I only drink wine. I am not an I can stop at any time.
These are the rationalizations that I told myself even when my life was falling apart…

  • My best friend would no longer allow me to drive her daughter to soccer practice. She told me that her daughter was afraid of my driving.
  • My friends no longer wanted to socialize with me. I found out that they went on a trip without me. I asked my friend why I was not invited, and she said that some of the women thought I became belligerent when I drank.
  • I also lost my job because I was missing too much work and I was caught bringing wine to work in my coffee mug.

How did I get here?
When my children were young, I drank socially, on the weekends. Over time, my wine drinking became more frequent. My co-workers and I would go out for a few drinks after work. My friends and I started drinking at our children’s soccer tournaments on Saturday to get us through the long day. Wine made me happy and I felt a part of a group – I had my drinking buddies. Pretty soon, I was even drinking in the evening after the kids went to bed. Wine helped to take away the stress of the day and helped me sleep. After a while, I started bringing wine in my coffee mug to work because it made me feel better in the morning.

My Road to Treatment
I knew my father was a recovering alcoholic, but he drank whisky. I thought, I could not be an alcoholic because I only drank wine. That was until one night when my husband told me that he was going to leave and take our three children if I did not get some help. This was one of my lowest points, I didn’t want to lose my children or my husband, so I agreed to go to counseling. My husband found a counselor who specialized in substance abuse. The counselor first met with my husband and I; he then wanted to meet with each of us alone. During my first session I told him that I could not be an alcoholic as I only drank wine. He told me that my body did not know any difference between wine, beer or spirits. He asked me several questions. Was I able to go through the day without alcohol? When was the last time I did not drink for an entire day? Quite honestly, I could not remember the last time I had not started drinking wine in my coffee cup early in the morning.

The next day I tried not to drink wine in the morning, but I became very shaky, broke out in a sweat and became sick to my stomach. Once I had a glass of wine, I felt better. At my next session, the therapist explained that these are symptoms of alcohol addiction – my body was dependent on alcohol.

I still could not see that I had a problem. I tried a few more times to go without drinking, but I always became sick. When my husband filed for divorce, I finally agreed to go to inpatient substance abuse treatment. It took several weeks to detox, but once my body was no longer addicted to alcohol, I began to re-examine my thoughts on alcohol. My brain fog cleared, and I was able to admit that my body was addicted to alcohol even though I was only drinking wine. My brain had been tricking me into thinking my drinking was normal. I also came to the realization that my addiction was also social. I drank to fit in with my group of co-workers and friends. I also have social anxiety, and wine made me feel like I belonged and many of my friends supported my addiction. Since then, I have given up a number of these friendships because I now realize they are not good for maintaining my sobriety.

Now that I completed my inpatient treatment, I attend AA and am working my twelve steps. My husband and I are attending marriage counseling; he and the children also attend Al Anon. Many days I feel strong, but there are other days where I rely on my sponsor, my husband and my higher power for extra support. I have come to admit that I have a family history of alcoholism, and even though I only drank wine, my body still became addicted.

I know that everyone’s journey is different. However, if you believe that you do not have a problem because you only drink wine, ask yourself whether you are able to go through your day without drinking wine. Try to remember the last time you went an entire day without drinking. Your answers may be telling.