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Ask HN: High functioning alcoholism – anyone?
172 points by alcoholicornot on Nov 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

I'm in my mid thirties, rather accomplished, with a very good job (tech) that I like, family with 2 kids etc. I drink way too much however and I fear I'm already borderline alcoholic. I've recently found this 'high functioning alcoholism' term and realized this is me. Which scares me a lot. I do know people that drink a lot in my family (I'm from eastern Europe...) and until recently I've never considered myself similar to them. For the record, I'm drinking on average 5 evenings per week, between half and a full bottle of wine (which is not that much, certainly I got used to it, so it doesn't put me in the drunk mode neither).

I keep an 'inner scorecard' which means I evaluate myself against what I used to be, and what I think I can accomplish (did I perform / accomplish something up to my potential, or did I just did a half-ass effort). Funnily enough, I always somehow discarded alcohol as a factor, justifying it (to myself) that it's not that influencing. Which is of course false. I should add that I work in the evenings very often (I love what I do btw) and most of those time, I drink too when working.

What made me realize this problem much more efficiently was running. I started quite recently and did some tests - how I perform, with the same training scheme, with and without alcohol for a period of time. Numbers don't lie. I run much better and also feel better.

As to why I'm drinking when I'm working alone, I don't really know (other than I like the taste). Not necessarily to forget problems or something. With perspective, this amounts to huge chunks of time, which certainly impacts my work on side projects / business. Sometimes I think I drink because I'm scared to actually succeed with this side stuff, and somehow unconsciously I sabotage myself.

Are / were you in this situation ? If you managed to stop, I would appreciate the 'how'.

Your situation is not as bad as many. It sounds like your problems mostly originate internally, rather than being the result of external pressure. It’s not like your friends are calling you up every day for a bottle; you’re drinking alone. So the only person you need to say “no” to is yourself (granted that might be harder than saying no to someone else).

What works for me dealing with addictions / bad habits is to turn the habit around on itself. Start thinking of it negatively, derisively, until you hate it so much you’d be embarrassed and disgusted to engage with it.

Beyond that, find a way to get a dopamine hit from saying “no” to yourself. Relish the control it gives you. Personally when I say “no” to friends engaging in some illicit but fun activity, it feels good. I feel like I accomplished something just by saying no. That’s a powerful motivator and a critical element of developing the positive feedback cycle necessary to break a habit.

I would add be careful with cutting off cold turkey (it depends on how dependent you are physically). Also, while tapering down, develop good “healthy addictions” to replace it with. Many times exercise and CBT is enough. Try that first. Expect depression to kick in. If you feel the need to return to booze even with those changes, medication may Be needed as you may be self-medicating, although your description sounds fixable without it.

I signed in just to upvote this! I hope someone can use it! Quiet and thankless internal discipline is highly rewarding, whereas the powers outside yourself (like excessive shopping, gambling, video entertainment, sex).... Well, they all make bank off of your diverted attention or indulgence. I admit I'm already being preachy, but I think what the basic abstract theme that "chatmasta" is disseminating is the same valuable theme that brought Tesla's genius to into the stratosphere -- albeit in his case with an early, rigourous start, and over the course of decades.

Current UK drinking guidelines are that you drink no more than 14 units per week.

750 ml of wine at 12% = 9 units per night. 9 * 5 = 45 units per week.

That's considerably more than the guidelines.

With excess drinking we tend to talk about problem drinking (drinking a bit too much); harmful drinking (drinking enough to cause harm, and you're certainly doing that) and dependent drinking (drinking enough to have a physical addiction).

It can be dangerous to -without supervision- stop drinking if you have a physical dependency.

Here's what you should expect from English treatment for alcohol misuse: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg115

Here's an interactive flowchart: https://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/alcohol-use-disorders/...

You need, and deserve, medical advice. Please go see a real professional.

Hang on, I recall reading somewhere that the national guidelines for "acceptable" alcohol consumption are mostly made up and arbitrary? Or have they suddenly found a more scientific basis for them within the last few years? Don't they vary widely for nations with similar demographics?

I should say that I obviously agree that drinking alcohol is probably never the solution to any problems and may cause further (health or otherwise) problems, I'm just interested in the basis for this particular claim. Your comment was very valuable -- esp. with regard to how dangerous withdrawal symptoms can be.

It's public health, so they're talking about an entire population.

If a million people drink no more than 14 units per week we see this much cancer, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, etc.

If a million people drink no more than 28 units a week we see this much more cancer, etc.

Translating these population level risks back to an individual is hard.

This doesn't mean the numbers are pulled out of thin air.

Don't forget there are many multi-billion dollar industries trying to make people drink more, and stop people drinking less.

Propability and statistics aren’t lost on me. I’m also aware of a movement in the medical association to target moderate use alcohol as a societal problem. Which is fine and good but comes off a bit hypocritical as they are the cause of the opioid crisis, and have been over prescribing antibiotics for decades. All pharmaceuticals have risks and they give them out like candy. 13% of the population is on antidepressants which have serious side effects. (And Which may or may not work, depending on who you ask.) and Tylenol also is responsible for 78,000 overdoses per year. 34,000 of which are considered critical.

Alcohol is an effective helpful drug and when used in moderation can help relieve stress, reduce headaches, induce euphoria, cause calming, and in some studies is good for your heart. Some chemo patents say it helps too.

Don’t drink to get drunk. Don’t drink every day.



Edit: also I have yet to see anyone mention weight to alcohol consumption. If we are going to quantify safe conconsistant levels body weight should be a factor. It’s revealing that so many are doling out medical advice and judgement on on what is too much and no one has bothered to ask how much the OP weighs.

Yes, the guidelines for safe amount of units per week are basically arbitrary and not based on anything scientific, and vary a lot by country. [1]

For example, where I am from, Canada, the Canada Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines state that men should limit their intake to 15 drinks per week, where a drink is defined as 12 oz of 5% beer, 5 oz of 12% wine, or 1.5 oz of 40% spirit.

OP would hardly be exceeding the guidelines if he was from Canada, and not exceeding the guidelines if he was from Fiji.

This is why merely looking at the guidelines is dumb instead of the many other visible factors (personal relationships, weight, athletic performance, academics, etc.)

[1] https://health.spectator.co.uk/the-great-alcohol-cover-up-ho...

[2] http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/2012-Canada-Low-Risk-A...

OP is drinking well over the Canadian guidelines.

The canadian guidelines are about 240 ml of pure alcohol per week.

At 3 bottles of 12% wine Op is drinking about 270 ml of alcohol.

At 4 bottles of 14% wine op is drinking about 410 ml of alcohol.

Note Canada has higher than expected rates of alcohol related harm:http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcoh...


Here's some advice from the English NHS on how to reduce alcohol use:www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Tipsoncuttingdown.aspx

the problem of talking about addiction is that you can be causing severe harm well before you have a physical dependency.

Harmful drinking is over 14 UK units per week.

A hospital based medically supervised withdrawal will happen at maybe 20 or 40 units per day.

Obviously there's a big gap in between where harm is being caused but you don't yet qualify for hospital based detox.

Help for problem drinking can be hard to access, and the evidence base for some of them are not great.

But for this kind of harmful drinking it's important to get help to cut back now, before it develops into dependent drinking.

Some things you can try: only buy wine on one day a week. Start by only buying two bottles. Ration those out. Have a calendar, and mark out when you're going to drink alcohol.

Switch to lower ABV (alcohol by volume) wine.

750ml of 8% ABV wine is 6 UK units.

750ml of 12.5% ABV wine is 9.3 units.

You can find very low alcohol wines too.

There's a lot of chat on this thread about what quantity constitutes alcoholism. Certainly there is a recommended level above which it is likely to cause lasting harm, but another aspect is the psychological addiction, which can be screened for with the CAGE questionnaire:

  1. Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
Two 'yes' responses suggest it's worth considering whether you have alcoholism.

I think the fact that OP noticed he has a physical detriment due to his alcohol intake is strongly suggestive that he is drinking too much. Whether he has a 'problem' is whether he's willing to admit to himself that this level of alcohol is causing overall harm and reduce his intake.

