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10 Warning Signs You Might Be Alcoholic

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

"Name Your Poison" digital art by Jessica Suderno

"Name Your Poison" digital art by Jessica Suderno

Signs Not to Ignore as You Go Down Floor by Floor

The disease of alcoholism is baffling (actually, it's cunning, baffling and powerful). To the outside observer, the drinker's self-destructive behavior makes no sense. To the drinker him/herself, it doesn't make much sense, either. Perhaps as baffling as anything else, alcoholism is self-diagnosed.

That's right. A medical doctor can tell you if you have cancer, a broken bone, heart disease, and even mental illnesses. But, the only one who can "diagnose" you as a real alcoholic is you.

I'll briefly caveat that statement before proceeding with my self-diagnostic test. It is definitely possible for your doctor, your psychiatrist, your employer, your parole officer, your family, your neighbors—or any number of other people in your life—to suggest you have a drinking problem. Your doctor may even cite medical evidence that your liver is enlarged or that other damage is resulting from your excessive alcohol consumption. But when it comes down to it, the decision to label oneself the "A-word" can only come from one person: the "A" him/herself.

No one wants to be an alcoholic—especially not people who live to drink (e.g., potential alcoholics). Bear in mind, it is possible to drink heavily and not become an alcoholic. However, if you are worried about your drinking, here are some signs and symptoms to be alert to:

Tenth Floor: Party Hearty

A common metaphor for the progression of alcoholism is a descending elevator. If you notice yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, or exhibiting any of these behaviors, I hope you'll remember the "yets" that await you below. It's so much easier when you get off the elevator before it crashes into the basement!

Ok. So here you are at the top floor, beginning your drinking career. Thus far, you are suffering no ill effects from your drinking. You enjoy drinking, and so do your friends. You may notice, however, that you have a greater capacity or tolerance for alcohol than they do. Alternatively—or in conjunction with the high tolerance—you may be the "barfer" of the group. It seems that you always end up praying to the porcelain god whenever you party. But oh well—it's worth it, right?

Ninth Floor: Lost Time

One thing I've learned about alcoholics: their livers actually process alcohol differently than normal drinkers' livers. Wouldn't it be swell if they could create a test (I'm thinking along the lines of the glucose tolerance test for hypoglycemia) to tell you whether you've got a bum booze processor or not? That could sure save a lot of time and a lot of headaches waiting for all the signs of full-blown alcoholism to take you down!

Speaking of headaches, hangovers aren't much fun, are they? If you find yourself having more frequent and more severe hangovers, that's a warning sign. I'm not saying normal drinkers don't get hungover—they do. The difference is they practice pain avoidance. This leads them to overindulge a whole lot less frequently than alcoholics.

And while we're on the subject of hangovers, now's a good time to start noticing how often you're imbibing a little "hair of the dog" to chase away the previous night's overindulgence.

Eighth Floor: Time Warp

I've heard that only alcoholics suffer from blackouts. I don't know if this is true or not, but if you do have blackouts, it's something to think about (but not during a blackout, of course).

What is a blackout? Well, it's a period of time for which you have no recollection of what you did or said. A blackout can function as a nifty little time transport device that gets you from one place to the other—beam me up Jim Beam!

Blackouts can last for minutes, hours, or even days. Imagine the ramifications. Alcoholics have been known to wake out of blackouts thousands of miles from their homes. They drive in blackouts. They take planes in blackouts. They engage in all kinds of behaviors (good as well as bad) with no conscious knowledge of what they're doing at the time.

If you find yourself having to rely on the accounts of friends to fill you in on your antics while partying, pay attention. Blackouts are serious.

Seventh Floor: Dramarama

Does your life resemble a soap opera? If not all the time, at least when you drink? For example, do you get jealous? Do you cop an attitude and walk out of restaurants in a huff? Do you argue or fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend every Friday night like clockwork as soon as you both get a couple of pops under your belt?

On the other side of the drama spectrum, do you lose things like your car keys or your car? Do you lock yourself out of your house? Do you find yourself stranded miles from home? Do you wake up in places you don't remember going, with people you don't remember meeting?

Yes, these are all part and parcel of the "alcoholic personality." It's not how often you drink, or even how much you drink, but how alcohol affects you (changing your personality) that is the true test. Take note of what you become when you drink—happy, amorous, maudlin, homicidal. Are you like this when you don't drink?

Sixth Floor: Get Off My Back

By now you've been partying for a while. Could be just a few years. Could be decades. Although you are confident you're handling your liquor just fine—thank you very much—people close to you have other ideas.

How dare your wife suggest your cut down? Doesn't she know how hard you work? You deserve a little relaxation time after work, dammit! How dare your kids make snide comments? Why do they bring those stupid education programs into schools anyway? Kids are too young to really understand the full picture of adults and socializing.

The thing is, drinking is part of adult socializing. Only your high school and college friends have scaled way back on their drinking as their lives demanded more of their full attention. You, on the other hand, continue to drink like the "old days" or even more. As you do so, you find new friends who like to drink the way you do.

What's that you say? Even the gang at your local watering hole is starting to notice and comment? Who the hell do they think they are? Why, you don't drink any more (or any less) than Joe here. Or Sally. Or Dan. You may find yourself saying, "Hell, if they have a problem with me, I'll just find me another bar to call home."

Fifth Floor: Change Is Good, Isn't It?

Alcoholics are notorious for doing something called a "geographic." This means when things get too difficult in one place, they move somewhere else. They change jobs. They change cities. They run roughshod over relationships, including those with spouses and SOs, kids, employers, and friends, leaving trails of broken hearts behind them.

Why is this? Because alcoholics dwell in a place called FEAR. Fear can be defined in a number of ways. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. Or F$%@ Everything And Run.

