Well I've been lurking around this forum for a few weeks now and I've finally decided to join up and say hi to everyone. Not sure if this is the best place to post this but here goes...
I'm 27 years old and have been drinking heavily since about the time I turned 21, maybe 22. When I say heavy I mean VERY heavy. I was drinking a full two pints of vodka at least three or four nights a week for the past five or six years and I finally decided it was time to quit. As of this writing I haven't had anything to drink since Friday, April 16th. This is just about 21 days and it's the longest I've gone without getting drunk or drinking alcohol since I started drinking heavily.
Here's why I quit.
I kid myself for a long time by telling myself I wasn't drinking all that much, that I was still young enough to handle it (and maybe I am, who knows), and that I'd quit when I wanted to. Well, now I guess I want to. I was getting dizzy and light-headed for days after being drunk, to the point where I could barely stand up straight without feeling like I was going to fall over. I'd lose my balance frequently and would feel like I could fall on my butt at any given time. And this is after I had sobered up, and for a day or two after I was drunk. Of course I would get drunk a day or two later.
I would get random pains in my head and my stomach area, possibly my liver or kidneys, Idk. They would be sharp or dull but very quick nonetheless. I used to worry that something was wrong with me but it didn't stop me from continuing to get drunk 3-4 nights a week.
I used to drink so much I wet the bed with regularity and then not clean it up, just wait for it to dry. If I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I wet the bed I'd just throw another blanket over the wet spots and go right back to sleep, too blasted out of my mind to care about it. After all it was only (my own) urine.
I told myself that I wasn't an alcoholic that I was only a heavy drinker. After all, I only drank on nights when I didn't have anything to do the next day, never drank to excess at family or social gatherings, never got a DWI or anything like that. But I'd drink all night and sleep all day. Then the headaches and dizziness started, completely ruining the times in between my drunk nights. I could barely function. I guess that's what really started me thinking I should quit.
Then came the spider veins. I have tiny spider veins on both of my cheeks and a few large ones on the side of my nose. In bright light I can see them very clearly, when it's not so bright they're hideable.
And the memory loss. Short-term memory loss. I'd forget things people told me minutes after they said them to me. I'd walk into a room to get something, get distracted by something, and walk out without getting what I'd gone in for.
So there I was, an off-balance, light-headed, spider-veined, red-faced, forgetful 27 year old who wet the bed when he drank too much. Probably time to stop drinking so much.
I started off by scaling back how much I was drinking. Never consecutive nights, then allowing two days in between, then only on the weekends. This didn't work. I always found myself picking up bottles of vodka during the day anyway and drinking them at night. Then I'd promise myself I'd wait a week before drinking again. I told myself if I could make it a week then I'd give my liver and my brain time to recharge. This didn't really work either.
Finally I told myself it was time to just give it up. After a particularly bad "dizzy" day, (Friday, April 16th) I said I'd quit for a month and see what happens. As of right now it's been just about 21 days and I haven't had a drop in that entire time. No AA or anything like that and I'm not downplaying how good a 12 step program could be, I just haven't felt the need to yet. I haven't really felt tempted to drink and I don't find that I miss it. Does that mean I wasn't addicted? That I'm not an alcoholic? I don't know. Maybe I WAS just a heavy drinker as I always told myself. But being a heavy drinker doesn't mean I wasn't abusing alcohol and it doesn't mean I didn't need to stop.
I'm not experiencing any hardcore side effects but I find myself getting dizzy and light-headed sometimes, not as bad as the spells I had after a night of drinking but still enough to be frustrating and annoyed by them, even scared. I think this is probably normal but I'm not sure. Haven't been to the doctor for a workup... I'm afraid of what I might find. Diabetes? Liver problems? Brain problems? Heart problems? Any or a combination of all of those. I know I'll have to go eventually.
It's been 21 days and I actually feel pretty good. No trouble sleeping, no sweats, no shakes, no dts. I do still get the dizziness and the lightheaded thing on occasion but other than that it's been a pretty easy go of it. I'm actually finding that I don't really miss drinking as much as I thought I would. I used to think about quitting and it just seemed like I'd never be able to do it so I never really tried it. I think about it a lot but not in a "I really want a drink" way but more of a "four weeks ago I'd be drinking while doing this" kind of way. I'm counting the days since the last time I was drunk but not like "I said I'd stop for a month so I've got X amount of days until I can drink again" sort of way. I find myself counting the days FROM when I stopped drinking as oppposed to when I can "start again" if I were to start again in a month. I think I'll stay away from the booze for a while now. I'm sure my health isn't all that great but maybe I am young enough that I didn't do any permament damage to myself. Maybe my body will recover.