I have an addiction to procrastination for similar reasons and to similar detriment.

I was in a similar situation for years, and alcohol was the lesser of my intake problems. I was drinking mostly to stave off boredom; let's call it being comfortably numb.

What eventually helped was getting serious about playing music - practicing every night. I can't practice if I drink. I was excited enough about music that gave me an escape from boredom.

A few years later, I decided to start a part-time online Masters degree, and I'm excited enough about that to keep me from of boredom's abyss. It also fills most of my spare time.

I guess I replaced drinking with something that addressed some/most of the underlying cause. Also important to package the change as something positive; _start_ a degree is more motivating than _stop_ drinking.

This is the best method.

5 nights a week half a bottle of wine isn't an alcoholic. It's drinking too much.

If you're at a bottle of wine s night that's certainly too much.

You've got a poor habit that's all. Just put a system in of deferring first drink, going to bed s bit earlier i.e. Before the last drink, and ensure you have a glass of water and a cup of tea between each glass. That'll reduce the amount you drink by s glass or two.

You're fine.

My good friend, who IS an alcoholic, drinks a 750ml bottle of vodka in a night.

Alcoholism isn't defined in terms of how much you drink, but how much control you have over your drinking. If OP thinks he has a problem with drinking too much then probably he does have a problem.

OP was able to run an experiment, running when drinking or not drinking for a period.

Half to a full bottle isn't even excessive quantity, it's more the frequency that makes it 'a lot'.

OP sounds in perfect control to me. Perhaps use the running as motivation to cut back a bit - aim for doing a particular race that's a bit of a stretch.

Depends how you define excessive. For example, the current UK recommendation[1] is a maximum of 14 ‘units’ a week. An average bottle of wine is something like 9 units depending on ABV strength, so 5 evenings a week of 3/4s of a bottle of wine works out at 33.75 units, or 2.4 times the recommended maximum.

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx

I did say that it was the frequency that made it 'a lot', not that it wasn't a lot.

I only mean that if someone said to you 'I had half a bottle of wine or more last night', you'd hardly think Sheesh, this guy's an alcoholic. It's if they followed it up with 'and I have every night since I-can't-remember-when' that you'd think Okay that's a bit much.

Currently we try to avoid "alcoholic" and use "dependant", because it has a clearer definition.

If someone has a tolerance for alcohol; is preoccupied by alcohol; seeks alcohol when they don't have it; and continues drinking even though they know it's causing harm then they are dependent on alcohol.

It's important to realise that a drinker can be doing severe harm even if they're not dependent on alcohol.

Current UK guidance for alcohol is no more than 14 units per week, and OP is drinking well over that.

It's possible but I have lived with an alcoholic and, from my experience, I'd say two things to this.

One - voluntarily admitting he has a problem is a major clue that he isn't an alcoholic.

Two - half to one bottle of wine wouldn't touch the sides with my ex who would easily do that amount before breakfast without anyone even knowing.

What makes me react to your comment is that it has the potential to be damaging to people that are coming to terms with denial of their addiction.

> voluntarily admitting he has a problem is a major clue that he isn't an alcoholic.

Someone voluntarily admitting he has an addiction problem is the first step for him to fix this problem. Always. Ever.

Being alcoholic is having an addiction to alcohol. Quantity only matters in the damage done. I can drink shitloads of alcohol myself but I'm not alcoholic because I couldn't care less when I don't (I know, because I'm addicted to nicotine, and boy is that fucked up, even though I don't smoke much it's such a battle to quit). Someone who drinks a single glass every single day but can't stop doing it is alcoholic. Quantity and behaviour (whether it is physically or psychologically induced) are completely orthogonal.

He said 'I'm drinking on average 5 evenings per week...'

This, for me, doesn't sound like someone with an addiction issue.

You make some fair points but I was trying to give the guy a bit of encouragement that his problem is not so great that he can't just snap out of it.

Apologies for any offence.

OP had the self-control to stop drinking for a period to assess what impact it wae having on running though.

As someone who drank a bottle of wine every night for 2 years flat, I totally agree.

There is a world of difference between having a drink habit and being alcoholic.

Now I can go for months at a time without touching it. The trick for me is not having it in the house. Getting plenty of exercise helps a lot, if for no other reason than it gets me outdoors and breaks up the routine.

If you need a 'trick' you are at least a bit dependent.. I don't think people realize how easy it is to become dependent.

I think you're dependent if you can't live without something?

Not having alcohol in the house isn't much of a barrier to overcome for someone with a real drink problem.

a heroin addict will "live" without heroin

Hopefully the central part of your comment isn't lost amidst the rest of the discussion as I think it's realistic and practical advice:

"Just put a system in of deferring first drink, going to bed s bit earlier i.e. Before the last drink, and ensure you have a glass of water and a cup of tea between each glass. That'll reduce the amount you drink by s glass or two."

Have less wine/alcohol easily accessible in the house. Make sure alternatives are readily at hand (e.g., large water glass and jug for refills on your desk). Try to get into the habit of drinking a full glass of water before you next top up your wine glass. Never fill your wine glass beyond a certain point. Maybe try to find half-bottles so it's less likely that you drink more than half a bottle in a night?

One may also wish to consider the ritual of making a drink and try to replace that ritual with another. Perhaps try making a fancy tea complete with precise water temperature and steeping time. I’ve also recently become a fan of egg white based drinks. Even without alcohol I find it very rewarding to make the perfect egg white foam. Plus I can share those drinks with my kids and elderly grandmother.

It's not just the consumption and how it affects you. You also have to consider the effect of your alcohol consumption on others, especially your significant other, kids, family or friends.

Maybe you're feeling fine with one bottle of wine every night, but I highly doubt your partner or kids feel the same way. You may not notice it (because your intoxicated, after all), but a bottle of wine does affect your behaviour. Forgetting things, repeating yourself, being annoyed more quickly, incoherent stories, some verbal aggression... all minor things you may not notice, but the people around you do. And they don't like it.

I try to steer clear of anything apart from average strength (~4%) beer. It's far harder to get through equivalent quantities to a bottle of wine and your margin of error between happy and drunk is that much greater. Also if you do homebrew you might develop a more holistic relationship to beer, although its certainly tempting when you have a 36 pint barrel sitting around at home.

I've had several interesting bouts with alcohol. I've flirted with that line of high functioning alcoholic. Because it's one of the few things that alleviates my migraines.

I've gone dry for several periods of my life. I've actually spent more time dry. What brings me back around, is increase in migraines. Which usually goes hand in hand with stress levels. At work we have a full stock bar. I was at the point I had to take drinks several times a day, just to keep from exploding. That's where my line of, I'm an alcoholic or very close to that point. I need it too function, and get through the day. But at the same time I can look at my life, and say I only drink heavily during small portions of my life. You have to give yourself small wins on occasion.

I tried stopping this year. But that didn't really work out. Again stress, and disdain for my job and long hours. So I cut back from a bottle every other night. To one a week, to one every other week. To finally, just two singles when I'm out with my friends.

Taking a while to get here. But cutting/reducing. Depends largely on what works for you. Or why you're drinking. The two other times I went dry. I just flushed all liquor down the toilet, and said nope. I can't do that now, and I found beating my self up over relapsing. Led to a further spiral.

So I gave myself a very strict budget for alcohol. I loaded up a visa card, and it was enough for two mid-range bottles. That was the first step. Slowly weening off that dependency. Then like you I enjoy the taste of a nice cocktail. So I switched to teas, and sparkling water at night. There's a lot to be said for a nice mock tail. For the first few weeks, when I went out. I left my debit cards at home. I brought enough cash for two drinks. So at a more difficult time in my life. I need to be more stringent with myself. I know I can't stop right now, despite wanting too. But as noted count the small wins. How you curtail this is dependent on each person.

My father in law was the same until he was diagnosed with liver cancer three years ago. I never really knew him before then because he was always drunk.

By high functioning you mean you sit in the corner getting drunk every evening whilst ignoring your wife and kids? Fighting with them on a regular basis because you're sozzled?

