Alcoholic? Recognize the One Thing that Sets Alcoholics Apart from Other Drinkers

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Alcoholism is complex yet simple.  Its complexities are in the mindset, the fallout,  and the lies. They are how the alcoholic treats people, the money spent, and where he or she sleeps at night. The addiction itself is more basic;  it is the inability to stop drinking.

Lying to one’s self that all the other lies protect people, save face, or avoid arguments, only supports denial.  Believing one’s self a victim of alcohol, keeps an alcoholic stuck in defeat. 

We all know the stories about a guy in the ditch who loses his home, job, and family.  Some of us have jeered at a drunk friend falling down and slurring his or her words. We make assumptions that alcoholism looks only like that…

Or drinking during the day.  Or the fifth DUI.  Or anything that is not what we do. 

Two accounts: who is an alcoholic? 

A man’s story:  I started drinking with my friends as a teenager.  By college it was difficult to concentrate on schoolwork because all I could think about was Friday night. Saturdays were hangover day, and Sundays I did my laundry.

One Sunday, Friday seemed too far away.  So while my laundry turned, I finished off a bottle of beer. No big deal, right? Except now, my thoughts began to focus on Friday night and Sundays. That beer didn’t mess me up on Monday, so why not? 

It took a while to realize I had no control. I didn’t lose control,  I’d never had it.  Alcoholism was part of me, and had been since the beginning.  I’d made fun of anticipating weekends along with everyone else. The difference seemed that while they could drink recklessly, alcohol was never off my mind. 

I drank and quit off and on for years. No one at work suspected.  My wife and children knew not to count on me on weekends,  but I did not see the problem. I worked hard. No one was ever hungry.  Why wasn’t that good enough?  

It’s not that I didn’t love my family. It’s that the next drink was on my mind when my daughter showed off her dance moves, and during my son’s ballgames.  My wife would describe her day, and afterward I had no idea what she said.  I wasn’t  present.  

Eventually, the drinking showed up on weekdays, then every afternoon on my way home from work, and then in early mornings.  My big wake-up call was my daughter’s graduation. I missed it.

I’ve been in recovery for fourteen years.  I will never stop needing AA.  In a flash, for no reason other than compulsion, I could lose everything for good. 

A woman:   My problem with alcohol is what most people would call nonexistent.  In college I noticed that I never forgot any drink I had, and that it would still be on my mind months later.  Cravings continued even though rarely satisfied due to religious misgivings.

It became evident very quickly that my choice of alcoholic drinks was never intended to quench my thirst or satisfy my palette.  I drank for one reason, and one reason only. Escape.  One was never enough.

Alcohol did not take over my life, for which I am grateful. I’ve been an almost perfect teetotaler for 40 years, having decided to not drink anymore at age 19.  I doubt very many people would call me an alcoholic or problem drinker.

Yet on the four occasions since college that I have had a drink , one was not enough.  Those four occasions equal more than a dozen drinks and a couple of bottles. They remain on my mind years later.  I’ve lied about them, too.  Still, some would say that’s not enough evidence.   

What anyone dubs me is of no concern at all.  Alcoholism, like any addiction, affects how one thinks.  Alcoholic is not a term I use to describe myself. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t fit. 

I’ve attended AA for years. Fact is,  if I pick up another drink, it won’t be the only one. There is no guarantee I would ever stop again. That’s all the evidence I need to know I have a problem. 

Find help and information

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119: 31,32

I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.



NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Pics: Bottles by MATCHSTICK, runner by ARINAS74 on

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