It's been 21 days and I'm feeling pretty good. I still have the veins on my face and the light-headedness but I'm not craving a drink and I haven't wet the bed. I wake up a lot earlier now than I used to and I take a ton of vitamins and supplements. I hope they help. If anyone has had any experience or success with these things, I'd like to know. Here's what I've been taking for the past 21 days:
Milk Thistle for the liver
Ginko / Fish Oil for the Brain
CoQ10 for the heart
Super B-Complex for nerves, etc
Vitamin K for my skin
Alpha Lipoic acid for detox purposes
Now I drink a ton of water and cranberry juice daily and I'm doing okay for now. It's been 21 days. In 7 days my self-imposed "Month of no drinking" will be up. I think I'll keep it up though. I'm feeling better then I have in a while. Not to sound gross, but heavy drinkers will know what I'm talking about: I had my first solid bowel movement the other day in as long as I can remember. Drinking heavily for 6 years I haven't had a solid BM in... I can't even remember the last time (not that it's the kind of thing I'd keep track of). And that's sad.
I won't lie: I miss it. I miss the feeling of being drunk. I LIKED it. Still do. But I don't need it. I thought I did but so far I'm doing okay. I can't say with any certainty or conviction that I'll never drink again but at least for the time being I don't really have any desire to get drunk again. Partially because I want to see how long I can make it and partially because after having not drank for the longest stretch in many years I feel like a single beer would knock me out cold.
I should stop myself now before I ramble on any further. Just wanted to say hi and share my story and my reasons for quitting with everyone. I guess if there's any "message" here it's: If you can stop, and you think you should stop.... Stop.
What a great story! Firstly i'd like to say congratulations on quitting especially because you chose the hardest route which was to 'go it alone.'
Having been a heavy drinker myself (half a bottle o scotch 7 days a week) i can really relate to a lot of the things you have written about here - although i never wet the bed i did do some pretty daft and dangerous things whilst under the influence.
Unlike yourself however i found i did need the help and encouragement of others to knock my habit. I still drink (quite heavily for a person my size) on Fridays and Saturdays but also find that on the other days i no longer have any desire for alcohol. Like you, i do enjoy the feeling of being drunk. I chose to get counselling from my local CAN agency and this worked very well for me. The most useful part of the counselling i found , and an issue which i note you have not covered in the above was uncovering the underlying reasons for my alcohol abuse.
After a long battle with several relapses i made the choice to keep two days/the weekend as days when i would allow myself a drink. By doing so i removed any temptation/desire to drink any other day of the week and found better coping mechanisms to deal with the underlying problems.
I am curious as to why you wanted to post your story in this forum. Do you think you could benefit from sharing your experiences with others in a similar way as i did in counselling?
Also, do you see yourself as 'tee-total' now or will you allow a drink on special occassions?
I know that previously that 'one' drink on 'special occassions' would always snowball for me into 3, then 4 then as many as i could slug down my neck before passing out. I avoid this issue most times by simply not having that first one, but it is of great comfort to me to know that i can and have been able to have 'one' and not follow it with the rest of the bottle.
I think if i had found that i was unable to do this i would have chosen to be tee-total.
It is not for me to say whether you were an alcoholic or simply a heavy drinker and in many ways i feel the point is a little mute - neither is good for you - the biggest difference is that alcoholics have a physical addiction and cannot stop - it sounds as though you were at least on the verge of alcoholism as you were displayed quite dramatic withdrawal symptoms. People often forget what a dangerous drug alcohol is simply because its legal so once more i would like to say a big well done to you! Great achievement, i hope you continue on the positive and are proud of how far you have progressed :)
first of all i read your entire post and i will say i do believe you are alcoholic!Alcoholics have a loss of control when they start to drink,there is no off switch!and they continue to drink despite the problems it causes-physical,medical,legal,financial, personal...u name it!And i agree with Cyncaid...what are the underlying feelings for all this alcohol abuse?Just because u r doing well in 21 days of not drinking doesn't mean u will be doing fine for a long time to come.U need a support group......and i think u will understand this when i say an alcoholic alone is in bad company!
I'm not entirely sure what the underlying causes were/are to be honest. When I started drinking heavily I was more or less happy without any big problems or issues or depression that I can think of that would lead me to it. Over the course of the last six years I guess a few things have happened that just allowed me to continue doing it because I didn't see any reason not to. It wasn't causing any trouble until I started feeling dizzy and off balance for days after drinking. It was really only then that I started thinking I was probably drinking way too much.
