Day 44, and I'm still wrestling with this question.
In my general trawl of sober blogs, books, articles and all things alcohol related, I came across an article which, for me, was a real 'Ah ha!' moment.
The piece, 'A dry January could be a sign of a drink problem', was published in The Telegraph in January last year by Tom Sykes, an ex drinker.
Tom argues that giving up alcohol for January (as he did himself, many times) is not necessarily helpful, as it can give the illusion that you don't have a problem.
I gave up alcohol in January 2014, and for two months (more or less) in the summer of 2013. Like Tom, I argued to myself that this achievement meant that I was categorically not an alcoholic. I was just a bit thirsty.
Tom argues that most people can manage to give up alcohol for a month. The real test is the one advocated by Bill Wilson - the co-founder of AA - and it involves drinking. But just one drink at a time.
Bill believed that alcoholics suffer an 'allergic reaction' to alcohol that makes it impossible to moderate. Once they start drinking they develop an overwhelming urge to drink more.
So, if you want to know if you have a problem with alcohol try drinking just one glass of wine, then stopping. See if you can repeat this every evening for a week. I might have been able to stop drinking for January, but I definitely couldn't pass Bill Wilson's test.
Here's how my week of 'one glass a day' would go:
Monday: Pour large glass wine. Sit on hands to stop self pouring more. Yell at husband and kids and go to bed by 9pm in order to get away from the fridge. Tell self that am very clever and have definitely proved the point.
Tuesday: Repeat with larger glass of wine, bigger argument and earlier bedtime. Congratulate self more, especially given the particularly stressful day I've had.
Wednesday: Since today is even more stressful 2 glasses of wine seems fair enough. It's a stupid test anyway. After all, I can give up for a whole month, so this proves nothing.
Thursday: Pour two glasses. Hell, Thursday is the new Friday. It's the weekend! Finish the bottle! Well done me. I made it through the week.
Denial is a river in Egypt.
I still have problems with the label 'alcoholic' (see Am I an Alcoholic?), but thank you, thank you Tom for further convincing me that I am definitely doing the right thing.
Love to you all SM x
Related posts: 5 signs that you're a problem drinker