Since then hasn't touched a drop and I've got a father in law. My children have got a grandpa.

He deeply regrets the time he missed with his kids, but luckily has been able to spend a lot of time with his grandchildren.

I understand where it comes from - kids are hard work and you need a coping mechanism to survive the first couple of years. Yours is alcohol, mine is sweet food (so I'm too fat), others smoke.... maybe we should try collecting stamps instead? :)

I don't think he is like your father in law, not even close. He drinks way less than your father in law, and he is having this concerns because of people like you. You are judging him like he is drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

To the OP, don't worry. I'm from Spain, and hey man, you are totally fine. Drinking 5 nights a day? Half bottle of wine? And you call that drinking? Not really, come on vacation to Spain and you will see that's totally fine, no one is missing their duties for having 2 or 3 cups of wine when having dinner. Even my mum drinks more than that :P be positive.

I think your problem is not that you drink much, is more about you might feel like you can't quit drinking. Like others have said, I would suggest you purging yourself or quiting on drinking for a short period of time so you can feel you can control your drinking and not the other way around.

I would like to second the "think of the children" argument. My father drank a similar amount and also said "(which is not that much, certainly I got used to it, so it doesn't put me in the drunk mode neither)". But he was irritable when he drank, and I remember playing a game where I'd come up and talk to him, and then run away laughing as he chased after me and knocked into the furniture.

It is easy to think you're sober when you're drunk.

Half bottle of wine is unlikely to make him hit furniture.

"I'm drinking on average 5 evenings per week, between half and a full bottle of wine" would a full bottle of wine be enough? Doesn't it vary based on weight and alcohol tolerance?

I think that would depend on how much food you ate, how heavy you are and how long it took to finish bottle. I personally can drink full bottle over evening (say 4 hours) and be very far from that level of drunk. If I would have drunk it over 30 minutes on empty stomach, I would be quite a lot drunk.

I drank for years and years thinking I was "high functioning". I quit drinking using Naltrexone, following the "Sinclair Method". In my opinion it's a far more rational and reasonable treatment program as compared to AA's 12 step (which never worked for me).

I’m currently on month 5 of TSM, and almost never drink. Highly recommend it for anyone struggling. This TEDx talk was what convinced me to try it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6EghiY_s2ts

Prior to TSM, I was in pretty bad shape — so grateful I discovered it

Using a throwaway account here. Wish I didn’t feel like I had to :(

This 2015 Atlantic article on evidence-based addiction treatments lists naltrexone as one of the alternatives to AA: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/the-irr...

The best advice we can provide is only what works for us. Your best bet is to find an experienced counselor who knows what to look for. As much as I wish I could help you, I can't: your reasons for drinking are yours alone, and your concern about your drinking is just as unique. If you need to stop, you can. You have it in you. You might not need to, you might just need some new alone-time habits. Alcoholism is different for each of us.

My father is an alcoholic. He stopped with the help of a drug called Disulfiram (Antabuse), and any time he feels like he may relapse, he starts taking it again. My brother seems dependent on alcohol, but doesn't binge drink like our father used to.

My partner believes she may be an alcoholic. Up until last year, she was drinking three 400ml cans of beer on average, five or six nights a week, sometimes that and almost a whole bottle of port. What made her quit drinking was the time she told one of her close friends that the friend and I should sleep together. Months later, then she tried to kiss one of her (female and straight) work colleagues. Her effort required to stop was significant, partly because she was raised by a habitual alcoholic mother who though nothing of forcing a beer into her hand.

Personally, I am not an alcoholic. My poison is escapism - video games, movies, even music. I'm stuck in those worlds, to the point of not sleeping until after 2am some days. I crawl into a game - say, Ghostbusters, Assassin's Creed Black Flag, or RimWorld - for maybe 12 or 15 hours a day sometimes, and then realise the whole day has gone by. Just today, I sent five hours playing RimWorld.

In my younger years, I ended up blackout drunk several times a month on and off for a few years. Being honest, which is easy with the anonymity of the interwebs, I often used it so that person I was attracted to would just find somebody else and make things less complicated for me. I have symptoms of autism insofar as I can't read body language or social situations. It's unfortunate that I compounded my problem (loneliness) by driving people away with alcohol. I barely touch the stuff now - I actually can't recall the last time I had a drink. Might be last year, I think.

You already have what you need, what you want now is some help to find it. Good luck. I hope things work out for the best.

Well, F. A throw away because this speaks more than is should to me.

2 kids, wife, xVP eng job in major public company. 1.5x bottle of whiskey a week, plus additional beers and wines. Maybe not crazy, but a dependency for sure. Looking forward to getting home for a diet and double bourbon, putting the kids to bed and then onto more interesting drinks is a lot of mon-fri is nota great look or feel. I see it, but have not changed it for 8+ months.

The pressure I feel that drives this is from many angles - job transitioning from a small company to a large public in the last year (acquisition) and issues that come from our new parent company not understanding how to merge the 2; high pressure to deliver on acquisition expectations (and escrow the entire company is held to / huge pressure on me to sustain this for us all); general life stress of school searches (big city problem...); lack of "next step" and somewhat bored nature of my day to day.

I'm for sure a natural addict - 3 years of daily heavy weed consumption whilst in a similar tech job (but as junior monkey) and xbox issues in the past. If I don't decompress, I can't find the motivation to continue - that is pretty high for the last 14 years based on constant dollar carrots. If not for 25k a year school fees for 2x kids, I might be more relaxed on this, but its worse than a mortgage!

For the op, I have managed to launch a few side projects during this. A kickstarter with a friend that hit its goals and shipped on time one of the more surprising issues. However, I'm not able to move into something more meaningful (aka new startup) under the booze umbrella - I feel a motivation is needed here that is essentially a "co-founder" vs any drinking epiphany and then all will balance out again.

An anonymous website showing what people drink nightly would not help here, just reinforce. Some kind of anonymous ledger demonstrating lifespan longevity or liver state of health would be great.

This is just my anecdote, I don't know how generalisable my experiences are. But in case this is useful:

I used to drink about this much, but I'm not sure I was that high functioning. I finally realised that alcohol was having a significant effect on my mood and motivation levels, even in relatively small quantities. Whilst I probably wasn't physiologically addicted, drinking had certainly become a vicious cycle.

I am cautious of using the term alcoholic, because often that implies a particular treatment (AA) which would have seemed too daunting, I would have had philosophical difficulties with, and would have denied me the pleasure I now get from occasional, moderate alcohol consumption.

There are some signs of negative introspection in your post. For me the first step was simply to become aware of the link between my alcohol consumption and my mood/behaviour. I realised I was doing much more negative introspection in the 48+ hours after drinking (even small amounts) than at other times. As an effect it is less obvious than drunkenness or a hangover, but for me it turns out to be just as predictable. Experimenting with this obviously required me to go without alcohol for a few days at a time. Being aware of the association then allowed me to take my negative thoughts less seriously and break the cycle ("Oh hang on, didn't I drink last night? That probably explains why I'm thinking this way - maybe I won't use booze to unwind this evening...")

It was a gradual process rather than a panacea, because it took time for the better decisions I started to make to filter through to my living situation, my work etc.

I was in a very very similar situation, working as a software engineer on highly important safety critical systems I was at the peek of my career and very successful. But I was working way too hard, not sleeping and drinking more and more booze. It was OK but borderline. Then a couple of issues pushed me over the limit, and the booze intake got higher and higher. It took probably 3 years of gradual decline before I had just about shutdown, work was about to fire me and I was in severe mental shutdown. Luckily a friend helped me realise I had a problem, I got help and after a further 3 years I am much better. However it was a close run thing and I think if it had carried on I would have ended up dead. You have managed to realise you have a problem early enough that you can fix it.


I'll try to make it quick for you: I've been through most of what you've described and my best advice is that you put an end to it. Right away. We're about the same age, work in the same industry and it seems we share the drive to drink. I was in it for more than five years. Always high functioning... Until I couldn't, any longer. The truth is you start getting sloppy with your life. And yes, you lose control of everything. Little by little. Every bit you trust about yourself.