I know 21 days, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't mean much. I just haven't really found it all that difficult. Not nearly as difficult as I always thought it would be. I'm not discounting the idea that I may need AA or some similar program as the time goes on, just so far it hasn't been hard for me to stop drinking. 21 Days is the longest I've gone in 5 or 6 years without drinking so I'm counting it as a little mini-achievement for me. I realize I have a long way ahead of me to undo the damage I've caused my liver, my brain, etc... I know I can't abuse alcohol like I used to anymore and that I now have more important things to focus on. If it becames difficult for me, I'll seek out help.
Like I said, I can't say with any certainty that I'll never have another drink or get drunk again, I just don't feel the desire to at the moment. For lack of a better way of putting it: I have things to do and can't afford to be slowed down by booze. I guess my problem was always that I didn't have much reason to wake up in the morning on most days so on the nights I knew I could afford to sleep late I'd drink. Now I don't have that luxury so I've put it out of my mind as a possibility and it doesn't really bother me.
Ibizan I must say i found your comments rather deconstructive, i'm sure you meant well by pointing out the possiblity that Westguy may have been an alcoholic but i also think that this is something he already realised - hence his original post.
I do however agree that counselling can be an important aspect of long term recovery. That said counselling isn't for everyone, and, as Westguy seems to have resolved his issue already he may not find it beneficial. It's good we all stated the positive benefits counselling can have and that we all have it in mind as a healthy backup.
Westguy, i hope you know that i was sincere when i said congratulations on 21 days. You call 21 days a 'mini' achievement yet for some (as i know you also realise) 21 days would be impossible and a huge success!
I am glad you recognise your own achievement even if you have downplayed it.
Also, it's good you recognise that getting drunk doesn't make you an alcoholic. Everyone needs to let loose sometimes and there are oft occassions where 'normal' people have one too many and get a bit drunk - again - the difference is to do with dependance and the underlying reasons. So far as i can tell you have sussed the reasons that caused you to drink and learnt a valuable lesson about the negative long term effects it can have on your health. In reading it sounds as though you may have suffered a spell of minor depression (re no reason to get up in the morning etc) yet most people will experience this at some point in their lives.
I am glad that you seem to be on the right track now and wish you all the best for the future.
I've no idea if you gained what you were looking for from this forum but it certainly made me think again about the issues i have/am facing. A small thankyou is in order i suppose for refreshing my memory! :)
In answer to your original question about healthy foods to rebuild your body:-
- Marmite and mushrooms are good natural sources of Vit B - as are most fortified cereals.
- Milk thistle is great but expensive.
- Salmon/oily fish and brazil nuts/almonds should give you plenty of minerals and help rejuvinate the mind.
- Olives and eggs are high in vit E which is good for the skin.
- Nettles (like nettle tea/soup) spinach and green leafy veg provide iron which is good for the blood/liver.
- Green tea or white tea have the highest amount of antioxidants. As do fruits and veg with dark purple skin such as blueberries/beetroot.
- For the immune system - eat one kiwi a day as it contains the full RDA of vit C (much better for you than orange juice).
- As for vitamin K look to any orange coloured veg - carrots and ambercup squash are prime examples.
- Vit A can be found in fibre rich dried apricots.
Hello. Getting sober and staying sober are 2 different things. I'm glad you had little withdrawal symptoms, but as time passes, If you drink again, they will get bad. You stated that you're not exactly convinced that you are an alcoholic, maybe a heavy drinker. Looking at your symptoms, I can say that you definitively qualify for both. As far as aa, If you can remain sober without support, that's wonderful. However, just as a cancer patient would be reccomended to have chemo, radiation, and even surgery, those with chemical dependency are given suggestions to eat well, exercise, and use support groups. If you have a problem with alcohol, it would be advisable for you to make use of all available resources. Although some make it through cancer without using all available therapies, most who ignore part of a reccomended therapy have low survival rates. Same with alcohol. If nothing else, a group like aa will give you a much better understanding of your condition, and perhaps save your life. Its worth giving it a try, what have you got to lose? Best wishes, GM
i did not intend my comments to be as u put it de-constructive.....i will say what i think being an alcoholic/addict whose been sober and clean 26 years!And maybe my dayjob is a hazard-substance abuse counselor for 25 years!and 21 days is quite the accomplishment.I remember many years ago remaining abstinent for short stretches at a time and telling myself i was fine this problem must not be as bad as i thought.Then i went to reward myself with a drink...or a drug....and the race was on again.And hopefully this won't happen to him!Google DSM-IV definition of alcohol dependence and you will see what i mean.I've encountered TONS of folks over the years who quit.....and thought they could do it alone.....only to find out they couldn't......life and its frustrations have a way of flipping our brains habituated ways of how we spell relief......and its so easy in the beginning to slip.And it is so nice to see ppl i encounter return to our agency and say i need help...can't do this alone......and there is so much power in a support group or a 12 step group of folks helping another.I wouldn't be typping this had that not of been so for me!I do a Adult Recovery Group and it is a joy to see 10-15 in a room openly share and say how 12 step or the group helps them to stay sober and clean...that they know they are not alone.And having the phone numbers off ppl who've been in your shoes that have good recovery come in helpful when you feel in a mental pickle and can pick up the phone for some rational advice when you feel overwhelmed and can be dually tempted to act irrationally!
