EtOH help

  1. Hello. I'm wondering if any of you have ever broken the cycle of alcohol abuse before it broke you. I am a 30 year old senior nursing student, about to graduate at the end of the year and I have a serious drinking problem that no one knows about. I have maintained a 4.0 in nursing school, while working 30 hrs a week to pay the bills. I have never drank before or during class or clinicals. Still, quite often, when I don't have anything critically important to do the next morning, I find myself putting away a 6-pack a night (or however much beer happens to be in the house). Each morning after I tell myself I am going to quit, but by the time evening rolls around I am able to convince myself that I will have "just one beer with dinner."

    Yes, most of the important people in my life have witnessed me doing stupid things while drunk, but that is so common among my circle of family and friends that they have been willing to let it go. I am pretty good at appearing functional and really bad at asking for help.

    If I don't break this pattern, I know that someday, somewhere, I will screw up in a way that I can not fix. There have been times where I was able to stop drinking entirely for several weeks or months, so it feels like this is something I should be able to deal with on my own. All of the treatment options I am aware of involve admitting you have a problem and forever abstaining from alcohol. That is a lot to commit to. I set up an appointment with a counselor through the hospital's employee assistance program, and later cancelled it because I couldn't deal with the idea of being forever saddled with the label of "alcoholic", and never being able to enjoy a drink with my family or friends.

    I have kind of family that is so supportive, they would probably stop serving alcohol at family gatherings altogether, if they knew I had a problem. Many of you will see that as a good thing, and I probably would too, if I was viewing the situation as an objective observer. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't feel bad if they chose to forgo a glass of wine with dinner, for my sake. Most of them are able to drink in a healthy manner (one or two glasses of beer or wine with a meal). While I have had occasional slip-ups, I have basically learned to drink in a healthy, responsible way in social settings. I know that I can stop drinking after one or two drinks. It just doesn't happen often when I am home alone with a full 6-pack.

    I'm wondering if anyone has been able to conquer this problem through non-traditional means. I want help and I want to change, but I haven't been able to bring myself to making the very public commitment that involves. The thought of never having another drink is something I can deal with, but the idea of forever having the label of "alcoholic" as part of my identity is not. Honestly, who wants to be known as the alcoholic nurse?

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    There must be someone who is able to identify as this is a problem that is so deeply embedded in our culture. I have encountered more heavy drinkers among the faculty, students, and staff at the academic medical center where I work than I have in any other place in my life. I've never heard anyone acknowledge this, other than jokingly or in stories, and I have not had the guts to talk about it either.
  2. Visit larsell303 profile page

    About larsell303

    Joined: Apr '06; Posts: 2


  3. by   JentheRN05
    Well I guess what it boils down to is. Who buys the beer? I mean if you buy it then start by cutting down to a 40 oz and limit yourself to that. I do not have a problem with alcohol, in any way. I RARELY drink, but lately occasionally I will have a glass of wine while reading a book. But that's literally every few days - at most. It just seemed like a healthy, decent habit to pick up. Because of the benefits of wine. I don't care for the taste of alcohol in any capacity normally. I am certain I do not have a problem. I don't worry about where I'll get a glass of wine lol.
    But I don't know what else to tell you. Try and cut back. Limiting your availability (literally buying only one 40oz at a time. No matter what the excuse is). If someone else buys it for you, confide in them the reason you want to cut back. It does not mean you tell the whole world.
    My brother was an alcoholic. Luckily one day it just didn't taste good to him and he never drank again after that. I am grateful, but the fact is, that is rare, and I don't know and never heard of another person having that easy of a break from the stuff.
    Good luck - will keep you in my thoughts
  4. by   SuesquatchRN
    If you want, e-mail me about this.
  5. by   AnRNIam
    Please e-mail me about this if you want to talk about it further.
  6. by   PANurseRN1
    We cannot (and should not) be giving advice regarding medical issues. You need to discuss this with your physician. Detoxing from ETOH is not just as simple as "cutting back" and can actually be life-threatening.
  7. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from larsell303
    ... There must be someone who is able to identify as this is a problem that is so deeply embedded in our culture. I have encountered more heavy drinkers among the faculty, students, and staff at the academic medical center where I work than I have in any other place in my life. I've never heard anyone acknowledge this, other than jokingly or in stories, and I have not had the guts to talk about it either.[/SIZE]

    Hi, as of next Thursday I will have 21 years sober. I started in AA and spent several years there learning about my use of alcohol. It's ok to just go and listen, and see if you can relate to what they go through. If someone sees you there are they going to judge? They are there for the same reason.

