One question that newcomers have when they come to a meeting for the first time is “Am I an alcoholic?” Many of us have suspected, often for years, that we were, but the very nature of the illness itself is to convince us otherwise. The illness will make us search for evidence to the contrary: “That person drinks way more than I do” “I’ve never gotten a DWI.” “I only meet all the diagnostic criteria.”
As I sit in the rooms I will often here people share things that should serve as warning signs that an addiction may be present.
- Hiding your drinking
- Hiding what you drink
- Forgetting where you hide what you drink
- Being annoyed/embarrassed when people find what you would have liked to drink
- Drinking before going to an event so people won’t think you drink too much
- Drinking after going to an event because you didn’t want people to think you drink too much
- Worrying about what others think of your drinking
- Worrying about your drinking yourself
- Having your drug dealer take you to detox because he’s worried about how much you drink (true story used with permission)
The list could be almost endless. But the red flags seem to have a common theme. If you think there’s a problem there probably is. What separates those who need a chair in the fellowship from those who don’t is what comes after recognizing the problem. Those who have just been drinking too much (college students, soldiers, vacationers for example) just stop. They do it without much thought or effort because they can.