Congratulations on your 3 weeks of sobriety!!. I think that is awsome. I tried a while back to just drink wine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and did it for one week and then went right back to drinking every night. I have wondered myself if I am an alcoholic. I have heard that if you ask yourself that question, then you probably are. I came from an alcoholic family (dad only) so I know my chances of being one increase. I love to drink and really can't imagine my life without it. It is really stupid when I think about it. The few days I didn't drink, I felt great and also proud of myself. I just wish I could get that mind-set back and try it again. Good Luck and Great Will Power!!!
I know no one meant any harm by what they said so please no one worry about that.
You all make good points and I'm taking it all in. Still having some off-balance feelings and some headaches but I'm more or less doing okay. Don't really want to take any pain medication because I'd like to detoxi my body but if it gets unbearable I'll probly take some motrin or some advil or something.
Again, I'm not writing off AA or a support group or anything like that I just haven't felt I needed it just yet. I have the contact info for a few local places that I can turn to if needed. Still don't feel like drinking though. Really just want the headaches and the dizziness to go away but it does serve as a reminder and a kick in the butt to me. I'm eating healthier too and started working out again which is a good way to burn off any extra energy.
And can I say how much money I'm saving? I used to spend about 100 bucks on alcohol a week. Now I have extra money! I also smoke cigarettes (still do, but hey: one thing at a time) and I am smoking a lot less now that I'm no longer drinking. In the past 3 weeks I've probably saved 500 dollars on booze and cigs alone. I may keep this up just for the savings.
I never intended to be offensive to anyone and do not sorry that my comments are but always hope my comments enable ppl to really look deep within themselves and get honest with how this alcohol and the drugs affects their lives.I am glad you have realized that you have a problem and continue to abstain....and hope u check out a support group or AA...and go listen....u do not have to share a lot about yourself.It always calmed me down and made me realize how many others out there were in the same addiction boat that I was and what I needed to do to ensure i didn't climb in2 it again!
I spent the first years of my sobriety being a "dry" drunk. I wasnt drinking but my behavior and attitude didnt change. I then ramped up my other addiction to pills and the process continued. I thought i could do this on my own. I was so wrong. Using was only a symptom of what was really going on. I then got involved with NA/AA and that has been a life saver for me. We have to face those demons that live within ourselves. We also learn the tools that keep us clean/sober as getting clean/sober is the easy part, staying this way is the hard one.
Congrats on 21 days of sobriety!! One day at a time~~~~~~sara
First of all, congrats o the period of time that you have sober. It's no small feat after a long period of drinking, and you're doing well. I'll try to keep it short, but I have a few things I can tell you from personal experience.
I can identify with the dizziness. It was a major side effect for me, and it stayed with me for the first 6 weeks after going sober, but it gradually improved. Your body is trying to tell you something, so don't blow it at an arbitrary 30 days - you still have some healing to do.
Secondly, I like that you are thinking about the various healthy supplements. You should try a B-complex that includes B-1 (Thiamine). Drinkers tend to be short on this substance in our brains and it may help with your memory. The other B's are heavily used by your liver when they are metabolizing alcohol.
Thirdly, there is a possibility that your liver has suffered, based on the amount that you've been drinking.......but.....short of cirrhosis, the liver can usually repair itself with time. It takes more than 30 days though.
Lastly- if you're anything like me, you stopped drinking because your body forced you into it......you said you miss the buzz? I fully understand that. Booze has been your best buddy for a long time and I can identify. The funny thing about booze is that it also becomes a mental obsession. Even after the physical cravings are gone, your body starts to feel good and you say to yourself "it sure would be fun to have a drink or two right now". That drink or two will quickly turn into 5-6 and progress from there. I know people who have kicked the cigarette habit (also an physical addition) and they said once it was over, it was over. There was no voice in their head saying "come on, smoke just 1". With alcoholics this is a danger and you need to figure out a plan to stay sober for longer. It goes far beyond the physical cravings.
