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Question
Posted by: Quintin | 2012-07-30

Alcohol

Hi Doctor,

I post this here as I don''t see this as an addiction but rather some kind of bad habit and would appreciate your advice.

I am a 30 yo male with a professional career, married with no kids. I drink a few glasses of vodca every night after work. On weekends I have at least two bottles between Friday and Sunday. My wife doesn''t drink much but she doesn''t complain when I drink since I don''t cause trouble. I only drink at night time during the week and from about lunch time on weekends.

My work sends me on contracts at least four times a year and this is normally in a area where no alcohol is allowed or available and during this time I don''t drink any alcohol at all for up to 6 weeks at a time and it does not bother me then.

I think I have this bad habit since ive been drinking alcohol since the age of 15 and perhaps I see this as the only source of entertainment.

I know this is not a very healthy lifestyle but I am so used to this routine that I would find it hard to stop. Not because I need the booze in my system but I wouldnt know what else to do. I struggle to sit still and days feel long but at least with a few glasses of vodca and some music playing the time passes and its something enjoyable to do.

How do one get that feeling back where I can enjoy to go to movies, sport, just walk around without thinking is there at least going to be booze available that will make me enjoy whatever I do??

The first time I was sent to do a contract for 10 weeks in Angola I took two bottles of vodca with and was only told on arrival that no alcohol is allowed in camp. Even though I had the two bottles of vodca with me during this whole time without nobody knowing I returned home with the bottles still sealed but back home I start with my normal routine and drink excessively.

Thank you your advice would be appreciated.

Quintin

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Firstly, I think you;re absolutely right that many behaviours which are more accurately and usefully seen as bad habits, are now more fashionably called addictions, with no real advantage and a tendency to shift responsibility away from the only person who can primarily change things for the better, the person themselves.
Often the concept of Problem Drinking is more useful. While obviously above a certain limit the sheer growing weight of physical damage caused by heavy alcohol intake is in itself a reason to cut down drastically or stop, another very relevant criterion is whether the drinking is causing problems - in one's personal or work life, or relationships.
That you are able to tolerate periods of up to 6 weeks with no alcohol available is relevant, and suggests that there isn't yet a significant degree of physical or psychological dependence, and is re-assuring. But the regularity at other times of "a few" glasses of vodka every night and 2 BOTTLES per weekend is indeed a high intake. And unless one had developed a degree of tolerance, a naive drinker would be knocked flat by that level of intake.
Remember too, that the liver is enormously forgiving - up to a point, and then it can decline into surprisingly rapid accumulative damage.
Apart from health issues, seeing vodka as your primary source of "entertainment" should be some concern - it really isn't awfully entertaining and is more usually a form of anaesthetic to disguise the lack of other entertainment. And perhaps if your work entails assignments to culturally and socially desolate areas, there may indeed be little else easily available. As you wisely recognise " I wouldn't know what else to do". Internet access, books, DVDs, whatever, can sometimes provide a useful alternative to just becoming numbed. Booze is then a sumstitute for real satisfaction, a disguise that enables one to pretend one is satisfied. This has been a well recognized risk since the early says of colonialism, when men would be sent out into remote areas, with empty evenings.
Actually, counselling of the specific cognitive-behaviour therapy format, CBT, might be the most helpful, as the issue isn't so much doing without alcohol, though that may well come into it, but finding more enjoyable alternatives both while at home and while in the sparsely entertaining work trips. It includes issues of exploring what IS actually satisfying for you, what more wholesome and productive pastimes could be available, and as you say, how to get back to enjoying the range of things you used to enjoy

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

3
Our users say:
Posted by: Just Me | 2012-07-30

I had the same scenario as you, but mine used to be beer. Could easily polish off 3 cases over a weekend.
I sat down the one day and thought to myself, What if this get worse and my consumption increased. Where would that leave me.

I found an AA group in my area and went along to listen to the people and hear what they had to say. After hearing their stories I thought to myself " Hey I could end up like this" 
I went to meetings for about 5 months.
4.5 years later I haven''t touched alcohol, I don''t miss it at all and to tell you the truth the music is far sweeter with out the alcohol in my system.
Cheers mate

Reply to Just Me
Posted by: Quintin | 2012-07-30

Thank you Doctor for this information it is much appreciated and I will follow your advise and try to find alternative entertainment somehow!

Reply to Quintin
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012-07-30

Firstly, I think you;re absolutely right that many behaviours which are more accurately and usefully seen as bad habits, are now more fashionably called addictions, with no real advantage and a tendency to shift responsibility away from the only person who can primarily change things for the better, the person themselves.
Often the concept of Problem Drinking is more useful. While obviously above a certain limit the sheer growing weight of physical damage caused by heavy alcohol intake is in itself a reason to cut down drastically or stop, another very relevant criterion is whether the drinking is causing problems - in one's personal or work life, or relationships.
That you are able to tolerate periods of up to 6 weeks with no alcohol available is relevant, and suggests that there isn't yet a significant degree of physical or psychological dependence, and is re-assuring. But the regularity at other times of "a few" glasses of vodka every night and 2 BOTTLES per weekend is indeed a high intake. And unless one had developed a degree of tolerance, a naive drinker would be knocked flat by that level of intake.
Remember too, that the liver is enormously forgiving - up to a point, and then it can decline into surprisingly rapid accumulative damage.
Apart from health issues, seeing vodka as your primary source of "entertainment" should be some concern - it really isn't awfully entertaining and is more usually a form of anaesthetic to disguise the lack of other entertainment. And perhaps if your work entails assignments to culturally and socially desolate areas, there may indeed be little else easily available. As you wisely recognise " I wouldn't know what else to do". Internet access, books, DVDs, whatever, can sometimes provide a useful alternative to just becoming numbed. Booze is then a sumstitute for real satisfaction, a disguise that enables one to pretend one is satisfied. This has been a well recognized risk since the early says of colonialism, when men would be sent out into remote areas, with empty evenings.
Actually, counselling of the specific cognitive-behaviour therapy format, CBT, might be the most helpful, as the issue isn't so much doing without alcohol, though that may well come into it, but finding more enjoyable alternatives both while at home and while in the sparsely entertaining work trips. It includes issues of exploring what IS actually satisfying for you, what more wholesome and productive pastimes could be available, and as you say, how to get back to enjoying the range of things you used to enjoy

Reply to cybershrink

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