I realized I might be drinking more than I should when I began drinking two or three glasses of wine before I went to meet friends for drinks…you know, just as I was “getting ready”.

I joked that I might be an alcoholic when I started bringing my own alcohol to parties, just so that I could have a good time without worrying about whether there was enough there. One could say that I was just being generous… but I never shared.

I started noticing that I was more focused on alcohol than my friends when I began swapping the water in my water bottles with vodka. Then I would bring that special water bottle to lunches and events, even if my boss was sitting less than 10 ft. away.

I started having moments where alcohol felt a little out of control in my life — especially when I started taking a few swigs of vodka before I went to church on Sunday morning, but I didn’t allow myself to think about it for more than a second.

I acknowledged that I had a minor problem with alcohol when I couldn’t remember the last day I didn’t have at least 2 or 3 drinks, but I knew I’d kick that habit when I was ready. It was just a habit, really… nothing more.

I realized I just had my first blackout when I regained consciousness in one of my coworker’s offices after a particularly rowdy release party — the office was located about a mile from where I last remembered anything, and it was across a 4 lane highway. I had no idea how I got there, and it wasn’t even 6:00 pm yet.

I was confronted with my alcoholism when I finally made a number of efforts to cut it out of my life, even if just for a little while. It was a lot harder than I thought, and I could make it some days, but inevitably would find myself needing a drink to relax or loosen up, or to reward myself, or because it would be weird not to drink at certain events, etc.  At first I tried rules for myself like:

  • You can only drink wine, no vodka, or
  • You can only drink on the weekends, or
  • You can only drink after 5pm, or
  • You can only drink on the weekends, or
  • Only three drinks max….

There were dozens of different rules tried during dozens of tests, but at the end of the day I would always change my mind and drink again. Every time.

Now I was starting to get a little concerned about this alcoholism issue.

I knew I was an alcoholic when I went out on my first date with someone who drank (after being in the program of AA and not drinking for 6 months), and due to the intense social awkwardness, I decided to “take the edge off” with just one drink… which turned into an all-night bender by the following morning.

I knew I was acting alcoholic when I started hiding bottles of vodka in the wheel well of my SUV so that I could drive through McDonald’s to get a Coke, then pull over a few streets up so I could pour out half of the Coke and replace it with the hidden vodka — I found it fun to drink all day Saturday in the car while I ran errands and got groceries, that way I’d be feeling good by the evening when I would really start my drinking.

I appreciated my fiancé so much when he agreed to tolerate my alcoholism, since we could never go to a restaurant that didn’t have a bar, or an event that didn’t serve alcohol, or any trips without bringing our own alcohol. He never questioned it and sometimes helped me make plans to smuggle in the alcohol I needed.

I started to realize that I had a serious problem with alcohol when I slammed my SUV into a light pole on my way home from the bar after 2 am (the bar was less than 5 miles away).  No one else was involved or hurt, but the SUV was totaled. I had to buy a new car.  The first night I had it, I used it to drive to the same bar, get drunk, and drive myself home right past the light pole I had hit.

I was a little embarrassed that I was an alcoholic when I would pour myself a 16 oz. glass full of vodka, set it next to my computer at home while in my pajamas, and begin my workday. That would be the first of many glasses. But, on the flip side, I was proud of the fact that I came off so sober all the time, I’d brag whenever I got the chance about how many of those glasses I could drink and still be OK to drive.

I resigned to the fact that I was an alcoholic when I went on a calorie-restricted diet, and each morning I would start the day by subtracting 50% of the calories from my daily limit, as I knew they would be alcohol calories. But frankly, I didn’t care anymore about that, it is what it is, just like my smoking. Besides, I was dropping weight at an awesome rate so that was good.

I knew I looked like an alcoholic to my fiancé when I was having to stop by the liquor store every two days to pick up at least a fifth of vodka to make it through the next 24-48 hours.

I was panicking and scared to death when, as an alcoholic, the alcohol stopped working.  It just stopped working. No matter how much I drank, or how empty my stomach was beforehand, I just couldn’t get drunk anymore.  What was I going to do now?!?!

These are just a few of the ways that I realized I was an alcoholic and needed help. I tried drinking only on weekends, only with friends, only when I was out, only drinking wine, and so many other tricks, and none of them worked for me. Despite how much I didn’t want to go, I needed the help of Alcoholics Anonymous to get sober.