…And I’m a Slow Alcoholic

December 22, 2009

Much to my delight, my fellow sobriety seeker and I have discovered a really terrific Agnostics AA meeting, which we’ve begun to attend regularly. I really enjoy both these meetings, and the post-meeting lunches the group goes for afterwards – the people are fascinating, the stories touching, and the whole experience leaves me energized and feeling validated in my decision.

The only thing I dread a little bit is the first time I introduce myself each meeting.  As many people probably know, before one “shares” in meeting, you begin with “Hi my name is…” usually followed by “…and I’m an alcoholic.”  I’m still very resistant to this phrase, because my particular situation is a little different from the rest of the crowd.  During my drinking days, you would never find me passed out on a bar or vomiting in the gutter. I wasn’t killing bottles a day or waking up with the shakes.  I drank considerably less than the majority of my friends who would never dream of calling themselves alcoholics.  So why should I introduce myself as such?

But as I listened to the circle of speakers this week, and the focus came around to me, I tried the title on for size with my own twist: Hi, my name is … and I’m a very slow alcoholic.

It’s not that my abuse has ever gotten so severe, it’s that every time I’ve quit drinking, and then tried to come back to it in a spirit of “moderation,” I’ve always eventually, slowly slipped back to what for me is excess. It’s that slipping back, even if it isn’t to a level which others may consider abuse, which is my personal alcohol-ism.  It is a social crutch I can’t seem to use just a little, I’m either trying to walk without it, or it’s there all the time.

In a similar vein, a friend of mine refers to himself as an alcoholic with a “very high bottom.” Someone’s “bottom,” of course, is the point they have to reach before they realize they need help.  In this friend’s case, he knows his limits and he can sense his tendency to supersede those limits when given the chance.  He didn’t need to go into debilitating credit card debt or lose his house to feel a sense of his own rock bottom.

I feel the same way – I know that I use alcohol as a drug, even in small quantities, and though on a moment to moment basis I do have a considerably easier time than my fellow alcoholics with choosing not to drink, it is still part of who I am, and something I’m beginning to own and accept.

Tuesday, December 22nd will be my 8 month anniversary of sobriety.  One of the leaders of the group asked if I had a 6-month coin yet, and gave me one.  This little gold coin is something I’d seen before.  The room my college improv group rehearsed in happened to also be where the town’s AA group met, and they had left their coins in the room’s podium, which we discovered at a rehearsal once.  I remember all of us having a laugh about these little tokens at the time, I think I may have even taken one home with me.

Oh the irony, that what I ridiculed during the years when my problem was first developing, would become something I was so proud to receive this week, a symbol of accomplishment and association with a group of people I’m so honored to be around.



  1. Whatever it takes, darlin, and however you get it, you’re doing like the most difficult thing EVER and you’re doing it well. I’m so proud of YOU.

  2. Happy 8-month anniversary!

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