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.