11 Ways to Convince Yourself You're Not an Alcoholic

By Amber Tozer 04/30/15

The grisly results of denial.


I feel like there is a very interesting time between when we think we “might” have a problem to when we finally admit that we are indeed an alcoholic and ask for help. Some of us finally admit it, then are like, “Fuck it. I’m not gonna stop.” There is a long process of trying to control “it.” It being the most baffling mental problem we will ever have to deal with—alcoholism. 

This time period usually lasts for years and it’s hell. I would not wish this mental state on any of my enemies. Well, maybe I’d wish it on this one dude who was really rude to my little sister, but other than him I would not wish this type of mental torture on anyone else. Ok, maybe one more person—my cousin Julie because she’s evil—but that’s it. Just that one guy and Cousin Julie. I better work on my resentments and get to that enlightened state where I genuinely forgive people and love them. I am not there yet because I still like the idea of mean people suffering. Isn’t that horrible? Yes, it is! Maybe I'll work on it tomorrow! Anyways, during this “trying to control it phase” it’s impossible to enjoy drinking like you used to—maybe you’ll get a few moments of happiness, but not like you did when you first started to party. 

I don't think you fucked all those strangers. I just liked the repetitive nature of that edgy assumption.

When I was in this phase, I was confused as to why the booze wasn’t working. I’d have a few and either feel numb, or blackout, or maybe get a tad bit of relief from how horrible I felt when I was sober. But, for the most part, it sucked and I hated it and couldn’t stop. Not being able to stop something you no longer even enjoy is a very special type of insanity. It creates another type of insanity, which is basically a bad idea but you think it’s going to to solve the problem—and this insane idea is—you think you can control your drinking. 

Here are a list of things an alcoholic might try do when they initially enter this phase, followed by what usually happens. (I pulled these from personal experience, conversations with alcoholics and stories I’ve read.) 

What we tell ourselves:  I will only have two drinks tonight. 

What usually happens: You have two drinks, plus seven more. You aren’t a liar, you can’t have nine drinks without having the first two! 

What we tell ourselves: Don’t go to a bar. Stay home. 

What usually happens: You read a book for 10 minutes, but you can't focus so you try to find something to watch on TV. Ugh, when will they take Friends off the air? You are sick of it. Ross has a gross voice and Monica needs to calm down—someone give that high-strung lady a drink! You turn off the TV. Look in the fridge for some white wine. There’s nothing there because you drank it yesterday, but you already knew that because you’ve been thinking about it all day. Pace the apartment. Think about going for a walk. Go for a walk, oh look, how convenient—a store. Buy a bottle of booze. Just one bottle. Take it home and have a drink. Feel bad about it, drink the rest of it. Make some drunken phone calls and feel good about yourself for reaching out to loved ones. If you don’t pass out, you might go get another bottle. Wake up the next morning wanting to die because you have flashbacks of yelling or crying on the phone and flirting with the cashier who had dirty fingernails. 

What we tell ourselves: Eat a lot before you drink so you won’t get drunk.

What usually happens:  You eat a cheeseburger, then drink a lot. Oh no, now you’re drunk and full. If you don’t throw up, maybe you’ll pass out early and wake up at midnight. The good news is, there is still time to drink before you go back to bed. It's all in the timing. 

What we tell ourselves: I’m a social drinker. I only drink with other people to have fun. 

What usually happens: Your definition of social goes from drinking with friends to going to a bar alone, and since other people are at the bar you feel social. Then maybe you start to drink before work or before casual lunch dates and before ya know it, social drinking turns into drinking anytime you are awake. 

What we tell ourselves: I stopped for a month once. I can’t be an alcoholic if I can stop whenever I want. 

What usually happens: You try to stop again. Maybe you’re successful for a few days or maybe even a few months, but you always go back to drinking because you think since you can stop, why not start again? The problem is, you are drinking a lot and sometimes you can’t stop, or you might even forget that you are trying to stop in the first place. Then you get to a point where you don’t even care if you can stop because if you care—it’s more painful. Besides, even though you feel like shit when you drink, it’s not as bad as you feel when you’re hungover. This becomes a living hell and you are the only occupant; everyone else seems like they are living a way better life than yours. 

What we tell ourselves: I'll quit if it gets really bad. Like, if I ever start doing hard drugs, or going home with strangers (I've only done this once, ok twice, and I'll never do it again) or getting into bar fights, I'll stop. 

What usually ends up happening: You change your definition of hard drugs from cocaine to black-tar heroine so cocaine is now on your "safe list." The stranger you went home with ends up turning into a fuck-buddy relationship, and although it's very toxic and dramatic, it makes you feel like you didn't go home with a stranger—it feels like you "met someone." And any bar fights you're in are not your fault. They are always started by the other person, or at least that's what you think happened. You can't quite remember, which is even better because knowing what really happened might be a painful truth you'd rather not know about. 

What we tell ourselves: I'm not as bad as that guy. 

What usually happens: The guy you're comparing yourself to is either a friend who has two or more DUIs, a heroine addict you see in a movie, or a homeless man you saw behind the dumpster you were drunkenly peeing next to. There's always gonna be someone who drinks and does more drugs than you, and has three times the amount of problems you have, so you can forever be the one who is "not as bad as that guy." And this is how you'll justify why it's ok, in your mind, to keep drinking and taking drugs. Congratulations, your alcoholic way of thinking found a way to make you feel like it's ok to continue to be an active alcoholic! Imagine that. 

What we tell ourselves: I'll quit after New Year's, or after my sister's wedding, or after some event that I can not handle sober. 

What usually happens:  You change your mind to next New Year's, and maybe since you didn't get completely hammered at your sister's wedding you all of sudden think you don't have a problem anymore. Oh, and that one event you couldn't handle sober ended up being such a shit-show you had to drink to get over it. No matter what you do or feel or think about how bad your drinking is, your cunning alcoholic voice finds a way to drown out any common sense you might have. In fact, it makes you think that your common sense is the crazy voice in your head! 

What we tell ourselves: Maybe yoga and meditation will help me. 

What usually happens: You go to a yoga class and sort of like it. You wake up some mornings and close your eyes and focus on your breath and think, “Hmm, it’s hard to sit still because my mind is racing but this is sort of cool.” Then, you go to a bar and get hammered and fuck a stranger!

What we tell ourselves:  I’ll do a 10-day cleanse. 

What usually happens: You either do or don’t do a 10-day cleanse and then you go to a bar and get hammered and fuck a stranger! 

What we tell ourselves: I’ll read this self-help book. 

What usually happens: You read that book and go to a bar and get hammered and fuck a stranger! 

I don't think you fucked all those strangers. I just liked the repetitive nature of that edgy assumption but you get the picture. No matter what you tell yourself, what usually happens is more drinking and more consequences. The good news is, trying to convince yourself that you’re not an alcoholic is healthy, because if you're like me, you won’t ever to get the point of admitting you are one without this phase. I had to try to control it to understand that I couldn't. It’s a painful necessity filled with confusion, pain, regret, and if you’re lucky, maybe a little bit of fun. Here, the hope is that you get to a place of so much pain that you finally ask for help. 

I hope whatever direction you take while you’re trying to control it will lead you to a path of peace and serenity. And if you’re sober, I hope you are enjoying not trying to control it.

Amber Tozer is a comedy writer who lives in Los Angeles. She last wrote about a date gone awry, and five whole reasons sobriety tends to be awesome.

follow her on Twitter @AmberTozer

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