Monday, April 7, 2008

A vow of Sobriety


Defined by the National Institute on Alcoholic Abuse and Alcoholism, not as a pot-bellied guy with a frig full of Bud, but as:

— young adults who binge drink occasionally (32 percent)
— young adults who drink (and do drugs) to loosen up and be more social (21 percent),
— and working adults in stable relationships with higher incomes who have 5 or more drinks every other day (19 percent).

SO, how do you tell the difference between good fun and a high risk for alcoholism? And, does marriage change people?

The NIAAA seems to thinks so.

"... assuming adult roles and responsibilities consistently curbs alcohol use. This reduction in drinking may be a result of limitations that adult roles place on social activities in general or may reflect a change in these young adults’ attitudes toward drinking.

"The data also indicate that becoming engaged (i.e., making a commitment to a relationship) has a similar but less powerful effect on drinking compared with marriage...

Being a parent also is related to lower alcohol use for both men and women, although a large part of this effect may simply be a result of getting married. Most women who became pregnant eliminate their alcohol use, although most of their husbands do not"

Is it unfair to assume that marriage should change a person?


Chrissie said...

i don't know if it's fair or not... but i think that when it comes to drinking, that marriage or any real sense of responsibility may change a person.

when we graduate college and get real jobs, we drink less because we get up earlier, we have a responsibility.

i think that any life changing responsibility will bring about a curb in a person's drinking habits, as long as those habits aren't evidence of a serious dependency issue.

i used to go out to happy hour every monday nights, why? i didn't have class until 3 p.m. on tuesdays... when that class was over and i had to go to work by 9... happy hour wasn't part of my schedule anymore.

vanessa said...

I think its unfair to say that marriage will change a person. There's AT LEAST 5 couples that I went to high school or college with, they went on to get married, and 6 months to a year later... THEY'RE ALL DIVORCED. why may you ask? "Because there were problems in our relationship before, and we thought marriage would fix things".

BOOOO. you dont get married to change someone-- your supposed to work out the kinks beforehand.

Supposedly you marry someone because you love them and want to share the rest of your life with them, quirks, bad habits and all.

If you're with a person you think has a drinking or drug problem before you get married, what makes you think a ring is going to make them magically stop drinking. If anything they'll continue their bad habits, or they'll eventually get worse. Before you know it, it's 10 years later, you've got 2 kids and an abusive relationship with a raging alcoholic that'll probably die of a heart attack if he stops drinking/drugging. (or at least thats what I've observed).

sarah said...

I think marriage does change some people. And I think marriage doesn't change some people.

Using Chrissie's example. She stopped going to happy hour, but there are plenty of people who don't stop. Is it a dependency issue? Or something else?

An attempt to hold onto that young, single lifestyle? An escape from responsibilities you never wanted?

Is it really "alcoholism" if you drink because you just want to stay young and carefree?

vanessa said...

I guess the shorter version of that, is that people shouldn't treat marriage as a cure-all.

"Things will be better when we get married"... Um why? If anything they'll be immediately more stressful; finances, wedding/honeymoon plans, potential mortgage looming, babies, in laws...

When you say "yes" make sure its to the person you love TODAY, not who you think they could become, because if you have these fictional expectations, you'll probably be the next one getting divorced.

sarah said...

BTW, by the NIAAA definition, I'm an alcoholic.

Binge drinking for women is the consumption of four or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks.

Friday night, ONE night, I had two glasses of wine with dinner!

So, it's hard to really criticize others, when you're not exactly guilt-free.

vanessa said...

I don't think drinking is ever just simply to be young and carefee, there's usually an underlying issue.

I guess it also depends on how much drinking so and so is doing.

Alcoholism is a disease, there's nothing young and carefree about it. These people drink in order to be numb to life so that they dont have to "DEAL".

Most people drink:
A. To be more social.
B. To fit in.
C. To unwind from a hard day at work.

When I think its a problem:
A. Drinking to get drunk
B. Drinking until you pass out.
C. Drinking to fill a void/ lonelines.
D. Drinking to pass the time.

vanessa said...

Sarah, I think they mean 4 or more drinks in a row, meaning 4 or more drinks in one sitting.

vanessa said...

Medical definitions describe alcoholism as a disease which results in a persistent use of alcohol despite negative consequences.

sarah said...

ah yes, and unfortunately, I think I am still not guilt free :-)

Chrissie said...

sarah, two glasses of wine with dinner isn't binge drinking!!! it's 4 or more at one time... like me apparently, with the magic hats i had on saturday night. i had 4... tsk tsk. i thought i was having fun playing badminton in the street, but apparently i was just exercising my alcoholism not my swing.

and i agree with a lot of what you're saying vanessa, i don't think you should marry someone with hopes that they will "change" anything.

but that doesn't mean marriage doesn't change them anyway... that just shouldn't be the reason you marry them.

sarah said...

What if you drink to have fun, and end up getting pretty drunk? :-)

Obviously, one BIG PROBLEM is how "acceptable drinking behavior" differs from person to person.

Chrissie said...

i think drinking is a problem if it infringes on your daily life or relationships.

i don't think drinking a ton at your friends wedding is a bad thing (unless you ruin it) and i don't think a girls-night-gone-wild is something to stress about either.

i've been guilty of going a little nuts from time to time, and i realize that.

i think "alcoholism" and the "problems" start when you can't recognize the difference.

drinking 4 beers, playing badminton, and being in bed by midnight is a pretty tame saturday night.

drinking 14 beers, blacking out, and waking up at midnight THE NEXT DAY could be a problem.

i'd marry the badminton player... the black-er-out-er, not so much.

