I don’t feel completely comfortable referring to myself as an alcoholic, but I do have an alcohol dependency issue that affects me severely in my day-to-day life. I can proudly say that I have been alcohol-free for three months now and it’s giving me back my life.
I didn’t notice its control over me at first. This was partly wilful ignorance, but there was an aspect of me that genuinely believed I was in control of my drinking because I didn’t resemble what I imagined a “typical” alcoholic to be like. Still, I was buying endless bottles of small wine and drinking them throughout the day and doing shots of vodka in the middle of the afternoon with my friends in the next room. Some days I would have control over my drinking but a lot of the time, once I started, I would drink until I passed out.
It got me in debt. I was buying and hiding alcohol throughout the day, on top of day drinking at uni and then also any nights out we went on. Debt racked up and it racked up quickly. I was spending money that was meant to be for my food, my meds, and my college books on booze. It was a serious problem.
I hate the person I was when I was drunk. I don’t mean that lightly. She was sad and lonely and itching for a fight. She made reckless decisions and she did it happily. Everyone thinks they’re a bit of a fool when they’ve had too much to drink, but for me, the issue was that I didn’t know how or want to be anything but drunk even though I hated how it affected my behavior. I loved that I didn’t have to think about anything, that I could behave destructively and have something to blame. This was the main reason it’s taken me so long to fully come off of alcohol even though my issue with drinking was addressed two years ago.
It didn’t mix well with my anti-depressants. I can’t list on my hands how many times I would have this battle with my doctor, my counselors, the nurses in hospitals, my friends, my family… I’m on a high dose of anti-depressants, so of course alcohol wouldn’t mix well with that! Still, I was too dependent on the feeling, on the quieting of all the noise in my head to pay them any attention.
It was my excuse to ruin my life. For me, alcohol and self-harm are tightly interwoven. I wanted to drink in order to cut without shame, so that’s what I would do. That meant that when I’d end up in the hospital or even just in my room with my friends bandaging me up, I’d be drunk out of mind, which never made recovery easier.
The drinking culture in college didn’t help. If you went to college, you’ll know how much drinking plays a huge role in student life—not just in fun nights out, but any kind of social activity. It sucks because I don’t want to seem like that straight-laced bore, but I do think there needs to be a closer investigation into how the drinking culture at university and colleges affect their students’ mental health.
I’m lucky people stuck by me. There are people I’ve screwed over repeatedly due to my drinking habits, and they were fully within their rights to have slammed the door in my face and not spoken to me again. But they didn’t because my friends are amazing, and that makes me one of the lucky ones. I imagine for a lot of people who haven’t received the support I have, that it must feel like such an uncontrollable aspect of their life and it’s not the case.
I had to make drinking non-negotiable. My nightlife would definitely be more fun if it had never gotten to this point but it has. I don’t drink alcohol in the same way I don’t drink bleach. If I had paid more attention, if I had been more willing to change and put effort into changing earlier, there might have been a point where I would have been able to drink casually. Unfortunately, there’s not.
I have major FOMO. Seriously, it haunts me. If you’re used to drinking and then are suddenly the sober one in a room of drunk people, it makes you feel out of place and like the fun isn’t available to you—which is often why, even when I wasn’t supposed to, I’d drink again.
Alcohol is a risk I am no longer willing to take. I value myself and my friends, my family, and my life way too much to begin drinking again. It isn’t fun to be a 22-year-old woman still in school with an alcohol dependency, but it happened due to a lot of factors. It’s vital that you continue to check yourself. How often you drink, how you behave when you drink, and even why you drink are all important considerations. If you’re beginning to think there’s a problem or if you’ve vehemently sure there isn’t one, it may be time to talk to someone.