One Question? It’s Really That Simple?
First, let me say that nothing written below is original. I didn’t come up with any of it. They’re my words, but the ideas all belong to twelve-step fellowships.
With that disclaimer out of the way – do you think you’re an alcoholic? Maybe you’re drinking too much on weekends. Maybe you’re drinking too much on weekdays. Maybe you’re drinking in the morning, at work, and until you pass out at night.
We all have different definitions of what alcoholism is. There’s the medical and scientific definition, the twelve-step definition, the treatment definition…the list goes on.
With all these conflicting definitions, how can anyone ever REALLY be sure they’re drinking alcoholically?
Well, dear readers, time spent in active alcoholism and in recovery have given me an answer! It’s a question to ask yourself. It’s pretty straightforward and commonsense. It shouldn’t be hard to answer either.
Can I Picture a Life Without Alcohol?
That’s it. From my time spent in the rooms of recovery (almost ten years), I’ve learned that asking yourself this simple question can speak volumes.
Can I picture a life without alcohol? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably not an alcoholic. If booze isn’t that important to you, if it’s merely something that enhances social situations or relieves a bit of stress, then you’re 99.9% not an alcoholic.
Can I picture a life without alcohol? If the answer is no, then you’re in trouble. If you absolutely cannot picture a life in which you don’t drink, something’s wrong. It doesn’t 100% mean you’re an alcoholic, but it does make things complicated.
But Fiona, you might be saying, I can’t picture a life without alcohol…but it’s only because I want to drink at my wedding!
Guess what? That’s alcoholic thinking. Again, it doesn’t mean you’re 100% an alcoholic, but that’s the type of thinking I displayed time and time again in active alcoholism.
See, my wedding isn’t guaranteed. I think I’ll get married one day, but it’s in the future and I can’t predict the future. So, if I can’t picture getting married without drinking, well, things are already looking bad. That means I can’t picture a future date, which may or may not happen, without alcohol!
Sounds a bit alcoholic to me!
Still not convinced that this simple question can help determine if you suffer from alcoholism or not? Fair enough. It’s a bold claim, right? Saying that a single question can accurately gauge a complex mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical disease is a bit of a stretch.
It’s not too much of a stretch though. Most good things in this world (religion, government, etc.) are based on simple ideas. Alcoholism is no different.
Religion is based on the idea that being connected to God and living a good life will payoff in eternity. Government is based on the idea that civilizations need a source of order and protection. Alcoholism is based on the idea that alcohol fills a void in the alcoholic.
If you can’t picture life without alcohol, well, you’re probably using it to fill a void inside your heart and soul. I say this as someone who struggled with that void for years. Guess what I eventually found out?
No amount of booze can make me feel whole. The only way I know to be “happily and usefully whole” is to be sober and be of service to others.
If you think you have a problem with alcohol, ask yourself that question. Ask yourself if you can picture a life without alcohol. Ask yourself honesty and answer honestly.
The answer may just surprise you.