More than 15 million people struggle with alcohol in the US alone
More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment. More than 65 million Americans report binge drinking in the past month, which is more than 40 percent of the total of current alcohol users. These are the facts when it comes to alcohol.
I've been around the effects of alcoholism through one way or another my entire life. For the longest time, I thought people drinking everyday in excess was normal. That it was just what people do.
Growing up, both my parents were alcoholics. My dad for the most part was and still is a happy drunk. I remember asking him when I was in high school why he has to drink as much as he did. He'd just shrug his shoulders while he'd be sloppily eating food saying he drinks for the effect. My mother on the other hand was a very mean drunk. She would start fights while she was drunk, slurring her speech, her eyes all over the place, barely able to walk, she was so drunk. Those fights got pretty intense.
I remember being a kid and swearing to myself that I would never drink. Haha. The things we tell ourselves that we'll never do! I started drinking when I was 15. I'd drink with friends and at parties, even at home. School and life in general at that time I was so stressful. I hated the school i went to, the people were so stuck up, I was like the poorest kid in the school. I didn't really have any solid friends, I felt so out of place. It was just a mess back then. I started stealing my parents whiskey out of the cabinet and making myself mixed drinks just so i could get some sleep at night. I loved the way I felt. I actually felt like I had gotten some rest and felt a little less stressed.
During my junior year of highschool, one of my closest friends at the time died in a horrific car accident. He was like my brother. When he died, part of myself died. I denied he was dead for a long time after. He had so many plans upon graduating and all of that was gone, disappeared into thin air. It bothered me and still bothers me to this day that his life was cut so short for what reason? I often wonder how different life might be if he got to go on and live his dreams of working with computers. After that I started drinking ALOT . I can vividly remember that following summer. I was drunk pretty much everyday. Lots of parties. Lots of throwing up from drinking so much. Blacking out and not remembering anything and feeling like complete crap the next day. A lot of those parties were really fun, don't get me wrong, but that is no way to live. I can remember standing on a balcony at my friends apartment, drunk on grey goose, loving the feeling of being so intoxicated. It was almost like a craving was being satisfied.
Fast forward to when I got pregnant with my first child, I stopped drinking cold turkey and it was hard but not as hard as I expected it to be. All my friends quit speaking to me since I couldn't drink for the next 9 months . Some friends, right? It was a lonely and dark period in my life, I'm not going to lie. I really envied everyone at the time. I felt I was missing out on so much.
I got back into drinking shortly after I had my son. My dad and my husband at the time, his parents were always trying to babysit. Clearly we didn't know what else to do with our time without our kid, but drink and party. We were young. It was normal. It was mostly weekend binge drinking but that's still so hard on your body. A few years later, after I left my ex husband, I started drinking a bit more. When I didn't have my son and I was alone, I took solace in drinking. I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment and I was stressed to the max. It's clearly evident when I check out old photos of me from that time period. I lost soo much weight just from drinking instead of eating . I'd skip dinner most of the time and opt for a beer instead. I didn't have an appetite. It was hard for me to sleep back then because I was always irrationally paranoid someone would break in, which actually later turned out to be a valid fear, but that's another story for another day. I would drink after I got off work just so I would be able to fall asleep that night. Sometimes 3 or 4 beers, sometimes 6 or 7. It became normal for me and so many people I knew around me also drank like that. I figured it was just the normal thing to do and didn't really question if it was a problem or not until much later on . After I had my second child, I pretty well stopped drinking altogether. The hangovers hurt more the older you get and you just kind of decide one day that you don't enjoy feeling like that . It feels awful. Alcohol wrecks havoc on your complexion too. You can always tell who the drunks are in a photo just by looking at their skin, at least I can now. Now that I rarely drink, I compare photos of myself to about 5 years ago and the difference is staggering. I swear I look like a completely different person. I'm thankful though too that I evolved more so as a person in my own development to realize that I don't need alcohol to have a good time or to cope with things. Many are not strong enough to realize that .
My father in law died in march 2019 after drinking heavily for the better part of 20, 30 years. He was only 51 when he died. Too young. Addiction is a terrible thing to witness. It's heartbreaking knowing you can only lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. You can't make someone see that they have a problem and even if they do, there's no guarantee that they will change their ways. In my father in laws case, he knew he was ill. He knew he was physically dependent on it and he couldn't stop. The withdrawals would make him so sick. The only thing that remotely did help was drinking.
The thing about alcoholism that most people don't realize, is that, alcoholism isn't always some long drawn out process. Some people can drink heavy all their lives and be fine and then one day they just drop dead from it. My father in law went to the hospital on a Friday and never checked out. He was dead by the next weekend. We all thought he would be fine. We were wrong.
I am incredibly fortunate that I have never truly got alcohol poisoning to where i had to be admitted. I know there were some nights that I probably should have died from the quantities I consumed and somehow by the grace of god, i survived and didn't die in my sleep. It's scary when you wake up from a night of drinking and see puke on the floor but don't remember ever vomiting . What if I had choked on my own vomit? Would anyone have heard me?