Am I an Alcoholic?
Updated: Jul 17
Okay, let's just call a spade a spade and say that if you find yourself Googling, "Am I an alcoholic/addict?" the chances are pretty slim that the answer is, "No." The problem with the general conversation around addiction is that it's filled with the opinions of people that don't know what they are talking about.
"When they've hit rock bottom, they'll stop."
"When Jim is ready to quit, he'll put the plug in the jug."
"You'd think he would stop for his kids."
"She was just arrested and she's still getting high, SMDH."
The answer to this question is binary and there is no gray area. It's either a yes or a no. You either are an alcoholic or addict or you're not - it's that simple. So why do we ask ourselves this question? For some of us, it's because we want to prove ourselves an exception to the rule, therefore non-alcoholic. For others, it's because they look at their outside lives and can't reconcile the two. "I have a degree, a good job, car, house - I can't be an alcoholic."
Here is a solid representation of the two types of people that are up at night trying to answer the question, "Am I an alcoholic or addict?":
Person 1 - The Problem Drinker A problem drinker, if given sufficient reason - ill health, divorce, love, reputation, being fired from your job - can stop or moderate. This is great news for any problem drinker because what it means is that with some good therapy you're drinking problem will dissipate over time.
Person 2 - The Real Alcoholic or Addict If you're the real alcoholic, tell your therapist you can forget about Mom for a little while - you've got a whole new bag of issues. Most of the research coming out these days indicates that addiction is a complex genetic disease. It's not your asshole boss, your naggy wife, the job you hate, or your ballistic kids. Those things may exacerbate your using, but they are not the cause.
If you're wondering why "real alcoholic" is underlined, it's because a lot of people identify as alcoholic or addict, but really are just problem drinkers/drug users. The real alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be unable to stop or moderate no matter how great the wish or necessity. This is not an overnight process for most people.
The difference between the two is that one is causal and the other is genetic. One gets better over time, the other eventually kills you.
Now it isn't all doom and gloom. As I write this, I can say unequivocally, that this is the happiest I've ever been. I can go anywhere without fear of relapse - parties, concerts, weddings, whatever.
How did I get here? For me, it was a no-nonsense, hard-as-shit sponsor that knew the work (AA speak for the Steps), took me through them and I recovered. "Wait, I've heard there is no cure - what do you mean recovered?" The term "recovering" is treatment center bullshit. When the obsession to drink and get high leaves you, that is as recovered as you get.
So where do you find a great sponsor in a COVID-19 world? That was the primary reason for starting YANA. We wanted to make it easy to connect with others in recovery. We wanted to take the power of a 12 Step Program and put it in your pocket. We wanted to make recovery accessible to anyone, anywhere.
YANA is about the three pillars: unity, service, and recovery. Unity means not having to do it alone - it's connecting with people that care, can help, and most importantly, share the same interests. Service means using your experience to help someone else - I feel, I've felt, I've found. You have NO idea how powerful your story will be. Recovery is created by the actions you take to stay spiritually fit and healthy. I chose AA and working with others, taking them through the steps. My cofounder has a men's meeting which is AA-agnostic and fences (like a swashbuckling, sword-fighter.) My mom and brother work with the Boys & Girls Clubs. We make no bones about how you choose to live a healthy lifestyle.
YANA was built to positively impact the lives of people struggling with addiction by providing a safe place to connect with other sober people and discover a path to recovery that is right for them. So are you an alcoholic? Truthfully, we don't know and wouldn't presume to. The answer to that question will materialize no matter what you do and we hope we're here to point you in the right direction.