Paulelmo's Blog

I don’t consider my problems with drinking a disease

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Top view of near empty beer glass with bottle caps and bottles on rustic wood background. Low key still life with directional natural lighting for effect. Selective focus on bottle caps and droplets.

I use the term “substance abuser” rather than alcoholic and/or addict because I think things like this are applicable no matter what the intoxicant in question is or was. Heck, it might be shopping or Thursday bingo; it can be any habit that we wish to change or curb. If there’s something we do more than we wish we did, it’s a problem. I think we all have something that fits that category.

We are never our perfect selves, nor are we going to be; still, I can’t life with myself if I’m not constantly trying to get, and be, better.

My thing was booze, yet I shudder from using the word “alcoholic.” I was a problem drinker, yes, but I never got to the point when I had to keep a bottle by the night stand, and I don’t ever recall getting the shakes from not drinking.

I don’t necessarily believe that means I had a disease, in the traditional sense of the word. I have friends and family members (including my father) who have died from cancer and other chronic diseases, and I have others who have survived battles of such. I think that if I were such a person I would probably be offended if someone placed drinking–at least the way I did it–in the same category as something that could take my life despite any action on my part.

As a drinker, I could go to therapy, group sessions, and meetings, and by doing such, I could have a hope of battling my affliction–which I will grant it was. A person with cancer can’t do that. All three of those things could help, yes, but if he or she has an aggressive type of the disease, all the meetings in the world aren’t going to save them.

So, this is how I define the affliction for myself, but I’m not saying that it’s how others should. We should each define it in the manner that best helps us understand it and progress with it. I don’t say “combat,” because I think a pugilistic stance isn’t conducive to well-being (it robs me of serenity), and I don’t say “solve,” because I just don’t think that’s possible.

I manage it. I deal with it. I work at it. I focus on it. I want to do better. I want to be better. I love my wife and kids and am focused on what they deserve of me, from me. I realize what all I have to lose if I go back to how I was. I pray. I pray a lot. I pray throughout every day. It is a continuously active process, this piecing together of sober days. I’ve done it a bunch, but still I have to wake up and start it again every morning.

I was a problem drinker, and, for today at least, I am not actively that.

7 Replies to “I don’t consider my problems with drinking a disease”

    1. Thank you, brother; and thanks for being a part of it. The relationships I’ve forged here, with guys like you and Ravi, definitely underscore this part of my life, which is so much a part of how I keep the cork in it. I appreciate you being here, sir.

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