Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Am I an Alcoholic? Part 2

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


  1. How interesting I don't know if I could have and stop at one !!! Here I sit all smug at not having any but dare not try this experiment x I have frequently questioned myself over the past few weeks that have I stopped drinking forever? I still don't know the answer I'm not sure if I dare risk the just one experiment which I am guessing that yes that means I so do have a problem ( when I drink) for now abstinence and sobriety are the only challenge I'll give myself but as you have previously said will I never taste a cold glass of champagne ever again ? That's to hard to contemplate - for now x

  2. Definitely one day at a time for me ( day 3 today, hurrah!) but this article is thought-provoking for me indeed. I've struggled time and again over the last 6 months to moderate my drinking.. It always starts well but quickly spirals downwards!! I seriously lack an "off-switch" gene. And for me, personally, I think this proves I have something I need to address. Anyhoo, today I bought myself flowers instead of wine, and right now (in bed, with choc) I'm mighty pleased with myself! x

  3. Oh yes, this sounds familiar. Nothing on a Monday, one glass on a Tuesday etc, etc and definitely celebrating the ‘new Friday’ by Thursday. Hell yes, I can moderate. Yes I can definitely moderate in a thinking-about-it-all-the-bloody-time sort of way. And do you know what? I can even justify the whole Thursday/ Friday thing to myself because I DIDN’T DRINK ON MONDAY BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM! Ooh, I definitely don’t want to go back there. Loving the blog SM. Thanks for keeping us all focused on why we really need to do this. Flossie x

    1. Let's all hold hands across the World Wide Web - yee hah! (Sorry for the over enthusiasm - too much hot chocolate!) SM x

  4. That is a very thought provoking article. A lot of strategies I read about for people who are trying to abstain/moderate are a lot like the strategies I read on various food/diet boards where people are trying to not binge eat or not have certain snacks in the house because they can't portion control. A glass of wine is like lays potato chips, can't stop at just one!!! or was that pringles??? so many of these strategies between drinking and overeating are so much the same. I don't have a weakness for sweets but I most definitely do for salty/spicy things and there is a brand of jalapeno potato chips that I simply cannot buy anymore as I will devour them within an hour. I would be so proud of myself when I could stop at 2 medium to large glasses of wine but then I'd look at the bottle and go, wow, there's not even a glass left in there, might as well finish it off! What's the point of saving that, it'll go stale/bad, etc. But yeah, I'm thinking moderating is not working so well with the wine witch. Or the chip witch. Yeah me.
    Southern Emily

    1. I don't have a sweet tooth either, but I can inhale a family sized pack of ready salted crisps in 5 minutes flat!

  5. I could never have just one glass of wine. What would be the point?! I know my answer. I wish it was different but it is what it is. Great article by the way, and congrats on day 44! A x

  6. I'm finding your blog very helpful

    1. Thanks 95, you've made my day! Keep in touch and spread the word. Love SM x

  7. It's a really good point. I can strongly suggest you to check mind-globe.com/category/self-help/alcohol-addictions, it is full of article about giving up alcohol and methods that could really help people if they're willing to do it :)