Discover the Truth About Yourself
How do I know if I’m an elephant? How do I know if I’m a tiger? How do I know if I’m an alcoholic? Well, if you have a trunk and you’re the largest land mammal around, you’re an elephant! If you’re a wild cat with orange and black stripes, are owned by Siegfried and Roy (or if you’re a professional golfer with a Nike endorsement and have cheated on your wife), you’re a tiger! Those two are easy.
How do you know if you’re an alcoholic, though? That isn’t an easy question to answer. Unlike being an elephant or tiger, appearances and behaviors aren’t exclusive signs of alcoholism. Yes, alcoholics have some general characteristics, but there aren’t any exclusive traits. That homeless guy holding a sign and sleeping under a bridge? He’s probably an alcoholic, but all alcoholics aren’t homeless. So, the answer to whether you’re an alcoholic is elusive and, at times, subjective. How do we answer this question? How can I tell if I am an alcoholic?
My Moment of Clarity
Well, a few years ago, I was in upstate New York. I was in a hair salon, asking myself this very question. I was reading Reader’s Digest, while the toxic fumes of AquaNet burned my nose. A few pages into Reader’s Digest, I saw a questionnaire titled “How Do I Know If I’m an Alcoholic?” It was a multiple-choice, ten question test. I was like “perfect! I’ll finally know!”
I borrowed a pen from the front dest and began to answer the first question. As soon as my pen hit paper, an eighty-year old woman snatched the magazine from my hands. “Oh, honey, only alcoholic’s take that test,” she said. “I’m not an alcoholic, just curious.” I replied. She smiled and shook her head. “No, you’re not just curious, you’re an alcoholic.”
Okay, now I’m getting pissed. This old broad has no idea who I am and here she is judging me! She’s judging me just because I wanted to take some stupid Reader’s Digest quiz! Somehow, I kept my cool and asked her “how do you know I’m an alcoholic?”
“Well, the non-alcoholic person doesn’t wonder. They don’t ask themselves questions, they don’t even let the thought cross their mind, See, for them, being an alcoholic isn’t even an option, because alcohol isn’t that important to them. They don’t need it. So, if they had couple rough nights, or even a rough couple of weeks, they stop and that’s it. But, the person who puts pen to that test is struggling with the idea of alcoholism. They’re wrestling with the concept of not drinking. They’re fighting against the idea of a better life without alcohol. That’s how I know you’re an alcoholic! Plus, your car has an empty bottle in the back seat, your eyes are bloodshot from last night, and you still smell like booze,” she replied. She knew!
It turned out she was a recovering alcoholic herself, with over forty years in recovery. Guess what else. It turned out she was right. I was an alcohol. How did she know and I didn’t? How did she know YEARS before I did?
Well, if I’m wondering if I’m a tiger, I’m going to get the best possible answer from a tiger. If I’m wondering if I’m an alcoholic, I’m going to get the best possible answer from another alcoholic. We know what despair feels like. What know what despair smells like, looks like, walks like, and talks like.
So, if you’re asking yourself if you may be an alcoholic, go to a meeting and ask someone. Ask someone with a few years sober. Hell, ask someone with a few months sober (who’s worked the steps, of course). They may tell you “yes.” They may tell you “no.” Regardless, they’ll be able to help like no one else.