Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Quizzical Day

Yikes. The statistics are astounding when it comes to how many of us are suffering from drinking problems - even full-blown alcoholism.

The National Health Service in the U.K. reports that one in 13 people are alcoholic. In the U.S. 15% of people are "problem drinkers" (they have concerns about their drinking, but are still able to basically control their consumption). Between 5-10% of American men and 3-5% of women are alcohol dependent. The World Health Organization claims that there are about 150 million alcoholics worldwide. Even more concerning is that 1/3 of all Americans admit to having had an "alcohol disorder at some point in their lives" - and it usually rears its ugly head in a person's early twenties.

That sounds about right. Unfortunately.

Alcoholism is a "chronic" condition/disease (whichever you feel more comfortable with). That means it's a lifelong concern. People who've had a dependence on alcohol will always have to be concerned about it - whether they're quitting forever or just cutting down.

I know my concern over my drinking has not evaporated since I started cleansing. I'm always on guard, always watchful. I never want to get to the point again where nothing else matters in my life but my next drink. Because that's the way it used to be.

But lots of other things matter to me now. (Including my next drink!! Which won't be until tomorrow, since it's a cleanse day.)

But I remember a time when nothing - absolutely nothing - was more important than "How the f*@# am I gonna get drunk today?!!" I never want to go back there - which is why I'm still following this plan ten years after I first developed it. And it's working for me. It really is.

How do I know this? Not only did my score on the famous National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence quiz reverse substantially (I first saw this quiz in Chapter 8 of Drinking: A Love Story), but I just took an entirely new test. The 20 question Alcohol Abuse Screening Quiz developed by the addiction experts at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

The test helps drinkers determine the level - if any - of their "problem." It's designed to single out people who need help with their drinking, either for abuse or addiction.

Guess what?

I only answered 'yes' to 2 of the questions! And you need to answer positively to at least 3 before your drinking is a concern.

Whew ...

Obviously, my relief means that I do still think about how my drinking affects my life. But that will never end. And I don't expect it to. I just love knowing that I'm in a better place now than I used to be. It makes me feel happy. Proud. And safe.

In fact, I feel so good, I feel like celebrating! But it's a f*@#ing cleanse day! Wahhhhh!!

(Kidding.)

Take the quiz. Good luck!

Medical News Today article on worldwide alcoholism rates.