    I found that even more effective is to be discipled and taught about the Bible, and to serve a church. This directly addresses the emotional issues and talks more of what we SHOULD do versus should NOT. (Altho there are plenty of "shalt not's" in the Bible of course).

    There are of course other ways to get sober but I am just sharing my own experience.

    Here are a few relevant threads on Allnurses where you can read and post. If anyone knows of other threads please feel free to point them out here.
  8. by   TazziRN
    I have nearly 13 years sober. In my experience people who try to get sober through non-traditional means rarely make it. This is a disease that requires a strong support system to get sober and stay sober, and non-traditional means usually does not include other people.

    I echo the previous poster's suggestion. Go to some AA meetings. You will be invited to introduce yourself but you do not have to. You do not have to speak at all if you don't want to. Just go. You may see faces there that you know, you may not. They aren't going to say anything to you other than "Welcome", I guarantee it!!!

    PLEASE do something to get sober now, before you get your license, because with the stressors of the job you will not be able to hide it forever. If you do a search on here you will see many posts from people like me who got sober because we got caught, and while getting caught saved our lives, there were many many hoops we had to jump through publically.
  9. by   CarVsTree
    I have just under 10 years clean & sober. You don't have to be labeled. You tell who you want to tell. I am not embarassed at all for people to know I cannot drink or use drugs and that I am an addict. But, that was not so when I first got clean.

    I agree with the other posters. Get help. Call AA or look up a meeting place online and just show up.

    BTW, cutting back does NOT work. If you had the ability to control it, you wouldn't be asking for help.

    Also, there are AA meetings online, you may try that to perhaps find someone to take you to a meeting. Less intimidating when you have someone to walk in with you.

    Please, get help before you have easy access to narcotics.
  10. by   larsell303
    Thank you to all of you who replied to my post. From those of you who have been there, it sounds like the consensus is that long term changes require support from others. I know that no one here cares about my grades or how many hours I work, but I posted them simply to illustrate the nature of my problem as a psychological dependence, rather than a physical dependence. I could quit today and with no worries about withdrawal, if I had a compelling enough reason to do so. That is, I know my habits are seriously unhealthy, but at this point, I haven't done anything where the damages I have caused surpass the level of embarrassment, so the choices are all mine. That is a good thing, and in part d/t the fact that I have been extremely lucky. However, I am in the position of knowing that I have a problem, and also knowing that right now not changing my habits is far more comfortable than changing them. I see the long term picture, but it's just too easy to tell myself that I will start doing better tomorrow.

    I know that the addiction literature addresses the issue as a disease, rather than a matter of willpower. I'm not convinced I have a disease. Perhaps I'm just an idiot who makes a lot of poor choices. Either way, willpower still has a role in overcoming psychological dependence. This may sound arbitrary, and obviously I'm not yet completely educated about recovery, but I suspect that the nature of support necessary to overcome psychological dependence is somewhat different from that necessary to overcome physical dependence. As I see it, what I need is accountability. Frankly, I have a hard time seeing myself as a cause. The best decisions I have made in my life have been motivated by what I believe I owe to the people I care about.

    The bottom line is that I doubt I'll make the necessary changes until I have an honest conversation with someone I care about, and ask them to follow up with me.
    Maybe it is not the ultimate solution, but probably a necessary step. There are three people I have considered, as people I could trust. One is a good college friend (prior degree, not nursing school), and former roommate - she's seen some of my more embarrassing inebriated moments, so the confession would certainly not be shocking. The second is a classmate, who I was partnered with during one of my clinicals, who has been open in discussing with me and other students, her own attempts to reduce the amount she drinks (Couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't fate/God that placed us together in the same setting, where we both were struggling with the same issue). The third is one of my clinical instructors. She is an outstanding, seasoned critical nurse and one of the most incredible people I have ever met. After all that she's seen, she still has the patience to respond thoughtfully to all of the petty, trivial day-to-day concerns of students, and not be judgmental (not that all student concerns are petty or trivial - I'm just saying that she responds thoughtfully to the ones that are, as well as to the things that are really important). She has been understanding and supportive, in the past, in allowing me to discuss my own vulnerabilities.

