time).

Spiritually I was broken – this isn’t meant religiously. What I mean is I hated who I was.  I saw no value in myself or that I could contribute to the world in any positive way.

This has all now changed. I have been sober for several years now. Getting dry was a beginning. But of far more importance I learn how to be happy.

The accumulated mental and spiritual damage has dissipated. I now enjoy an excellent level of spiritual and mental health. Alcoholics Anonymous taught me how to meet life on life’s terms.

I am now a happy bunny. A sober happy bunny.

Part 1, Part 2

Related Articles

Other Helpful Links

Huffington Post: How a hangover works
BPS Research Digest: Did I do that? The psychology of alcohol-induced blackouts.
Science Daily - Strong link found between victimisation and substance abuse

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Elly Prior

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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Images courtesy of: Dan BruellTrina AlexanderJeff Archer