As we go from being college blackout professionals to business and career professionals, there comes a time when we have to start questioning whether or not all the drinking and partying is all in good fun – for the stories and creating new opportunities – or if it is becoming a problem. Now that I am midway through my twenties, I have dealt with addiction through loved ones, and it sucks. There are varying levels of addiction and everybody has a different bed of rocks that they come crashing down on. The goal now is to realize whether or not you have a problem and change your behavior, before you get down to that level.
When I was in my early 20s and was a young, spry, fresh-out-of-college-unemployed contributor to society, I dated a girl who was in AA. It was a great experience for me as it forced me to do things sober that I was uncomfortable about. When I thought about it, starting in college, just about everything I did revolved around alcohol. Parties, sports games, bar nights, hooking up with girls, driving(haha, jk my frat had sober drivers, PLEDGEEEE!!!!), and even studying involved some form of alcohol or drugs. But when I was with my girlfriend, I wasn’t doing those things and believe it or not, I was fine! While we didn’t last, I was able to understand some of the feelings that she experienced and considered as part of her problem with addiction, and realized that I have those feelings inside me sometimes, as well.
A few years have gone by and I have heard more stories about friends our age who have gotten DUIs, gone to rehab, crashed their cars, embarrassed themselves at a party, thrown up on a bar; the list goes on. It is past the point now where we are “just kids” or “made a mistake”. By now, the smoke and mirrors have disappeared and we are who we are. Not that we can’t change, I’m not talking about Mackelmore here, but it is time to be honest with yourself and really evaluate if you have a problem.
Here are a few characteristics of a person with a substance abuse problem:
- Constantly Blacking Out – I think this is an obvious one. If you go out and black out every time you drink, you have a problem. And the problem isn’t that your body doesn’t react well to certain types of Vodka. The problem is that you drank 6 Vodka Sodas in an hour, they all kicked in at once and you woke up this morning vaguely remembering your pants down around your ankles while you were sitting on the toilet last night, but can’t remember if you threw up on yourself, were pooping, or it was just a precaution.
- Drinking Alone – Again, if you have a drink winding down after work, or during dinner by yourself, I would consider that a normal course of business. But if you’re getting wasted sipping down a little bit of granny’s old cough medicine and at any point experiencing the symptoms mentioned in No. 1 above, I’d say there is an issue.
- Drinking Before Things or In Order to Do Things – Now let’s be honest, you throw a few drinks in me and much better at having sex than if I’m coming in dead sober off the bench. I’m ok with that. I had dinner with a friend one time who I was concerned had a problem. As I waited in the restaurant, I saw them pull in the parking lot, but they didn’t come into the restaurant for 15 minutes. Long story short, they were drinking in the car prior to coming to dinner. RED LIGHT!!
- Feeling Like you NEED to Drink – Everybody says, “I’ll need a lot of wine to get through dinner with my in laws,” but if you actually do, it’s trouble. Let’s do the math here: In-Laws who don’t like you + Becoming a drunk idiot + trying to milk the dog = In-Laws who REALLY don’t like you!! It might be awkward, but if you can’t suck it up for a little porno password, you might be in trouble
If you or anyone you know has a substance abuse or any other type of addiction problem, reach out to the Alcohol Abuse Hotline: 1-888-995-6046 or visit their website.
By Ian Barto