If you find yourself restless, irritable and discontent, a typically alcoholic way to deal with that feeling (besides drinking) is to seek out the greener grass somewhere else. Truth be told, you may not even recognize you're doing this until you look back later and spot the pattern.

A DUI is wake-up call if ever there was one.

A DUI is wake-up call if ever there was one.

Fourth Floor: Fun Mixed with Trouble

I've heard recovering alcoholics laugh about their old habits, saying, "Every time I drank I broke out in handcuffs." This is the floor where you start noticing some negative consequences of your drinking.

Sure, you're still more or less holding it together. You're going to work. You haven't lost anything major—yet. However, you find yourself getting into scrapes. Bar brawls, perhaps. You have a brush (or several) with the law.

You may be shocked to get pulled over for DUI. That's a wake-up call if ever there was one. You may even serve jail time on charges directly or indirectly related to your drinking.

Third Floor: Life On the Rocks

Would you believe people get two, three, four, and even more DUIs and still keep drinking? One way to solve the DUI problem is to only drink at home. Alone. The only problem with that is you need to venture out and resupply at some point . . .

You become more and more isolated. Disgusted, your spouse walks out, taking the kids. Your boss has given you one too many 'one more chances'. At first, you feel liberated. Heck, with no job and no family monitoring your consumption, you can drink whenever you want to!

But that gets old. And you get lonely. Since you are now officially unemployable, there's no point in looking for a new job. If you don't have a chunk of money in the bank, you may soon lose your car and your home. It happens more often than you might think.

Second Floor: Stop the Ride, I Want Off

At this stage of the disease, drinking becomes an obsession. You try not to think about it. You tell yourself—and meant it—"I will NOT drink today." Shocked at your own lack of willpower, you become desperate. You make up little tricks to control your drinking. You may swear off the "hard stuff" and only drink beer. You allow yourself only two drinks but are so preoccupied with this unnatural limitation that you can't enjoy them.

You make and break a thousand small promises to yourself each day. With each broken promise, you become more disheartened and miserable.

The harsh reality is you are no longer in control of your drinking. Drinking is controlling you. You look in the mirror and don't even recognize yourself. How did I get here?

First Floor: In Between Life and Death

First Floor: In Between Life and Death

First Floor: In Between Life and Death

You have to ignore an awful lot of signals to allow your drinking to get to this level. And yet, many alcoholics do. Their denial and self-will keep working for them long after alcohol ceases to.

And that's exactly what happens in end-stage alcoholism. Alcohol stops working. Your mind continues its craving for alcohol. But your body totally rejects it. You continue pouring booze down your gullet just to prevent the symptoms of withdrawal. However, you no longer achieve any sense of ease and comfort from alcohol. You can't get drunk, but you can't get sober.

You exist in a frightening netherworld between life and death. You're miserable every day and every night. You've forgotten what real life feels like. You suspect death would be preferable, although you lack the energy to kill yourself. You're completely and utterly beaten down.

This is the living hell that many alcoholics must go through before they FINALLY decide enough is enough.


Into the Dark Scary Basement

Below the incomprehensible demoralization of the First Floor is a subterranean basement. Only the most obstinate or ignorant of alcoholics stay on the elevator to the very bottom. They end up with irreversible physical ailments like cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, and neuropathy. They lose limbs to diabetes. They succumb to malnutrition.

Their brains are fried and they get something called "wet brain."

They can no longer stand to live within their own skin, inside their own heads.

Ultimately, if left untreated alcoholism will lead you to one of three places:

1. Jail.

2. Mental Hospital.

3. Cemetery.

The fourth option is sobriety. No matter where you get off the elevator, recovery is possible.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD from New York, NY on January 03, 2015:

Using the metaphor of the elevator is genius. Fantastic work. Seen it, been there, done that, now better. One day at a time is cliche' but it's all we got.

Brilliantly done. Wishing you much continued success.

NightFlower on January 25, 2012:

Thank u MM. the pleasure is mine.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on January 25, 2012:

Hello NF,

It is extremely subtle at first. It takes awhile (sometimes years, sometimes decades) to really get the difference between someone who simply enjoys their evening cocktail and it's a HABIT vs. someone who is DEPENDENT on their evening cocktail.

Alcoholism is not about how much you drink or even how often you drink. It's all about your relationship to the drink. Those who do not have a drinking problem will not get defensive if a friend/family member suggests they cut back (or that they have a problem).

If it's that noticeable, you have a problem.

I could write forever about this fascinating and oh-so-misunderstood malady.

Appreciate your visit. It's nice that we have connected at long last!


NightFlower on January 25, 2012:

I have heard of how subtle it can be especially if it becomes a habit as seemingly small as having one drink in the evening. I have heard it said if you have become dependent on this "evening drink" it is the same as alchoholism that is more obvious. Good good hub!

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on January 24, 2012:

Hey my new HP friend and fellow Bill W follower. Thanks for the compliment. It means a heckuva lot coming from you. MM

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 24, 2012:

As a recovering alcoholic who had ridden the elevator almost to the bottom, I applaud your hub and toss my hat in your ring. This is a great hub for anyone to read and not just alcoholics.

The Jet from The Bay on April 05, 2011:

Haha. You have a point. And no problemo, Mighty Mom (awesome name, by the way). Cheers.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on April 04, 2011:

Lol is right. That would work too. Although you know balance is tricky for alkies. So we are likely to stumble off any kind of straight edge. LOL!

Thanks for visiting and commenting, The Jet!

The Jet from The Bay on April 04, 2011:

LOL @ the "Alcoholic Party" rave song... nice.