    Let me know if you think any of these people are an appropriate resource. Is it appropriate to ask my friends, colleagues, instructors to check in with me? Would it be academic/professional suicide to discuss unhealthy patterns of alcohol use at school? In the professional setting, there are policies and systems for mandatory communication that I don't entirely understand. If I admit to someone in a position of authority that this is an issue I struggle with, will that require some type of documentation, reporting or some process of mandatory observation?
  11. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from larsell303
    If I admit to someone in a position of authority that this is an issue I struggle with, will that require some type of documentation, reporting or some process of mandatory observation?
    I would suggest you NOT divulge at this time to anyone in a position of authority, or even a fellow student unless you have had some longevity and trust established with each other. Maybe they will advise you properly, maybe not, but you don't know what they may do with the info.

    I WOULD speak with a trusted friend or advisor, and I would also suggest that you keep on exploring this - you wouldn't have brought it up if you weren't concerned. Just like your meeting that friend was probably no accident, your posting on this forum was no accident.

    Let me know if you need to talk more about this! Take care
  12. by   nurseangel47
    Hi, Larsell303. Welcome to allnurses. At least you are recognizing a potentially destructive path you are on. I think you should get immediate professional counseling and possibly start on meds to help with your alcoholism if that is according to what the doc thinks. Not medical advice here. Sorry, due to TOS. But good luck to you now and in the future.
    Merry Christmas. Eggnog without alcohol or juices, sodas for the holidays!
  13. by   TazziRN
    I don't want to sound harsh and I hope you understand where this is coming from, but your words about not thinking you have a disease and thinking that you can do this through willpower is screaming "DENIAL!!!!" to those of us in recovery. I do agree that you should not speak to anyone in a position of authority over you, certainly not your CI, no matter how much you admire and trust her. I hope that one of the other people you mentioned will tell you what we have tried to tell you, to go to an AA meeting and to keep going.

    One thing you do not want to do is keep drinking at all before you get your license, because if you have even one DUI within 3 years of applying for your license, you will have to jump through extra hoops to get your license, perhaps even going through a recovery program. If you want a reason to quit drinking and you think you can do it cold turkey, that should be it.

    Keep this in mind: if you decide to heed this advice and do try to quit cold turkey and you end up picking up another drink, I hope you take that as proof that you do need help and will give AA a try. It has saved many lives, mine included, and can save yours.
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    As the saying goes, if you think you have an alcohol problem, it already has you.

    I was like you once, a relatively functional human being who got up every morning, did what needed to be done, and made it through the day. If I drank a glass of brandy every night, or went on the occasional six-month binge, who cared? I still kept house, was a good wife and mother, ran the Jaycees' weekly breakfast meeting, cooked dinner, volunteered at the health clinic.......I certainly wasn't an alcoholic.

    At least, that's what I told myself. I didn't realize then that you don't have to be a derelict living in a back alley to be an alcoholic; in fact, alcoholics are human beings much like everyone else---they have families and jobs and social lives, they have hopes and dreams and ambitions. What they DON'T have is the ability to control their drinking. They may have enough pride to at least try to keep up appearances, and they may even stick to "one or two drinks" for months or years............but control is only an illusion: sooner or later the urge to binge WILL return, and they will give in to it.

    This is how I was able to fool myself for many years; I thought because I could go so long between binges---sometimes as long as a year or more!---and didn't get loaded every time I drank, that I was in control. What I had was pride, and some dignity mixed in for good measure; but it's been 15 years since I gave it up, and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can never drink again. From the time I was four years old and went around sipping daintily out of the guests' glasses at a house party, until the night I finished off the last of the New Year's Eve champagne and said "That's it" almost thirty years later, I was never in control.

    It also took me at least ten years of sobriety to realize that wishing I could have "one or two drinks" was a sure sign that the problem would always be with me. An individual who does NOT have a drinking problem couldn't care less if and when they drink alcohol. They don't think about it. Me, I still think about it, and I probably always will.

    The other thing is, please don't let the label of 'alcoholic' stop you from getting the help you already know you need. You don't have to call yourself ANY name that you don't like; I happen to use that term because I learned in AA that I needed to get past labels in order to accept the fact that I had the disease. To me, it's just another word, just another description---it does not define me as a person. But alcoholism is part of me, just like having high blood pressure, brown hair, a crooked grin, and a warped sense of humor are part of me.........not bad or good, it just IS.

    I hope this is helpful to you. Please PM me if you need support; I'm glad to help if I can.