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Alcoholic at 25 and Trying to Quit. I'm Too Young For This!

Hello, my name is R. and I'm an alcoholic. I started drinking when I was in my teens, say 16 or so. It was pretty much weekends only, and even then not every weekend, until I was in my early 20s. By the time I was 23 I was getting drunk nearly every weekend and occasionally a night or two during the week.


I didn't consider this a problem, and to be honest, even now I don't think it was that bad. I've never been one of those people to drink until I vomit or pass out, in fact I've never done either one from drinking; and I'm not one of those people who really crave a drink either.

But let me fast forward to last year. I was 24, I moved out on my own for the first time, and suddenly I could do whatever I wanted! If I wanted to sit here in my living room and drink whiskey after dinner, nobody could tell me otherwise! (My mom drinks occasionally, but my dad is a fairly hardcore christian and not only never drank, but "discouraged" it to the point of not even allowing alcohol in the house and getting mad at me if he thought I had had even a single drink).

The first couple months on my own were fine. I went to my job, got drunk on weekends as usual, no problem; didn't really have a particular urge to drink during the week ... Like I said, I was never one of those compulsive drinkers. Then came the summer. I had no air conditioning, and it got damned hot in here. So hot, that I couldn't sleep. I've always had trouble sleeping due to anxiety problems, but more on that later.

Hey, I realized, whenever I've been drunk late at night (I do shiftwork so I'm often awake in the small hours of the morning) - I can fall asleep with no trouble, no matter how hot it is! I'm sure you can see where this is going ... and god do I regret the moment I had that realization.

So I started coming home from work every day, back then it was like 6am or something, to a sweltering apartment, and drinking 4 or 6 shots (liquor of some kind was always my poison of choice) so I could get buzzed enough to fall asleep despite the heat.

I know how naive it sounds, but I seriously never, ever thought I'd become an alcoholic by doing that, and since I never did any research, I thought serious withdrawal was something that only happened to people who got wasted drunk all day, every day, for years. In other words, homeless bums or something, but not me.

This continued until summer was done, but then I kept doing it. Why? Mostly out of habit rather than compulsion to drink, to be quite honest; certainly drinking is fun and I do enjoy it, but it's not something I feel really compelled to do. Come home from work, maybe make some food if I was hungry, have a few drinks, go to sleep, wake up with some degree of hangover, go to work (since I drink lots of water before going to bed, the hangover was never very bad and usually gone within a 2-4 hours of work).

That was the routine. And that routine lasted all the way to now. I'm now 25, it's been approximately a YEAR, and in that year I don't think I've ever gone more than 2 days without a drink. Most nights I drink between 6 and 10 shots, just depending on how I happen to feel. Occasionally (once a week, once every two weeks), I'll only have one or two drinks if I'm particularly tired.

Rarely, I'll not have a drink at all for a day, if I run out and didn't have time to go to the store. On weekends I'm usually at some party or other and will drink a fair amount more, and suffer the pretty bad hangovers in consequence. As of now, my dad has no idea how much I drink, and my mom only knows I "drink too much" on weekends. My friends know I drink daily, but they think it's only a couple drinks, not the 6 to 10+ that are my normal daily routine. I've been hiding the truth from everyone, and hiding the extent of my problem from myself.

So this is basically a year of pretty much daily "heavy" drinking. Finally this last weekend I came to a decision. On Saturday I drank a crazy amount at a party, something like 3 beers and probably a pint of liquor. Sunday I had a bad hangover, definitely not the worst ever, but bad. Shakes, headache, nausea, diarrhea, the whole bit. I got online and looked up alcoholism and quitting. I was finally ready to admit I had a problem. See, with me, I seriously never thought of myself as an alcoholic until right now. Really.

Sure I drink pretty much every day, sure I get totally wasted on weekends... but. Drinking to me was more of a routine, not something I craved. To put it this way, I almost never crave a drink the way I crave a cigarette if I don't have any. I don't, and never did crave a drink in the morning, no matter how bad my hangover; if anything this only created an aversion. I rarely drink during the day at all, I've never driven my car drunk, never went to work drunk, and never really felt any urge to do any of those things.

I only pretty much ever drank, and still do, at parties on the weekend, and (during the week) after work and before going to sleep, and even now I rarely actually crave a drink, but only do it to a) get to sleep easy and b) because it was just part of my routine. Now I can add c) because I'm scared to death of the quitting/detox process. God help me ... I guess I'm what's called a functional alcoholic. I don't miss work or social obligations due to drinking, I pay my bills, etc etc, from all outward appearances I'm just a regular guy who drinks a lot on the weekends.

Anyway, after looking up a lot of information on quitting/alcohol withdrawal that night, which I had basically kept myself in the dark about, I went into a full panic attack (there's that anxiety problem I mentioned earlier). I poured out my first drink of the night then and there, and tried to sleep. What followed was a form of hell. I wanted to quit right then, but my mind was full of thoughts of shakes, DTs, dying, and worse.