I'm from Portugal. I was the first tech guy in my company, the consitions were harsh when I started there. I already drank quite a lot, at the time. I was single again so I would work like a retard during the day and then drink till I passed out.

I looked at it like some kind of special condition. I left everyone out of it. I was being successful, after all.

Well... Lately, things started to get out of control. I first sought medical help this year, in January. I tried to quit with pills. First with a private Doctor, then with the National Health Service. I went even farther out of control. I went for a 2-week medically assisted detox. The month before was the closest to hell I've ever been. Taking meds and alcohol at the same time destroys you. I was miserable, deeply depressed and unable to do anything. Truly left for dead. Beyond words...

Well... Those 2 weeks changed my life. It's tough, you have to go at it with everything you've got. But after that, everything changes. I've only asked for a drink once, since, but didn't touch it. I'll probably never raise a glass again. But believe me, it's worth it. Everything is 10x more challenging now, in my life, and I love it this way. No longer having to plan my professional, family and love life based on alcohol consumption :)

Seriously, please quit it before you turn to a werewolf. You'll be a lot more immersed in life as an experience.

Best of wishes!

P.S.: I still take two pills a day. And some light weed for relaxing at night, sometimes.

My father drank a lot. He quit after he left the army. I think he drank to suppress nightmares and he was able to quit -- without any kind of program, like AA -- once there was no threat of returning to a war zone.

I also have known people who were apparently drinking to treat some undiagnosed medical condition and drank less or quit drinking after the condition was properly treated.

I think it would help to assume you have some reason for drinking so much. Now you need to figure out why that is and try to solve the underlying problem.

I like the book "The truth about addiction and recovery" as a resource.


It's unfortunate that this industry embraces alcoholism so much. I've been in your situation for a long time (much worse amounts of alcohol though), but as I grow older I notice the side-effects more, and am worried what I've done to my organs.

I'm trying to cut back myself at the moment, and my wife is helping me by identifying when I've drank 3+ nights in a row -- "do you really need it tonight? give your body a rest". I would encourage you to ask your wife to remind you in a loving way.

I used to drink a lot, but I eventually came to realize that I wasnt drinking for the alcohol, I was just drinking because I wanted something to drink. I remember back in high school I'd drink soda all the time, and lots of it, which I think was for the same reasons.

I started drinking LaCroix, and its to the point where I'm going through a 12 pack every couple days. I had to start buying the generic brands to save money.

I still drink beer, wine, and whiskey, but not nearly as much as I used to. I think I've saved a lot of money this way too. I also took up running about a year ago, and that got me to stop smoking too, even though that was only like 1 or 2 cigarettes a day, and not even every day. I've been changing up my diet too, and that's had a huge impact.

This is a good experiment for anyone to do. Order a club soda at a social occasion, and you may be surprised how quickly you forget that you aren't drinking alcohol.

For many, it is just something to do with their hands.


Recently swapped to sparkling water myself, realized that I was just in pursuit of something to sip on while staring at computers during the evenings when my frontal lobe was exhausted. I even wield various sparkling waters with soda (3/4ths sparkling water, 1/4th coke) to swap up the flavors a bit.

+1 for LaCroix. It’s an excellent substitute for soda, though starting with diet soda might be an easier transition.

Note that the acid in seltzer will mess up your teeth.

Jack Kerouac was a high functioning alcoholic and wrote some fairly well known books.

Until he died of bleeding oesophageal varices, a common complication of excess alcohol use.

Some beautiful images here : https://www.google.com.au/search?tbm=isch&q=esophageal+varic...

I know a number of alcoholics who attend AA and have been sober for decades.

My sincere best wishes. Please check out https://www.aa.org/

For me, as an adult child of a now deceased alcoholic mother, the headline on this article plays down the findings detailed further down. If you're drinking every night in front of your kids, to my mind that is affecting them, whether you care to acknowledge it or not. So I would say it's great you acknowledge it is a problem and should address it. I think wine is a particularly insidious problem in many places as people see it is going along with food, which is fine in terms of a single glass say, not a bottle an evening. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41665460

I have a policy of drinking alternate years. I tried alternate months first. Didn't work for me. I spent most of my off months longing for them to end so I could enjoy another on month. It was too much effort. So I switched to year on, year off. This works. The drinking horizon is so far away that there's no pressing anticipation. I know I'll get to drink again some day and enjoy great IPAs and wine. But for now, I'm off. I'm going to miss wine with my meals and lubricated socializing, and that's ok. I've put my drinking in check. I own it. It doesn't own me.

I felt I had to do this because when I drink, I drink too much. I consider "too much" to be any amount that impairs my sleep, which for me is often as little 2 or 3 drinks. During my on years, like the current one, I'm pestered by a mental dialog about whether I should drink now, am I drinking too much, why did I drink so much last night, should I just have one, well maybe two... This undermines the harmony of my life. But I live with it so I can enjoy drinking. It's a sort of evil pact to preserve a pleasure.

The upside to alternate years is that I can really observe clearly the difference in my behavior and quality of life. Life really does change for the better in my off years. I do different things, spend time with different friends. It's a different approach to life. But I would never plan to go a month trip through Italy on an off year. On and off years have their own special uses.

Like you, I'm also a runner. I rarely miss a day. And there is no doubt that my running suffers when I drink. The upside to being a daily runner, at least for me, is that running takes priority over almost everything, including drinking. So even in on years, my running helps keep the drinking in check.

I wonder if anyone has found a drug, legal or illegal, that mimics the positive affects of alcohol but has little or no downside, like hangover and addiction?

Kava might be something like what you are looking for. I enjoyed it quite in place of alcohol many times before my body decided to become deathly allergic to it.

Best advice is to find healthy emotional alternatives. Spending time with family and friends. Volunteering, exercising. Above all try to appreciate that you deserve to be alive. Love thyself. IMHO, underlying a lot of these addictions is an underlying death wish caused by a deep sense of unworthiness.

All we know about drinking and yet we still do it. Or fentanyl and opioids. The death rate keeps rising. I can only imagine is that the people who are doing it are doing it as a subconscious act of suicide.

I'm mot in your situation, but you certainly are not alone.

At least in Finland high functioning 'risk alcohol consumers' are the largest group dying and suffering from alcohol related diseases. They get heart diseases, diabetes, dementia, cancers, strokes. Derelicts are just small and visible minority of alcoholics.

Being aware of the problem is already a big step.

"When do I get this development done? .. with tobacco and wine it would be done. But I have to learn this also without them. I must!" – Jean Sibelius, composer fighting the writers block.

Only drink a reasonable amount (not enough to impair) during special occasions. Never drink on the regular. Small amounts can be evil too if taken regularly.

I know a guy who drank a 6 pack of beer every night. Never drunk. Just drinking on the regular. Until his liver gave out, and he couldn't work. Died at age 34 while waiting for a liver transplant. Left wife and kids behind.

My friend's mom died in her 50's from liver failure. Heavy drinker for decades.

Drinking less is better than drinking lots, but don't think it can't kill you.

Thank you all for your feedback. Some are great and I really appreciate.

Some clarifications (not for discussion, just for those who are / think are in a similar situation):

- I mentioned half to full bottle of wine - it's just to give the measure. I actually drink wine, rum, whiskey, whatever

- I said 5 days a week on average, didn't mention that the other 2 are usually the days I have something preventing me (no alcohol at home, or external duties). Basically, when I'm at home and there is alcohol at home - I drink it

- the examples with children seeing me are not really applying here - 99% of the time, I'm drinking in the evening, while working (or trying to) on side projects

- I don't have any violence problems at all, even when drunk

- I'm not sure alcoholic is the right word (it's a bit strong indeed). Indeed, I'm much more concerned with how far from my potential (not only productivity, but also enjoying and living a full life) I am, than health problems. Even though it's much more apparent to me since I started running

- some of you mentioned the case of social drinking - I have 0 problem with this indeed, and I did use to work on team where we were drinking almost every night. I don't consider that a problem. My (perceived) problem is drinking alone

Anyway, thanks again to all of you. HN is really a unique community

Drinking alone is a risk factor as is drinking alcohol if it is available. Not being able to stop after a drink is also a risk factor. Some people self medicate which is another risk factor. In terms of potential you probably are limiting yourself but only you can answer that for yourself.