People should just join the Straight Edge Society with CM Punk to avoid being an alcoholic... my 0.2 Hahaha. ;)

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on March 24, 2011:

Hi Lance,

I can't argue with a single thing you've said. You've seen the destruction in your work and in your own relationship. My heart goes out to you and your children -- and to your ex. I hope she is able to get past denial and into recovery. There IS life after alcohol dependency.

The picture you paint of the increase in consumption is frightening. Only 1 in 10 drinkers becomes truly alcoholic. However, that 1 alcoholic's actions affect up to 20 people around him/her. That's a lot of destruction.

And that doesn't take into consideration the heavy drinkers who are choosing booze over a full life. Sad.

Government prohibition didn't work in the 1920s. It will not work now (imagine the outcry). I can only hope for a mass industry "outing" like has happened with tobacco.

But alcohol is so entrenched, and as you say, $$$ making, it will be really hard to get the public to stop drinking.

So really, the only accountability we can hold right here, right now, is to the individual. That's what recovery teaches us. We spend our lives blaming everyone else for our problems. Your best bet is to try to get your divorce decree changed with some consequences for your ex. Either get help or no more alimony. Not sure how easy that would be. But there's also taking the kids away. For their own safety. I know it sounds harsh, but some of us are so sick that we need to lose EVERYTHING before we are able to look in the mirror and say, "I can't do this anymore."

See my other hub on "Can you save someone from drinking themselves to death."

I feel for ya. It is harder to watch someone you love head down that elevator shaft than to be on the elevator yourself.

I can also suggest attending some open AA meetings so you can hear from the horses' mouths what it took for them to put the plug in the jug. Al-Anon could also be helpful to you in dealing with your anger at your ex.

Good luck. Stop back anytime. If I can offer assistance, I will sure try! Yours in serenity, MM

Lance purchase on March 24, 2011:

BTW..I really like your elevator metaphor, I bookmarked the site and will pass it on!


Lance on March 24, 2011:

Alcohol is everyones problem. it's everywhere. and until we all admit that the real problem is alcohol, not the alcoholic, we are on a slippery slope. The alcoholic is just the canary in the cage. After working in the same bar for 7 years I saw two things.

1. The consumption scale....the amount a person drinks per sitting X the amount of times a person drinks = the amount of destruction in that persons life.

2. Those that manage it know that alcohol itself is the enemy.

Those that consume it do so for many reasons.

Those that manufacture it and sell it do so for 1 reason $$$$$$$$$$$

Whose winning? The total number of people that drink continues to rise, the average amount per person continues to rise, the number of times per year a person drinks per year continues to rise. The overall consumption per person continues to rise.

Whose winning? The profiteers. Why? because they have the money to fund studies to understand human nature and how to manipulate it to they're advantage.

To most people the right to drink is about the freedom to choose, to those that sell it it is about the right to get rich at any cost.

All I know for sure is it's destroying the woman I love, our families financial security, my children's hope and opportunities for a good future.

to add insult to injury the social organizations and government programs that have been created under the guise of helping us that our tax dollars support, do nothing but add to the burden.( but is does contribute to job creation.)

So who is responsible? Who do we hold accountable? My x for drinking? The companies that sell it, or the government that allows it to be sold? The legal system, that forces me to continue to pay for her habit and enable her path to destruction?

I'm me out here?

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on January 11, 2011:

Hello positivevibestech. Not sure if you mean that as in the characters in Jersey Shore are alcoholics or potential alcoholics? I know Snookie has been quoted as talking about blackouts, so I do worry about her.

Anyway, I thank you for visiting and commenting. MM

positivevibestech on January 11, 2011:

2 words jersey shores..

BRIAN SLATER on July 21, 2010:

MM- you really know your stuff, the descending elevator was a brilliant idea. Your hubs are written with a great deal of feeling and empathy, you should write a book.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on February 23, 2010:

Hey sweet lady,

I am always, always here for you and for those of us who still suffer, even in recovery.

Love you! MM

lyricsingray on February 23, 2010:

Girl, I just love how you presented this. Truthfully, its 5 am on Tuesday and I stumbled on this in the feature section and nothing happens without a reason because i really need to be reminded tonight how powerful my disease is. You helped me girl. I can guarantee you more than just me as well. Your my muse and I thank you I am now filled with hope, faith and courage, inspired by you, be well, Kimberly

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on December 30, 2009:

Hi Pat C,

The word "alcoholic" is a label that no one wants put on them. I bet your husband doesn't have a clue what an 'alcoholic' is. The majority of people don't.

From what you describe, however, your household is undeniably alcoholic. He's the drinker and you're enabling his drinking by taking over the household responsibilities, protecting the kids from him and him from the consequences of his drinking.

The thing is, the drinking is only part of it. He absolutely shows the alcoholic personality -- rage, abusiveness, unwillingness to even consider that he's part of the problem but blames everything on you.

Even the reduced tolerance comes with the territory. I highly recommend the book "Under the Influence"to you . I've put a link above.

And even if he won't accept help,you can. I urge you to check out Al-Anon. His drinking has impacted you and you deserve to get healthy. Walking out of the marriage is, it sounds like, a necessary step. But it's only part of the solution.

