Ten Simple Clues
In all the years that I’ve written a newspaper column “Out My Window” and now this blog of “From Out My Window”, I’ve repeated but two columns. One of Lilacs on Memorial day, and now this because two people have told me that my ‘questions’ were eye-openers for them, and that just maybe they might do the same for another.
And there’s one more person I meet occasionally, a delightful person, but who, I’d be willing to bet, will become, or already is, an alcoholic. I wanted to talk to him, but didn’t, for there would have been anger, and I’d have been told, truthfully, that it was none of my business. But at one stage of my life I was active in AA, and while not alcoholic myself, I learned an awfully lot.
One was this list of the following questions and I’ve used them in many ways over the years because they were true then and are just as true today.
If you answer ‘Yes’ to even one of them, the chances are you have a problem, and if you answer “Yes” to three or more, you are an alcoholic. It may take years before you admit it, but the course of the disease is relentlessly down-hill and continues to worsen until admitted and faced.
Don’t tell your answers to anyone, but for your own sake, answer truthfully to yourself, and oh how I wish, hope, that even one person will read, and act.
1. Do you ever take a drink in the morning?
2. When people mention drinking do you walk away in anger, thinking they were speaking about you, and wish they would mind their own business?
3. Have you ever felt that your life would be better and easier if you stopped drinking?
4. Have you ever said to yourself, “I can stop drinking anytime I want”, and then poured yourself another drink?
5. When having guests or going to a party, do you ever pour yourself a secret drink, before hand, just to ‘get in the mood’?
6. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or two, and then found yourself drinking again within one or two days?
7. Does your drinking ever cause trouble at home? At school? On the job?
8. Do you ever have black-outs? Partial memory loss?
9. Have you ever gotten drunk when it was the last thing in the world you wanted to do?
10. Have you ever switched from one kind of liquor to another in hopes the change would keep you from getting drunk?
Simple, aren’t they? But that simplicity is deceiving, and all the disbelief in the world won’t change the truth of them. Or your answers.
Take Question 8. A blackout doesn’t mean ‘passing out’. Blacking out means that you were on your feet, talking, laughing, dancing, but the next day you can’t remember one thing of what happened. You ‘blacked out’ and it’s a mean thing, for no one there would have seen one thing odd in your behavior.
Now, it doesn’t help if a spouse or parent recognizes these traits and tries to help by telling you. The one who has the disease will fight back, maintaining ‘there is no problem’, (See No. 4) and, anyway, ‘living with you would drive anyone to drink’.
And if No. 7 is brought up, it will always be someone else’s fault. Always, always, always, and never, never, never, theirs.
But thank heavens today we all know about alcoholism from TV, internet, radio or magazines. You will find AA meetings in your own neighborhood, across town, or if you wish to be truly anonymous, there are groups which absolutely insist upon it. Anyone’s Last Name is forbidden from use and Nick-Names only allowed.
It’s not an easy journey, but the sooner the alcoholic recognizes the disease, and only then, can it be controlled. And, as I once learned, it is not a case of just the alcoholic needing help, but everyone whose life has been closely touched also needs help. Which is why meetings for the non-alcoholic partner, teens, adults and even for adult children of alcoholics are well attended.
It’s a mean, progressive disease, and if someone recognizes the disease and stops drinking, but, years later decides one small drink would do no harm after all this time, they’ll find it one horrible mistake, for the disease progresses whether you drink or not, and that ‘first drink’ doesn’t react as it did years before, but in a far more terrible way, and stopping far harder to do. It’s nothing to play games with. At all.
As I said, I’ve had requests for these words to be repeated, and I hope that the one I meet so briefly, will get the help that is now so easy to find. Miracles do happen, you know, and my trust in such is why I repeat my words, at the beginning of what is usually a time of heavier than usual drinking, and that they might help at least one such person. Cross your fingers. Mine are.