Most people on these sites will tell you that "only you can decide if you are an alcoholic". Well, I'm not afraid to go out on a limb here and say "brother- if you've been drinking that much with these symptoms, you have crossed the line". It's a line that we can't re-cross. Our bodies have changed, and you need to understand that and stay sober.
There's a good life out there for you, with lots of fun and productive things to do. Try AA meeting, join a club, participate in a sport, and keep yourself busy. Learn the concept of "living in the moment" and you'll find that you enjoy life without the need for a drink.
I hope that was short enough- don't give up and don't pick up the bottle again.
Hey man, good work. I quit the day after you, 4/17/2010! Let me share a quick bit about what happened.
I drank a lot like you. I thought that there were things I had to control, like drinking alone, to avoid becoming an alcoholic. I go to UCSB, so it's pretty easy to be an alcoholic and never drink alone, I found that out the hard way. I blacked out a lot too and got myself 5 tickets in 3 years.
I quit cold turkey like you, cuz I knew I had to change something, and drinking was obviously the problem. After a month and a half of hanging out with the same people, I convinced myself that I could control it. I did, for about a month, I barely drank. It's a snowball effect though...I eventually got worse than before pretty quickly.
I'm only 21, so my advice isn't the most solid, but going to AA has made quitting wayyyy harder than the first time, but this time I know the chances of it lasting are much stronger. I show up at every meeting pissed off feeling stupid for going and sorry for myself, and I leave humbled, and ready for live life in a brave new world.
You can't just jump back into your old life man, everything's gotta change. It's scary but it's beautiful. My sponsor has saved my *** a few times already by making me show up.
Hope you give it a shot..you're one day more sober than me so I have much to learn from you!
Remember, if a hippie hangs out in front of a barber shop all day he's eventually gonna get a haircut.
Why would the hippie be hanging out in front of a barbershop all day? And what about a hippie would lead anyone to believe they'd eventually go into the barbershop and get a haircut? Perhaps he's out there all day protesting the institutional convention of the haircut?
But all kidding aside. Good luck with your sobriety. Don't look at yourself as "only 21" but rather "young enough to change before you do real damage."
As I said before, I'm not discounting AA I just think don't think I need it right now. I haven't really been tempted to drink or had any serious withdrawl symptoms or even missed drinking all that much. If I do need it though I'll go.
I'm 25 days in and doing well so far.
Side note: Does anyone know/have experience with using dramamine to combat the light-headed and dizziness? Or in using anything else for it? I don't want to use any heavy pain reliever to give my liver as much a break as possible so any thoughts anyone has would be appreciated. They're not that bad so I can just sorta grind it out for the next few weeks if need be.
Funny that everyone should be asking this question today, lol. For the last week or so it's been better but today was not a good day. I felt very dizzy and off balance for much of tonight, worse than it's been since I quit drinking. I feel a little better now. Also I didn't get much sleep last night so that probably isn't helping.
Do you have a mind that races?Mine in early sobriety went like a rollercoaster and I had a great deal of anxiety!It has gotten better over the years but i still have episodes of that and my attempts to calm myself down are more successful but it does still exist!I think the brains of alcoholics/addicts are in constant overdrive...and our useage did indeed slow it down....but in the end we all found out that this was NOT the way to deal with it!Hope u got some rest...u have such a good mind and it shows in your postings!:)
My mind doesn't race really although I've found I really only get it when I'm moving around a lot. Like when I exercise or if I'm running around during work I'll start to get it but if I spend the day taking it relatively easy it's either not nearly as bad or nonexistant.
You've come a long way congratulations,it is funny to go back and read our initial posts,I remember telling everyone I could do this with will power alone,then I had everyone telling me to be careful and that aftercare was important I even used to get a bit uppity about been told what I should do but you learn to listen to those that have longer clean time,now 358 days later I have used aftercare and embrace it.and I'm glad I did because now I know I would have relapsed without it.
Sara,that tough love was what I needed on many occasions,it has got me where I am today.I still can not believe it is nearly a year,once I pass that milestone it will be the longest I've gone without alcohol since I was 14,that's 34 years.Amazing
Narla, i always spoke my thoughts that came from the heart. Some call it being to hard on them but there is nothing glamorous about addiction and i have never sugarcoated anything. I am truely grateful to have you a part of my recovery~~~~~~sara
Ha! I laugh at my first posts now, and I'll probably laugh about my current posts later. I can't believe this thread is still going. Good to see a lot of the people that helped me out on this site when I got here are still sober.
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