"I broke up with my ex boyfriend "Joe" because I don't want to be with someone like my father (an alcoholic). He's been my best friend since HS and I love him, but alcohol messed up my family and I don't want it to ruin the future. He says he wants to quit for me but doesn’t know how. Should I wait for him to come around?"
We at Loveawake dating site get some variation of this question every week and we never answer, as it hits rather close to home. Still, God hates a coward, right?
Very rarely do alcoholics turn into a caricture, like Randy Quaid in Independence Day. Most of the time, they look, act and sound totally normal.
There are two types of alcoholic. There is the binge alcoholic - who can not drink for months, but, who once started, drinks until blackout. Every damned time he drinks, without fail. He has no off switch, and is easy to spot on a date involving drinking. This is the one who will be drunk texting you at 2 am after a date, puking in your bed at 4 am after somehow finding his way back to your place, coming home bruised and bleeding from bar fights, and catching every STD going.
Then there is the functional alcoholic - needs to drink to get through the day, rarely gets totally drunk and is never totally sober. These are almost impossible to spot while dating, because they act normal in almost every respect. Until they get home, anyway, and have a few more "to wind down." And then can become very dangerous indeed. This is the type that gals, and guys, should fear. The type that leads to broken homes and emotionally scarred kids.
So how can you tell? After all, pretty much everyone belts down a few drinks from time to time, in social situations, or to cheer themselves up, or to get up the courage to talk to the hot chick/guy at the other end of the bar. Lots of people go on a bender from time to time. Right?
Until you know them well, you simply won't know they are an alcoholic. You won't even know if you are an alcoholic. Alcoholics, especially the functional ones, are really, really good at lying and hiding it from others, and themselves. The cunning they show in hiding their drinking is both amazing and rather frightening.
So you might wind up living with one. Married to one. Maybe even have children with one. Or being one.
The good news is, even the most hardened alcoholic can give up drinking. Not give up being an alcoholic, as that, like herpes, children and taxes, is with you for life, but giving up the drink, totally.
If they really want to.
No outside pressure or force can make it happen though, it has to come from within themselves. Alcoholics Anonymous call it the rock bottom moment. That moment of total and utter honesty with yourself as your life smashes to the ground for the final time. The moment you realise that yes, it is actually all your own damned fault. The moment that has you reaching for a drink - and stopping before you pour it.
Actually giving up is, well, hard. It takes strength, determination, and, most of all, masses of support from friends, loved ones and even strangers.
The first week is the worst, physically and emotionally, as the demon in your brain tries to make bargains with you and your body sweats out years of poison.
After the second week, you get what is known as "the pink cloud," where life feels great, you feel great and everything is wonderful.
Then the cravings start. The little demon voice in your head that says, at a party, "Go on, you are cured. Just have the one." The voice that will talk to you, from time to time, for the rest of your life. Yeah. I've been there. It really f*cking hurts.
But, like everything, it passes. Eventually. Life gets better, then gets really good.
14 months sober so far. I go to parties. Go to bars to see my friends. But the demon is still in there. Biding his time. Just waiting. Screw him! There is no shame in admitting to being alcohol dependant. The shame is in not doing something about it.
"Hi, I am Mystery Man, and I am an alcoholic."