Can You Be A Functional Alcoholic?
Never was skid row drunk. Held down a good job. Never missed work. Never drove drunk. Seldom missed a day for 30 years I did not drink hard from 6 pm to bed time. Box wine did me in cause I did not have to count em.
I think many of us have this mental picture that to be regarded as a 'proper alcoholic' you have to be a total down and out ... pretty much at the end of the road, having lost everything.
Whereas in reality I think the majority of alcoholics out there are 'functional.' Still manage to hold down a job, be responsible in most things - yet have this 'secret' life on the side thanks to the alcohol.
Problem is, when you're a functional alcoholic, it becomes much easier to rationalise that your problem 'isn't that bad' because you're still essentially getting by. But beneath the façade, you know that's actually not the case. And this can actually keep you stuck in a cycle of addiction longer because it takes longer to 'bottom out.'
So well done that you've managed to get 32 days sober. That's an outstanding achievement considering how many years you've been drinking for. Remember just keep it simple and keep going one day at a time.
As you say, the trick starts to become, how do you maintain your sobriety when you get back into your normal work and social routines, where alcohol is readily available and drinking is encouraged (especially with friends)?
Initially, I think try and avoid those situations for as long as you can, at least until you're more secure in your recovery. You just don't want to put yourself in those kinds of high-risk situations when you know you're still particularly vulnerable.
Then when you start attending work and social events again - always go prepared. Know exactly what you're going to say when you get offered a drink. Because when you say, 'no thanks' you always get the question, 'why?' So figure out exactly what you're going to say, something you're comfortable with and that will avoid too many come-backs. And always try have a drink (non-alcoholic obviously) in your hand where possible - so that when you get offered you can always say, 'i'm already sorted, thanks.' That way you stay more in control.
And the other way to be prepared is to always have your exit strategy ready. Because if you get uncomfortable - don't hesitate to leave immediately. So always leave that back door available to yourself if you need it.
In time it gets easier and refusing alcohol becomes no big deal. You'll always get the 'why' questions and some people will always make a joke/try be funny about it so you learn to laugh along. And then everybody forgets about it and you can just get on with trying to have a good time.
The main thing though is patience and time. Took me about 2 years before I was comfortable going into environments where I knew alcohol was freely available and a big part of the occasion. So keep working on yourself in the meantime and get comfortable with the 'new you' before you start putting yourself out there.
But well done on how far you've come so far. All the best.
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