Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Alcoholism runs in my family. We can trace it (my aunt has our lineage traced down 20 or so generations) to some native Americans, or Irish or who knows... The thing is I know I am predisposed to like taking a drink. And I do. This doesn't mean I get rip-roaring drunk or even a little buzzed... sometimes I go days or even (rarely) weeks without taking a drink at all. But usually I like to imbibe.

And I know there is nothing wrong with that. For now anyway. But I wonder, as I get older and my health is more of a concern if I should worry about it? I know a lot more than I ever wanted to about cancer and how what we take into our bodies can make us sick. And a part of me longs for a cold beer or cocktail at certain times. It just doesn't feel the same without it. Like say vacation, I would like to kick back with a drink. Again I'm not talking about being drunk, just the relaxation that can only come (for me) with a drink in my hand.

I really don't know. I don't know if it is worth it to live for a year or two longer or even 5-10 years if I have to do that while abstinent. My wife would likely try to convince me otherwise, but I am unsure. My father is likely dieing. Hell we are all dieing, but my dad I think has congestive heart failure, at least from the descriptions he gives me (edema and feeling short breathed a lot). Now I am not a doctor, so really I have no idea, but he paints a picture for me. He is trying to stay at work even though he collects social security because:

He has life insurance with his job, once he quits the life insurance goes away. He wants to take care of his wife, and that is the only thing he has.

He likes to drink, he usually has his first beer around 10:30 on the weekends... Yeah, he is an alcoholic. But he has his reasons. Life is hard, he is still working at 68, at a very hot and nasty job, he works at a paint factory, he is a 10 year survivor of throat cancer, and his wife bitches at him (which makes me wonder why would he even care about her... why? because it is all he has). Now he doesn't drink on the job (I think) and never drinks and drives (I think). He also never has a very good car. So he is always fixing one of them. Usually 2 or 3 at a time. Which all of this means stress, stress leads to depression, depression leads to drinking.

So he has a long grocery list of reasons why he drinks, mainly it is to dull the senses to all the bad things so that he can remember the nice things better. I know that is a fantasy, but for him it works and like I was saying, he likely does not have long in this world anyway, why not go out happier rather than not so much? That is what I keep telling myself anyway.

There are multiple reasons why he should not be drinking. But why even begin to entertain them now? He is going to die, maybe not this year or 2 years from now, but eventually we all have to go. I can't make those decisions for him, if he is going to clean up and live the sober life, I'm all for it, but that doesn't stop me from wondering about myself.

I feel like I am walking a tightrope. Drink too much and you are a lush, don't drink enough and... well what kind of life is that? I don't want to alienate friends by being too sober or drunk, I just want to have a good time, live life as much as I can, and make the most out of the time I have on this earth. So do I walk that rope until I die or do I simply drop off, going the full sobriety route? Maybe I'll never know...


Aunt Bea said...

Since you CAN control it, don't think that, when you get older, you won't be able to - or should.

My Dad was an alcoholic - big time. He'd start the day with a 24-oz cup of vodka with a little coffee in it. He would drink all day, and most of the night. He was a very public figure, and never showed any signs of being drunk. (His wife, my mother, was a BITCH too - and insulted him for his drinking, even though she was a sloppy, closet drunk herself.) When he got older, he lost his pancreas (it calcified 3 times) and became a diabetic, and still he drank every day. When he had his big stroke, that crippled him and incapacitated him for a year - he still drank. Finally one day, he said, "I'm done" - and never touched the stuff again. He lived on 10 more years, having more and more strokes, till the last big one killed him - at 73.

Being raised by my father, and having to put up with my mother, of course I drank. But I don't NEED it - I like it! I can go literally months without a drink - or I can drink every afternoon and evening for months at a time. (Dad always said that no alcoholic likes the taste of liquor - I did, so I wan't an alcoholic! ;->) I bought a bottle of blackberry merlot 2 months ago, and I haven't gotten around to opening it yet. I will sit down at my friend's bar and drink all night - and not drink again for weeks, even months. I drink when I'm happy, sad, mad, frustrated, pleased, comfortable, with friends or alone, or when I just want a drink. I had a doctor tell me that I should drink before every meal, because of my stomach problems, but I haven't found a boss yet who will agree.

Bottom line - just because alcoholism runs in a family, doesn't mean everyone will be an alcoholic. I have a simple rule - if it starts affecting me, what I do, or how I feel, I stop. As long as you still have your wits about you, are able to make rational choices, and can see where something is harming you, you have plenty of time to quit - or, not. Remember - George Burns smoked and drank whenever he wanted, and outlived all but one of his doctors! LOL

Mad Hatter said...

Don't they call that a functional alcoholic? That is the road my dad is on. He can do anything asked of him, but he needs to drink and/or smoke to do it. I'm not bad-mouthing anyone who does this. Hell my dad told me stories of when at 5am he'd down some tequila and head into work smoking at least two joints. He wasn't working on anything much, just a nuclear power plant construction. It makes for some really cool stories, but I don't want to go that route if I can help it. Or maybe subconsciously I do...