Because with the amount I drink I'll probably have to go to rehab or some kind of inpatient medical detox: the thought of having to tell my family, whom I respect above all others and what I imagine to be their disappointment in me and breach of trust. I had the shakes, the sweats, the pounding heart, I couldn't sleep due to the anxiety, after a couple hours I started thinking maybe this was some form of withdrawal happening right now as the symptoms were so similar to what I had read.

Foolish I guess, since just last week I went a day without a drink and had no real symptoms to speak of. Finally at 7am, being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open but still in full panic-attack mode, I drank about 6 shots and this finally allowed me to get some sleep.

It is now the night after that. I was in anxiety/panic mode most of the day before work today, and all of my shift at work tonight. Shakes, cold/hot flashes, constant sweating, cloudy head, racing heart, you name it, I had it. All I can think about anymore is what will happen to me. As I write this, it's 4:00am, and I've had about 8 drinks, which I seriously didn't want after the research I've done, but I know it'll be another panicky, sleepless night if I don't drink and I can't take another sleepless night like that and still go to work.

Preserving my "reputation" as a responsible man is important to me. Even after the drinks, and I'm pretty tipsy right now, I still have these thoughts nagging at the back of my mind and the anxiety is creeping up.

So that's my story. It's not yet complete, but I need some release, and I'd hate to have to tell my family. I had a girlfriend but she left me because of my drinking, and still I didn't think I had a problem. If you've read this far, you have my most sincere thanks. I think, if I can control my anxiety/panic attacks, I'm going to try weaning myself off alcohol via very gradually reducing the amount I drink.

I don't think I'll have a problem controlling any cravings, it's just the physical withdrawal symptoms I'm worried about. If that doesn't work, I'll have to try actual medical detox. Again, my thanks for reading all this, it turned out a lot longer than I expected. Wish me luck. For those who got sober after drinking like me, I hope to be like you.

Yours,
- R.

Comments for Alcoholic at 25 and Trying to Quit. I'm Too Young For This!

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Jun 28, 2012
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calm - i know how it feels
by: Anonymous

I am going through the exact same right now! I too suffer from anxiety, this causes you to research withdrawl on the net, which in turn causes the panic attacks. I saw my doctor earlier for advice, he said the best way to tackle this is to gradually reduce the amount of those bed time drinks you have, slowly over time. Anxiety builds up adrenalin take lots of exercise to reduce their likelyhood, once the panic has went you'll probably find with gradual reduction that you have little withdrawl effects, the exercise will also help you sleep

Jun 24, 2012
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hey congrats
by: Anonymous

I'm happy for u man.I myself like my drinks but I only feel like drinking before I go to sleep.insomnia is something I deal with as well.technically speaking im an alcoholic myself.I have noticed tho that after a week of not drinking I don't have the urge for liquor anymore. I went a month without a single drink then I had a social get ogether with my friends and started drinking again. The physical withdraw symptoms weren't to bad I had painful joints and sweating for 2 days then they went away.being a deisel mechanic u get used to pain in joints and muscle so it wasn't to bad.anyway goodluck with ur recovery and I hope u rid of the habbit completely.keep us updated ttyl man.hope u beat the addiction once and for all

Mar 21, 2012
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:)
by: Anonymous

Found this story similar to mine, panic attacks and anxiety is disabling untreated. I used to drink vast amounts of alcohol to prevent panic and make me feel relaxed. Truth is you're going to feel more anxious with a hangover. I used to read delirium tremens symptoms on the internet and instantly thought I would get these symptoms. Truth is you would need to be a SEVERE alcoholic to experience delirium tremens and seizures etc, not just drinking the odd couple of shots a night. But as you have the panic attacks and anxiety issue, I completely understand you're way of thinking. I have had panic disorder for 5 years now and I became an alcoholic due to this condition. I haven't touched a drink for 6 years now and with the right kind o help and treatment my condition has improved massively. I still often take propranolol to help with panic so just beware with the valium as it is highly addictive. Take Care.

Jul 03, 2011
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just another update
by: R

Over a month and I still haven't had a drink. I am proud of it but to be honest it's been quite easy after the first day since I've been actually sleeping at night with no anxiety. I've cut my valium dose down to just 10mg before bed for the last three weeks. I don't want or particularly need to take any during the day anymore, so I stopped. I have no craving for it, but I haven't attempted sleeping without it either so I don't know if I'm addicted or not. I see the doctor in a couple days to discuss everything again... Valium has been a lifesaver for me, but I definitely want to be off it asap.