Good luck, Pat. Millions of wives have been where you are. You're not alone! Hugs, MM

Pat C on December 30, 2009:

My husband doesn't think hes an alcoholic. He's never had a DUI always drinks at home, or I always drive when we go out I don't drink. Maybe 2 in a month if that. He doesn't get hangovers, which I have wished on him. Never missed work. His tolerance for alcohol seems to be less and less over time, just about everyone can outdrink him. The problem is he drinks every day, drinks alone, has lost most of or all of his friends. After 40 years he's finally going to lose me. I can't take the verbal abuse, constant criticism and the "alcoholic behavior." I ran the house, made most decisions and raised the kids. I got to be a good liar. I would take the blame for the kids when they did something wrong, and he came home drunk. The kids usually spent weekends at their grandparents so they didn't see him drunk. Now I have a lot of health problems but I can't take it anymore. If I bring up his drinking he gets mad. He wont go see anyone, why should he, he doesn't have a problem, all our problems are my fault. So bottom line, yes there are all different types of alcoholics, some just don't admit it yet.Thanks for listening

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on September 29, 2009:

Hello Functional Al. Thanks for the comprehensive post. First, let me say how sorry I am to hear about your sister and your nephew. Life sometimes throws us curveballs.

As to there being subsets of alcoholic -- absolutely. I agree with you. And many are functional for many years. And never do crash into a bottom. But slowly kill their bodies with alcohol nonetheless. I do also agree that how you approach your overall health and nutrition can help fight off the effects of booze.

You are a very lucky guy to be able to hang with your preferred coping mechanism for so long. But as you point out, your dad wasn't so lucky.

I mostly wrote this hub for people who might be observing (in themselves or others) the behavior patterns of alcoholism but who might not recognize that that is what they have....

Thanks for sharing. God bless, MM

Functional Al on September 29, 2009:

Nice warning here Mighty Mom, but let us not generalize all alcoholism. Many of us are functional, and there are degrees and subsets of alcoholism many scientists now agree. I guess only each of us can find what subset we belong to and hopefully it is the one that allows us to be functional. I am 51 years old, drank like a fish in my 20's, much less in my 30's and 40's but still to excess, and now into my 50's but most think I am in my late 30's. (Any preservative qualities about alcohol that we know of, research, etc.? LOL We never know). Well have smoked most of my adult life but also been a gym fanatic and nutrition freak many of those years and still am. If your liver ails, try milk thistle supplements---I swear by it---immediate results truly. I think how far down the elevator one goes depends a lot on how well one also takes care of themselves. Successful and have a buddy age 65 also an alcoholic all his life but functional and very successful. We admit our alcoholism without shame and have for many years. My Dad passed in his mid-30's from alcoholism but I had a maternal grandpa functional alcoholic and successful, live to 83 and he had polio all his life, badly , in one leg. Many thought he would die young just from that. So I think a lot can depend on one's genetics, choices in lifestyle , etc. as they continue to enjoy alcohol. I think more research needs to be done to show who is at risk. Many of us live long lives just as my grandma did , to age 94, and was a smoker for 70 plus years.

I have had enough to drink about in life, tragedies, etc. and some say they have never seen such a life, excepting the Kennedys. I agree. My sister now just relapsed in cancer and her son having MS diagnosed just 6 months before her diagnosis. History of grief, so am I giving up alcohol? No way. It filters the incidents and after a nice evening with booze and the resulting hangover I feel ready to face the issues, and then days later, have more drinks. Almost as if the booze can put a gap between all the issues and stress and I am revitalized ready to face it all again---but not while I take time to recreate on booze. That is my downtime and time I cherish and always have. I think I always will. But I have never seen myself sliding downward. One must always do reality checks in life. Some addicts have or crave alcohol as their lifeblood as my dad did. Obviously he had one of the severe subsets of alcoholism and his brain processed sugars and alcohols in a different way, but there are many alcoholics just like him who hit bottom. Maybe my paranoia about his case all my life also helped me to never reach that point. I think a lot of self-talk can be good, and those reality checks, if one wants to avoid sliding too far. But willpower must be there too. I am just not going to try and fight it. I enjoy it , and my older friend does too and we have never had health issues. I smoked many years. We have friends who never did either vice and then got cancer. There are theories about a pleasure principle. Pleasure keeping one healthy. I say my alcohol pleasure likely has done that for me (just as there are theories about some smokers living long lives...I studied that myself in psychological research many years ago, and much of it makes sense). Just depends on the individual, genetics, etc. Again. much more research needs to be done. But let's not generalize that all drinkers are headed down the elevator shaft. Not all do, obviously. And hey, we all have to die from something. Think of all the ways we can die on this earth. Pretty scary. But, your posting is great as a warning I must admit. Some of us can be functional and healthy, but others cannot. So my advice is, never start drinking to begin with, to avoid that chance of hitting bottom up ahead. I never met a recovering alcoholic that seemed truly happy...they were either restless or became compulsive or addicted with something else, coffee, cigarettes or worse. It's tricky so I advise young people to never start at all. In my senior year of high school I had my first beers and I knew, this is my "cure", but never drank again until a couple years later. They say if you get that feeling , as if all your insecurities have been voided by those first drinks, you are likely at a big risk for alcoholism. I can believe it. And all my life I always had that geographic trait you mentioned...I bore easily and move on in aspects of my life, even before taking my first drink. Have a high IQ near or at Mensa and the mundane or superficial in life can really eat at me. That can make me want drinks. Odd it is. Some times I bore of my habit and many did so in my family and never drank again by their 40's or 50's. Maybe the same will happen with me. But right now I enjoy drinks occasionally. Once a week at least. My two cents here, and hope I have only opened a can of worms in a good way. Food for thought. Thanks.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on September 17, 2009:

Hey Kimberly. Didn't I meet you once in the sub-basement? LOL. So glad we both made it here! Thanks for the support. MM

lyricsingray on September 17, 2009:

This is bloomin' brilliant-as are you MM - Thanks for you!


Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on September 05, 2009:

Thanks, filthyscoundral.

Kimberly -- It's so much easier to spot in someone else than in yourself, at least, once you've reached your own bottom and stopped the descent!

