I never really understood addiction. Even as a smoker, I felt like I could quit any time, I had done it, several times. I just couldn’t understand how someone could be powerless against a chemical, how they just couldn’t say I’m not going to do that anymore. Until recently.
As a kid, I hardly drank alcohol, I really only remember a couple of times in high school and a handful more times in college. It just wasn’t a priority, and it was always just for “special occasions.” In the army, I drank more, but still pretty much kept it to weekends. After I married, it was even more rare that I would have a drink. I don’t think that it was a conscious thing, it just wasn’t something that I did.
After Y left the kids and I, I still didn’t drink much. I was just too busy. When Z and I started dating, and later married, drinking became more common, socially and at home, but it still seemed under control. We’d go out for a few beers on payday, and on the weekends we’d share a six pack.
When she left, I didn’t even touch a drink for a month, I just didn’t want to get drunk and all that that might bring. It was probably almost a year before I really started drinking a lot, that summer was…stupid. I spent lots of nights sleeping at the café because I was too drunk to drive home. Sometimes, I drove anyway.
Now, I’ve quit a dozen times. The longest time was six weeks, the shortest a couple of days. The thing is, I don’t even want to quit. I like beer, I like to take a shot of tequila, I like to hang out with my friends at the bar. If I could just do that, have a drink or two and then stop, that would be fine, I wouldn’t even think about quitting. The problem is that when I start, I don’t stop until late in the night. On my worse days I start before noon, grabbing a beer from the walk-in at work, and will then drink all day long, and be pretty much sober the whole time. On the way home, I’ll stop and get a six pack to drink while watching TV or a movie. When that six pack is done, I’ll wish that I had gotten a twelve pack.
It’s easier to stop completely than it is to slow down, or to stop once I’ve started.
I quit smoking again a few years ago, but I still smoke one every once in a while, sometimes they taste and feel really good, and sometimes they don’t, but I never really feel like going to buy a pack and starting up again, so I don't beat myself up over it. I sure wish I could do that with alcohol.
I never really considered myself an alcoholic, I always preferred drunkard, until Sam pointed out that only alcoholics keep track of how many days they’ve gone without a drink.