I still struggle with the label “alcoholic”. I wonder if it is simply shame and embarrassment or if it is a holdover from the resistance I encountered on the random occasions I would seek help.
I am a Class A Binge Drinker. No, I didn’t drink every day. No, I didn’t drink in the morning or at work. No, I never drove drunk or had trouble with law enforcement. YES, when I drank, I drank until I passed out or blacked out.
Over the years, I tried to reach out for help. There was the ER doctor that told me, after I went to the hospital after a particularly scary black out, that I wasn’t an alcoholic and treatment centers weren’t “appropriate” for me. There was the psychologist who echoed the same sentiment. My former primary care physician, who told me that I hadn’t quite checked all the boxes to be an alcoholic. There were others whom I never asked for help but wished they would have offered, like the frequent observers who had a front row seat to my drinking in excess over and over again. This classification covers many friends and family, especially my parents, including my mother who lived with me for many years during some of my heaviest binging, who have never said a word or suggested that I could use some sort of intervention.
Only my husband knew the truth, at least until I got into the outpatient rehab close to home. The practitioners I met were the first to validate my dirty little secret – I AM AN ALCOHOLIC.
As I began to tell people why I wasn’t drinking anymore, most were stunned. If I had a dime for every “I had no idea you had a problem!”, I would have a nice little nest egg.
I wish binge drinking was something more people talked about and something medical professionals really understood. I imagine there are many people in the same boat. Many of whom probably wish they hadn’t been blacking out and missing big chunks of their wonderful life.