I looked at your cool blog and want to spend some time there. Just gotta "find" the time. Thanks for visiting! MM

lyricsingray on September 05, 2009:

How true, we all know people in their descent. Your Amazing, I can't wait to red more. Awesome Hub,thanks,


Your Fan


filthyscoundral on September 02, 2009:

very interesting.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 21, 2009:

Hi Kerouazy21-- Sorry, I have had no computer for the last day so am just reading your comment today.

First, I will address your questioning of my harsh tone and whether I am fed up with the bs that alcoholics pile on everyone around them. I would not say I am "fed" up but am very aware, that where there's drinking and bs there is likely alcoholism or addictiction. Is my intent to "scare straight" those who might have a problem? No. The intent of the hub is to inform. So many alcoholics, even in the throes of their disease they are clueless as to what's happening to them or that they are getting worse.

Often the symptoms don't make sense until you are on the other side of sobriety looking back at the clues you ignored for years...

People still get angry at people who drink too much. Even with an understanding that alcoholism is a disease, the average person really doesn't make that connection. They see the behavior, which is unpleasant and senseless (some would say "tragic") and of course their inclination is to shun the drinker.

You raise an interesting poing. You say, "alcoholism is code for not my fault. So are these people responsible for their own actions, or are they sick?"

The short anser is YES. They are not responsible for having the disease. But they are responsible for their actions. The beauty of recovery is it teaches the alcoholic to accept responsibility (oftentimes for the first time in their life) for the hurt they cause to people in their lives. It teaches the alcoholic forgiveness of self and others. And it provides the structure of a sane, healthy way to live without the demon of alcohol. It is absolutely the alcoholic's responsibility to do the footwork to stay sober.

Not sure if that answers your questions. Thanks for visiting. MM

kerouazy21 from Los Angeles on August 20, 2009:

now i am no psychologist, and while i am aware that one who has a problem with drinking (however euphemistic that may sound)must realize this on their own, the tone of the hub seemed harsh. i am not sure if the words were chosen to scare strait those who may have a problem, or if the author is fed up with the bs that alcoholics pile on everyone around them; however, the choice of "alcoholism" is very important.

the time was, we could get angry at people who drank too much, who rode the elevator down to the bottom few floors. we could ostracize them and decry their very existence. It wasn't until the term ALCOHOLISM was introduced that these same people suffered from an illness. Alcoholism is code for not my fault.

so which is it: are these people responsible for their own actions, or are the sick?

this is no slight, the hub was interesting--this is merely a semantical argument. your thoughts

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 20, 2009:

Hey Enelle Lamb -- Thanks. Yes, I don't think I know anyone who doesn't have some relationship with an alcohol abuser!

MilkNHoney- Welcome. Good to meet you. Thanks for commenting. I brought about my ideas through 30 years of personal experience and hard knocks:-). MM

MilkNHoney on August 20, 2009:

I liked your hub. It was very informative. I scanned through it and saw how you brought about your ideas.

Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on August 19, 2009:

great hub MM - certainly speaks to a lot of people

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 19, 2009:

Thank you, Suzhinug! Glad you enjoyed it. MM

suzhinug on August 19, 2009:

a good read, will be checking out more of you work :)

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 19, 2009:

Hi Dani Girl, First, I'm really glad that you saw the wake-up call of your overdose of vodka. Drinking should never be a competitive sport! You really do have (hopefully) many years of social drinking ahead of you. I totally understand that teens need to experiment. Hanging with people who drink every day at 17 is not healthy for you, tho. Drinking every day isn't even a great idea for responsible adults, but first, get through high school and get your life started -- then decide if you want booze to be part of it! Good luck to you and I am always here if you have fears or questions about your own or your friends' drinking!

VC -- I hear the pain in your comment. Sounds like you've lived the nightmare of having an alcoholic parent. It totally sucks. I hope your dad gets help and I hope that you do, too. Not sure how old you are but Al-Anon and Al-A-Teen are both good resources for family members. Keep the faith. Life is beautiful without alcohol clouding it! MM

V.C on August 19, 2009:

I hate drinking

I also hahte people who drink.

My father is an example.

Dani girl on August 18, 2009:


i loved reading this

i was lost in drinking

i was with people that drank everyday

and about 3 weeks ago i almost killed myself with vodka

its not like im suicidal but i thought i could "hang"

but i have been sober sence then and am going to from now on. i relized social drinking is alright when im older every once in a while. im 17 now sence august 14th so i have a while to go. but i loved ur hub and how u reply to everyone its really sweet good job [ :

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 18, 2009:

Hi finsofts -- People have been drinking alcohol for centuries. For some, it is simply a source of enjoyment. If you can handle your liquor, why not enjoy it? If it is taking over your life, recognize the problem and get help. BTW, you don't have to drink every day to still be an alcholic! Thanks for visiting. I appreciate your wise comment. MM

Divya Devarajan from India on August 18, 2009:

Now a days so many people getting to this bad habit and for some one its bad and for some one its a source of enjoyment... this has to be stopped. Dont drink every day but you can socially drink but do care for your health...

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 16, 2009:

LOL Logic,commmonsense. That's one definition. Another one is buying a drink and leaving 1/2 of it in the glass. What's the damned point in that?

logic,commonsense on August 16, 2009:

I always thought alcohol abuse was leaving it out in a hot car! :)

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 16, 2009:

Hi KevinPeter -- You're absolutely right. There could well be something going wrong in our nature. Alcohol doesn't affect everyone so negatively. Not everyone who drinks, even heavily, turns into an animal. Thank God!

Reganee- Yes. Hindsight is 20/20. Unless you're dealing with a drinker already pretty far down the path it's not very easy to tell if they are going to taper off and have a normal life or continue into problem drinking and alcoholism. There are personality traits to be on the look for, tho. I'm going to write a companion hub to this one on that subject. Thanks for visiting. MM

Reganee on August 16, 2009:

I wish I knew all this stuff when I was young. I would have known who to look out for and how to know when I was involved with drinkers who were not going to scale back. I thought everyone just got better as they took on more responsibilies and grew older. I didn't know how many people never stop being problem drinkers.