Coming from the Balkans, we also like to drink while having dinner.

I'm drinking usually 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of wine with my wife ( 3 glasses ~ 3/4 of 750ml ) and it's like shocking to see how people around us react on that fact.

In Germany, people are very secretive on their alcohol consumption, although I've seen germans having 5 beers on Friday, instead of having a beer per day - they usually don't share those stories. This makes me feel like I'm having an alcohol problem as well ... but.

On the contrary, when I was in Portugal, people usually had a glass of wine for lunch every day.

Keep in mind that Moderate consumption [1], according to wikipedia is 300ml per day for men ( bottle is 750 ).

I think your problem is more of a "am I loosing control" kind of a problem, so you can just stop drinking for a while ( usually I don't drink any alcohol or coffee in January - cleaning my body ) and replace the glass on your computer with a cup of tea.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_wine#Moderat...

I was a high functioning alcoholic, drinking a six pack of beer per weeknight (programming by day for a successful company). On weekends, I would keep an eye on the clock and wouldn’t start drinking until noon.

Looking back, I realize that I could hardly function without it. I was hiding scotch in the closet and taking occasional swigs in secret just to “get by”.

One day, I went to a new doctor for one thing and ended up leaving with a prescription for an antidepressant because of a questionnaire he asked me to fill out. The effects of the antidepressant were not subtle at all. Suddenly, I had no more need for alcohol. Cheap wine tasted bad. I could still have a drink, but I didn’t need it to function.

That was ten years ago and I’m still on antidepressants. I still drink, and sometimes to excess, but I don’t need it to function. There’s a huge difference.

I would strongly recommend a visit to a doctor or psychiatrist if you feel like you’re addicted. You may be trying to self-medicate your clinical depression.

Isn't alcohol a depressant? Was drinking worsening or alleviating the problem?

Depressants don't necessarily make you depressed. The term depressant just means that they depress the nervous system, as opposed to stimulating it like coffee or cocaine. There's a link between depression and drug use because many drugs, depressants and stimulants alike, provide a short-term release of neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and GABA, which makes you feel happy and relaxed.

The effects of alcohol are interesting in that it slows down your central nervous system which makes it a depressant but it also can reduce anxiety and trigger the release of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain that make you feel good. So, it's not a simple question since depending on the brain chemistry of the person, it does both.

I were in your situation, too. Quit drinking about 4 years ago now. Used to drink 6-7 days a week for about 12-14 years, while working in IT. Getting sober was the best thing I could have done!

It's less about changing a single behavior, and more about becoming a better person. Ideally, the better version of yourself isn't a slave to much wine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v1lSrcgk6c

Not even sure if you would qualify as alcoholic. Afaik, it is quite common in many countries to have wine with a meal, so there must be many people who drink as much as you...

At the same time, it is a good idea to question your habits... I found this "am I an alcoholic?" test, which may be useful: https://www.ncadd.org/get-help/take-the-test/am-i-alcoholic-...

Finally, the UK has a big problem with drinking, so there's plenty of good resources here... See e.g. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of...

There is a simpler test: If you have to ask, the answer is probably yes.

I was in a similar situation until my mid-late 20s. I managed to get out of it by getting new friends who weren't interested in alcohol. A lot of my drinking was because of peer pressure, and any kind of social event was usually at a bar. Although it may sound a bit extreme, finding new friends was really the only solution for me.

Find something that interests you and focus on making new friends in that area. Running is probably a good area to start with, as people focussed on sports are going to be more conscious about how drinking affects their performance. Here in Eastern Europe it seems like a lot of people are aware of the problems alcohol can cause (from seeing it in older generations), and want to actively avoid it, so don't feel alone.

I drank less than you, but it was easy for me to dial it down to one standard drink per day on average when I discovered that even moderate drinking (2 standard drinks per day on average, for men) is strongly correlated with esophageal and other cancers. I think the risk increases substantially with every additional drink and takes years to come back down. To me, this was an easy call. Turning it down to just a few strong beers (or glasses of wine) over the course of the week was easily worth it for my long-term health.

Now, I maintain a meticulous Calca document with every alcoholic drink I consume. Keeps me honest and it’s actually kind of fun.

+1 for not being afraid to ask the tough questions, especially when it makes you vunerable.

You are definitely going to grow from this experience.

Best of luck.

I used to be in similar situation: 1-2 liters of beer 5-7 days a week. Drank mostly because of boredom just like you - didn't had any problems or stuff that I want to "forget" or "run away from".

Then I stopped drinking and started going to gym and ate healthy just to try something new. I looked and felt much, much better already after first week.

After seeing what I looked like in the mirror after 2 months compared to when I was drinking it was all the motivation I needed. Now I drink only on social events.

My suggestion is: Just try it, I guarantee you will feel and look much better even after first week.

I know several high functioning alcoholics in the tech industry. I honestly don't have a clue how anybody does it.

None of them are on upward trajectories or even seem to care about work in a real sense. They care enough to get the work done, but not ... well, the simply care enough to do the work.

I grew up in a household with a drug addict, and I've helped several people through their problems with both drug and alcoholism. It's a very personal journey and it's harder to quit than you think. It isn't just the physical addiction, which is very real. It's the mental addiction and coming to grips with the fact that you are worth the effort and cost (both financial and personal) to stop.

Go to a meeting. (an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for those who are not aware) It's surprising how easy it is to relate. It's surprising to see what the future potentially holds if you don't stop. Frankly, I probably would be an alcoholic if I hadn't attended meetings as a teenager. It's not so much that they scared me, it's that I had my eyes opened to the fact that I have a personality that lends itself easily to addiction, and that I enjoy alcohol a little too much.

I've never known an alcoholic who actually stopped for any length of time who did not go through AA. Some were forced by judges, some voluntarily, but all went through it.

Like I said, I went through it as a kid - not because of my own addiction, but because of someone else in my home. The recommendation was either alanon or naranon, but those weren't around me. Your behavior affects people around you. Maybe you think it doesn't, but it does.

Anyhow... go to a meeting. Listen, don't judge. Listen some more. Then speak and tell them how you are different and you'll all have a good laugh. Because you are the same and you all will know it.

Don't be ashamed. Don't think it's a small problem. That's like being a little bit pregnant. It's a problem. Take a step to fix it. Find a meeting. It's a disease. You don't need advice, you need help.


This might not work if OP is an introvert. I'm an introvert myself and group therapies are the worst as it only makes me stressed out that in turn makes any problem even worse

"I've never known an alcoholic who actually stopped for any length of time who did not go through AA."

I do, quite many in fact, because AA is not very popular outside USA. What matters most is to always have somebody by your side who cares about you and can help whenever needed -- the form of it (AA, friends, family, therapist etc.) doesn't matter that much.

You didn't really mention the context of your drinking.

For example, I've gone through periods in my younger life where I was working on tough projects with tight deadlines where there was a strong sense of camaraderie on the team - it was us against the world, pulling together to make the deadlines etc. Pretty much every night there would always be someone looking to go for drinks, and inevitably a good-sized group would be at the bar each night. What started as "one or two beers" typically ended up as rowdy drinking sessions until the small-hours before stumbling back home for 4 or 5 hours sleep before doing it all again the next day.

And you know what? The drinking stopped when I stopped working on those projects, but even now - years and years later - if I meet up with some of my old colleagues from those projects we always end up drinking fairly heavily.

tl;dr - are you drinking because of the people you're spending time with? Are you being being encouraged/pressured/expected (implicitly or explicitly) to drink by those you know?

Try some alternatives to spend the time - personally I have found that going for a good run helps to bring your brain down to a nice baseline state where nagging stress/concerns/wants/angers can be more easily controlled as I guess our lizard brains kick-in and concentrate on the running. TV/Movies/Games/Programming are too easy to both sit there and mindlessly eat/drunk/smoke at the sametime, while allowing your mind to wander back to the bad things.