Jun 23, 2011
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Be proud... and be careful
by: Anonymous

You're doing great and should be proud, but be careful of the valium, you could easily find yourself out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Jun 06, 2011
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update
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your comment. Still haven't touched a drink, day 10, and no problem. Both my doctor and I believe I can drink socially again, eventually. Normal social drinking though, not weekend binging at parties like I used to do; the binging wasn't even much fun but I did it because everyone else did. That said, I've still had no cravings for alcohol and I want to be clear I'm definitely in no rush to drink anything. I was avoiding any alcohol-related situation as a precaution, BUT finally as a test to confirm my thoughts, I had some friends who know my situation over on the weekend to have a couple drinks here. Even being basically surrounded by people drinking, I didn't have any craving for a drink at all, but like I said compulsive drinking was never my problem. I have no doubt now that my GP was right about everything. Laying in bed with no distractions I'd never sleep because I couldn't shut my brain off. But no mistake: an alcoholic is an alcoholic regardless of the cause. My withdrawal has been totally over for a few days as far as I can tell, and I've been sleeping a good solid 6-8 hours a night with the help of the valium, no nightmares and no waking up for the last 5 days. Anxiety during the day is next to nothing with the valium, and I still have not needed more than about half my prescribed dose to deal with my anxiety or get to sleep. I'm sure a lot of that is also because of the support from my family and friends which has done a lot to set my mind at ease. I've gotten an air conditioner to deal with the heat at night so I can further improve my insomnia, and my next change will be a new job ASAP in order to eliminate my main cause of anxiety/stress. In a way this whole thing has been for the best; it's made me realize and deal with my issues instead of hiding them from everyone and trying to take care of it by myself.

Jun 06, 2011
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How's it going?
by: C-P

How are things progressing? Are you still sober and has the anxiety been bearable? Keep us posted. We'd love to get an update. Well done on the progress thus far. Things are rarely as bad as we imagine them being. So good job and drop us a line when you get a chance.

Jun 01, 2011
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day 5 of sobriety, i hope this gives hope to others
by: R.

I'll keep it relatively short: day 5 of sobriety now. My GP was not available on day 1, so I was referred to the ER in case of severe withdrawals, got a quick exam, a prescription for valium 10mg twice daily as needed for withdrawals with instructions to make it 5mg twice daily if I felt I could get by on that. Then discharged, because the doc didn't think I'd have anything severe. Saw my GP on day 3, after a LOT of talk and a million questions she's sure anxiety and insomnia is the core issue and that was was self-medicating for it. She said my weekend "social" (binge) drinking while out with friends was definitely too much but not related to the problem. I realized after all the questions that my anxiety issues ran a lot deeper and stronger than I thought. So, another month of valium at the same dose of 10mg twice daily, or 5mg twice daily if I'm fine on that, and then a follow up appointment. My GP said valium's addictive in itself and I don't want to replace alcohol dependence with valium dependence, but she feels in the short term it's best to stay on it until I get my anxiety issues under control so I don't end up self-medicating them with booze again. I have a referral to a psychiatrist for the anxiety as well. So far I haven't needed more than 5mg spread out over the day and another 5mg at night, except the first night when I needed the full 10mg to sleep. Withdrawal now seems confined to waking up constantly and weird dreams and nightmares. However I feel much MUCH better without alcohol, and the valium during the day has removed all kinds of anxiety I didn't even really realize I was having. I just feel NORMAL for like the first time I can remember since I was a little kid. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss a drink now and then the last few days, but nothing I'd call a craving. Admitting my problems and getting help was the hardest part, so JUST DO IT. It only gets easier from there. Thanks again to everyone on this site, just talking about it here was a great help before I could bring myself to admit my problems to people close to me.

May 27, 2011
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a small update
by: R.

First, thanks for reading and commenting.

I told my dad today. Hardest thing I ever did. He was very supportive. My stepmom is a registered nurse. They're both coming over tomorrow so we can talk more than the 15 minutes I just spent on the phone. For now the plan is continue drinking as I have been to avoid any severe withdrawals, and make a doctor's appointment ASAP. Then we continue from there. Anxiety over the whole thing is still giving me daily symptoms ranging from shakiness and hot/cold flashes to sweating. Some of it is probably withdrawal related as well, but it hasn't been any worse over the last 4 days.

I can't wait til I can post that I'm actually on day whatever of sobriety!

May 27, 2011
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Great Share
by: Anonymous

Great share and thanks for telling your story. Having your level of self-awareness at a young age is a great start - because from that awareness you can make the changes you need to. Now it's a question of taking action and doing what you can to overcome your drinking problem. Being anxious of stopping because you fear the withdrawals is perfectly okay and normal. Lots of places can help you withdraw safely - a normal hospital, rehab facility - so you do have options. Now is the best time to get things sorted because you don't want to look back one day regretting that you've wasted half your life with alcohol. Think short-term pain for long-term gain. You're on the right track so hang in there. Good Luck

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