Jared said...

We all probably know at least a few alcoholics. It is not hard to tell a "real" alcoholic from someone who likes to go out drinking a lot. Putting someone who has a few shots at happy hour in the same category as the guy who loses all contact with his family and tries to kill himself after being fired for the 4th time trivialized the issue in my opinion.

vanessa said...

Yeah but there's also what I like to call the "closet alcoholic". He has a job, a house, a wife and kids. He's a member of the local yacht club.

The minute he gets home he drinks until he passes out, but not before beating and degrading his wife and kids.

How are people supposed to help that situation before its too late.

For some reason I'm finding this subject a lot harder to be funny than sarah is.

sarah said...

For some reason I'm finding this subject a lot harder to be funny than sarah is.

??????? Funny ??????

Chrissie said...

i was trying to be funny!!! (i think i was succeeding... but maybe not;)

come on... badminton? in the street? funny!

and i agree about the "closet alcoholic" but i think that person tends to fall into the "extreme drinker" category too... whether or not people "know" what he's doing when he gets home, he's still an alcoholic... the person who, as jared points out goes to happy hour isn't in the same category.

Jared said...

But again, I think it's really pointless to qualify alcoholics based on how many drinks you have when you go to the bar. We should be paying more attention to how someone behaves when they are drinking than how much they are drinking. To me, if you are an angry/abusive/sad/etc drunk, you should not be drinking ever because it isn't doing you or your family any good.

Vanessa said...

"sarah said...
BTW, by the NIAAA definition, I'm an alcoholic."

Vanessa said...

Totally agree Jared.

vanessa said...

Well maybe not totally, but mostly.

Even if some people are "happy" drunks, when it gets to the point that you're drinking 6, 8, 10 or more drinks to stay "happy" on a regular basis, then there mostly likely is a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with.

Part of being a responsbile adult is knowing when you've had enough to drink and putting the beer down.

sarah said...

That wasn't a joke. Sorry for the confusion.

However, I must give props to chrissie for her witty sense of humor, and for making the blog fun, and hope she will soon organize a drunken badminton tournament league for the H. Valley.

Jared, your point is very good. I used to think that too. But then there's a whole gray area. Someone might not be abusive, but maybe his/her actions disappoint others. What category do they fall under?

Jared said...

You're probably right, but I would contend that simply "drinking too much" is rarely the reason that alcoholics have problems with their life.

They drink too much and beat their wife
They drink too much and verbally abuse their kids
They drink too much and do it at 1 in the afternoon on a workday

There's always an and.

I don't think that regularly binge drinking when going out on weekends is healthy behavior, but I still think it is peripheral to alcoholism.

Vanessa said...

There's only a gray area when you're trying to make excuses for someone you already know, but dont want to admit is an alcoholic.

Chrissie said...

ahhh vanessa... if only life were so black and white (and yet never gray).

i think gray areas exist for all topics worthy of discussion, if there were a black or white answer, there would be no room for opposing opinions, there would be no room to learn that we may not always be right.

i think gray areas DO exist when it comes to alcoholism.

i think there is a difference between "an alcoholic" and an "alcohol abuser."

the alcoholic habitually drinks and suffers the consequences...

and an then there is the Alcohol ABUSER.

do they both have a problem?

but i think comparing one to the other isn't always fair.

and thanks sarah, i'll write up some fliers for the badminton tourney!

sarah said...

oh vanessa, I'm just shaking my head right now.

Jared said...

Okay, that page Chrissie linked to makes perfect sense to me and is basically the point I was trying to make.

Jared said...

(which is, there has to be a distinct term for someone who drinks too much but does not display most of the symptoms of alcoholism)

Chrissie said...

yay! i saved the day!

no lets all go have a drink to celebrate!


madelena said...

Interesting topic.

You don't have to black out, or drink all day, or abuse your spouse to be considered an 'alcoholic'. If you come home everyday and NEED 1 glass of wine just to unwind guess what? You could be considered an alcoholic.
Like you said Chrissie, nothing in life is ever so black and white.

And marriage can without a doubt change a person. Even being in a positive relationship can do that! Maybe people drank before out of bordem, or loneliness, or whatever else the case may be. When that void is filled, and it's filled with responsibilities of course you're not going to drink anymore!

It makes perfect sense my friends.

Anonymous said...

marriage does change a person- but not forever if you really have a problem. i hope this makes sense what i'm trying to say.
i got sober when my boyfriend walked out on me 3 years ago. i was so scared what my drinking was doing to my life (literally killing me) i had to change. instead of concintrating on my program in AA i got engaged a month into my sobriety because everything was going so well... i was fixed- HE saved me. so i got married 4 months later. it seemed to help me stay sober because someone cared about me and i was getting a new life i was doing okay for the first time in my life. that didn't last very long. i was only running from me. trying to be this person i thought i should be. soon it was all hitting me that i had a major porblem (alcoholism is a disease of the mind and body)but i knew drinking would kill me if i started again so i turned to pot.. not a good idea. i dropped that 4 months ago and am a mess. now i don't even know who i am! i got married because i thought it would help me quit and make me a "grown up" little did i know that little scared girl was still inside. a problem drinker can stop if there are big changes in their life, or medical problems, but an alcoholic can't. believe me i tried before (through kidney failure, liver problems and pancrintitus, had it can't spell it). if you have a problem try and manage your life on your own first. i know from experience that getting married thinking that will change everything jsut doesn't work. you'll still be the same person. where ever you go, whoever your with... you're still you. figure out who that is first then get married. it may help a "normal" drinker but not an alcoholic.
hope that made some sense.