Unrelated to his problem, but I hate this kind of culture. You are more effective when you slept well and did not drunk that much. Especially when you do intellectual work such as programming.

But, it does not matter how much I actually produce in such startup. People who stayed late were seen as hard workers doing a lot for project, despite them being under influence, sleep deprived and generally not in state to be all that much rational.

Everybody braggs about how how hard working they are, but huge bulk of it is just socializing and drinking.

It sounds more like your are mildly alcohol-dependent rather than alcoholic. Alcoholism is when your drinking negatively affects your life and those around you.

Dependency can manifest as a result of self-medication of things like depression or anxiety with alcohol, because it makes you feel good temporarily. The problem is alcohol is also a depressant and makes you feel worse afterwards, making you want to drink again.

I'm saying this because you sound a lot like me (minus the kids, and I was drinking nearly a bottle of vodka four or five nights a week). and I realised I stopped drinking to have fun and socialise and started doing it alone and heavily to self-medicate my depression and anxiety.

I've taken steps to really cut down lately and have started to explore other ways to address the problems I've had recently.

In your case though it sounds like you are self-aware enough to know maybe you are drinking too frequently (though the volume doesn't seem so bad in my opinion) and have stopped drinking for periods before.

I'd honestly say you have a mild alcohol-dependency, not alcoholism.

Alcoholics tend to not be able to stop themselves drinking, will refuse to admit they have a problem, will fail to live up to their responsibilities and even go so far as to hide their drinking from friends and family very well.

This doesn't sound like you.

I’m not alcoholic myself, but I’ve known a number of high-functioning alcoholics. Here’s some opinions I have that I hope will be useful: the Sinclair Method seems to have the greatest success rates (America seems dominated by AA; what little data there is suggests it’s not actually very effective). If you’re drinking that much, you have a physical dependence. This is going to make it hard to give up, so don’t beat yourself up when you fail)

For what it's worth: alcohol is a carcinogen. Remind yourself that you are consuming what is basically an industrial solvent. You really don't need it.

You are not an alcoholic in the psycho sense but more like you need to "drink" or "consume" something to keep going.

This is relevant in most cultures. For example, in the middle east where Alcohol is taboo there is Shisha: http://wrpm.ca/wrpm/store/images/products/narjila-b.jpg

Unlike a cigarette, you need to sit down for the full period to consume a Shisha. More like 1-2 hours break. People need a break. Westerns go to the bar.

It is easier than running. Running is healthier but requires some work and effort. Also you can't socialize or talk when running vs. when consuming a drink/smoke.

My suggestion would be to "balance out" your consumption. Maybe try the electronic cigarette if you are a smoker. Maybe switch to a Mojito drink with low alcohol but a focus on lemon/gas pressure to feel a strong taste.

The new drink will distract you from wine but give a similar satisfaction.

Remember that alcoholic feels alcohol differently than us. I get on the mood on 2-3 beers but a tequila shot kills it. I can drink wine and it doesn't make me drank just loose.

One point of clarification. One of my favorite things about running is spending that time socializing. I just slow down my pace and chat away. It's one of my most favorite activities.

I second this. As an adult with kids, I rarely make new friends that are more than acquaintances. However, running with groups have given me more than 10 friends the last two years. These are people I've socialized with while running mile after mile. Running puts you in a mood quite like being moderately drunk.

It's also a great way to meet people who couldn't care less about what you do for a living. That's a win for me.

Here's what worked for me. Like you, I found things were long-term better when I wasn't drinking, but short term drinking helped.

1. I talked to a psychologist. I drank largely because of personal anxiety, and alcohol really helped take the edge off. The doctor gave me sertraline (zoloft) which was a night-and-day improvement. The anxiety was gone, and I felt like a human being again. This reduced my desire to drink.

2. I set rules for myself. I still drink, but no more than 2 drinks a night, never two nights in a row, and only deliberately (when I want a drink, rather than when I'm with people who are drinking). I break these rules sometimes, but it's a baseline which I measure myself against. I made it into a sort of self-discipline game for myself - i.e. proving to myself that I had the willpower to show restraint.

3. I got comfortable ordering non-alcoholic drinks in bars. I always go for a tonic-water with a lime. When I'm out with friends and not drinking, I always split the bill evenly though.

Yep, happens to me too.

I can't say that I drink much, maybe once or twice a week, but sometimes I have work to do on the evenings and can definitely feel the difference on focus and motivation for what I'm doing if I've had a couple of glasses of brandy. Also I feel like I get pretty good ideas on that state (which I wouldn't classify as drunk) - Maybe relaxed.

Alcoholism is a very serious but very treatable disorder. If you suspect you might be developing alcoholism there is no shame in seeking advice from a medical professional. It doesn't sound like you have a problem with your drinking but having a professional diagnose if this can turn into a problem is a good precaution if you suspect you might get sick.

A common myth about alcoholism is that it is a personality trait, and people who are alcoholics will always be one. This is incorrect. It is a disorder that one develops and is treatable. If untreated one can be sick for the rest of ones life. The consequences can be severe, including the loss of your job and even your family.

As said before, it doesn't sound like you are terribly sick. A good thing to know is that you are not alone. Many people have this disorder and are actively seeking help. As with other disorders, a professional opinion is always better then self diagnostic.

"A common myth about alcoholism is that it is a personality trait, and people who are alcoholics will always be one." There are people who are biologically predisposed to alcoholism.

Indeed, there are people who biologically predisposed to alcoholism and other addiction disorders. It is believed that genetically some people are more likely to develop alcoholism than others. This is true.

However, this is no different than other disorders that some people have genetic disposition towards, but are still highly treatable, like diabetes or depression.

The change has to come within you. Drink was a problem to both of my parents. I'm not saying it's wrong to drink. We are only a brief period in this world of pain, and generally, what you find pleasing, go for it. The problem with drink is, it may take you, and the medical complications can be horrific. I don't really care for horror movies - they are lame, after having to consider the fates of two close relatives.

My father drank about as much as you, and he nearly died of liver chirrosis. Which would have been extremely painfull. He died later, after not drinking so much, of heart failure. The medical examination showed he had escaped chirrosis by an inch.

My mother drank way more than that. Eventually her state deteriorated, she went to a psychosis and she soon died. Only after death we discovered she had had pancreatic cancer. So it was good thing, in a way, she passed quickly, not prolonging her agony. Because death by pancreatic cancer is a really painfull way to go. See a pattern? She started soiling her sheets soon before the psychosis. And, her last month she mostly could not communicate, as as far as I can tell, she trembled in fear in her bed.

Was the fear because of psychosis? Or had the hospital staff maltreated her, because, you know, she was just a psychotic fragile drunk? I will never know. She was 66 when she died.

As I understand she took to drink in a major way in her late twenties, and never gave up. She became depressed and lost her job, and drank more.

Some people drink to their grave in the nineties, and stay seemingly healthy, so, it's a game of chance.

Look up alcohilism and it's complications. The bad thing about most of them, is that they creep in, and when they are obvious, it's likely too late to do anything and it's a slide to body horror land and gruesome death.

I know scaring people doesn't work, but at least you have some concept of the odds you are dealing with.

Take care, man.

Some people are telling you that you don't have much of a problem. The fact you posted this means that for you, it feels like you're losing a little control and want some feedback.

I've known a few alcoholics - the type that needed in-patient treatment and counselling to get to a point where they were no longer out of control - and it doesn't sound like you're there. It does sound to me though like you're drinking more than is making you comfortable and you're not quite sure how to take a hold, and that can cause a spiral effect.

I'm a heavy drinker, and sometimes I worry about this too, principally for long-term health reasons more than say, because I think I have become dependent on alcohol.

Can you imagine going for the next year without any alcohol at all? I'm not sure I can. And for me, a lot of that is social: I'd miss out on a lot of friendships established through drinking.

However, the question for me is whether you have conscious control over the cue/reward part of the habit.

Habits are very simple: you get a cue ("I want a drink"), supported by an underlying belief system ("Drinking makes me relaxed and I want to be relaxed right now"), that you respond to instinctively ("I'll have a drink"), in order to get the reward ("I'm now relaxed").

