If reaching for alcohol feels like a necessity, rather than a choice, it’s a sign you’re suffering from alcohol dependence.
But with the support of friends and family, as well as organisations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), dependence or addiction can be overcome.
To mark Alcohol Awareness Week, seven HuffPost bloggers in recovery share the things they want you to know.
1. Social events can be challenging.
Jonathan Young didn’t lose any friends when he went teetotal, but said the way he interacted with them had to change.
“It was no longer possible to spend time with them in the same way,” he said.
“Being the only one in the group not drinking sets you apart, particularly when it represents a significant departure from your previous role.
“By not drinking you are rejecting a defining feature of the occasion. Dinner parties (bring your own bottle), stag dos (downing shots) or weddings (toasting the happy couple) all have alcohol at their centre.”
2. Alcoholism can delude you.
Ivan Massow finds that as an alcoholic in recovery, it’s easy to spot people who are dependant on alcohol. But when he was in the throes of addiction himself, it wasn’t so easy.
“Alcoholism is a disease that tells you that you haven’t got a problem,” he blogged.
“You are the only one who can’t see it. You become divided from your friends from your family and from reality in a drip drip process that is so insipid and take so long that it’s impossible to tell when the problem started.”
3. Alcoholics need support to overcome addiction.
Tommy Rosen has been sober for 25 years and said he couldn’t have started on the road to recovery without help.
“Every step of my recovery required a teacher, a friend, a family member, a therapist, a yoga teacher or shaman to help me navigate along to the next place,” he blogged.
“If you knew my story you would so clearly see that I am standing here on the shoulders of the teachers who came before me. This, I believe, is how it is for us all.”
4. Finding a new hobby helps.
Pete Jackson tried and failed to quit drinking several times, until he found the perfect distraction.
“When you quit drinking, you need to fill the terrifying void that drink leaves behind,” he said.
“Whereas previously I’d fill this void with, variously- thinking about drink, wishing I could drink and then, invariably, drinking; this time, I decided to start writing, scribbling down all sorts of nonsense, using my quite shaky left hand to steady my very shaky right hand.
“All this shaky writing, alongside meetings and support, helped keep me on the straight and narrow.”
5. Alcohol is literally everywhere.
Jenn Bovee wrote a blog to celebrate 20 years of sobriety and said in that time she’s realised how prevalent alcohol is in our culture.
“In the beginning of my sobriety, I remember I could not get through the grocery store or a television show without being bombarded with alcohol,” she said.
“I’m not going to get into the debate of the validity of it being a legal addiction substance. However, I will inform you that I don’t take communion in the Catholic Church because of it.
“Once I developed a firm foundation I’m no longer prohibited from going anywhere that I desire, or doing anything that I want.”
6. It’s okay to be scared at your first AA meeting.
Rachel Black shared her diary entry from after her first AA meeting on HuffPost UK and said everyone is nervous before their initial session.
“You are not alone. Being anxious and scared is appropriate,” she said.
“Deciding to actually go to Alcoholics Anonymous is a huge step - even if you sit outside in your car.”
7. It’s not all doom and gloom.
In a blog titled ‘10 reasons why I’m lucky to be an alcoholic’, an anonymous writer said in some ways, alcoholism has enriched her life.
“When I was drinking, I never took responsibility for my actions. I thought the world was out to get me and I couldn’t fathom that I might have something to do with it.” she said.
“In recovery, I get to learn about myself and work on growing every day. This is the beauty of admitting to your addiction and evolving from it.”