Like most of those in their early twenties, I developed a connoisseur-like passion for alcohol. This was facilitated by both my social life and personal interests (homebrewing became one of my many hobbies). I never considered myself as an alcoholic, but as passions lead to habits, how much separation is there really between the two?
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see it) for me, I was forced to start a nine month medical regimen in order to be deployment-ready at the hands of the military. The medical treatment precludes me from drinking unless I wish to take on more permanent liver damage. At least for women at the end of their nine months have something to show for it… That was seven months ago.
Once I reached about halfway through my treatment, I started having some interesting realizations of the situation. For me, curbing my drinking habits was easy as I had no physical dependency on alcohol. What was harder to break was the social habits of it all.
The muscle memory that I had built for drinking was pretty robust. Getting home from work? I could no longer have a beer and talk about my day to my wife. Hanging out with friends? Good luck finding a refreshment other than booze or water. Going out to dinner? No meal is ever as good when its beverage pairings are limited to various sugar waters.
Social gatherings remains at the top of all of this however. My drinking habits were a reflection of my friends’ and vice versa. What all started out as a mutual enjoyment slowly became the primary driver of what made the gatherings fun and interesting. That does not necessarily make the gatherings bad thing, but you do seem them differently when you are on the outside looking in. Makes you more aware of the group dynamics. What I saw was, in a way, a reliance of sorts. Why? Because its so much harder to be interesting and original when you are sober. I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. It also might be that I cannot use the excuse of alcohol whenever I say something weird too.
So are habits to be considered akin to alcoholism? I am no medical professional, but I can see a logical argument for that. I see it as a dependency of sorts, but not the sort that is associated with clinical alcoholism. To realize this sort of dependency, you must first break yourself of it.