After browsing through the archives of my personal blog during the peak of my use (sophomore year of college), I realized something: I made so many damn excuses.
Nothing was my fault. But more importantly, nothing was my good friend Alcohol's fault.
I can see that so clearly now when reading through old posts where I had written about feeling depressed, having strained friendships, being frustrated with academics. It never even occurred to me that alcohol could be the root of all the blooming issues in my life -- until getting sober that is.
In retrospect, there were signs I should have paid attention to.
- Most of your social events are centered around drinking, and if there isn't drinking, you feel disappointed or no longer want to attend. The only way you feel like you enjoy yourself is with alcohol in your system.
- Nothing is ever alcohol's fault (when in reality most things are). This quote from the AA Big Book sums it up well: "Something bad didn't happen every time I drank, but every time something bad happened, I had been drinking." Think about it. Chances are it's true.
- You don't care about consequences and convince yourself such an event was a one-time occurrence. You just didn't think ahead and next time you will know better.
- More than once, you've made a less-than-thought-out decision regarding the opposite sex (or the same sex, if you roll that way). Chances are if you're drinking to the point that it often clouds your judgment, you should put that bottle down.
- Your hangovers become more severe. In my first dew weeks of treatment, I learned that hangovers were actually withdrawals. That it me hard, even if I refused to show it. The fact that I would wake up some mornings feelings as if I had died and come back to life was not the price I paid for a fun night, as I tried to tell myself. It was my body's way of telling me I couldn't keep doing what I was doing. Feeling like you are going to vomit every five minutes, feeling like you are crawling out of your skin, or sweating is not normal.
- The illegality of drinking underage and/or being in a bar underage no longer fazes you. I got to this point pretty quickly because it seemed like everyone I drank with was underage as well. I tended to forget that it even carried consequences, as well as put the bar in jeopardy for serving someone under age.
- You rationalize, rationalize, rationalize your use. As someone pointed out to me a while ago, rationalizations are really just lies to make yourself feel better about your actions. There were many times that I convinced myself something wasn't my fault because, for example, I had had an energy drink as well as hard liquor, and I wouldn't make that mistake again. Time after time, I would repeat my mistakes yet still rationalize.
- One is one too many, one more is never enough. Probably the biggest tell-tale sign of the alcoholic is the inability to stop drinking once we have started. "One more, one more, one more" is always running through our minds.
- You realize it is taking you more and more alcohol to feel the effects to the magnitude you want. The first time I got drunk, I had two beers. Two beers = low tolerance. Towards the end of my drinking, I could have seven to eight drinks in two to three hours and be at that same level. That's a pretty damn high tolerance and escalation.
- Your physical appearance is changing, and not for the better. Some people can drink and not observe the effects physically, but chances are that if you're a heavy drinker, your body is reacting negatively. In my case, I put on 15 to 20 pounds and had a really unhealthy coloring (then there is the internal damage).
- After a night out, you find yourself doing damage control more often than not. Whether this be finding personal belongings or making apologies to anyone you may have offended, it sucks. It always sucks. And you really don't realize the immensity of that weight until it is lifted and you can wake up in the morning perfectly able to recall every single action.