Thanks for posting all this.

KevinPeter on August 16, 2009:

If alcohol can turn us into animals, there could be something inherently going wrong in our nature too. Why not investigate that too?

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 16, 2009:

Sorry. The comment turned blue and got stuck and I couldn't edit. Now where was I? Oh yes. HappyHer. LOVE that name too!Yes, alcoholism definitely affects a lot of people. You would think scientists would be putting on an all-out war on the disease!

Marie. My heart goes out to you and your friend. It's really tough to watch someone spiral down. And unfortunately loving suggestions fall on deaf ears. Until your friend reaches some kind of crisis point on her own no amount of suggesting will change her. But you never know. If she reads this and sees herself, or get her a copy of the Big Book of AA and suggest she read the stories in the back -- she might see herself.

Meanwhile, the best advice I can give you is to be prepared for it to get worse before it gets better. And if you are enabling your friend -- helping her to continue drinking by driving her home, covering for her, etc. STOP. She needs to face the consequences of her own actions. Maybe that's the best way for you to be of assistance. Learn about codependency and if she has codependents in her life, get them to take that all too difficult "tough love" stance.

If you can, watch the show "Intervention." It's absolutely spot-on with how addicts/alcoholics think and how their families think and try to help but really hurt the situation! Good luck and please keep me posted. Thx, MM

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 16, 2009:

Hi Nanny JOAT (cute name!). Thank you so much for your kind words. Alcohol definitely blurs everyone's vision. Including the family of the alcoholic. But as you point out, hindsight is 20/20. The geographics are a giant shock to the recovering person's psyche, for sure. But in recovery, a past that otherwise made NO sense suddenly does make sense. Oh! THAT's why I did THAT! And as they say in AA "We shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." That's what the steps help us do.

HappyHer -- another cool Hubber name!

Marie Dwivkidz from UK on August 16, 2009:

Superb hub. Really struck a chord. I have a friend on the down elevator at the moment - very scary.I am so hoping I can manage to let this spontaneously waft under her nose without me appearing to be lecturing. maybe she will read this and self diagnose, as no amount of loving suggestions from others can get her off her current path. Fingers crossed evryone, and thanks MM.

Tracy Morrow from Cleveland, OH on August 16, 2009:

With alcoholism effecting more than 50% of American families, this hub is well worth the read. Thank you.

Nanny J.O.A.T. from Somewhere over the rainbow on August 16, 2009:

MM you have done an excellent job of putting into perspective all the stages of alcholism - the elevator is the perfect analogy. I think this should not only be given to schools but to all the places that families go - churches, shelters, etc. - when they have to "hide out" from an alcoholic. Often families themselves can't see how bad it is until they have to step back and face the problems that alcohol abuse has created.

I loved your description on going geographic and FEAR - it's spot on - and unfortunately, in my experience, one of the hardest things for a recovering alcoholic to deal with.

Thank you for using your amazing writing skills to help others recognize themselves and their loved ones in a sensitive but informative way :)

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 15, 2009:

Well hello Cris, long time no see. I'm glad for you you have no problems with alcohol. But since you are amazingly creative as a writer and photoshop artist, we can make you an "honorary" alcoholic so you can feel better:-). Just kidding. Workaholic is a kind of addiction too, although more socially sanctioned and from what I hear the detox isn't so awful:-). Best to you my friend, MM

Cris A from Manila, Philippines on August 15, 2009:

Oh no! No! Nooooooo! (reads the list again) Phew! Okay, I think I'm workaholic!

Great hub! I think the signs are spot on even though I have no problems with alcohol whatsoever. Thanks for sharing, as they say, it's better the devil you know - always. :D

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 15, 2009:

samuel-cars, good for you! congrats!

amanda -- you've got that right. it is a ride that holds you on by centrifugal force. each person has their own path and not many people are able to recognize the crisis point and make the change and stick with it. it's a ridiculous disease.

ralwus -- i am so, so sorry to hear about your brother. now i understand why you were so reluctant to read this hub. sending you sweet memories of your early years together and his sober years to take the place of the bittersweet ones.

(((ralwus))) from mm

ralwus on August 15, 2009:

No MM, TOF is fine with the picture.LOL BTW today is my late brothers birthday. I mention it only because he was an alcoholic sober for 15 years, bought a new motorcycle and three months later was killed on it, he was drunk. He returned to drink about the time he bought the dam thing. Just one reason I didn't want to read this hub at first.

Amanda Severn from UK on August 15, 2009:

Nicely handled Mighty Mom. I've had several very dear friends who have kept going almost to the bell, plus one who ended up dead in his early thirties. It seems that once you get on this particular ride, it's hard to get off until you reach some real crisis point.

samuel-cars in india on August 14, 2009:

I am very happy that you have explained in a very good way with the concept of floor!in my 12th std i used to go to pub with my friends & i was having habit of drinks but after 2 months i realized myself ,my age & then with a strong desire to leave it i stopped myself & today i am free of this bad habit1now i drink only milk & coffee for good health!

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 14, 2009:

Thank you, DeepThought! MM

Deep from In the middle of nowhere and worldwide but still that T.O.kid from da north of America on August 14, 2009:

Goodhub thanks for sharing it with us

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 14, 2009:

Hi Joker Jones. Well, lack of cash would not stop you if you were a real alcoholic! So I don't really know if you're lucky or not. But I feel lucky that you found and commented on my hub! Thank you! MM And glad you like my avatar. I do, too!!!

