During my 20s, I was a binge drinker. I mostly drank hard liquor. My favorites were rum, vodka and gin mixed with various sodas and juices. I understand that this is a time when many people engage in binge drinking. But I did it to a rather extreme point. In addition, I would regularly mix psychotropic drugs with the alcohol, which of course is very dangerous. I can remember times when I would basically be passed out for 12 hours straight.

As a former binge drinker, I struggle with the question: am I an alcoholic? I am kind of in a double bind. If you say no, there will be people who immediately say you are in denial. If you say yes, there my be people who say you don’t have the proper symptoms/ characteristics to be a proper alcoholic. Whether I am a “true” alcoholic or not [whatever that even means], I identify as a person in recovery. I used alcohol to numb the pain. I used it carelessly and even dangerously. I passed out and blacked out several times.

Being a part of the LGBTQ community, I feel that alcohol use was subtly or overtly encouraged. From house parties to gay bars to pride parades, alcohol use [and drug use] is a common feature within the LGBTQ community. I do feel I had a number of friends that encouraged my use of alcohol. I don’t think their intentions were in any way malicious. I think they liked when I was able to loosen up and they liked to have a drinking buddy. It was quickly very easy to get into a routine of drinking on a regular basis. The problem was that I could not stop at one drink. The goal for me was to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible.

Now I never drink hard liquor. I don’t like beer in the least. I do like wine and drink it on occasion. I was worried that if I drank anything at all, I would quickly move to excess. During my drinking days I would buy boxes of wine and drink large tumbler after large tumbler of the stuff. Now I can drink a glass or two of wine, put the bottle back in the fridge and it goes bad because I don’t desire to drink the rest. Once again the double bind looms: some would say if you are an alcoholic you should never drink so much as one sip of alcohol, even avoiding wine at church communion. Others would say that since I can drink “socially” or in small amounts, I was never an alcoholic to begin with. Again, I have decided to side-step the issue of whether I am an alcoholic as I see myself as an “in-betweenie.” But the “in recovery” part is important because I know the excess alcohol I was drinking was very bad for my health and safety and that it had a hold over me. I was using it to self-medicate and avoid pain. The REASON for the drinking is what was the problem and makes me know I am now in recovery from the booze. Unfortunately, I now self-medicate with food, so the addiction has simply transferred to something else.

Drinking can be a great pleasure and quite relaxing. For some of us, it is easy to over-do it. I am glad I am at a place where I drink very little now, as it is better for me given my history of over-consumption. Plus the hangovers were sheer hell!