The Banality of Addiction

Right about now, as I write this, I would be deep into drinking for the night. Not, “on my second cocktail,” or anything like that, I would be deep into drinking straight vodka directly from a plastic bottle, sneaking deep chugs from my hiding spot in the empty kitchen cabinet that only I would be able to reach, finding reasons to go back to the kitchen until I got so bleary eyed I would just pass out. In between I was being argumentative, forgetting conversations and robbing my loved ones of the person they know and replacing that person with this shadow creature, while I hid from every fear, anxiety and emotion. I wasn’t physically abusive, I wasn’t driving drunk or putting anyone else at risk. But I wasn’t present, and I certainly was hurting people while I went somewhere else, drowning on purpose.

Constant justification is a hallmark of a deluded drunk.

It has been two months since my last drink, and it sucks. Not sobriety, that part is working out just fine, but the self-loathing and regret that comes from being an alcoholic and how much sobriety forces you to think…about everything.

I was committing a form of slow suicide because I’m too much of a coward to outright kill myself. I was afraid of life.  So, instead, I settled into a cycle of working through a hangover, completing the bare minimum to sustain the facade, then slipping into the comfort of oblivion. It’s boring being sober, but it’s boring being a drunk too, and worse, it’s confusing chaos for anyone within the orbit of the drunkard. (This post gets funnier toward the end, I think.)

I don’t have a good excuse either. Not a terrible childhood, pretty great life so far. No reason for being a drunk other than being a coward and it makes my head warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I wish I was molested so that I have a better story than, “I, uh, just like to get drunk.”

Alcoholism is so mundane I feel like a cliche. Everyone knows an alcoholic. It’s more ubiquitous and easier to maintain than vegetarianism. It’s not the uber-trendy Opioid addiction. If I had more foresight, I would have at least made my drink of choice more interesting, like I only got drunk off of prison wine that I fermented myself in a hole in the backyard.

The most frustrating part about sobriety is the ubiquity of alcohol and the aggrandizement of it. You don’t really notice until you’re trying not to notice. You don’t have to suck a dick for a shot of liquor, but you’d have to toss a lot of salads to avoid booze for just an hour. Supermarkets, sporting events (before, during and after), a casual visit to a friend’s house, the first question at every sit-down restaurant, children’s pizza parlors, ice-cream parlors, basically any place using the word “parlor,” your parents’ retirement community, movies (James Bond doesn’t have a cute way to order Amyl Nitrate, “Poppers, anus-loosening poppers, crushed, not solid.”), an increasing number of hair salons, all gatherings of more than one person, every other advertisement and seemingly every second of television.

I drew this during a much more innocent time, when I was able to affectionately call myself a “classy drunk.”

By the way, the advertising on the internet before I started writing this were all things I had purchased in the last month; I bought shoes, bam, shoe ads; I bought a toaster, and I’m getting multiple toaster ads like I need a toaster in every room. In the days since I started writing this post,  I have been getting nothing but beer and liquor ads on every website I visit. Just in case you’re wondering if the algorithms are watching.

Even while you’re driving you’re passing trucks transporting booze, billboards, people working off their DUI’s on the side of the road picking up empty beer cans that were thrown out the window by the staggering amount of drunk drivers you’re sharing the road with at any given time. You can’t escape it. My councilor recommended that I get a hobby, so I took up cooking. Guess what reoccurs as a prime ingredient in most sauces, marinade, vinaigrettes and a depressing number of desserts?

No to diminish heroin addiction, but heroin is never sold as a classy lifestyle; you can’t buy upscale syringes and tie-off kits in Bed Bath and Beyond, but you can buy 52 different styles of martini glasses. Engaged heroin addicts don’t register for bent spoons and torches at Macy’s.

Don’t get me wrong, if you can drink responsibly, please do. I’m not one to demonize booze, I know it can be fun (oh how I know). Keep having fun, I’m the one with the problem. If you are on the fence about quitting or even cutting down a little, I’m no advocate or sponsor, but I will say that regular poops are pretty underrated.

I have a very strong “f*ck it,” reflex and very weak willpower. I’m trying.

***

As an addendum, as I get back into writing, this isn’t going to become the sob-story 12-stepper blog, I assure you.

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9 Comments

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  1. I admire your decision to quit drinking, Pickleope, and to go into counselling and a 12-step program. You are worth it and so is your spouse and child. Life is beautiful and you are strong enough to deal with it, my friend.

    Oh, and I will never see James Bond the same way again. Thank you for that.

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  2. Hang in there. My daughter is almost 8 years sober, and she is living a wonderful life “after”!

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  3. Stick with it, darlin. It’s about as hard as losing weight, my sister told me so. She’s only one year sober and she’s still struggling. She says seeing ads and crap that touts liquor makes it so much worse. You’re better than that and you’ll get past this. Get a better hobby, like sewing. I’m serious, learn to sew clothes for the little one in the family.

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  4. I’ll try this again. My wifi keeps blinking out when I hit post.

    I’m kind of an expert at quitting drinking (I quit all the time), and one thing I’ve noticed is that new hours just appear if I don’t drink. I end up asking, “Where did all of these hours come from and how do I fill them all?”

    But you’re right: So long as you don’t beat your spouse or kill people on the freeway, drinking is socially accepted. I wish you strength on this – I’m right behind you, I think. I quit smoking this year and, well, one thing at a time…

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  5. I am not much of a drinker, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drunk as a skunk in the past but now days I rarely drink and can nurse one drink for an hour or two easy. Tim is a heavy drinker usually having 6 or 8 glasses of wine often with a shot of vodka mixed in with it, with I think is yuck but he also works hard never drinks and drives or drinks and work he only drinks at home. Choosing not to drink is hard one of the hardest things for some to do, so way to go you

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  6. I’m proud of you for giving it up. Hang in there. My son is an alcoholic. He hasn’t had a drink since January. I like him a lot better sober.

    Love,
    Janie

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  7. Ah, thanks for sharing this. Seriously. You and I are weirdly similarities in our lives.

    So, confession time: I consider myself a, uhhhh… “problematic drinker” too. Just like you, I’ve never drove drunk or drank during work or picked fights while drunk (my personality doesn’t even change – I don’t start being mean to Boyfriend or anything.) However, if it were up to me, I’d drink a whole bottle of wine every single night.

    Good for you for giving it up completely. I haven’t gotten there yet. Sometimes I go through periods where I try to stop drinking mon-thurs, and then it slowly starts creeping back up to every night, which is where I am now. I have it somewhat under control currently by measuring the number of ounces of wine I allow myself each night.

    And yes, alcohol is EVERYWHERE. If I’m in a non-drinking period, I find it unbearable. There’s wine in every tv show Boyfriend and I watch. I was reading something about someone making an instagram account/app related to *not* drinking, and all he got on it were booze ads. It is super tough to not be tempted. Stay strong, bud!

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  8. Just checking in. How ya doin? Been through this with the missus and others. And thanks for the Amyl Nitrate blast from the past. It’s been about 40 years since that stuff. Woohoo! Throwing up in someone’s hair is a real icebreaker, ain’t it?

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