Joker jones from U.S.A., maybe. Or Canada. You guess! on August 14, 2009:

Can't drink, no cash, does that make me lucky? LOL!!! Like your avatar!

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 13, 2009:

Thanks so much, Sooperjenni. That's exactly what I was hoping for! MM

Sooperjenni from Ohio on August 13, 2009:

Great hub. I have worked with many alcoholics, and I think you effectively captured the topic, a non lecturing, and fresh new way. It's a good article for people who are not familiar with the disease to read.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 13, 2009:

OMG, Ralwus. Do you think TOF would be insulted ... or flattered:-)??? Thanks for reading. I hope something you read here can be of help to some of those "still active" alkies in your life!

Candledawn -- Thank you! You are so right. Family denial and protection (aka enabling) of the drinker only prolong it. But "tough love" is so hard to do. Most of us cannot stomach doing it until we have reached the end of our ropes!

candledawn from Southwest Florida, USA on August 13, 2009:

A well done hub and breaks it down nicely. There are so many tragic stories associated with alcohol. There is treatment available for those who seek it. Alcoholism becomes a family problem and often times family denial clouds the truth. Very tastefully done and I applaud you on addressing this.

ralwus on August 13, 2009:

MM, I wasn't going to read this, but then I thought, well she does a good job writing and I will check it out. So glad I did. I know many alcoholics reformed and some still active. You nailed this right on dear. That guy up there does resemble TOF. LOL

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 12, 2009:

Hello kiran8 -- Thanks for reading. I hope the info comes in handy for you or someone close to you. Actually, strike that. I hope you NEVER have to deal with alcoholism in your life! MM

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on August 12, 2009:

Well written article with very useful info , thanks a lot :)

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 11, 2009:

Hi Jenna. You're absolutely right. I have done a lot of reading about the effects on family. The different roles the kids take on, and of course the primary codependent spouse. Such a mysterious and devestating illness!

Pylos -- Thank you!

Ambition398, Thank you, too! And yes, I think colleges would be a prime candidate, although budding alkies usually get their start somewhere between 11 and 13... These days, maybe younger. Thanks for visiting. MM

Ambition398 on August 11, 2009:

GOod floor plan! Ought to show to schools !

pylos26 from America on August 11, 2009:

well structured good sound hub...

JennaJackson on August 11, 2009:

What a terrific hub! You have done it again! What most people fail to realize is that alcoholism is not an individual illness, but creates an illness within the family. If there is one alcoholic in the family, the entire family suffers the symptoms.

Wonderful description of a terrible illness.

maggs224 from Sunny Spain on August 10, 2009:

An excellent hub on a very distressing subject loved the floor illustration a very powerful analogy

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 10, 2009:

Hi Sober Santa! I assume based on your name that you have solved your alcohol problems. Hooray!

You're right. AA does not work for everyone. Unfortunately, the odds of anyone getting "sober for good" are very, very small. The exception rather than the rule is to put the drink down and never pick it up again.

For those who reach the constant obsession level, it literally takes a miracle to stop that obsession.

And years later, if an alcoholic does not have the proper defenses against the "first drink" it will be disastrous.

But you do raise a good point. I will add a link to the book you cite. MM

Sober Santa on August 10, 2009:

It would be great to see other options mentioned besides AA -- which does work for everyone. The book that helped me most was "Sober for Good" by Anne M Fletcher. It is a study of 222 people who succeeded in solving their alcohol problems, many without AA. And some with. The point is that we're all different, so what helps each person is different too. Thanks for the great article.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 09, 2009:

Hi Fastfreta. Oh yes. I did substantial research for this hub. Continue to do it and will continue to write on this subject. It's one of my passions in life. Peace, MM

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 09, 2009:

Thank you Jiberish!

Pam -- Congrats on 9 years. You and Theresa have same amount of time. Not a coincidence, I think! Agree that sobriety changes our perspective completely. Also agree that most days I'm grateful but some not so much.

QueenoftheLint -- Sorry to hear about your uncle. It's the rule rather than the exception that people can't put the bottle down even when they know it's killing them. Pretty messed up, hunh?

dcollins -- Good of you to stop by and comment. Thnks. You sound like a man who understands how serious this shit is. I hope you keep your demons under control so you can serve as a living example to others in your life. We can't make anyone stop, but we can show them how WE live stopped!


Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on August 09, 2009:

Great hub, so much research.

DeShawn Collins from Las Vegas on August 09, 2009:

Awesome Hub, I also like the how u put into floors, I as well have battled this, but believe i have it under control. I have seen too many of my family members and friends lose their lives due to this addiction. once again great hub.

Queen of the Lint from The Laundry Room on August 09, 2009:

Great hub. I, too, like the floors. My uncle was an alcoholic and it did not end well. He never could give it up for good, even though he knew it was killing him.

pgrundy on August 09, 2009:

First floor exit, nine years this past May.

Great hub.

I must say though, alcoholism does put a very different perspective on each day. I mean, at this point I know I just get one at a time, and each one could be the last. That's true for everybody, but recovering drunks have it in their faces, sometimes more than we might want. I'm grateful for it, but sometimes it scares me. :)

Jiberish from florida on August 09, 2009:

Nicely done, well thought out.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 09, 2009:

It's very gratifying to log on today and see so much activity here. Glad it struck a chord with so many of my dear friends.

Lisa HW -- Your dad nailed it. Alcoholics show signs early on. They are still lovable and worth loving, but developing an obsessive illness that becomes their one and only focus. Sorry your cousin's marriage was a casualty.I hope the young man got help.

SEM Pro -- I think a followup hub on the alocholic personality is in order! You've obviously seen your share and know the traits. Thanks for visiting!