Changing a habit only requires conscious effort in the response part of that step. When you feel the urge, think it through, don't go for the instinct.

It helps if you spend some time to try and address the underlying belief system to consciously fall back on. You've started that: not drinking helps you feel better and run better. Next time you want a drink remind yourself "I don't want to drink because I want to feel better and run better tomorrow and next week".

Those who know me (and many people who work with me know my HN account name), will be surprised I'm giving this advice: I helped found a whisky club in the office, and on Thursday helped demolish a bottle of Johnnie Walker with a couple of colleagues whilst at our desks.

I sometimes stray from the response system, and sometimes I let the belief system get warped, but I know it's there, and I know how to use it, and I hope it works for you.

I've used this method to give up smoking, and to reduce the amount of shitty food I've been eating. I've not tried it for alcohol, but perhaps I might now.

I am ashamed to say that I have a similar probalem (but I don’t have a family) but, let’s face it, you already know the solution because you asked the question—you know that drinking is a problem in your situation.

Just stop if you love your family at all and tell yourself that you need to get your shits together and prioritise your family.

The fact that a seemingly “reasonable” person like you is asking this question is because you are conceited and you think that the people around you are dumber than you (at least for now) and won’t understand.

So... just deal with it and make it right by your wife and kids? Otherwise you are just giving yourself excuses to keep running away from the problem, like asking this pointless question that you already have the answer to.

>Are / were you in this situation ? If you managed to stop, I would appreciate the 'how'.

Take some MDMA. Inquire of yourself, 'Why do I drink so much?'

Worked for me. It was ayahuasca for my brother-in-law. He had a rather rougher time of it.

I can't say much of anything that hasn't already been said here.

Except, that I too keep an 'inner scorecard' for a lot of thing about me and my life. I still d0, but I started realizing that just keeping tabs on things and evaluating myself against others, data, measurements, society when I didn't have all the necessary information proved foolish for me.

I am still trying to stop doing this, but so far my changes have been positive by setting my own goals and working on meeting them for myself. I weigh a lot less. I eat a lot better, etc.

Perhaps just getting rid of unnecessary stress about keeping your 'inner scorecard' could help.

Forget the job story, if you don't feel so bad in the morning, it means you can handle your drinking just fine.

You should mostly care about 2 things:

1. Your health: with your intake, you're hitting your liver pretty hard. So that's not too good. You're also likely overweight, which also is not great. Think about your kids...

2. Can you go without alcohol for a bit? Don't drop alcohol for life, just do some intermittent periods where you don't drink for 2 weeks. If you feel like you have a true physical addiction to it, you should see a doctor.

Sounds like it might be helpful to have the guidance of licensed therapist/doctor to see more of your inner motives / desires as you find yourself drinking & working alone.

I personally thought therapy/counseling was unfruitful until I spent a year working through a handful of issues. After 2 sessions I realized I would benefit from making the investment. The part that changed the most for me was an increased quality of relationship with friends and family.

Therapy is worth trying and deciding it's nothing you need.

I'm beginning to find myself in that situation now. Anywhere from 1.75L to 3.5L of liquor a week. At least for me I think it's because my day to day life is very isolated in addition to having a fairly stressful and unfulfulling job. I haven't had much motivation to do anything about it precisely because I'm not suffering much of any immediate negative consequences yet, and I don't really see any path towards changing my life situation to make things more bearable without drinking

The only way to handle alcoholism, regardless of the level, is to quit and never drink alcohol again. I suppose you not yet reached the sole where you can't avoid anymore to face this only solution. I suffer from this disease since 27 years, sober since 14 and had also my time of high functionality, drinking while going for my degree in IT. If you are already a daily consumer it can quickly escalate to the point where the physical addiction kicks in. Just stop it now completely. No other advice.

Just realized I did not answer your question 'how' to stop. I did a few things which helped. Be mindful and look out for HALT (hungry, angry, lonesome, tired). Try to avoid these. Whenever you feel the need to consume, drink a glass of water. Use this as a mock. It will flatten the craving. Try to shift addictions to something healthy. Go for a run, do push-ups or planks whenever you feel the need. If you want to unmask the core of your addictive behaviour you will need professional help from a therapist. Hope this helps. Good luck.

You seem to have a reasonable level of self control. I'd recommend abstaining completely for a full month to gague your addiction level (e.g. if you can't make it a month your problem may be more serious) and also get a better idea how you feel, behave, sleep and perform without alcohol. From there maybe you'll be in a better position to plan how you want to treat alcohol in the future.

First read up about going cold turkey with alcohol. I think sudden withdraw can be deadly

The poster already does not drink every day so, while they may have a problem, they are not alcohol dependant. The risk of withdraw is only for people who are alcohol dependant.

I was in a similar situation. I drank too much - I also brewed my own beer, so I always had a fridge full of beer that was close at hand. I'd play video games and drink a few too many beers and feel a bit cruddy in the morning, and I had no idea why other than, "I'm an adult, I can drink and play diablo if I want".

This went on for a while and was under control until it wasn't anymore. For me, I was lucky: I drank way too much and decided to try to ride my vespa scooter. I fell off and hurt myself, but I didn't hurt myself permanently and I didn't hurt anyone else. It did involve the police, and my wife getting woken up at 3am by those police, being terrified that I was dead somewhere.

In particular, this was where I decided I had to change things. I'm on a pretty strict regimen - I still can drink, but basically only one drink a night, and almost always only one drink a week (during some holidays or vacations, I can have a drink on two nights, but I strictly limit the per-night drinking). This worked for me, but I can't say it works for everyone. Nowadays (five years later), I will frequently go several weeks without drinking once, and I don't feel the urge to break the rules anymore. Honestly, at first, I was following the rules because I knew my job, freedom and marriage were on the line, but after a while I followed the rules because that was enough alcohol for me. I'm no longer as worried that I'll randomly binge when I'm traveling for business and I'm AFK on a weeknight with nothing stopping me from tying one on (always a fear, but I'm at least less tempted these days).

I also had to spend a lot of time thinking about why I was drinking in the first place. In the moment, and even shortly thereafter, I thought, "hmm, I don't know why I am doing this". In retrospect though, I was deeply unhappy with my job. It was one of those things where I had a lot of my identity tied up in doing my job (academic / professor job), and the fact that I hated it wasn't something I wanted to face.

So, to directly address some of your points, I was in a place you describe, but there was just one mistake that showed how little control I actually had, and it was only because I am incredibly lucky that I didn't end up dead, permanently injured, or in jail. And only from a distance and with some perspective did I realize that I was drinking in part because I did not want to face some personal issues that were difficult to face.

I think looking into the “why” behind your drinking will help a lot. That and finding something that is equally fulfilling.

Not sure if it will be down voted for the illegality aspect, but psychedelics have shown promising signs in the treatment of addictions.


I had a drinking habit very similar to yours, and greatly reduced my drinking with the help of marijuana. Marijuana has the distinct advantage of not destroying my body in the same way alcohol does, and I find that it doesn't reduce my inhibitions as much as alcohol does. I regard this as a harm reduction strategy.

Hi friend,

I understand how you're feeling. I went through a similar process. And that's what I think you are in the middle of now: a process.

Let me eleborate:


I too work in tech, and was a highly functioning, but very heavy drinker. And I too drank approximately your amount of alcohol-intake for little over a decade.

One morning, a couple of weeks before turning 30, I saw the enormous pile of empty bottles that had been stacking up in my garage for the last month -again-, and a hard to identify combination of fear and shame took hold of me.

Interestingly, It was the fear of not being able of logically reasoning where the shame and fear -exactly- came from, that actually scared me the most at that particular moment.

I decided I did not want to ignore this unsettling feeling, for some earlier life-experiences taught me how pushed away emotions will only grow over time and come back harder and heavier in a time when you're even less capable of coping.

