How I Realized Alcohol Was Making My Life Inevitably Worse

Msnazzy

It is wild to be writing this on my 8-month anniversary of deciding to be alcohol-free, but here we are. I often get asked when I knew I had a problem with alcohol or when I had my “low point” that caused me to make a change, so I wanted to take some time to address these questions and touch on some related topics.

To start off, I did not start drinking until I was a freshman in college, and once I started, it was essentially like being on a rollercoaster that I was unable to get off of. I grew up in a stable home where drinking was present, but only at levels that might be called “normal.” There is addiction and substance abuse generously scattered throughout my family, which I would almost say I was sheltered from. In some ways I feel fortunate not to have witnessed the depths to which addiction runs, but other times I wonder if I would have seen and known more, would I have stopped myself from falling into the same path?

In college, my drinking felt normal, because it was what those that I surrounded myself with did. It felt more normal to blackout 4 days a week than to be someone who refrains from drinking. It never felt like a problem because I would have the ability to blackout all weekend and then still go ace a test at 8am Monday morning.

I remember having family members remind me that I come from a family who struggles with addiction and I needed to be careful. I just remember thinking that there was absolutely no way I would fall into that. I felt like I was too smart to let alcohol (or any substance) destroy the life I was just beginning.

That is the issue. You never think you are going to be the one that has a problem. Your drinking does not feel problematic – until it does. You tell yourself that you are not going to be another statistic or fall into the reputation associated with your last name. Alcohol does not give a shit who you are or what you think you are capable of, if it wants to consume you and you let it, it will.

When I was 20, I was at a point in my life where I was really unhappy and empty, and I was using alcohol to feel better, or so I thought. After a night of binge drinking that ended in a suicide attempt, I wound up in a hospital bed. This was the first time I had licensed professionals questioning my alcohol use. Apparently, I checked all the boxes of someone with a drinking problem.

That was the problem, I never knew who I was going to be that night. I never knew whether I was going to be the loud funny girl, the sad depressed girl, or the impulsive and dangerous girl, and I never knew how a night of drinking was going to end. One thing I did realize was the more I played with fire, the worse the outcomes gradually came.

You might think this would have been a turning point for me, but you would be wrong. My parents forced me (as best they could) to refrain from alcohol. I felt guilty for putting my family through that, so I spent a couple of months refraining from alcohol, but then I started drinking again.

I did not believe I had a problem. I felt like I had it under control. I thought I could drink in moderation.

One thing I have learned in recovery is that you cannot help yourself until you are ready to help yourself. It does not matter if your parents, significant other, or child wants you to get help, if you do not believe it for yourself, you will not get it.

I spent the last couple of years really focusing on my mental health and creating healthy and sustainable ways to combat my anxiety and depression. I fell in love with exercising, I found an amazing therapist, got prescribed anti-anxiety medication, and I could feel things getting better.

However, I was still drinking. I was still drinking like I did in college, maybe fewer days of the week, but still the same intoxicating amounts. I was still waking up with crippling anxiety, having suicidal ideation, making impulsive decisions, and putting myself and others at risk. The repercussions of my drinking were growing worse and worse.

I remember waking one morning after binge drinking and telling myself I had to stop. This was the first time in my entire life I recognized that I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and it was a relationship that I felt like I was losing control over. I realized that alcohol was inevitably making my life a living hell. It was taking all the good things I had going for me and slowly lighting them on fire.

I think that it took me so long to recognize that I had a problem because I did not fit the perceptions I had of someone with a drinking problem. I was not pouring vodka over my cereal or drinking out of a paper bag under a bridge somewhere. I have a good family, a good job, and most of the time I felt genuinely happy. So, how could I possibly have a drinking problem? I was not drinking every day; I was honestly some weeks only drinking maybe once.

When I think about being another statistic, I have to actually look at the statistics.

According to the Addiction Center, alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the United States, yet alcohol abuse is often left untreated. Every year, alcohol is the cause of 5.4% of deaths worldwide (1 in every 20). About 300 million people across the world have an alcohol use disorder. About 20% of Americans who suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder. About 6% of American adults (about 15 million people) have an alcohol use disorder, but only about 7% of those Americans who are addicted to alcohol ever receive treatment.

It is also a fact that over one third of adults in the United States who suffered from an alcohol use disorder are now in full recovery.

While I fell into some of the crappy statistics, I am very fortunate to have recognized my problem and have been able to actively work towards never falling back into those numbers.

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A Dallas Fitness Influencer trying to crush the stigma around living alcohol-free, putting your mental health first, and letting go of anything that doesn't serve you.

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