This post was originally published at The Recovery Village.
When in active alcohol addiction, many aspects of a person’s life become affected—and usually not in a positive way. Just because alcohol is legal does not mean it cannot impact your life negatively when abused. Still, many people, including myself, find this out the hard way.
When I was drinking, I faced many consequences because of my addiction. At first, these were small consequences, but as time went on they became larger. At the time it was hard to recognize that alcohol was the root of all the problems in my life, but in retrospect, it has become very clear that alcohol and I didn’t mix. When I removed it from the equation, I found myself facing fewer consequences and able to start building back a life I loved. The following are some of the consequences that I faced as a result of my addiction and over time, sobriety has allowed me to repair.
When my drinking really picked up, it began to affect the relationships in my life. My friends became irritated with always having to look out for me to make sure I stayed safe. They were fed up with my inability to control my drinking, to the point that one of my good friends told me he no longer wanted me coming over. That was one of the lowest points in my drinking, and the amount of guilt and shame I felt was immense.
My family became worried about me, but I constantly brushed aside their concerns and made excuses for myself. Though people thought there might be a problem, I was in denial. But their concern should have made me worry.
Instead, I was always denying or pushing the blame elsewhere. Since getting sober, I have come to realize the positions I put them in. I’ve done what I can to repair the relationships I had damaged, and for the most part, people have been forgiving and kind. If I had drank longer, I doubt that would have been the case. I was lucky to get sober while I was still fairly young before more damage could be done to the relationships in my life.
AN UNHEALTHY PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
I didn’t realize it at the time, but drinking took a large toll on my body. Though I didn’t suffer any lasting health problems from my drinking, I did gain a good amount of weight.
Vodka was my drink of choice, and one shot alone has 100 calories. If you multiply those calories by the multiple drinks I was drinking on multiple days of the week, the calorie intake of alcohol alone was through the roof.
But when drunk, I was also always hungry, so I ate whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. When I stopped drinking, I rapidly started to lose weight. In the time since I have gained it back, but it distributes itself differently, especially in my face. When I see photos from when I was drinking, my face was always bloated, and my skin had a yellowish tint. It’s beyond me how I didn’t realize this at the time. But today I feel healthy and happy with my appearance the majority of the time, and even when I don’t, I no longer drink to forget about it. Instead, I go to the gym or try to make better daily choices.
ABILITY TO PERFORM DAILY TASKS
This is a large indicator of alcoholism. Towards the end of my drinking career, the days following drinking became harder. I often felt intensely hungover, to the point that the thought of going to class or work felt too overwhelming and impossible. I remember dragging myself to class one day and making it to the door of the building, only to promptly turn around after realizing I was going to vomit.
I should have realized the extent of my drinking problem when it began to affect my day-to-day life like this, but I tried so hard to convince myself that I was in college and excessive drinking was the norm. But that wasn’t the case. My friends drank, but they could control themselves and feel well enough the next day to do what they needed to do. In contrast, I felt completely incapacitated and needed a day of recovery after drinking.
In high school, I was generally known as a good kid with a stable head on my shoulders. In college, I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to be anymore. As my drinking picked up, I became known as the crazy drinker, the one who never stopped when she should have. People knew who I was because of what I had done or said at parties when I was intoxicated. At the time I found this funny, but looking back it was just embarrassing. I should have wanted to be known for being a kind person, or a good student, but instead, I settled for being the party girl. Luckily in the three and a half years since I stopped drinking, I’ve been able to rebuild my reputation and start over with a clean slate. Having a good reputation is something that people should consider important, and if drinking hinders that reputation, there may be a problem.
Though in active addiction it may seem impossible to overcome any of these consequences, it is possible. Sobriety gave me the chance to repair the damage that I had inflicted both upon myself and others, and it can do the same for anyone who gives a sober life a real chance.