So I came up with this experiment for myself:

A. Try stop drinking for a month. (to have a different lifestyle to compare, and learn about your level of addiction)

B. Before the end of the month, try to have identified your fear. (to be able to conjure up a solution how to deal with this uncanny feeling)

And so my journey began. I quit drinking, and started exploring everything that might be frightening me about my drinking behaviour.

The not drinking part of my challenge was suprisingly easy, for I experienced close to none cravings for alcoholic beverages. This made me feel relieved and arrogantly proud, because I could tell myself: "there, you see, you're not an addict, and no reason to be scared or ashamed!"

But slowly there were some negative aspects revealing themselves as well: The first week my sleepingrhytm was often disturbed by the most horrific violent nightmares I had ever encountered.

Furthermore, the second week I felt so much fitter, but around week three, I felt extremely tired, I had even less energy than before.

And last but definitely not least, there was this slowly growing dull pain in my right flank... Yup, that's where your liver is located.

The fact that my body reacted in so many different -and for me- unexpected ways, was truely a wake up call: I might not be addicted to alcohol, but I'm most definitely poisoning myself, and the symptoms of this poisoning only present themselves when I am NOT drinking.

Now I had something concrete to be scared about: My wellbeing, my health, hack, maybe even my life!

So I started reading up on alcohol-related liver diseases, and other health-risks of longterm drinking. I read a great book about death, which taught me you can mostly choose your own cause of natural death with your lifestyle. [http://amzn.to/2jYbvvA] It made me wonder why I was drinking at all. And I still haven't found that answer.

Which only empowers my conclusion after a month: Drinking is just not worth it.

Two months in now, I feel so much fitter, my brain feels like it had cpu and memory upgrade. And the pain in my side has subsided. I'm happier, I smile more. I enjoy life more, and enjoy my body and outer world more consciously. And I'm actually looking forward to not drinking for as long as I choose. _______

So, I think you're at the beginning of a similar process. First being confronted with a hard to face truth, then testing aspects of life with and without alcohol. And at this very moment, you're gathering information, and looking for some answers.

You're on the right track, and hopefully my story can somehow convince you that your closer to an gratifying outcome of this process than you might think.

Kind regards,


Would it help to become more snobbish about wine?

I really love fine wine, and cheap stuff doesn't really do it for me; it's either fruity and boring, or unbalanced and rough. But get me a rich Cote Rotie, or savoury Burgundy, and it's a different category. And neither are available in any decent quality for less than $50, or much closer to $150 a bottle for the stuff I really like. At this price level, it's a treat that happens no more than a dozen times a year, and usually less, only on special occasions.

I say this because you say you like the taste, rather than it being the sensation of being drunk.

You could also find something else of complexity to drink - gourmet coffee is an obvious candidate.

an act become an addiction if you can't function with it at all or close; can you feel calm without it even at the cost of performance ? if so you're not alcoholic. Also wine is not a strong alcohol. Those I've seen were hiding vodka in plastic water bottle at work.

Plus you have monitored your usage.. btw, is it stable or increasing ? are there peaks ?

This might sound silly, but there's a subreddit that might be able to help you with this: /r/stopdrinking.

How to stop - your kids see their father under influence literally every evening. This is how they will remember you.

You're a strong guy. You need strength and consciousness for your family. Think about them.

half bottle of wine = 2 glasses - this is not alcoholism, just talk to someone from France, this is just for lunch...

1 standard glass is 125 ml at 8% ABV.

2 * 125 = 250 ml, which is 1/3rd of a bottle.

Most wine is stronger than 8% ABV, and so the portion size should be smaller.

Note that France used to have high rates of alcohol related harm, but have managed to reduce those after a long public health campaign of raising prices and lowering drink drive limits.

Whatever, one glass of wine in the real world is like 200ml... Anyway, alcoholic is someone dependent on drinking: starts in the morning to get rid of the shakes and drinks during the day... Half a bottle of wine in the evening, few times a week is not alcoholism... don't go and look for a problems where there are none - this will undermine the struggles of the real alcoholics...

I've said, several times in this thread, that there's a difference between dependent drinking and harmful drinking.

OP is clearly drinking at levels that are harmful, even if OP isn't dependent. OP is drinking well over the recommended 14 units per week, and OP thinks it's causing harm.

It is a mistake to think that only dependent drinking is harmful.

Harm is caused even if the person isn't dependent on drinking.

I get it: harm can be caused even if the person is not drinking... My advice is this: eat, drink, love, wear your new clothes, enjoy life... don't waste it worrying about non problems...

Four to five bottles of wine a week isn't a non-problem.

We know it it's a problem because OP is asking for help.

Not sure where you are getting "four to five bottles." He said half a bottle to a bottle, so he's likely drinking around 3.5 to 4 bottles per week.

3 bottles of 8% ABV wine would be 18 units a week - already more than the recommended 14.

It's unlikely OP is drinking 8% ABV wine.

3 bottles of 14% ABV would be 31 units a week - well over the recommended maximum.

Please stop with the units and please don't pay attention to the BS the government is feeding you... Just get out with friends and enjoy life...

The guidelines are arbitrary and not based on anything scientific. Stop mentioning them like if he cuts down to 14 units, he's not harming himself, but if he only cuts down to, say, 17 units, he still harming himself.

You keep saying they're arbitrary. Please provide a link to the research used to set the limit. This would show that you've at least read it before dismissing it.

And if he cut down to 17 I wouldn't be mentioning the recommended limits. I keep mentioning them because other people keep saying OP's not drinking that much. OP's drinking more than double the recommended limits but more importantly OP has noticed harm is being caused.

as a minimum first step you can switch addictions. Being a gym rat isn’t too awful.

Hmm, I'm in the middle of this situation right now, and I want to write so much and yet prevent it turning into a blog post (if you want to talk, reply and I'll set up an alternative email - I think neither of us want to write our main HN/email accounts here).

Three quick pieces of context: I had a binge-drinking problem originally; that transitioned into a "4-6 330ml cans ~5 nights a week" - like you; and a cannabis problem.

I snapped one night when I got thoroughly smashed on a first meeting with someone (bad first impression). I got a shrink. I now have _two_ shrinks (one for diagnosed depression - Dysthymia - shrink's diagnosis, not mine, and one for general substance abuse). I've relapsed. I've missed my meds. It's hard. I keep restarting. I keep going. It's getting better. It's getting easier.

I came around to the realisation that if I stopped one problem, I relapsed on the other (stop drinking, more weed; vice-versa). I was going to have to stop both (it's freaking _hard_ after a 10-year habit). But I also had to acknowledge why I was drinking/smoking: social anxiety, stress, feeling like I "deserved" a reward for a long day, a little bit of something like "impostor syndrome" - but most often? Sheer, absolute, boredom when left alone for too long

It takes a whole-life effort for me: socialising in non-drinking environments. A better diet. More exercise (suck at that one). Medication for withdrawal. Meds for energy (stimulants) to keep me functioning. Sleep (incredibly important). My girlfriend (without whom I think I would be doomed). My managers at work (they know, and we have regular, personal-oriented catchups). My friends.

And I couldn't do any of this without the professional support, the support of my friends, and my work colleagues. The "first step is admitting you have a problem" annoys the hell out of me (so trite, so "easy"). But it's true. The second step is getting help. And it was scary at first (I'm admitting I can't do it myself, I'm a failure for not fixing it myself, etc.) But it was the right call.

A final note on the "high-functioning" part: apparently alcoholism is defined in things like the DSM as "when drinking becomes a problem - when it impacts work, family, or relationships". Mine didn't (much). But I wanted to a) stop it before it got to that point, and b) improve myself - like you said with the running, I am much better able to handle stress, to function in my development role, and to maintain relationships without only ever bonding while smashed.

That may/may not help :D But I appreciate what it's like to be at the "first stage" of acknowledging this. You wonder "do I have a problem?", "Is it _really_ that bad?". It's scary. But I would suggest that quite possibly, life can be significantly better by taking control of it. In ways I never would have thought of when I started my own journey.

Drink less?

Don't forget to put yourself into cetogenic mode ( by removing the sugar or by fasting for more than 3 days ) in order to clean your liver from fat tissue. ( before doing it, go see a physician first )


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