Elisabethkcmo -- I adore Richard Thompson and this is one of his best, isn't it? Thanks!

Teresa -- God bless you. Some of my best friends in sobriety rebounded from a very low bottom. To look at them now you'd never guess it. But it's important WE never forget, isn't it? Wishing you serenity and many more years -- one day at a time!

Emohealer -- I'm so glad you got off and are here to share your own experience, strength and hope. Denial is such a huge part of the insanity of the disease!

Hi Alekhouse, Your story made me wince. Many recovering alocholics cannot be around alochol AT ALL. It's too much of a temptation. Sounds like your employee was desperate for a job and thought he could handle it. That would be a really hard test for anyone, I think. I hope he didn't relapse, but from the look of things that's what happened. At least now you know for "next time."

TM -- Yep. We all know people who are on their descent. And the saddest thing is other than plant the seed, we can't really do anything to stop them. What a crazy, crazy disease! Hopefully no one close to you is in the group you describe, tho. MM

Triplet Mom from West Coast on August 09, 2009:

MM - I love the way you put this together. I am certain it could open many eyes. For me it is very easy to look around and see the people who fall into these categories some of which are on multiple floors. Great job!!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 09, 2009:

Fabulous hub....really good writing. I've never had an addiction, except to cigarettes, which I quit at age 18. Fortunately, I was raised in a family which was non-addictive. Even though my father was a jazz musician, he never succumbed to it.

I had an employee who was an alcoholic, who worked for me for 4 weeks this year. He told me up front that he was an alcoholic and I was okay with it. He was the nicest guy. When it came time for the Kentucky Derby, I had forgotten about the addiction, (he had not shown me any signs of it for four weeks) and had him serve Mint Julips to my guests. Four days later, he disappeared, didn't show up for work, and I never heard from him again.

("...Alcoholics are notorious for doing something called a "geographic." This means when things get too difficult in one place, they move somewhere else. They change jobs..."

Guess he did a Geographic. I feel terrible that I asked him to serve the alcohol.

langson on August 09, 2009:

This is good staff my sister weldone

Sioux Ramos from South Carolina on August 09, 2009:

So very well sobering. I appreciate mostly where you ended, not at the basement but with a choice and a reminder that getting off the elevator at any floor is possible. Excellent depiction and analogy on an illness that as you say is undiagnosed and consumes far too many lives. Got off the elevator many years ago, but recognize it well. Superb job!

Sheila from The Other Bangor on August 09, 2009:

excellent hub. I got out on the first floor, nine years ago. It's good to be alive!

elisabethkcmo from Just East of Oz on August 09, 2009:

Thanks for including Richard Thompson, he is fantastic, and his lyrics to this song are a perfect accompaniment for your hub

SEM Pro from North America on August 09, 2009:

Very well written MM! I too hope many read and take it seriously. Unfortunately, many alcoholics believe they're on the 5th or 6th floor and become entrenched in blame, relinquishing ALL responsibility and thus justifying what has happened to them > it's everyone else's fault. You'd think it would be obvious on the 7th floor, once they 'lose their car' but no, denial is where they live - permanently. Glad too that you mentioned the mental institution because dementia is a very, very real diagnosis after decades of blame, denial and poisoning one's system.

I've always wondered why it became legal instead of pot with that herb's medicinal qualities but hey - Zanax/pills are not only legal but prescribed. Things can get illogically flipped once responsibility is relinquished to any degree. Great hub - sad, but true, and therefore great.

Lisa HW from Massachusetts on August 09, 2009:

This is a worthwhile subject, and you handled it nicely. Years ago my cousin was in her early when 20's when she was getting married. After her wedding was over my father said how her new husband "just seems to like his booze a little too much". He wasn't making a casual remark. He was indicating genuine concern about the young man everyone in the family loved. Sure enough, the alcoholism he would later develop destroyed their marriage. Although it doesn't happen that way with everyone, warning signs can show up when people are surprisingly young.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 09, 2009:

Hey CV, great to see you back! Hope this means you are settled and have lots of new stories to share.

TOF -- I swear you were NOT the model for anyone in this hub. Cheers back atcha.

Jayb23- Thanks. Sometimes humor can be cathartic! MM

jayb23 from India on August 09, 2009:

MM Awesome hub. It was funny and at the same time quite interesting. Keep up the good work.

The Old Firm from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand on August 09, 2009:

Hi MM. I must admit that I'd be happier if the old bloke with the moe looked a little less like me!

Cheers, TOF

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on August 09, 2009:

MM, a really great hub and very cleverly written, love the floors!

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 09, 2009:

Hi Dohn, I'm glad you were able to curtail your drinking as your life changed. That's another telltale sign. Normal people adjust their drinking to fit their life. Alcoholics adjust their life to fit their drinking!

Glad you found this fun. I hope someone will read it and take it seriously:-) MM

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on August 08, 2009:

What do you mean you "might not write another real hub again?" What do you call this?

When I was in college, I think that I might have been getting close to alcoholism...Who knows. But I ended up dating someone and so began fading from the party scene as things were getting a bit heavy and more serious.

I really enjoyed reading this hub. You make it fun, MM. Thank you.

Susan Reid (author) from Where Left is Right, CA on August 08, 2009:

Hi Bredavies, You probably do have alcoholic friends. You can no doubt pick out the ones in your circle of friends who just don't drink like the rest of you. These days a lot of younger people are "getting it" and "getting sober" early. But for most people it takes years and years of self-abuse before alcohol finally beats them into submission.

I hope this info will be useful to you and your friends in some way, if not now, in the future! Best, MM

Bredavies on August 08, 2009:

I love how you put it into "floors" I am pretty sure I have a lot of alcoholic friends and they are only 18! Great hub!